Star Wars opens on NSA Bahrain in base's first midnight premiere

Personnel stationed at Naval Support Activity Bahrain wait for the start of "Star Wars: The Force Awakens," which was shown at the base's first midnight premiere on Dec. 17, 2015.


By CHRISTOPHER CHURCH | STARS AND STRIPES Published: December 18, 2015

This story has been corrected to clarify the curfew policy.

MANAMA, Bahrain — Junior enlisted on on the Navy base in Bahrain were treated to an exclusive midnight showing of the latest Star Wars movie, “The Force Awakens.”

Donald Wells, head of community activities for Morale, Welfare and Recreation at Naval Support Activity Bahrain, said he came up with the idea of the base’s first-ever midnight premiere because of the interest in the new film. He started getting phone queries about two months ago, he said.

Normally, servicemembers in Bahrain must be back in a residence or back on base by 1 a.m. They also must be out of establishments serving alcohol by midnight. But the premiere was open only to junior servicemembers living on base.

“We wanted to do something special just for those who live on base,” Wells said. “If we opened it up to the entire base population, it would have been harder for those guys to get tickets.”

Seaman William Cruz, a mineman aboard mine countermeasures ship USS Gladiator, was one of 102 sailors who attended the show at the MWR Theaters.

He said he had been eagerly awaiting the movie all day while he was at work. He had to start his next day’s shift about an hour after the end of the midnight premiere.

“I took a nap before the show and will take another one before work,” Cruz said. “I will still get more sleep than underway.”

The premiere was sold out, as is every Friday showing, Wells said. He added that commands had booked private, 8:00 a.m. showings all the way through Christmas as a gift to their personnel.

The audience at the midnight showing was in high spirits, cheering at certain points in the movie.

Several audience members said the movie was everything they’d hoped it was going to be and more. Petty Officer 3rd Class Christopher Henzerling rated it the best Stars Wars movie since “The Empire Strikes Back.”

”The movie broke barriers with new characters,” Henzerling said. “Nothing made you feel bland about it. I cannot wait until the next one.”

Twitter: @CChurchStripes

Petty Officer 3rd Class Preston Harrison, a Master at Arms at Naval Support Activity Bahrain, leaves the theater in the early morning hours of Dec. 18, 2015, after watching "Star Wars: The Force Awakens." Morale Welfare and Recreation scheduled the base's first midnight premier in response to multiple requests from Star Wars fans.

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