Story and photo by MC2 MC3 Jacob Smith, PAO, NAF Atsugi
NAVAL AIR FACILITY ATSUGI, Japan – (May 2019) While being a U.S. Navy Sailor is a 24/7 responsibility, at some point everyone needs time to recover and recuperate in order to stay rested and maintain a mission-ready mentality. NAF Atsugi’s Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) department’s wide ranging services meet their needs.
MWR’s mission is to deliver high-quality, customer-focused programs and services that contribute to resiliency, retention, readiness and quality of life. On base, they run numerous facilities, and provide services to multiple avenues for Sailors to enjoy their liberty through means of recreation, fitness and dining.
“MWR is all about fun, food and fitness,” said MWR’s Recreation Director, John Benningfield. “We know it is difficult for Sailors to be over here without their extended families and loved ones, so we are trying to be their family as much as possible, to help relieve some of that homesickness.”
One of NAFA’s underutilized services provided for single Sailors is the Liberty Center, the most exclusive club on base according to Benningfield. Only for the single and unaccompanied, the lounge provides multiple couches and televisions for Sailors to enjoy their favorite programs or to hook their gaming consoles up. It also contains a small theater in which patrons can choose from a selection of movies to watch for free, along with computers and Wi-Fi for everyone’s web surfing needs. As a way to help bring in even more people, MWR hosts a free pizza night every Friday evening, provided by the neighboring Parcheezi’s Italian restaurant.
The two gyms on base, Halsey and Ranger, routinely hold fitness and martial arts class, competitions and sports events and can even support families by providing a place for children to play safely while the parents exercise. They have fitness coordinators who can assist with setting up individuals with a trainer, training on nutrition and workout routines.
“I think MWR really is doing the best they can with all they provide,” said Aviation Structural Mechanic 3rd Class Jonathan Bate, of the “Golden Falcons” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 12. “They got really flexible hours with the gym which is the biggest thing for me, and I enjoy going to the movies here on base, so I’m really thankful for all that MWR does for us.”
Other places for recreation are the Auto Skills Center, where visitors may work on their vehicles and learn automobile repair and maintenance skills, and the library, where guests can check out both books and video games. There is also Culture Craft Classes which provide Japanese culture and language programs that are hosted multiple times a month.
In addition to all the facilities and programs available, MWR also hosts events on and off-base, and offers trips in order to allow Sailors to go out and experience the culture of Japan, all at the lowest prices they can offer, providing discounts for E5 and below on top of that.
“The most challenging aspect for MWR is trying to meet the needs and desires of every patron while working through some of the controls and limitations that we have,” said Benningfield. “That being said, it’s very rewarding to provide these resources for all our Sailors, putting on events and trips all at the lowest cost we can just to make our customers happy. Our goal always is to enrich the lives of our Sailors, making their enlistment here enjoyable and increase naval retention.”
On the opposite side of the MWR facilities is Club Trilogy, which is home to Smokey’s BBQ, the Skywriter Bakery Café, a catering office and the enlisted bar First &Ten, all funded and ran by MWR.
“I can relate to the Sailors who may be away from home for the first time, in a foreign land at that,” said Quinton Gray, food service attendant at Smokey’s BBQ. “Some simple American food can be a great reassurance, and knowing that a comfort such is this is close by can also be a motivator for Sailors to get out and try something new since they know they always have somewhere they can come and feel at home. For that reason, I feel Trilogy is a nice place for all Sailors to come by, grab some food and relax while watching a game or two.”
To learn more about upcoming events, trips and other MWR services, speak to the MWR team in the Liberty Center in Bldg. 77, or contact John Benningfield at extension 4651 or email John.Benningfield@fe.navy.mil.