SANTA RITA, Guam (Dec. 10, 2020) - United Service Organizations (USO) Guam held a ribbon cutting ceremony for a new center in Camp Covington on U.S. Naval Base Guam (NBG) Dec. 8.
The USO NBG is the organization’s third operating center on the island. The 6,000 square foot facility provides recreational amenities and programs for military service members and their families on Guam.
Rear Adm. John Menoni, commander, Joint Region Marianas (JRM) said he appreciates the collective efforts made by NBG, the USO, and local government and commercial partners in establishing the additional resource for uniformed personnel.
“Guam is a long way from most of our homes where we grew up, so having something like this, a facility like this where ships, and Sailors and Airmen and Marines, and Coast Guardsmen can come and just relax for a little bit, and maybe get back to a little bit of sense of normalcy – especially over the holidays, but certainly every day – sometimes that’s what gets you through the tough times,” he said.
Capt. Jeffrey Grimes, commanding officer, NBG, echoed Menoni’s remarks.
“As we continue to grow in size, in capability, we see a lot more visitors coming to Guam – whether that’s for regular operational deployments or exercises – and adding the USO to the already capable morale, welfare and recreation support that we have on the base is just another piece of the puzzle that multiplies the force to operate hard and reset,” he said. “It gives us…a place to go to unwind, to reconnect with our families and to take a second to realize what we’re doing for our country.”
USO NBG Center Manager Edmund Lebita said the support received from the military on Guam was instrumental in opening the new facility and they look forward to returning the efforts in kind.
“What we hope to accomplish with the center is to give the deployed Seabees here on Camp Covington a home away from home, the greater Naval Base Guam community a place to relax, and to enjoy, and to find some respite through their workday,” he said.
Equipment Operator 2nd Class Monica Cervantes of Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 3, deployed to Guam over the holidays from Port Hueneme, is one of the NBG-based Sailors who will benefit from the new center.
“With the pandemic and everything going on, it’s…where we’re able to do something to get us out of our rooms,” she said. “It means a lot, even if it’s something small. We can literally cross the street and then just relax. I think that’s really big, that’s what we’re all excited for.”
USO centers on Guam have re-opened from COVID-related closures based on a three-phased approach. The first phase allows active-duty service members to use USO facilities, phase two includes dependents age 18-years-old and above, and phase three allows access to all eligible patrons. USO NBG is in phase one, while USO Andersen and USO Tumon Bay are in phase two of re-opening.
While the USO NBG is currently open only to active-duty personnel, Lebita said the center will be used as a launchpad for programs intended for the greater military community.
“We’re just here to support anyone we can, in as many ways as possible,” he said.