New entrance, visitor center open at Camp Schwab
CAMP SCHWAB, OKINAWA, Japan -- U.S. Marines and local community leaders participated in a ribbon-cutting ceremony June 25 at Camp Schwab in recognition of a new visitor center and entrance gate.
The new entrance, which is located on the same road as the primary gate, will make the flow of traffic smoother and lessen congestion. The visitor center will enhance camp operations and create a more hospitable atmosphere to strengthen local relations between the Marines and community members.
“The openings of this gate and visitors center are improvements we’ve made in preparation to support the Marines here now, and those that will be arriving in the future,” said Maj. Gen. Charles L. Hudson, the commanding general of Marine Corps Installations Pacific. “These two enhancements act as conduits between the Marine Corps and the local community, and they will improve our current and future operations.”
The new visitor center will create easier access to the camp for non-status of forces agreement personnel and improve communications between local citizens and Marines, according to Col. Richard D. Hall, the commanding officer of 4th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force, and the Camp Schwab commander.
“This stands as a symbol of our efforts to further bond with our longstanding Okinawa neighbors, especially those closest to us from the local communities of Nago and Henoko,” said Hall. “Our mutual friendship is very important, and through this center we now have a place where anyone can talk to Marines and get to know who we are and what we do.”
Following the end of the ceremony, Munekatsu Kayo, the mayor of Henoko, was led on a brief tour of the visitor center and then shared a meal with Hudson and other distinguished guests.
“I consider (having a visitors center) a great opportunity,” said Kayo. “I think this will have a positive impact on the community because now it is easier for Okinawa residents to see the camp and interact with the Marines.”
These new camp features are only the beginning, and lay the foundation for future projects currently in the planning process, according to Hudson.