Letters to the Editor

Feedback: Brewing over bar statements

This is in reply to Ron Hewitt’s comments in the March 9 letters to the editor, “Primary mission disregards troops.”

First off sir, you are wrong in your assumption that the Back Alley is “another place” for sailors to go to and drink. Although the Back Alley is open to all hands and their guests, junior enlisted personnel can not go to the other Navy clubs on base (the O-Club or the CPO Club). Furthermore, Club Max, the original enlisted club, was closed in order to create the Back Alley. So there too, junior enlisted personnel only have the Back Alley to visit as a “bar.”

The NorWester Activity Center is still a favorite place for all hands to visit and that is where Club Max used to be located.

The Back Alley does more to serve all patrons who have access to the base, it’s not “just a bar.” It’s a hang out for when bowling leagues are done, etc. I would list activities to do, however, I don’t want this to turn into an ad.

Barracks life can be a bit hum-drum, but please don’t think or believe that all barrack personnel do is drink. That is absurd and unfair. Although that does seem to be all that is available to do around here, so you do have a point, to a degree. That, though, is not the military’s fault.

I have lived here for almost 15 years, and this town is unlike any other Navy/military town I know; whether that is due to being in a secluded area or not. This town is bursting at the seams with possibility. The only thing is no one likes change. In 15 years, I have seen many shops thrive and die here .... “Bears” ring a bell? How about the fun center that used to be on Pioneer? Why are there so many empty store fronts all over this town?

No, the only thing this town wants to bring to its residents is Wal-Mart, Office Max and Home Depot .... yeah, let’s hang out there; that would be great; see you in aisle two.

Sadly every now and then, everyone talks about base closures, but what would happen if Whidbey Island Naval Air Station was closed? Do you honestly think Oak Harbor can survive on Wal-Mart, Kmart, Office Max and Home Depot?

My point is that you are right, to a degree. As a community, we do need more than what the city and the base have to offer. If anything, we are failing that “drunk” service member by not providing them with a better outlet than to get drunk. Again though, please do not assume that all barrack personnel do is get drunk.

Since there is hardly anything to do around here, and I do like being outdoors, I have found that the trails of Whidbey and Washington state are a fair compensation to what the area lacks otherwise. I don’t drink, and no, I’m not in the military, however, when I want to do more than tree hug, I do find that I have to head north to Bellingham or south to Seattle.

As for your comment about drinking and driving, the Navy and community services (MWR) do care about their personnel and patrons. We do what we can to provide our personnel and patrons with a ride home when they have been partying at an MWR facility.

Mike O’Hanian

Oak Harbor

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