MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. --
The Combat Center has several unique elements that set it apart from other Marine Corps installations. One of these is that it is the only base or station with a club noncommissioned officers can call their own.
The Bloodstripes NCO Club here is the only NCO club left in the Marine Corps, said Dawn Boyd, an automated clerk and the acting manager of the Excursions Enlisted Club and NCO Club.
“This is the last NCO Club in the Marine Corps,” said Boyd, a native of New Brunswick, N.J. “Why not make it history?”
Boyd said the club staff does their best to put suggestions given by Marines into action through the NCO Club advisory board, which meets every month. The board makes decisions on changes in renovation, accommodations and other aspects of the facility.
“They just repainted it and made some other small changes,” Boyd said. “We’re working on getting more furniture in here, as well, so it’ll be more appealing for the NCOs and encourage them to utilize their club.”
Many Marines who spend their evenings at the club said they were unaware the building they socialized in was the last of its kind.
“I didn’t even know this was the last one,” said Sgt. Gino Tristan, a tank technician with Combat Logistics Battalion 7, and native of Sugar Land, Texas. Tristan has served aboard the Combat Center the better part of three years, but admits he only recently started spending time at the club.
“Knowing that this is the last one makes me want to keep it,” he said.
Sgt. Paul Gallieo, a light armored vehicle technician with CLB-7, joined Tristan at a circular table covered with glasses and uneaten bites of free chilidogs, which are offered every week during Monday night football.
“Our first sergeant encourages us to come hang out here,” said Gallieo, a native of Vindor, Texas. “He highly recommends that we support this place since it’s our club. We encourage other [NCOs] to do the same.”
Cpl. Nick Zamagni, an instructor trainer with the Tactical Training Exercise Control Group, said he spends a couple hours at the club each night, especially during sporting events.
“I come here every day since it’s local and within walking distance,” said the Milford, Mass., native. “I like the atmosphere – you can just get in [civilian attire] and hang out. It’s cheap and it’s easy to hang out with other NCOs, and not have to worry about rank. Besides, the food is free.”
Aside from offering free “finger food” on football Sundays and Mondays, the club also offers food for special events on Wednesdays and Fridays, Boyd said.
These events include Warrior’s Night, previously called Troop Appreciation Night, which grants NCOs a chance to bring their junior Marines in, and Boss’s Night, which allows NCOs an opportunity to mingle with their senior leaders at the club in a group setting.
The club hosted its most recent Warrior’s Night Wednesday. The next Boss’s night is scheduled to take place Oct. 26 from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Boyd said she encourages all NCOs to give the club’s advisory board suggestions of what they would like to see in their club.
“We can’t know exactly what they want unless they give those ideas to us,” she said.
To learn more about NCO Club events, call 830-6608.