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Some years back I was near Ft. Lewis in Washington State and decided to go to the "O Club" for lunch. ( I'm retired) I found out that Officer's Club was now a Community Center.

 

Have the Services done away with the Officer's Clubs or was this just an Army thing?

 

Thanks

 

Paul

Salome, AZ

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They've gotten rid of officer's clubs pretty much throughout the military. Partially from a forced cultural change (the days of drinking and picking up on random women in the bar...a la Top Gun...are frowned upon) plus a general lack of interest in officers from younger generations.

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Was at my daughters in FL and decided to drive up to Mother Rucker for a trip down memory lane. Didn't recognize a thing and the O Club became, I think, a "servicemans club". So all ranks could mingle and drink. Yep those days are gone.

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I served as an enlisted club manager in Germany in the mid 1980s. I managed the Officer's Club at Ferris Barracks in Erlangen Germany. During my tenure as club manager the Army decided that O' Clubs would become Officer's and Senior NCO Clubs.

In 1985 the Army decided to eliminate Enlisted Club Manager positions and hire civilians to run the clubs. During the mid-1980s the Armed services started to downplay the role of alcohol in military traditions and service and offered programs to help soldiers kick the habit.

Over the next few years the rising costs of using civilians instead of military managers led to many clubs closing for want of revenue. Also during the 1980s Appropriated fund support of all extra-curricular activity disappeared and any off duty activity had to become self-sufficient or go away. This included clubs, arts and crafts centers, youth activities, etc.

As the Army moved into the 1990s and into the 21st century there was less and less emphasis on these activities and many disappeared. Added to that the fact that fewer soldiers (also in the civilian sector) were consuming alcohol changed the emphasis of remaining clubs from beer halls to community centers offering more and more services for families.

Add to that the banning of in-theater use of alcohol for service members during our recent wars further led to the demise of the Club.

When I was stationed at Camp Casey, Korea in the mid 1990s the Eight Army commander directed that the drinking age be changed to 21 due to so many incidents involving younger soldiers.

It was a sign of the times.

Hardstripe

I collect US Army chevrons and US Army Finance Corps items. I also collect CCC insignia.

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I retired in 75. O Club membership was mandatory. You were expected to drink, but woe on you if you couldn't hold your booze. There was Right Arm night where you brought your top NCO to the O Club and bring your boss night where your NCO hosted you. The O Club had a class 6 package store that sold bottled liquor.

 

During a Korean tour near retirement I realized that everything I was doing for entertainment involved drink. Wow I'm on my way to Alcoholism !!! I cut way down.

 

I really loved the old wooden O Club at Ft Lewis in the 60's.

 

Paul

Salome, AZ

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  • 3 weeks later...

My dad used to talk about the old Navy CPO's who'd leave for lunch at the Chief's club and never come back. Now the "Chiefs club" at NAS North Island does not even open until 3:30 except on Friday, closes at 9 PM and is closed on the weekend.

 

cpo.jpeg

 

When I was at the Presidio of Monterey in the 60's, they had an enlisted club that I seem to recall had a great view of Monterey Bay and poured strong drinks and lots of them. It was quite a slog up the hill to the barracks after that. I was 17 or maybe just turned 18 then, but no one ID'ed.

 

Now the Marines, for one, may test you first thing in the morning and if you had too much the night before you could fail the test:

 

"The Alcohol Screening Program was introduced in January 2013, when commanders began administering breathalyzer to on-duty to officers and enlisted personnel, typically when they reported to work in the morning. That, officials hoped, would discourage Marines from drinking late into the night during the week."


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I got my gold bar for O-1 in 1998 (at the age of 28, so I got lot of that out of my system before I signed on) and even then, I could see the "going to the club for drinks" every Friday night was a thing of the past, even then.

Probably stems from when DUIs became a really big deal for the law and in popular culture, or maybe an extension of the PC culture.

Frankly, I was happy that I wasn't expected to go drinking with the other officers every weekend and that alcohol wasn't as big a deal by then. I never was a big drinker, as I never liked the out of control feeling anyway.

I think the military is WAY better off without that culture.

Lee Bishop Formerly known as "Ratchet 5" with the 2nd Infantry Division (yes, in REAL life)

US WW2 War Correspondent collector

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I find this to an interesting topic and I was reading online about what happened to the clubs and I read the term "deglamorization of alcohol" by the US military several times. I was wondering when the "deglamorization" effort began and how things were when I was in the Army. I hope not to get to far off track or high jack the thread. With that said when I was in alcohol abuse was a serious issue that was for the most part, in my humble opinion, ignored by the chain of command. Maybe it was an infantry thing but if the soldiers in my unit were not on duty the majority of them were usually plastered. I would venture to say that at any given time at least 1/4 of the soldiers in my platoon were on some level of the ADAPT Program. I will never forget when my unit would call an alert at 0330 on a Saturday morning when at least half if not more of the soldiers were legally intoxicated. To include many of the ones that were moving the 30 ton BFV's into battle positions somewhere on or around Camp Casey. Just to make it clear I am not passing judgement I'm simply recalling how it really was and I really hope things have changed for the better.

 

These whiskey labels I have must be from when the US Military was still glamorizing alcohol.

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This is an interesting thread, great discussion.

 

RC

"It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts."

*Sherlock Holmes in "A Scandal in Bohemia"*

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My, how times have changed. Remember all the clubs from Ft Campbell, A.P.G., Oakland, and just about every base in Vietnam and Ft. Bragg.The AF had it made. We would drive 100 miles round trip to go to an AF club just to make a sandwich with mayo, we never had mayo. And then there were the steaks!!! Custom cooked! The officers club on Long Binh was supose to be a secret, but everyone knew what it was. They had china, real silverware and cloth napkins.

Back in the 80's-90's our WWII reenactment group contracted with the Ft. Story O Club for dinners, everyone dressed out in original dress uniforms, even some of the Germans, those were the days.

"The true Soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him" G.K. Chesterton

"A people that values it's privileges above its principles will soon lose both" D.D. Eisenhower


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Bob, I look at that photo and ask "What could possibly go wrong?" LOL!

Gil Burket
Omaha, NE
Specializing in Fakes and Reproductions
of the Vietnam War

burkcats@hotmail.com

 

"One is easily fooled by that which one loves."

 

Moliere: Tartuffe

 

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I do not think there were many John Wayne films set-in WWII that did not have at least one Officer's Club scene. ;)

"It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts."

*Sherlock Holmes in "A Scandal in Bohemia"*

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  • 1 month later...

Active Duty Navy here. The O'Club out at NAS Fallon is still alive and very much so kicking. Fallon is home of Top Gun and most fighter squadrons do detachments out there to spruce up on tactics. Fighter Dice and trying to sneak up on the bar to slap a squadron sticker higher than the other guys before the barmaid catches you is still very much the name of the game. I was also invited to the CPO Club at Fallon and can verify it is likewise still running its A game. During our 1 month detachment out there both were open every night and every night we were in there partaking. It was described to me by some of the old Tomcat drivers that Fallon is the last true O'club still running out there. I've still got free drink chips from there for covers on the counter and any other sort of shenanigans.

 

Naval College in Monterey still had an O'club and it wass active with all of the folks going through the courses out there as of 2010.

 

In Bahrain on deployment the O'club and CPO club were both hopping but only as a stopping point for most to grab a few more beers before returning from liberty because lets be honest ... you gotta be kinda drunk to willingly get back on board a carrier to tool around in the heat for another month or more before you get to touch land again.

 

The O'Club and CPO Club at Pearl Harbor are both closed though the "enlisted" club is still open but serves everyone of all ranks.

 

The O'Club at MCB Kaneohe Bay is still alive. They do a great spaghetti buffet one day of the week and otherwise serves great food with an amazing view. Not sure if its open for drinks though.

 

Hickam AFB's O'Club was similar. I know they did dinner during the week but I'm not sure if they had an active bar scene or just mostly dining.

 

The O'Club at NAS North Island was open the one time I was up there but it may have had more to do with the Admiral wanting to catch a drink with all of us after our community brief. That said the glasses were all hanging on the ceiling so it does get some use, but probably only one day a week. Same with NAS Oceana.

 

NAS Whiting Field does their winging ceremonies in the O'Club still and it opens on the weekend for those staying there on TDY orders for training. The gal would also open the bar during the week if we could get at least 10 people to commit to coming down and drinking. Otherwise she'd drive us into Pensacola to party. Pensacola's O'Club was open and doing lunch/dinner as well. Never went down there to drink though.

 

The O'Club at Sub Base New London (Rotten Groton) was still functioning when I did SOBC there back in 2011. It was only open on Friday if I remember right, but the local VFW would donate something like $400 each week for wings and beer. So you ate and drank for free until the money ran out. The senior guys from the boats loved to come up and talk to all of the SOBC students on Fridays at the O'Club. The CPO' Club was open as well but I think it was open Friday AND Saturday.

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NAS Whiting Field does their winging ceremonies in the O'Club still and it opens on the weekend for those staying there on TDY orders for training. The gal would also open the bar during the week if we could get at least 10 people to commit to coming down and drinking. Otherwise she'd drive us into Pensacola to party. Pensacola's O'Club was open and doing lunch/dinner as well. Never went down there to drink though.

 

 

 

Actually.... the Officers Club at NAS Whiting Field was Torn Down. I was trained there as a flight student and did two tours there as an IP (Instructor Pilot). My last day on active Duty was spent there and I still live 15 minutes away. The actual Officers Club was torn down some time between my two IP Tours (somewhere between 2006 when I left and 2011 when I returned). The Bar that you are referring to is attached to the Billeting right next to Sikes Hall. The Bar is where the "Soft Patch" ceremony takes place. This is where a newly designated "Unrestricted Naval Aviator" gets his / her wings (the leather name tag version). Note: Unrestricted naval aviators are Helicopter pilots, because they have been trained on both Fixed and Rotary wing aircraft. The Soft patch ceremony is a very informal and usually humorous event where an instructor pilot tells a story (truths, half truths and out right lies) about the newly designated aviator. The next day is the formal ceremony in full dress where they get the metal "Wings of Gold" This usually takes place at the base theater.

 

Semper Fly

 

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No kidding? They actually had a legitimate O'Club beyond the small bar in the Navy Lodge. I guess that makes sense. It seemed rather small and now that I think of it the Gunners would all come down and drink in there too.

 

Yeah soft patching, sorry bout that. Got my terms mixed up, maintenance type here.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I remember when:

 

- There were distinctly separate officer, NCO/CPO and enlisted clubs

- Many of the clubs had exotic dancers/strippers one or two nights a week (I can't even imagine such a thing in today's environment)

- On dancer/stripper night at Little Creek, the base CO would often show up and serve beer (I kid you not)

- Membership in the O' club was mandatory, and you were expected to attend AND drink (often to excess). An officer that didn't drink was looked upon with extreme suspicion.

- In San Diego, there was a "night" for most of the clubs...32nd Street, MCRD, Miramar and the air station on Coronado. I now forget which night was which, but you could drink cheap beer almost every night of the week.

 

when the subject of online dating comes up in conversation, I often joke that I met my wife the old fashioned way...drunk in a bar. The bar was MCRD San Diego in 1989, and we are still married :)

I will pay top dollar for original WWII items pertaining to:

 

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The O'Club and CPO Club at Pearl Harbor are both closed though the "enlisted" club is still open but serves everyone of all ranks.

 

 

Is that the one at the Naval Station (of course it's all 'Joint' now) or the one at the Sub base?

"It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts."

*Sherlock Holmes in "A Scandal in Bohemia"*

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Is that the one at the Naval Station (of course it's all 'Joint' now) or the one at the Sub base?

The Chief's Club used to be just inside the Makalapa Gate on the left hand side of the road. Its closed. The Enlisted Club/All Hands Club is in the Makalapa Gate, turn left and its on the left hand side there.

 

The old hotel on the sub base still opens for special functions but I don't remember it specifically being referred to as an O'Club. The Sub Base MWR place under the pool might have had an enlisted club but honestly, I never went in it. I knew it had a Fatburger and an internet cafe in it for the enlisted guys, but that's all I knew about it.

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Here is a 1997 article explaining some of the pressures on the clubs back then.

 

http://archives.starbulletin.com/97/05/26/news/story2.html

 

Apparently, the Hickam Officer's Club is still alive and well. It had a great location right on the Pearl Harbor ship channel. Sitting there eating lunch I saw everything from destroyers to an aircraft carrier go by on one day or another. One day, to my surprise I saw three ships of the Japanese Self Defense Force come rolling in, complete with rising sun flag! That was a bit of a surprise, but they were there for the annual RIMPAC exercises.

 

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Hickam-AFB-Officers-Club/153469998012260

 

http://www.greatlifehawaii.com/programs/19839138-4911-4d17-bf6a-be62c8b0bfe4

Gil Burket
Omaha, NE
Specializing in Fakes and Reproductions
of the Vietnam War

burkcats@hotmail.com

 

"One is easily fooled by that which one loves."

 

Moliere: Tartuffe

 

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  • 2 months later...

A few 'late to the party' observations:

 

Interesting to hear about the demise of the alcohol culture--next I suppose they will stop spit-shining boots. :D

When I was on active duty in Germany, I once went to a 'community' meeting, chaired by an O6, the ranking officer in the local collection of military units. Someone pointed out that while the army was killing careers by taking drastic action against soldiers who received DUI citations, at the same time the Class VI store was selling alcohol at bargain prices. They asked if there was anything to be done about this.

The colonel sighed. "I've tried," he said. "There's nothing to be done. The money from liquor sales funds all the non-appropriated fund activities, and if you say anything, the boy scouts, the dependent youth activity, and everybody else raises hell."

 

Sorry to hear the enlisted club managers are history. I briefly served with one of these NCOs in Korea and he was ...well, let me say, a very capable expediter. When the sarge and I had to travel to Seoul, I assumed we would ride the shuttle bus. When I mentioned this he gave me a pained look and phoned a friend. We traveled to Seoul in a sedan.

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