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Kokua Line

By June Watanabe

Tuesday, May 7, 2002


Military bases don’t allow
open-gate civilian access


Question: In February the Star-Bulletin reported that military bases on Oahu were easing access, moving toward pre-Sept. 11 security procedures: "The change has meant speedier entry ... and return to the type of civilian accessibility that marked pre-Sept. 11 days." However, we have tried to gain access but were denied entry because we were not on "official business." We are not members of the military nor civilian base employees. What must we civilian citizens of Hawaii do to gain access to Schofield Barracks, Fort Shafter, Pearl Harbor, Hickam Air Force Base, the Coast Guard base and the Kaneohe Marine Corps Base?

Answer: Even pre-Sept. 11, civilians for the most part weren't allowed to just show up and be allowed access to the various military bases.

As Maj. Chris Hughes, spokesman for Marine Corps Base Hawaii in Kaneohe, explained, "We did not operate under an open-gate policy." Excluding civilians who may have recurring business on the base, such as a contractor, "prior coordination is required," he said.

In the case of public events, which the Kaneohe base continues to sponsor, including the recent Swamp Romp (a race through "the muck and mud"), as well as the annual Bay Fest, they "do require planning and preparation. Anyone coming through that gate, and that includes the general himself, is subject to having their vehicle searched," Hughes said.

At Pearl Harbor, entry to the naval complex since before Sept. 11 has been limited to military personnel, their family members and sponsored guests, said Agnes Tauyan, spokeswoman for Navy Region Hawaii.

Authorized access for civilians is limited to employees with valid Department of Defense identification or those who have official business to conduct on base, she said.

The only locations at Pearl Harbor open to the general public are through the USS Arizona Memorial and Visitors Center, operated by the National Park Service; the USS Bowfin Museum and Park, operated by the Submarine Veterans of WWII; and the USS Missouri Memorial, operated by the Battleship Missouri Memorial Association, she said.

Regarding Schofield Barracks and Fort Shafter, civilians without Department of Defense ID cards may come on post for certain activities, "provided that they have proper identification and their vehicles have current registration, safety check and insurance card," said Lt. Col. Michael Warburton, U.S. Army Garrison, Hawaii.

The Coast Guard, meanwhile, says no civilian is allowed to go on its base "unless escorted by an active-duty Coast Guard member," while you're required to have an ID card to get on Hickam Air Force Base and/or "have some reason to come onto Hickam."

As Marine Maj. Hughes put it, no one in the military is "going to let the tragedies of Sept. 11 interfere with our relationships (with the civilian community). This is our community, too. But we've got to plan and coordinate things."

Mahalo

To Bernie and the crew from the Department of Parks & Recreation for the fantastic job they're doing at Kailua Beach Park. On Friday, April 19, we had our Guidance Field Day activity there, and right away as we entered the park, I couldn't help but notice how clean the park was. I've been to many parks here and on the mainland, and I must say that Kailua Beach Park rates top on my list. What really solidified my judgment were the spotless restrooms. I actually thought I was at a hotel. Keep up the good work! -- Glen Gillia, Roosevelt High School Social Studies Department head





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