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1st Marine Division


1st Marine Division

Camp Pendleton, CA
New café connects Marines to home

By Lance Cpl. Macario P. Mora Jr. | | April 1, 2004

Talking home from the far reaches of the Iraqi desert is now just a push of a button away.

That's because improvements to Morale, Welfare and Recreation facilities are finally complete at the camp that's home to Regimental Combat Team 7.  A new Internet café and phone bank opened April 1, giving Marines here a chance to call and e-mail home.

"I'm really happy right now," said Pfc. Bruce K. Galicia, a radio operator with the regiment's Headquarters Company.  " I haven't called my wife since they closed the last café down."

The Internet café Marines inherited from the Army was closed for about two weeks to be moved to a new location on the sprawling base shared with 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing.  The only option the Marines had was to travel to other end of the base to use the MAW's facilities.

"It was a hassle walking to main side," said Lance Cpl. Jordan P. Lamoreaux, a radio operator with 2nd Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment.  "But, even worse was trying to find a ride.  I'm very excited, not only is it closer, but... cheaper than the (old) phones."

The difference in the upgrades from what was available when Marines first arrived until now is staggering, according to Sgt. Christopher R. Blosser, the tactical data network chief who helped set up the new café.

"With the... new satellite system you only have to pay 4.7 cents a minute," said Blosser, from Harrison, Mich.  "The (old) phones are 35 cents a minute, plus the walk."

Cpl. Nicholas Dunn, a computer technician for the regiment's Headquarters Company, praised the new facility.  He said the new system is fast and easy to use.

"You can hardly hear an echo on the phones and the download times are more than adequate," Dunn said, of Marshville, Wis.

Dunn explained that the first part of getting the new café was installing the new hardware.  The second part was tougher: finding the personnel to run the café.  Most of the Marines are strapped with daily duties that offer little spare time.

"The café has been running for a while now," Dunn said.  "It's just taken sometime to get people to man it."

The hard work was worth it, though.  Marines at this far-flung camp now have a reliable and affordable means to call or send e-mail messages home.

"This was one of the best jobs we've done," Dunn explained.  "We helped provide Marines a link to the outside world and to loved ones.  This is a huge moral booster."