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1st Marine Division


1st Marine Division

Camp Pendleton, CA
Base theater provides respite from combat toils

By Cpl. Shawn C. Rhodes | | August 21, 2004

It doesn't have surround sound or popcorn to buy in the lobby, but the movie theater here is a luxury after a long day for Lance Cpl. Kyle R. Arsenault.

Temperatures peaking above 120 degrees drain the energy of many Camp Lejeune troops here, particularly the ones outside all day. For Arsenault, and artilleryman, brief respite from the weather in an air conditioned movie theater has been up to this point as foreign to the Auburn, Maine, Marine as the rest of Iraq.

"It's great to have this theater.  I have time to get chow and a movie before bed every night now," said Arsenault, 19.  "It hasn't been open long, but I'm sure going to spread the word about this place."

The trailer is equipped with a carpeted floor, wood-paneled walls, a surround sound system and a big screen TV.  Many would agree the best feature is the air conditioning though.

"The air conditioning and movies take your mind off of what's going on outside for a little while," said Cpl. Zachary A. Trigero, a mortarman from Reno, Nev.  The 22 year-old serves as director of programming during the evenings and changes the movies out for the Marines.

The trailer came as a gift from Regimental Combat Team 1, for the morale of the troops.  It was long in coming, explained one staff sergeant.

"We call it the 'Albatross Theatre' because the whole project of getting it here has been one big, unwieldy beast," said Staff Sgt. Michael J. Auleta, 30, and the battalion log chief from Neptune, N.J.  "It's a great thing to have and I think it'll benefit the Marines a lot."

"We can show two movies a night and we have a different theme every day of the week like action, horror and comedy," Trigero said. 

Although romantic comedies aren't at the top of the list, there's room for everything.

"Tonight no one wanted to see the movie we had programmed so we threw in an episode of 'Friends,'" Trigero added.

Flyers are posted around the camp to let the Marines know about the new feature.  They know what movies are playing in advance so when they're not outside the wire they can get some respite.

"Four people is the biggest turn-out we've had so far, but word is still getting out about this place," Trigero said.  "We might need more seats when everyone knows about what this place has to offer."