Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Welcome Aboard

The notice below was sent to us by John H. Brown of the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy at Georgetown University.

From the Desk of

CMDCM(SW/SS) Lawrence A. Cairo
Command Master Chief
U.S. Naval Base Guantanamo Bay, Cuba


Congratulations on your orders to Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. You
now are part of history, a member of the oldest U.S. base overseas, and the
only one in a Communist country. We are located in the Oriente Province on
the southeast corner of Cuba. The base is about 400 air miles from Miami,
Florida. [...]

In the recent past, our base has become a highly successful stop for many
Naval ships looking for a place for their crews to rest and relax.

Naval Base Guantanamo Bay is a great community as well. Since we do not
have the luxury of leaving the base after work, we have everything you need
right here. We have a Commissary, Navy Exchange, furniture store, gas
station, hospital, dry cleaners, bowling alley, library, Navy Federal Credit
Union, Community Bank, and Columbia College so you can work on advancing
your education. If you are accompanied by your family and have children, we
have both an elementary (pre-K through 6th grade) and high school (grades
7-12), along with two Child Development Centers and a Youth Center. All
facilities are open to the general population with the exception of the base
clubs. The drinking age on base is 21, so only personnel 21 and older are
allowed into the clubs.

The base has a very diverse and rich culture. Our current population is
about 8,500. In addition to active duty service members from the Navy,
Army, Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard, and their dependents, we have
civilian contractors, DoD contractors, dependents of hired contractors and
third country nationals (TCN), mostly from Jamaica and the Philippines. The
base contractors hire many of the TCNs for their workforce. Because of this
diverse population mixture, we commemorate each other’s special celebrations
such as Cuban-American Friendship Day, Philippine Independence Day, and
Jamaican Independence Day.

Guantanamo Bay is not all work. There are many off-duty activities as well.
Most activities are outdoors, because we have great weather. Because of our
location, the temperature in the winter is in the 60s in the morning and is
in the upper 70s by afternoon. During the summer the temperature is in the
mid 70s in the morning, and rises into the upper 90s throughout the day.
MWR is very active here. We have free outdoor movie theaters that show first
run movies every night, with two on the weekends. Intramural sports are very
popular and are programmed throughout the year, and there are a number of
different ball fields in various locations around the base. Additionally
MWR has boats, kayaks, fishing equipment, diving equipment, and even some
surfboards for rent. We have a 9-hole golf course, an 18-hole miniature
golf course, tennis courts, batting cages, and three swimming pools. There
is great diving here. You can snorkel or tank dive. If you are not a
certified diver, you can take classes to become certified. Night dives are
very popular with certified divers.

You can even have a ‘GTMO Getaway Weekend.’ We have a bachelor quarters
complex on the Leeward side of the base which has 134 rooms. You can take
the ferry over to the Leeward side and rent a room for about $7.
Additionally there is a galley on Leeward side, an outdoor movie theater
(coming soon), a mini-mart, and a small club. You can spend the weekend
away from everyone, visit one of the Leeward side’s four beaches and relax.

As you see, GTMO is more than you thought, and will be a great duty station
assignment. I am looking forward to your arrival, meeting you, and having
you as a member of the “GTMO Team.”

Again, welcome to the team!

Very respectfully,

Lawrence A. Cairo


Washington DC