CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan – I went to the gym today at 3 p.m.
That may not exactly sound like breaking news, but the time signifies something bigger: Camp Leatherneck’s gym controversy is finally over.
About a week ago, Capt. Thano Pravong, Leatherneck’s camp commandant, made the decision to close the gym from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. after it was discovered that the midday temperature inside was edging toward 120 degrees. Helmand province cracks triple digits regularly now, and when you add in a few hundred men (and a few women) pumping iron in an enclosed tent, it can get pretty ugly.
The decision was about as popular as Ozzy Osbourne at a classical music festival. Marine officials were bombarded with angry complaints, and Pravong’s staff kicked it up a notch to find a solution that would allow the gym to remain open 24 hours a day.
Yesterday, a breakthrough occurred: With four massive air-conditioning units installed on the plywood floors in the basketball court-sized gym, it was successfully kept open all day. And that meant dozens of Marines could work out in the middle of the day, with Game 1 of the NBA Finals playing on TV through the Armed Forces Network.
Pravong said he understands how important the gym is to Marines on base, and is glad to see the problem solved.