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05-11-07, 03:39 PM #1
Corps lowers drinking age to 18 in some cases
Corps lowers drinking age to 18 in some cases
By John Hoellwarth - Staff writer
Posted : Friday May 11, 2007 12:11:35 EDT
When the commandant brings his sergeant major with him to visit, you know the drill. There are nine good questions about war, pay, the barracks and training.
Then “Pfc. Ten Percent” asks the questions that make everyone else wince. Why is admin so slow? Why don’t Hawaii Marines ever wear their cammie sleeves down? Why can’t 18-year-old Marines drink?
Finally, Pfc. Ten Percent delivers.
The Corps-wide drinking age has been lowered from 21 to 18 for Marines on liberty overseas and for leathernecks taking part in official on-base command functions — including the birthday ball.
The rule change was effective April 19, not long after Commandant Gen. James Conway and Sgt. Maj. John Estrada, then-sergeant major of the Marine Corps, returned from a visit to the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit in the Middle East.
Estrada, during an April 23 interview, said that during that visit, the Marines “beat us down” on the drinking question. Many were angry that sailors under 21 were allowed to drink during overseas port calls but Marines couldn’t.
“Let me tell you. Some countries, the legal drinking age is 18. So why can’t they?” said Estrada, who finished his tour as sergeant major of the Marine Corps on April 25. “The sailors could drink because it’s legal, and they were like, ‘We’re from the same damned ship. What is this?’”
Shortly after returning from the MEU visit, Conway signed off on MarAdmin 266/07, his first revision of the Corps’ alcohol control policy, allowing 18-year-old Marines to drink in foreign ports if the host nation’s law allows it.
“The minimum drinking age overseas will be based on the host nation’s drinking age and on the local situation as determined by the local installation commander but in no case shall it be below the age of 18,” the message states.
The Corps’ Personnel and Family Readiness Division, which maintains the drinking policy, declined multiple interview requests, saying in an e-mail response that the change brings the Corps in line with Army, Navy and Air Force policies that give overseas commanders the option of allowing troops considered underage in the U.S. to drink if the host nation’s laws allow it.
Leading the way
But the commandant’s changes go further than any other service’s policy, decriminalizing welcome-home beer for underage Marines returning from deployment and giving commanders the authority to hold an 18-and-up kegger on base upon a unit’s return from a war zone.
And there’s no need to hide a flask in your sock before the birthday ball, because the commandant has you covered there, too. As long as your unit holds its celebration on base, commanders can drop the drinking age to 18 in the U.S. under “special circumstances,” and even authorize the possession and consumption of alcohol by underage Marines in the barracks.
The new policy defines these circumstances as “those infrequent, non-routine military occasions when an entire unit, as a group, marks at a military installation a uniquely military occasion, such as the conclusion of arduous military duty or the anniversary of the establishment of a military service or organization.”
Though the policy opens the door for Marine commanders to lower the drinking age on any service’s birthday, as well as the day their unit was formed, it applies only if the unit function is held on base, and commanders must “ensure that appropriate controls are in place to prevent endangering military service members or the surrounding community,” the message states.
“The authority to drink at age 18 is a privilege, not a right,” according to the message. “This authority shall be administered by the commander based on his assessment of each Marine’s maturity and ability to responsibly execute.”
Spokesmen for the Army, Navy and Air Force confirmed that the Corps is the only service with a policy that allows personnel under age 21 to drink in the U.S. The other services have adopted policies that leave the drinking age up to applicable state laws. All 50 states and the District of Columbia have set the legal age for purchase and possession at 21.
State laws differ
Only 13 states and the District of Columbia forbid underage consumption completely. The rest either offer exemptions for consumption on private property or in the presence of a consenting family member, or have no provision banning underage consumption at all.
Although Estrada described himself as “a fan” of leaving the drinking age up to individual states, he backed the commandant’s decision, saying Marines can recognize the difference between the new policy and a drinking free-for-all.
“I have some skeptics out there who say, ‘Oh no, you’re opening that can of worms,’” Estrada said. “I say that’s B.S. Marines are mature enough to know what’s legal here.”
Before endorsing the change, Estrada said he consulted senior enlisted Marines in Japan, Sgts. Maj. Robert Mastriano and Ronald Williams, on whether they had seen an increase in alcohol-related incidents there since the Corps lowered the drinking age in Japan last September to 20 to match that country’s laws.
Changing the drinking age back to 20 for Marines in Japan reversed a 1999 policy that set it at 21 on and off base after several incidents of violence by Marines were linked to alcohol consumption.
Estrada said Williams and Mastriano confirmed that there has been no increase in alcohol-related incidents since the 1999 policy was overturned.
IN LOVING MEMORY OF MY LATE HUSBAND, SSgt Roger A. Alfano, USMC
ONE PROUD MARINE
Once a Marine...Always a Marine
05-11-07, 03:43 PM #2
I have always said if your old enough to die for your country your old enough to drink...
05-11-07, 06:14 PM #3
Sent by Don Gallagher
For the companies annual picnic, management had decided that due to liability issues, we could have alcohol , but only one (1) drink per person .
I was Fired for ordering the cups.......
05-11-07, 06:33 PM #4
05-11-07, 06:39 PM #5
05-11-07, 06:44 PM #6
05-11-07, 06:45 PM #7Originally Posted by hrscowboy
05-11-07, 07:13 PM #8
05-12-07, 06:59 AM #9
The drinking age was 18 on base when I enlisted...and boy did I drink by share! I agree with a previous poster that if you're old enough to fight and die for your country, you're old enough to drink.
05-12-07, 08:01 AM #10
Back when.....All bases I served on had EM clubs where the beer flowed for anyone over 18. When you turned 21 you were allowed into the "21" club, a seperate bar within the EM club. The towns were whatever their drinking age was. Oversees it was if you could see over the bar.... Ah the old day's. 58 through 62
05-12-07, 09:03 AM #11
change the age to 18, period men and women can die for this country, they sure as hell should be able to have a cold brew!! Cheers.
05-12-07, 09:16 AM #12
Well done CMC
05-12-07, 09:39 AM #13
Great Job. It's only fair and right. Way to go Commandant & Sgt. Major. Drink up boys, don't screw up
05-12-07, 05:05 PM #14
well i guess as long as its on base. Great
but gettin out in town would cause alot of other leageleeze and with the way the Corps is headed down "politically correct road"...
just dont get that sleeve tat while your $hitfaced. ;-p
05-12-07, 05:52 PM #15
Put 18 year old drinking on every single ballot and you can almost guarentee that more 18 year olds will vote.
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