CAMP H. M. SMITH, Hawaii --
U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific Marines thinking about taking leave and special liberty may be surprised to find there are special regulations when taking their hard-earned time off in Hawaii.
Marines stationed on the mainland are accustomed to beginning their leave at 12:01 p.m. and ending it at noon on the last day of leave, but due to the nature of living on an island, leave in Hawaii is conducted from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 a.m. of the Marine’s last day of leave.
To clarify the issue and other leave and liberty misconceptions, Col. Alan L. Thoma, commanding officer for Headquarters and Service Battalion, MarForPac, signed Policy Letter 12-10 recently.
“I think it’s important to talk about why the ‘noon-to-noon policy’ exists,” said Lt. Col. Milo L. Shank, executive officer for HQSVCBN.
According to Shank, West Coast units began instituting the 12:01 p.m. to noon leave policy between 2002 and 2003.
The policy changed to prevent vehicular accidents that occurred when Marines drove back to their duty stations at night to check in from leave by 7:30 a.m.
Due to the decrease in vehicular accidents from Marines driving long distances during leave, the policy became standard Corpswide.
At duty stations in Hawaii, it is physically impossible to drive outside of the local area. Travel off any Hawaiian island is conducted by boat or air, making it less likely an accident would occur due to the driver’s fatigue. As a result, the policy states the authorized check-in and out times are the end and beginning of standard working hours, 4:30 p.m. and 7:30 a.m.
The policy letter also clarifies and updates other leave procedures. Rather than Marines checking in and out of leave with the officer of the day, Policy Letter 12-10 states a Marine’s officer-in-charge can now check them in and out of leave, and the battalion is looking into expanding that authority to the staff noncommissioned officers when checking sergeants and below in and out of leave.
According to Shank, the battalion is reviewing Marine Corps policies to ensure they are authorized to give that authority to the unit’s senior enlisted.
In addition to leave procedures, Policy Letter 12-10 also clarifies special liberty rules unique to living in Hawaii.
Normally, Marines who remain within predetermined distance of their duty station do not require any special permission. Though the distance between the Hawaiian Islands is relatively short, interisland travel requires special permission.
“If you want to take liberty instead of leave to Maui, you can, but you need special liberty, or what we call an out of bounds chit,” said Cpl. Aphilia Robinson, noncommissioned officer-in-charge of the HQSCVBN administration section. “Your flight might be cancelled or postponed. So you may end up being late for work, which is why you need special liberty.”
Leaders are reminded that Marine Online, the system Marines use to submit and approve leave, automatically defaults check-in and out times from noon-to-noon and must be changed to 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 a.m. to comply with the policy.
For more information, refer to the policy letter, located on the MarForPac SharePoint site at https://intranet.mfp.usmc.mil.