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Photo Information

Lance Cpl. David Hernandez, combat videographer, Headquarters and Service Company, 1/3, helps to loosen up the dirt while leveling the ground during construction of Vollmer's Cinema April 25. Marines from different sections of Headquarters and Service Company helped with the work and the theater was officially opened April 28.

Photo by Cpl. Rick Nelson

Movie Theater helps Marines relax in Haditha

31 May 2007 | Cpl. Rick Nelson

During combat operations, Marines and sailors are often faced with many stressful and strenuous scenarios. At the 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, Headquarters and Service Company forward operating base located in the city of Haditha, areas are set up for them to sit back and relax after a hard days work.

"Vollmer's Cinema" was unveiled after Marines from different sections of the unit took the time to build an amphitheater in an area that was previously used as a sandbag pit.

"I thought of the idea to make the theater one night when the Marines were sitting around watching a movie on nothing more than a small screen," said theater namesake Gunnery Sgt. Donald J. Vollmer, assistant operations chief, Headquarters and Service Company, 1/3.  "It took us all about 24 hours to build the theater.  It was good to see all of the Marines out here helping, and it couldn't have been done without them.  I think they knew it would be a place for them to sit back and relax after a strenuous day."

During the construction, dubbed “Operation Construct Theater,” Marines leveled the ground, built seats out of wooden pallets, made a large screen, and created a device that holds the movie projector.

"It was definitely worth the work and turned out really well," said Lance Cpl. Mike R. Silva, Jump Platoon, Headquarters and Service Company, 1/3. "The theater kind of adds a taste of home, and makes me feel like I'm closer to the states."

Silva, a native to Lakeworth, Fla., added that theaters aren't something you see at many FOBs.

"While the movie was playing, you could tell the Marines were enjoying themselves," said Lance Cpl. Kyle B. Kahoun, operations watch noncommissioned-officer, Headquarters and Service Company, 1/3.

"We plan on holding movie night once a week, depending on operational tempo," said Vollmer, an Albany, Ore. native.  "We're always trying to come up with ideas to help raise motivation and morale among the troops.  We have a few ideas up in the air right now and we're still trying to get more speakers and other parts to enhance the theater even further."

Vollmer said the experience of building the theater is one the Marines will never forget.

"Not many people in the world can say they helped to build an amphitheater in the middle of a combat zone, but now these Marines can," explained Vollmer.