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Okinawa Marines in the Asia-Pacific region

Okinawa, Japan
MCAS Futenma Haunted House; the Mastermind behind it

By Lance Cpl. Tayler P. Schwamb, Marine Corps Installations Pacific | Marine Corps Installations Pacific | October 23, 2017


The sun sat on the purple horizon as Seamen Apprentice Ariel C. Lissauer closed the decrepit door to Building 424 on Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, rattling the boarded up windows of the haunted-house-to-be. The small silhouette gathered her assortment of tools and trudged back to her barracks to prepare for the next hectic day.

Lissauer is the mastermind behind the creation, construction and execution of this year’s MCAS Futenma’s Haunted House she has dedicated over 100 hours to it, often by herself. Lissauer is a utilities constructionman with Headquarters and Support Battalion, Marine Corps Installations Pacific-Marine Corps Base Camp Butler-Japan. For four months, her bubbly personality, dedication and inexhaustible passion for volunteering was the backbone of the progress made on the haunted house.

“I really do love Halloween, it reminds me of this holiday that we have in Judaism,” gushed Lissauer an Irvine, California, native, her light green eyes twinkling.

Purim is a Jewish holiday that commemorates the saving of the Jewish people from Haman, who was planning to murder all of the Jews. During this holiday, they dress up in festive costumes and give food as gifts and charity, similar to Halloween.

Lissauer’s passion for Halloween started as an elementary school student, as she struggled to balance the differences between her family’s culture, Judaism, and the American way of life. The contagious attitudes of her classmates during holidays sparked Lissauer’s curious personality fueled her love for American holidays like Halloween.

Lissauer decided to use her love of Halloween to bring together the local and military community on Okinawa. MCAS Futenma’s Haunted House is one of the biggest events for Halloween on island, gathering young and old alike to scream in terror.

“This is the local community’s taste of Halloween and she made it,” said Lance Cpl. Malik Miller, a tactical air defense controller with Marine Air Control Squadron 4, Marine Corps Air Control Group 18, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III Marine Expeditionary Force. “In America we celebrate everything with everybody, we go door to door of complete strangers dressing up and getting free candy, but here that isn’t a thing. This gives us a chance to celebrate with everybody through the haunted house and that is so important.”

With the goal of bringing the communities together, Lissauer battled animals, fatigue, and lack of manpower. She dedicated countless Saturdays to clearing out the plethora of old forgotten junk.

“It was hard to balance sometimes,” explained Lissauer her dark brown curls bouncing as she shrugged nonchalantly. “While I was volunteering with the haunted house, at work we had to redo the chapel. The coffee house roof to the chapel collapsed, and [the Seabees] were the ones who needed to fix it. So by the time I got off work I was exhausted. For four weeks straight, I was outside in the sun all day long tearing apart the roof, and when I was done, I felt like I was dead. After work I would set an alarm to leave for the haunted house and snooze it and snooze it because I was so exhausted. But I always ended up going.”

Despite the toll it had on her worn body Lissauer pushed through, bringing in more volunteers as the weeks crawled on. They created the ominous maze, mischievous hiding spots and terrifying traps sure to spook guests.

“She was one of the biggest assets for the haunted house that we had,” said Miller. “She is so hardworking and dedicated to what she does I hope we work on it again together next year.”

With the haunted house opening around the corner, Lissauer waits anxiously for the feedback from her terrified visitors.

The haunted house will be open Oct. 27-28, and is a free, open-gate event.