The long-awaited groundbreaking for the Army’s new Aviation Support Facility on Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst will make way for a modernization that will give service members a modernized facility to carry out their missions, said U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (NJ-04), who addressed Guard, Reserve and active duty Army, Air Force and Navy personnel assembled at the site March 8.
Smith, who led the fight to remove Lakehurst Naval Air Engineering Station–the largest employer in Ocean County–from the 1995 Base Realignnment and Closure list, noted that although it has taken many years to reach construction, the 103,600 square-foot hangar will be well worth the effort, supporting short-term construction jobs and longer-term Guard jobs, while improving the Guard’s 1-150th Assault Helicopter Battalion national security mission to respond to state and federal call-ups. The $43 million project will provide the newest and most efficient aircraft maintenance and training equipment for the battalion, which has operated in New Jersey for 35 years.
The congressman gave the following remarks:
“Victor Hugo once said that there is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come.
“Eighteen years ago, Lakehurst was on life support, a near casualty of the 1995 BRAC. Not only did we save Lakehurst from the axe in 1995, but in that same year the idea for an Army Aviation Support Facility located here was hatched by none other than my brother Mike (who then worked for the New Jersey National Guard) and his colleagues.
“Congratulations General Cunniff for making this idea a reality and for your tenacious efforts to secure this huge National Guard addition to the Joint Base—a facility that will tangibly improve operational readiness, safety and efficiency.
“Co-location and consolidation will ensure that the vital security and humanitarian missions of the New Jersey Guard continue to be performed with world class excellence.
“The National Guard’s response to Superstorm Sandy—the largest New Jersey mobilization of the Guard ever to a domestic emergency—saved lives, averted property loss and mitigated opportunistic crime. Over 2,000 members of the Guard were activated and did it all—search and rescue, helicopter lift, security patrols, debris cleaning, food and fuel distribution and sheltering operations. Thank you, General, for your extraordinary leadership during the darkest days of that crisis.
“Today the work begins on the Army Aviation Support Facility resulting in new construction jobs for a struggling local economy and when completed, a substantially better place for army guard aviation to perform its critical missions.”
The facility will augment operations at two existing facilities of 40,000 square-feet. Construction will increase capacity to five hangars with a total of 10 maintenance bays, which will share maintenance shops, repair parts and tool room, administrative and storage areas, specialized oil and fuel storage, a shared simulation training area and other features. TLS.