U.S. Army finds new home in Niagara
By SrA Peter Dean, 107th AW
/ Published April 23, 2009
Niagara Falls, NY -- The Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station, home of the New York Air National Guard's 107th Airlift Wing and the Air Force Reserve's 914th Airlift Wing may soon change from blue to purple. In a ground breaking ceremony held here April 7, dignitaries, guest and military members filled the 107th Security Forces Classroom for what will be the beginning of a new era for the NFARS.
"We are well on our way to becoming an indispensible base within the armed services," said Congresswoman Louise Slaughter.
In 2005 NFARS was slated to close in accordance to the Base Realignment and Closure decision. Largely in part due the efforts of Congresswoman Slaughter the base received a new lease on life. For the 107th that meant the KC-135s would be replaced with C-130s and for the base as a whole it would mean associate the two units, sharing the facilities and equipment.
"The Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station is the largest employer in Niagara County and as such is not only critical to our national security but vital to the economic well-being of the region," said Congresswoman Slaughter.
Construction of a two-story 86,000-square-foot Armed Forces Reserve Center is scheduled to commence April 8, 2009 and be completed by August 2010. The new center replaces the existing out dated center located on Porter Road, Niagara County. Once complete the state of the art, joint use facility, will house the 865th Combat Support Hospital, the 8th Medical Brigade and the 277th Quartermaster Company.
According to Brig. Gen. Michael Smith, 99th Regional Support Commander, the total project which will include a 15,700-square-foot maintenance shop and a 5,000-square-foot storage and is expected to cost upwards to $27 million. Once complete it will house a combined total of more than 500 Reservists, Guardsmen and civilians.
"I think it's going to be a really great mix between Army, the Guard and the Air Force," said Merrell A. Lane, president, Niagara Military Affairs Council.
"We know that bringing the U.S. Army Reserve Center inside the gate makes sense in these days," said Col. Allan Swartzmiller, 914th Airlift Wing Commander.
Furthermore, Congresswoman Slaughter has secured funding for a new $9 million dining hall and at present is seeking funding for an on base firing range to be used by Soldiers, Airmen and possibly local law enforcement officials.
"I'm proud of the investments we have made in the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station," said Congresswoman Slaughter. "Every dollar that we invest into this air base translates into more jobs and economic opportunity for Western New York," she added.