Elected officials and commanding officers old and new gathered Thursday morning to bid farewell to a 71-year-old headquarters building on Fairchild Air Force Base and hail the opening of a state-of-the-art building that will house the 92nd Air Refueling Wing and the Washington Air National Guard 141st Air Refueling Wing.
Washington Sen. Patty Murray said she worked hard to get the $13.6 million in construction funding for the new building and she will continue her work to bring the new KC-46A tankers to Fairchild. “This new facility wasn’t built for a base that’s going to fade away and become irrelevant,” Murray said.
Ground was broken for the new building in 2012. The two-story brick structure is across the street from the old headquarters, a white wood-frame building known affectionately as “The White House.” That building will be razed, and the site will become a parade ground.
Col. Brian Newberry, 92nd Air Refueling Wing commander, said the building symbolizes a new beginning for the base. He thanked the community and the families of his airmen for their support. “Without a doubt, the patriotic Spokane citizens are the core of our strength,” he said.
After the ceremony, which included the raising of the flag and a ribbon cutting, Newberry said the old headquarters building was simply too outdated. “If you walk through it, you would think it was in good shape,” he said. “It’s nearly impossible to heat and it’s nearly impossible to cool.”
The various offices in the building will move in phases over the next month or so, Newberry said. Right now the building doesn’t have a stick of furniture in it. “There’s kind of a coordinated chess piece game going on,” he said.
Among the selling points for the new building is a courtroom located right off the entry foyer. “The legal team is very excited,” Newberry said. “It opens them up. They’ve got a lot more space and a lot more areas.”