Ribbon Cutting Luncheon marks opening of three facilities at Homestead
By Maj. Brooke Cortez, 482nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published August 22, 2014
HOMESTEAD AIR RESERVE BASE, Fla -- Two brand-new facilities and the newly renovated Sam Johnson Fitness Center were officially opened during a ribbon cutting event Aug. 20 at Homestead Air Reserve Base.
Members of the community and base tenant units came to the Community Activity Center to mark the occasion. Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, representing Florida's 27th Congressional District, and Congressman Sam Johnson, representing the 3rd District of Texas, also attended the luncheon.
Both elected officials share ties to the military - Congressman Johnson is a highly decorated fighter pilot and flew combat missions in both the Korean conflict and Vietnam War. He was a prisoner of war at the infamous "Hanoi Hilton" for nearly seven years. Ros-Lehtinen's husband, Dexter, served in the Army as a Ranger and was wounded in Vietnam.
The fitness center is named after the congressman, and Ros-Lehtinen described him as a true gentleman and scholar.
"The facilities we unveil here today will well serve many of you, men and women who have followed in Sam's footsteps and answered our nation's call," she said. "I know that your courage is unwavering, and that we all owe you a debt of gratitude."
Congressman Johnson also spoke at the luncheon, describing how despite having severe injuries, he and his fellow prisoners used the last of their calories to remain physically fit. He described his cell as 3 feet wide and 8 feet long.
"I wore a path into the concrete floor of my cell pacing back and forth," he said. "But our leadership always emphasized that we needed to stay healthy by exercising, so we did."
Along with officially opening the renovated fitness center, the Community Activity Center and Army Air Force Exchange Service Express opened. The CAC cost approximately $7.6 million, the AAFES Express cost $2.7 million and renovations to the fitness center totaled $4.5 million.
"It is through the combined efforts of previous leadership and our elected officials that helped make these projects a reality," said Col. Chris Funk, 482nd Fighter Wing commander. "Without these efforts, we would not have these facilities."
Improving base infrastructure to support the Team Homestead mission is a priority for leadership here.
"Our Tenants, the Army and Air National Guard, the Coast Guard, Customs and Border Protection and Special Operations Command South perform real world missions daily to protect the United States of America," Funk said. "It is my goal as commander to continue to modernize and improve this base to support our hard working men and women and their families."
The CAC supports many base events, including the ribbon cutting luncheon, and is capable of serving an average of 450 people daily. Renovations to the fitness center include a 1,200 square foot expansion, new fitness rooms, steam rooms and an overhaul of critical cooling and electrical systems.
The AAFES Express is a 10,500 square foot facility that includes military clothing, four-pump gas station and convenience store. The store is open Monday through Friday 7:30 a.m. until 5 p.m., and on Unit Training Assembly Saturday from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. The gas pumps are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
For more information, visit: www.shopmyexchange.com/ExchangeLocations/PatrickAFBStore.htm#Homestead.