Ground broken for new JB Lewis-McChord weather facility

  • Published
  • By Ryan Hansen
  • 55th Wing Public Affairs
Ground was officially broken here July 13 for a brand new 1st Weather Squadron headquarters facility.

The new complex is part of a $6.4 million Army project and will increase the capabilities of this group of 65 battlefield Airmen and five civilians.

"This is the result of years of support all the way from the Pentagon staff at headquarters Air Force and the Department of the Army," said Lt. Col. Bill Courtemanche, 1st WS commander. "I sincerely appreciate all the decisions and hard work that was done well before our tenure to get to this point."

Scheduled to be completed by October 2013, the new 16,286 square foot facility will replace the unit's current 1950's era building that is only 3,500 square feet and has limited storage and parking and only one restroom.

"There are more personnel than there are workstations at our current location," said Capt. Joe Knapik, operations flight commander with the 1st WS. "Along with the headquarters element offices, the new building will include improved parking, a tactical vehicle parking area, an indoor workout area, Tactical Meteorological Equipment storage and a pre-deployment staging area."

The new two-story building was designed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and will meet requirements for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification by the U.S. Green Building Council. In addition, it will maintain the architectural design and look consistent with Fort Lewis' historical buildings.

"This project is symbolic of the joint collaboration of weather support by the Air Force to the Army," Courtemanche said. "We look forward to this state of the art facility to better support our aligned Army commands across the Pacific."

The 1st WS provides operational weather information to the base and Army combat units spread across the Pacific with the exception of the Korean area of operations. They also train and maintain combat readiness for worldwide battlefield weather deployments.

"Our motto is, 'first weather, none better,' and this facility will help us live up to that," Knapik said. "We are all excited and thrilled about the facility."