Students prepare the final meal served at the Culinary Arts Training Center Sept. 3. The 345th Training Squadron, along with the CATC, is moving to Fort Lee, Va. (U.S. Air Force photo/Robbin Cresswell)
LACKLAND AIR FORCE BASE, Texas —
A tasteful closing concluded an era of culinary arts at Lackland when technical school students prepared the program's final meal on base for 37th Training Wing and 37th Training Group leadership Sept. 3.
Jokingly dubbed "The Last Luncheon," culinary arts center training students bade farewell to the base for the cooking part of the program.
Culinary arts center training is relocating to Fort Lee, Va., as part of 2005 Base Realignment and Closure law. That course and others, from both the 344th and 345th Training Squadrons at Lackland, will form a realigned 345th TRS under the 37th TRG's supervision at the Army installation. Courses that did not move from those two training squadrons now comprise the 344th TRS at Lackland.
"Moving to Fort Lee are AF Services Academy from the 344th TRS, and air transportation and transportation management from the 345th TRS," said Lt. Col. Stephen Landry, 37th TRG deputy commander.
The colonel said training programs that remain from the 345th TRS, including the logistics readiness officers' course, AF Recruiting School, contracting and supply, along with what was left from the 344th TRS, including the AF Safety Academy, Enlisted Air Crew Center for Excellence and some other courses, are combining into the 344th TRS, which remains at Lackland.
Realigning the Air Force culinary arts training to Fort Lee establishes a joint center of excellence in culinary arts as mandated by BRAC. Colonel Landry said in the future, courses may consolidate, but for now each service branch is running its own.
He also said the formation of a full squadron eliminated two detachments at Fort Lee. The 37th TRG currently has eight detachments and two operating locations around the continental U.S.
"Operating in this environment with a dislocated entity in the 37th TRG is not new," he said.
The 345th TRS flag transferred to Fort Lee on June 25 with personnel to follow in stages.
A ceremonial change of command to Lt. Col. Debbie Kent, who is already at the Virginia post, is planned at a date to be determined.
Once facilities under construction at Fort Lee are completed, more personnel and equipment will be moved. The construction has an estimated Sept. 30 completion date.
Colonel Landry said minimizing the amount of time between closing and reopening the training programs involved in the move was challenging.
"Although we may not be gaining new Services Airmen right now, there are still retirements, separations and deployments.
"We want to make the down-time gap as small as possible because it impacts the mission to the Air Force worldwide," Colonel Landry said.
The deputy commander also said group leadership was finalizing a plan to address issues created by the relocation that could no longer be handled face-to-face.
Colonel Landry said group and squadron leadership is committed to ensuring geographically separated personnel don't fall victim to the "lost sheep syndrome - out of sight, out of mind."
"We have to make sure they're getting funding, professional military education support, promotions and decorations," he said.