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NEWS | March 15, 2013

U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro visits new facility, trainees

By Maj. Jeff Pixley 323rd Training Squadron

During his first visit to the 37th Training Wing at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, U.S. Rep. Joaquín Castro got a close-up look at Air Force basic military training recently.

After lunch with the 502nd Air Base Wing Commander Brig. Gen. Theresa Carter, and other military officials, Castro visited the 323rd Training Squadron and toured the first-of-its-kind Airmen Training Complex.

The 1,250 bed, $73 million dormitory and office space includes state-of-the-art closed circuit cameras, centralized security and access control, upgraded drill and physical training facilities and numerous other upgrades from the 1960s-era Recruit Housing and Training Facility it replaced.

Castro, accompanied by members of his staff and Col. Mark Camerer, commander of the 37th Training Wing, was met by Col. Deborah Liddick, commander of the 737th Training Group and Lt. Col. Jeffrey Greenwood, commander of the 323rd Training Squadron.

Once inside the facility, the congressman received an introduction to basic military training with a video and slide show presented by Military Training Instructor Tech. Sgt. Pedro Peña. At the conclusion of the briefing, Peña led the group on a tour of the sprawling facility.

Highlights of the tour included improved security systems, the addition of in-house chaplain support, improved shaded outdoor training areas, the wheelchair-accessible elevator and a tour of the trainee dormitory.

Castro was shown the results of military training, especially regarding the attention to detail expected of trainees, such as hospital corners on beds, evenly spaced hangars and perfectly-rolled socks.

Also highlighted were the training facility's improved heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system, latrine facilities and "touchless" canteen-filling stations; all designed to reduce trainee illness and the spread of communicable diseases.

After leaving the dormitory, the tour continued to the $23 million Dining and Classroom Facility equipped with 12 college-style stadium classrooms; each with 120 computers.

From the second floor of the dining facility, Castro was given a bird's eye view of the new basic military training campus. With two other training facilities and another dining facility under construction, Castro had a glimpse of the future of basic military training for the Air Force.

The tour culminated with a round-table discussion between Castro and 10 basic trainees in their seventh week of training.