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600 343rd TRS students to get new dorm

By James Coburn | 37th Training Wing Public Affairs Office | Jan. 25, 2007

Lackland Air Force Base, Texas — A ribbon-cutting ceremony Jan. 22 dedicated the completion of a new dormitory for 600 technical school students undergoing security forces training by the 343rd Training Squadron. A few items remain to be installed, however, before students begin moving into the building, located at the north end of Carswell Avenue.

"It looks great - it really does," Brig. Gen. Darrell Jones, 37th Training Wing commander, said during a walk-through of the three-story, 300-room dorm after wielding a giant pair of scissors to cut a red, white and blue ribbon at the building's entrance.

Helping hold the scissors at the general's request were Col. Eric Beene, commander of the 37th Mission Support Group; Lt. Col. Mike Kelly, deputy commander of the 37th Training Group; Maj. Ray Walser, Lackland resident engineer for the Army Corps of Engineers; Tim Chadwick, president of MW Builders of Texas Inc.; and John Heye, deputy civil engineer for the 37th Civil Engineer Squadron.

"We really want to thank everyone that's worked on this hard: civil engineering; mission support squadron; Corps of Engineers - our great partners here on the base; the builders; and everybody that had something to do with it," General Jones said, "because every one of you are helping our young Airmen. The real thank-yous should come when you see the young Airmen moving in."

Lt. Col. Tim Farrell, commander of the 343rd TRS, said in an on-site interview that the students probably will be moving in around the end of February after washers and dryers, refrigerators, telephones, computers and recreational equipment are installed.

"We're not going to be able to get everybody in here," he cautioned, noting that the 343rd TRS has anywhere from 1,300 to 1,500 students in training at any one time.

While not a panacea, he said, "this is taking care of a good portion of our population, and showing the command's commitment to housing our students appropriately. What we need, and the general and everybody involved are working hard, is to continue to justify new dormitories for this base."

The difference between the old "jailhouse" dorms and the new dorm, Colonel Farrell said, "is night and day." He said a lot of the students are triple-bunked in the old dorms, and two rooms share one bathroom, so that can mean six students sharing one bath. The new dorm will have two students per room, and each room has a shower. "It will have a refrigerator, and a lockable closet, as opposed to a wall locker (in the old dorms)," he added.

"Right now, we're keeping it male only, because it's not big enough to house our entire population. The female dorm over by the 345th (Training Squadron) is not great, but it's in better shape than the jailhouse dorms," he said. The old dorms got their nickname from a wrought iron fence that used to encircle them.

The 343rd TRS population includes around 300 students staying at Camp Bullis. "They live out there for three weeks," he said of students going through the Security Forces Apprentice Course that runs for 65 training days. "There's not enough dormitory space out there either, but it's a newer dorm, only about 9 years old."

The new dorm and a new dining facility that opened Jan. 3 on Lackland Training Annex were built for $33.4 million under one military construction contract. Across Apollo Drive from the new dining facility is a new 200-room dorm, mainly for 342nd Training Squadron students, which may open for move-ins late next week if temporary washers and dryers can be installed until new ones can be funded.

The two new dorms and dining facility are among $60.3 million in major building projects opening early this year on Lackland, including a new Youth Center that may open in February.

"These projects reflect a continuation of quality-of-life improvements for our Airmen and their families," said Eddie Larkan, chief of contracts for the 37th CES.