News: Bagram’s Russian tower houses history
Story by Tech. Sgt. Rob Hazelett
BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan - A familiar landmark to deployed service members and civilians who have worked here is the old Russian control tower, which was built on Bagram Air Field in 1976 during the Soviet Union's economic collaboration with Afghanistan. The tower was pivotal to invading Soviet forces at the beginning of the conflict, which lasted from 1979-1989.
U.S. forces who have used the tower since 2001, renovated the tower to include painting its exterior and repairing the tin roof in March 2002. The tower's interior renovation, which included having the walls repainted and the floors and stairs being resurfaced, was completed by summer 2002
The Air Force compound where the Russian tower is located on Bagram was officially re-named Camp Cunningham during a dedication ceremony March 4, 2004. A memorial and flag poles were erected next to the tower to commemorate the sacrifices made by pararescueman Senior Airman Jason Cunningham, who departed Bagram during Operation Anaconda March 4, 2002. Cunningham was killed later that day in the Battle of Takur Ghar, also known as the Battle of Robert's Ridge.
The tower was retired Feb. 26, 2008, when a new control tower was opened on the east side of the airfield.
"A neat thing about the Russian tower is you get a chance to learn and feel the history of what is going around you, both past and present,'” says Jory Vanderburg, 455th Air Expeditionary wing historian and native of Layton, Utah.
Although more than five years have passed since the tower has been used for its original purpose, the building remains open. The first two floors are home to several units stationed here, and occasional events and weekly tours for deployed members are conducted in the tower.