News: Air Guard campus building honors 'Wingman' spirit
Story by Master Sgt. Michael Smith
MCGHEE TYSON AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Tenn. - One of the newer buildings on the I.G. Brown Training and Education Center's campus here was named after the Air Force's most rooted word for bonding and resilience in a June 21 ceremony.
Officials named Building 401 "Wingman Hall" and branded its street side brick wall in those bold, grey letters.
"... it is fitting that this building be so named, as the TEC looks forward to a strong, resilient future taking care of airmen," said U.S. Air National Guard Col. Tim Cathcart, commander of the TEC.
A significant day for the TEC, they also observed its 45th anniversary when it began enlisted leadership classes in the corner of a base hanger. Many former alumni, instructors, commanders and commandants were on hand.
The group watched a time-lapse video of the letters being installed. (Watch the video at www.youtube.com/watch?v=PZ4cQjchxMI)
"... with the name Wingman Hall, we were trying to come up with something that captured the spirit of the building ...," said Lt. Col. Ira Campbell, chaplain. "The response has been positive."
Campbell occupies the building's only office. He said the name is also a nod to the history of when more than 3,500 chaplains and disaster first responders trained there from 2002-2009.
Wingman Hall is a six-room structure that sits on a hillside below the TEC's headquarters building. It was constructed in 2002 for less than $500,000 as a late bloomer to the extensive campus building projects that broke ground in the late 80s and early 90s.
They unofficially referred to it as the "AIM" building, because the Air National Guard's Academy of Innovative Ministries held crisis intervention courses in its central, multi-use room. When that training moved elsewhere, the building became a catchall for professional continuing education as well as spiritual and family support events.
Today, the building's small, white spire, stained glass and arched windows are a good reminder of its past. They were designed in by its DC architect to remain neutral with the surrounding base. The new name should complement those elements.
"We never dedicated it," said Chaplain, Col. Charles E. Woods, who served as AIM's first and only commandant. "I feel pretty good about the name."
Woods now serves in Maryland as the Air National Guard's chaplain liaison assistant to U.S. Air Force Air Combat Command.
In the wave of 9/11 projects, Woods said he was sent by the Air National Guard's leadership to oversee construction of the building as well as manage and develop its joint disaster response curriculum.
Woods said he handled an initial crisis when rain water poured down the hill from the TEC campus and flooded their new floor. A drainage ditch was dug around the building to fix the problem, which explains why it rests entrenched and surrounded by landscape rock.
Woods said officials also envisioned the building to serve as a temporary disaster operations center for military chaplains. More than 50 network and telephone connections were hard-wired into the walls, and significant multi-media and projection equipment were put in. It was never used for that purpose, but the capabilities were popular.
"Everybody wanted to use that building," said Woods. "And it was a success as far as the chaplain corps was concerned; we did an awful lot of training."
Campbell said that the TEC's Professional Continuing Education Division makes good use of the space as well as the 134th Air Refueling Wing and base family support services. Base personnel also use the building for weekly spiritual services and study.