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    New York Soldiers Back Home in Harlem

    Harlem Soldiers Return Home

    Photo By Col. Richard Goldenberg | New York Army National Guard Maj. Gen. Ray Shields, the Adjutant General for New York...... read more read more



    Story by Col. Richard Goldenberg 

    New York National Guard

    NEW YORK – After four years and nearly $60 Million in renovations, the Harlem Hellfighters have returned home.

    Soldiers of the New York Army National Guard’s 369th Sustainment Brigade Headquarters and 369th Special Troops Battalion returned to their armory on 5th Avenue in Harlem November 10, 2018.

    “Today is a great day for the Harlem Hellfighters,” said Col. Steve Bousquet, the 369th Sustainment Brigade Commander. “We now have a home to come back to.”

    The units occupied the building just in time to participate in New York City commemorations of the centennial of the armistice that ended World War One. Seven hundred members of the brigade marched in the New York City Veterans Day Parade on Nov. 11.

    The National Guard unit traces its lineage back to Harlem as the 369th Infantry Regiment, and before that as the 15th New York Infantry.

    The massive building, with some 113,000 square feet of armory space for Soldiers to use, but a total space of nearly 180,000 square feet in all, was originally built in the 1920s for the drill floor and the 1930s for the administrative areas. After more than 80 years, it was time for renovations, said Col. Scott Cleaveland, the New York National Guard Construction and Facilities Management Officer.

    Work began in 2014 to upgrade the facility to modern standards for New York’s Citizen Soldiers.

    During the project, the 369th Sustainment Brigade mobilized, deployed for contingency operations in Kuwait and returned home to temporarily continue training at nearby Camp Smith while work finished in Harlem.

    During renovations, facility managers encountered challenges in asbestos removal, uneven floor levels discovered during demolition and water infiltration from exterior walls that all required new emphasis, Cleaveland said.

    Although the Soldiers have moved back in, more work remains to be done in the building’s basement and a few other areas.

    The old heat radiators and window-mounted air conditioning systems were replaced with a modern system. Locker rooms and 60 bathrooms, once scattered around the structure, were centralized for Soldiers on each floor. And the troop dining facility received an upgraded tile floor, a new range hood and space for a serving line.

    Across the building, upgrades provided energy efficient lighting and sprinklers for fire response.

    “As you walk through the halls today you see the effort of the state and National Guard Bureau to do what’s right,” Bousquet said.

    Work also included the discovery of artifacts of the Hellfighters’ past, he said. The regiment fought with distinction in France during World War I, mobilized and served in the Pacific during World War II and had elements deployed for the liberation of Kuwait during the Persian Gulf War.

    After the armory was emptied by the unit and demolition could begin, there was a discovery of old artifacts and even antique weapons in spaces that had not been accessed for years, Cleaveland explained. Working in tandem with the New York State Military History Museum, these rare finds were collected, documented and archived for possible future historical display.

    Including historians and preservationists in the construction work helped preserve the historic importance of the armory for future Soldiers, Cleaveland explained.

    Renovating an 80-year-old structure required extra care to preserve the historical nature of the architecture and its unique part in telling the story of the Harlem Hellfighters to a new generation of Soldiers, Cleaveland said.

    “Special care was taken to preserve the historic aspects of the building to include the terrazzo floors, African-inspired wall tile and stair rails,” Cleaveland said. “Of special historical significance was the 3rd floor command suite, the 1st floor conference room, Soldier classrooms, and the lobby and entrance foyer.”

    The project is an investment in the units that will call Harlem home and give Soldiers a first-class building to work from, said New York State Adjutant General and commander of the New York Army National Guard Maj. Gen. Ray Shields.

    “I want to welcome you to the brand new building, $60 Million of your tax dollars at work to give you a new home,” Shields said to assembled Soldiers of the 369th Sustainment Brigade Headquarters during their first drill assembly back in the Harlem Armory.

    “The most important thing to remember is that this $60 Million investment in this armory is really an investment in you, our Soldiers,” Shields said.



    Date Taken: 11.10.2018
    Date Posted: 11.19.2018 09:01
    Story ID: 300320
    Location: HARLEM, NY, US

    Web Views: 432
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