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2012: The year in review

Published: 01:24PM December 20th, 2012
The year in review

Scott Hansen/Northwest Guardian

OCT. 12: Lt. Gen. Robert B. Brown, I Corps commander, left, Maj. Gen. Stephen R. Lanza, middle, and Command Sgt. Maj. Delbert Byers participate during the 7th ID reactivation ceremony on Watkins Field. As the only division with three Stryker brigades, Lanza calls it the “Stryker Division.”

Milestones marked 2012 at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, with leaders arriving and major units transitioning and activating. The installation absorbed a few weather extremes, but nothing slowed the pace of life on the thriving joint base.

The military community exhibited patience awaiting its bright future as construction crews worked to keep pace with growth, measured in buildings, boulevards and facilities. These Guardian issues told the stories:

January

Winter comes calling

The Puget Sound region got pummeled by a snow storm that took down power in about 900 homes on JBLM for more than 24 hours and closed the installation for three days. Wilson Sports and Fitness Center and McChord Fitness Center were designated warming centers, to which residents without power went for refuge from the freezing temperatures.

Warrior Zone opens

The high-tech, state-of-the-art recreation center, the Warrior Zone, opened its doors, celebrating with a gaming tournament, food tasting and barbecue. It featured more than $1 million in equipment, with X-boxes and Playstations enough for everyone 18 and older with itchy thumbs and a serious competitive streak.

February

Joint loading exercise

Airmen in 62nd Airlift Wing and Soldiers with 62nd Medical Brigade put the “joint” in the joint base Feb. 9, working together in an exercise to load a C-17 Globemaster III aircraft for transport of medical supplies and equipment. The exercise facilitated the medical brigade’s training as a Defense CBRN Response Force on duty until October.

March

Museum reopens

A modest ceremony reopened the JBLM Lewis Army Museum Feb. 21 after a $9.6 million, two-year renovation that brought a new elevator, expanded gallery space, a new alarm system, and heating, ventilation and air conditioning system that will help maintain the museum’s artifacts. “We wanted to showcase the work that’s taken place on all three floors,” Col. Thomas Brittain, JBLM commander, said.

Facebook town hall

Joint Base Lewis-McChord leaders asked community members to stay home March 1 and stay involved, submitting questions and issues about installation plans, services and facilities to the commander and his staff in its first Facebook town hall meeting. The virtual meeting jump started JBLM’s use of social media in keeping communication flowing among community leaders and members.

May

Annual Leschi walk

The Nisqually Indian Tribe, in coordination with Joint Base Lewis-McChord Cultural Resources, sponsored the annual Leschi and Quiemuth Honor Walk May 6, during which tribe members walked in the footsteps of their ancestors across grounds now part of JBLM. Until the middle of the 19th century, Nisqually villages stretched from the base of Mount Rainier along the waterways to Puget Sound.

Apaches arrive

The first AH-64 Apache helicopters to be permanently stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord arrived May 11 at Gray Army Air Field to join the 16th Combat Aviation Brigade’s 1st Battalion, 229th Attack Reconnaissance Battalion. The move of the 1-229 ARB formed a part of Army aviation’s transformation to a modular force and the consolidation of its units.

Armed Forces Day

Rides, rock climbing, Tuskeegee Airmen and re-enactors refighting battles from the Civil War and the American Revolution highlighted the 2012 Joint Base Lewis-McChord celebration of Armed Forces Day. More than 23,000 people came to the installation for family fun and to pay respects to U.S. service members.

June

I Corps redeployment

Lieutenant General Mike Scaparrotti brought I Corps back to Joint Base Lewis-McChord from Afghanistan with a redeployment and uncasing ceremony June 26. Among I Corps responsibilities was its assistance in standing up the Afghan National Security Force. “It was probably the most exciting, educating and best year of my military career,” I Corps Command Sgt. Maj. John W. Troxell said.

July

I Corps command change

The senior military commander on JBLM, Lt. Gen. Mike Scaparrotti, relinquished command of I Corps July 3 to a familiar general officer, Lt. Gen. Robert B. Brown. As a colonel, Brown commanded 1st Brigade, 25th Infantry Division at Fort Lewis from 2002 to 2005 as the Army wrote new doctrine for Stryker brigade combat teams.

Freedom Fest

Freedom Fest, the 22nd annual JBLM celebration of July Fourth/Independence Day, saw overflowing crowds at its concerts, rides, vendors and sporting events, but most attendees agreed the 2012 version had a decidedly small-town feel. “It’s just like the towns I grew up in,” Nelson Recreation supervisor Bill Strock, said. “I went to my county fair, I wouldn’t go to someone else’s.”

JBLM Air Expo

The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, the Army’s Golden Knights parachute team, and the civilian Patriots Jet Team performed July 21 in the skies over McChord Field during the 2012 JBLM Air Expo, an event Col. Wyn Elder, 62nd Airlift Wing commander said “to show civilians just what the American aerial arsenal is capable of.”

August

JBLM command change

Joint Base Lewis-McChord got a new “mayor” Aug. 7, when Col. Thomas Brittain relinquished command to Col. H. Charles Hodges Jr. Hodges called it the “completion of a circle,” having been a customer of the community as the former commander of 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, to take responsibility for community programs and services for JBLM Soldiers, Airmen, civilians and their families. “They deserve and will get the support commensurate of their service and sacrifice,” he said.

October

7th ID reactivation

A new chapter in Army history was written Oct. 10 at JBLM when Maj. Gen. Stephen R. Lanza, 7th Infantry Division commanding general, and Command Sgt. Maj. Delbert D. Byers, 7th Inf. Div. command sergeant major, uncased the Bayonet Division colors at its reactivation ceremony on Watkins Field.