Press Release Index
CONTACT: Major Major Scott Williams at 631-723-7400 or Mr. Eric Durr at 518-429-5186
FOR RELEASE: Saturday, May 02, 2009
ON SITE: Major Major Scott Williams at 631-723-7400

Construction On $14.56 Million Building Begins At Air National Guard Base

New Facility Will HouseNew York Air Guard Pararescue Unit

WESTHAMPTON, NY (05/02/2009;)-- Major General Joseph Taluto, the Adjutant General, today announced that work has begun on a $14.56 million building at the New York Air National Guard's Francis Gabreski Air National Guard Base at Westhampton Beach. The commander of the 106th Rescue Wing, Col. Michael Canders, hosted a formal groundbreaking ceremony for the 38,000- square foot facility, today at the air base. The new building, financed by the Department of Defense, will enhance the ability of the Air National Guard's 106th Rescue Wing to respond to emergencies in the North Atlantic and send troops to support United States military operations in Afghanistan and other combat theaters. "This project not only enables the New York Air National Guard to better accomplish its critical mission, but it also puts New Yorkers back to work with a new construction project on Long Island," said Governor David A. Paterson, the commander-in-chief of the New York National Guard. "Senator Charles Schumer, former Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, Congressman Timothy Bishop and the entire New York Congressional delegation worked cooperatively to advance this program which benefits New Yorkers and helps improve security for all Americans." Governor Paterson is the commander-in-chief of the 6,000-Airman New York Air National Guard, the largest Air National Guard in the United States, as well as the 10,600-Soldier New York Army National Guard. "This project will enable the 106th Air Rescue Wing to continue its vital mission of saving lives," said Rep. Timothy Bishop, a backer of the project. "I was pleased to help secure funding earlier for this project which will allow for long-overdue improvements at Gabreski and create local jobs." "I want to thank our Congressional delegation for moving this important project forward, and I want to thank Gov. Paterson for his support of the National Guard," said Major General Joseph Taluto, the Adjutant General of New York. "This $14.56 million building will bring the rescue facilities at Gabreski Airport into the 21st Century." "This world class training facility will provide the 106th Rescue Wing and the (pararescue) Guardian Angel unit the ability to continue their important service in the Global War on Terror and to the people of the state of New York," said Col. Michael Canders, the commander of the 106th Rescue Wing. The 106th's pararescue squadron now occupies two much smaller buildings and houses equipment in a condemned warehouse. Some equipment is even outside where the corrosive salt air from the nearby Atlantic Ocean can destroy it over time. The new facility will be built right on the flight line adjacent to the hangers for the Wing's HH-60 Pavehawk rescue helicopters and HC-130 Search and Rescue aircraft. The new facility also includes a designated alert room for the on-call Para-rescue jumpers. Racanelli Construction Inc., a Melville firm, was awarded the contract for the new building. Construction is expected to take about 15 months. The 106th Rescue Wing has the distinction of being the oldest unit in the New York Air National Guard and the United States Air Force. The unit traces its lineage back to the First Company, Signal Corps, a New York National Guard unit of 100 men belonging to the 71st Regiment organized to operate observation balloons. In 1916 the unit, then designated the 1st Aero Company, New York National Guard, made the first long distance mass flight in U.S. aviation history, flying from Princeton, New Jersey to Mineola, Long Island. Along the way the unit has operated fighter jets, bombers, and tanker aircraft, before becoming an Air Rescue Wing. Today the 1,000-member unit operates HH-60 Pavehawk rescue helicopters and HC-130 Hercules aircraft configured for long-distance search and rescue. The Wing deploys airmen and equipment regularly to Afghanistan and other combat theaters, and also assists the Coast Guard in performing air rescue operations on the Atlantic seaboard. The heroics of the unit were featured in the 2000 movie "A Perfect Storm." The 106th also regularly provides support to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration during Space Shuttle launches and will conduct its 100th such mission on May 12 during the next scheduled shuttle launch. Known in the military as "PJs" for para-jumpers, Air Force pararescuemen are trained to jump from an airplane, or be lowered from a helicopter, into any environment to save downed civilians or military members. In combat they are trained to extract wounded aircrew if necessary. The PJs of the 106th are at home jumping from an aircraft into the waters of the North Atlantic or being lowered onto a mountainside in Afghanistan. The 106th Rescue Wing is authorized a strength of 80 pararescue specialists.
© NYS DMNA Press Release:Construction On $14.56 Million Building Begins At Air National Guard Base
Page Last Modified: May 02, 2009