Award Winning Dining Facility
By Senior Master Sgt. William Butman, 104 Fighter Wing
/ Published June 04, 2009
BARNES AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Massachusetts -- It was 10 years ago last month when the new 104th Dining Facility opened its doors. The ribbon cutting took place at the front entrance with U.S. Rep. John Oliver, D-Amherst, Lt. Col. Dan Swift, Wing Commander, Maj. Gen. Raymond Vezina, State TAG, Maj. Gen. Richard Platt and Sam Carpetta, the general contractor. The $2.2 million building with 11,300 square feet enabled feeding 300 base personnel at one sitting. Congressman John Oliver, who was instrumental in supporting the state funds to build the new Dining Facility, received the first plate of food from Tech. Sgt. Jay Salus at its grand opening. Oliver reiterated what he said during the ground-breaking , "The strongest, most diversified facilities are really going to be in the best shape for future use" referring to the multipurpose use of the facility. And what's good for the base is good for the city, said Mayor Richard K. Sullivan, Jr. "The city is well aware that without this unit there probably wouldn't be any Barnes Airport," The base, home to the 104th Fighter Wing, is the city's largest employer, with over 1,100 employees. Maj. Gen. Raymond A. Vezina, Adjutant General of the Massachusetts National Guard, praised the close ties between the base and the city. The old dining facility (Building 008 now referred to as the Club) didn't have the seating capacity nor the equipment to serve the wing during UTA weekends. "You get a bit bottlenecked in the line" said Tech. Sgt Dean Lambert, the former Dining Hall Supervisor. The new 11,300 square-foot facility, nearly doubles the capacity of the existing dining hall. "We have a world-class organization here, and this will give us a world class facility to take care of them here" said Lt. Col. Daniel P. Swift, Commander of the 104th Fighter Wing.
Master Sgt. James Tierney, the current Dining Facility Superintendant, is a 38+ year veteran at the 104th Fighter Wing. He recalls when the old dining facility was originally the Base Fire Station. "The garage doors would open up at each end, the fire trucks would pull out of the station bays while the wooden picnic tables that CE built would be moved from against the walls and positioned in the bays as the dining area. The problem we had was once the garage doors were opened, it would cool off the food. Then the heavy wooden picnic tables would have to be stored to the side as we swept the concrete bay for the Fire Trucks to pull back in". Pat Connors, Real Property Manager, verified building 008 was built in 1950 with building 001 to follow in 1951.
For the past 10 years the dining facility hosted a vast variety of functions other than drill weekend meals. The annual Chamber of Commerce Breakfast, Family Pasta Night and the Children's Halloween, Christmas and Easter events have always joined the local community and the 104th Families together. Most of all, the 104th Services Flight is proud to be a two time winner of the SMSgt Kenneth W. Disney Award winner in 2003 and 2009.