As static aircraft leave Lambert, Guard continues to reinvest in area

  • Published
  • By Missouri National Guard Public Affairs
Although the Missouri National Guard is moving three historical aircraft from its facility at Lambert International Airport this week, the Guard is continuing its commitment to investing in the greater St. Louis area.

In 2014, the National Guard has demonstrated its long-term interest in the region by moving the 1035th Maintenance Company to the area, which also houses the 3175th Chemical Company.

The Missouri National Guard is exploring the possibility of adding additional Guardsmen to the area through an agreement to lease the Bridgeton's long-empty former city hall building, which could bring hundreds of full-time and part-time jobs and has a potential economic impact of three to five million dollars, said Maj. Gen. Steve Danner, the Adjutant General.

"This would not only help the Guard's efforts to recruit more Soldiers from the area, but it would also put to use a vacant public building in Bridgeton and boost economic development in North County," Danner said. "The Missouri Guard has a long history in the area, and this new chapter would mark a win-win for the Guard and the local area. The Guard currently brings more than $50 million into the economy of the greater St. Louis area, and this move would allow us to do more."

The Bridgeton City Council passed new zoning regulations in May 2014 to allow commercial use of 17.5 acres at 11955 Natural Bridge Road, which would let Missouri National Guard to use the vacant facility, said Brig. Gen. Dave Newman, chief of the Missouri National Guard's joint staff.

With easy access to the MetroLink at the airport, housing units in the area opens doors for recruits who might otherwise have a difficult time getting to drill, said Newman, who worked closely with Bridgeton's city council to ensure all concerns were addressed prior to the approval for rezoning.

"Transportation is often a concern with young Soldiers to get to drill," said Newman. "In a metropolitan area, there are also more people who don't have cars and rely on public transportation. The new armory would be ideally located to use public transit instead of personal vehicles, and would greatly expand our recruiting ability."

While the Guard measures only the economic impact to the region based around training, equipment, and pay, the move will also have a positive impact on the area's civilian workforce, Newman said.

"Our Soldiers have the opportunity to earn certifications that carry over into the civilian world," said Newman. "For example, in a transportation company, individuals not only acquire skills to work in the Army, but they would also improve the skilled labor pool in the civilian sector, as well. A truck company needs drivers, mechanics, supply technicians, and administrative support."

Many communities around the state find the National Guard to be excellent neighbors who make a positive impact in the surrounding community, said Newman.

"Armories are used for a variety of community functions to include polling places," said Newman. "In addition, when bad weather hits, Guard units often offer humanitarian assistance to include wellness-visits through local neighborhoods."

The armory would also have a number of civil uses mirroring those in other areas, Newman said. These would include potential polling places and a place to hold community activities and events.

A few more administrative and logistical steps need to be made before the Guard may officially take occupancy the building, said Danner.

"Today, the building is empty and is not serving the taxpayers," Danner said. "By the Guard taking over, it will become an economic engine bringing jobs and skills to the region and helping the Missouri National Guard better serve the community."

As for the aircraft, they will find a new home representing the 131st Bomb Wing's history at a heritage air park on Whiteman Air Force Base, Danner said. The F-100, F-4 and F-15 represent nearly a half-century of flying in St. Louis, from 1962-2009.  The 131st, which was the home to aviation pioneers including Capt. Charles Lindbergh, continues to make history as the Guard's lone B-2 wing.

"Just as the 131st Bomb Wing found a new mission at Whiteman as the Guard's only nuclear wing, the Army National Guard is looking at bringing new missions to this area," Danner said. "This is an exciting time to remember our past but look forward to a continued investment in the area."