01/29/08 — 916th breaks ground

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916th breaks ground

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on January 29, 2008 2:09 PM

Fritz Linsenmeyer is not used to being interrupted -- particularly in the middle of a speech aimed at community leaders and Seymour Johnson Air Force Base leadership.

But the colonel and 916th Air Refueling Wing commander let it slide Monday afternoon.

After all, it was the roar of a pair of F-15E Strike Eagles that cut him off mid-sentence.

And 4th Fighter Wing Commander Col. Steve Kwast did apologize.

"Sorry about that," he said.

"That's all right. It's the sound of freedom," Linsen-meyer replied. "You know, we're here today to support these guys who are going to go drop some bombs, so I think the noise is great."

Dozens of officials from the Goldsboro and Wayne County government teams joined members of the 916th Monday to break ground on a $23 million project designed to support the Reserve wing's incoming active-duty unit, the 911th Air Refueling Squadron.

The project, awarded to local firm Daniels and Daniels, calls for the design and construction of three new buildings -- a squadron operations building, a simulator building and a corrosion-control hangar.

Linsenmeyer said the facilities, which are going up as part of Base Realignment and Closure Commission recommendations, would support eight new KC-135R Stratotankers and the hundreds of airmen it will take to stand up the new unit.

"It's another great day for Wayne County and Seymour Johnson," the colonel said.

Jeremiah Daniels, who will serve as manager for the project, agreed.

"Everybody who is involved in this project is really proud of it," he said. "It's definitely going to be a good thing for Goldsboro and the community."

Design work has been in progress for months now, he added, and crews are set to begin construction within the week.

"We've been working real hard for three months now, but we knew what we were getting ourselves into," Daniels said. "It's going to take a lot of hard work to finish this job."

Still, this particular job is worth every ounce of effort, he said.

After all, members of the Goldsboro construction firm know the Air Force mission well.

"We're going to take a lot of pride in these buildings," he said. "I mean, it's a marquee job, it's for the community and it's for the defense of our country. Everybody involved, we're all real proud of that."

It has been a good few years for Daniels and Daniels, which is currently wrapping up a $4 million restoration of Goldsboro's original City Hall and was awarded the contract for Phase 10 of Seymour Johnson's housing effort.

Daniels said he loves to stay busy and that once his crews finish up downtown, their focus will turn to the base.

Completion of the 916th's new facilities is expected by June 2009.

But if it were not for members of the community and their support during the BRAC process, their construction might not ever have been authorized in the first place, Linsenmeyer said.

"It is your support today that is the reason that we are here," he said. "So thanks. Now, let's go spend some BRAC money."