FORT LEE, Va (March 17, 2011) - A vision became reality here Friday when installation leaders officially opened the first building of a new $82 million battalion training area that will eventually accommodate more than 1,000 Soldiers.
Col. (P) Gwen Bingham, Quartermaster School commandant, and Col. Michael G. Morrow, U.S. Army Garrison, Fort Lee, commander, were among the participants in the ribbon cutting ceremony that marked the opening of the headquarters complex for the 262nd QM Battalion, 23rd QM Brigade. Located along A Avenue near the Cardinal Golf Course, the headquarters is flanked by barracks and other buildings that will be ready for occupancy within the next several months.
"Times are much different than they were 70 years ago when Soldiers trained in the open and lived in two-story temporary wooden buildings or tents, and this new headquarters is a monumental reminder of that change," said Battalion Commander Lt. Col. Hugh D. Davis during remarks at the ribbon cutting ceremony.
"As you look around the footprint of this future battalion area, you can't help but be amazed - barracks space for four companies and 1,200 Soldiers, a state-of-the-art dining facility that can feed 1,500, a PT field with a track and everything we need to prepare our Soldiers physically, and this state-of-the-art battalion headquarters with 11,400-square-feet of administrative space and classroom."
Bingham, the 51st Quartermaster General, also touched on the significance of the moment in her remarks. Saying Solders in training "deserve the very best" in equipment, instruction and living standards, she called the birth of the new 262nd QM training area a big step toward the vision of all new barracks for quartermaster students by the end of 2012.
The history of the 262nd QM Battalion - nicknamed "the Lifeliners" because of its unit motto, "Life Line to Victory" - and the significance of its current mission were also highlighted during the ceremony. The battalion was first established at Camp Pickett (now Fort Pickett) on March 13, 1942.
It was one of many all-black World War II units activated for the Normandy invasion, and its Soldiers continued to serve throughout the European theater during the war.
"The battalion was once again called to service in 1967 as part of the logistic build-up in Vietnam," Davis said. "During three years of service (in Southeast Asia), the battalion transported more that 22 million gallons of fuel and earned 10 campaign streamers."
In 1987, due to its distinguished record, the battalion was activated once again at Fort Lee to train quartermaster Soldiers.
"Today, the Lifeliners train Soldiers in six QM military occupational specialties," Davis said. "The mission is simple and straightforward: prepare them technically and tactically for the operational Army so they can deploy immediately upon arrival (to their first duty station) … and many have. We’ve had reports of our troops deploying within 96 hours of graduation, and in the last two years, we have provided more than 14,000 Soldiers to the operational force.
"It is incredible to think how many troops have been trained by this great battalion and the impact this has had on the Army."