The U.S. Army Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville is managing the Soldiers Plaza demolition project at Fort Benning, Georgia, as part of an existing Mid-East Region U.S. Facilities Reduction Program Multiple Award Task Order Contract.
Huntsville Center manages regional demolition contracts to support removal of excess facilities under its Facilities Reduction Program (FRP).
Under this task order, the contractor will perform a range of demolition services on the installation. Demolition will include, but is not limited to, the abatement/removal of asbestos containing materials and other regulated materials, disconnect/capping of utilities, disposal of all debris materials, and restoration of the site to a specified condition. The contractor will restore all work sites with respect to grading and proper drainage.
Huntsville Center has worked with Alan Bugg, Savannah District area engineer, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, to execute the project’s quality assurance that ensures safety and proper disposal of all materials.
The $1.4 million contract kicked off Feb. 15. It will ultimately remove 45 facilities totaling nearly 407,000 square feet of excess infrastructure from Fort Benning’s real property inventory.
The excess facilities being moved by All Phase Services, Inc., of Delray Beach, Florida, will reduce Fort Benning’s footprint.
Of the 45 facilities, 43 are located within Soldiers Plaza and 31 of them, or almost 120,000 square feet, are World War II-era wood structures. To date, 14 have been demolished reducing Fort Benning’s infrastructure by more than 40,000 square feet.
The Soldiers Plaza project is scheduled to be completed in April, with the other two buildings scheduled to be completed in September.
This demolition will remove the installation’s last World War II buildings on main post, which served most recently as administrative buildings but have been used as barracks, medical facilities and for other Soldier-related services.
The wood structures were built for temporary use in the early 1940s and removing them marks the end of an era, said Dave Shockley, Huntsville Center Facilities Division branch chief.
“They were supposed to be gone within 25 years of when they were built; they are coming up on almost a century,” he said.
Frank Hanner, National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center director, said when the structures were built, there was a demand for buildings because the nation was mobilizing for World War II, and the Army couldn’t house Soldiers in tents.
“They came up with building the World War II buildings out of local material, or at least that was what they were supposed to use,” he said. “Here in Georgia, that would be the great pine.”
More than 600,000 World War II Soldiers were trained in the buildings, but instead of coming down after the war, the buildings housed even more Soldiers as the Cold War began, said Hanner.
“These buildings meant a great deal to the Armed Forces,” he said. “They symbolized a great effort by the nation to take care of its Soldiers as it trained them for war. It was almost like a rite of passage.”
Through each future conflict, the Army would expand, and each time the World War II wood buildings answered the nation’s call.
Over time the buildings became costly, and in the 1990s Fort Benning was told all World War II structures would be demolished.
However, Dick Grube, former National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center director, asked that some buildings be saved.
The National Infantry Foundation was able to rescue a barracks, mess hall, orderly room, supply room, chapel, and sleeping quarters and headquarters used by Gen. George S. Patton prior to his deployment to North Africa, Hanner said.
The buildings, located at the World War II Company Street exhibit at the National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center, are the only fully preserved set of series 700 buildings in existence.