It was a ribbon-cutting event that brings new opportunity to the Greater Kankakee Airport. And Saturday’s event, according to Illinois National Guard Major-General Richard Hayes, moves the ‘guard’ into the 21st century.
A new Army Aviation Flight Facility was unveiled at the local airport. It’s a two-story, 185,000 square foot facility including hangar space designed for the UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter.
Major-General Hayes told an audience of supporters ‘the training facility provides more room, room to grow for future needs.’ Hayesw said ‘we’re always looking for better ways to prepare for the war fight and domestic response.’
Included among the attendees (Saturday) was U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth. She herself, is a war hero. She’s a retired U.S. Army lieutenant-colonel and Iraq War veteran. Duckworth is the first female double amputee from the war, losing her legs and damaging an arm suffered in combat wounds when she was shot down. Yet, she continued to serve.
Saturday’s dedication at the Kankakee Airport now finds one of three Illinois National Guard units Duckworth once commanded now housed at the local airport.
The previous Army Aviation Support Facility at Midway Airport in Chicago became too cramped for space, leading to the move to Kankakee.
The Illinois Army National Guard Aviation Facility & Readiness Center is a $64.6 million project. It’s one of the largest projects for the National Guard to date. It will host 200 soldiers from several companies.