Two years later in her last official visit to Sheppard as senator, the slicing of scissors signified years of fundraising, planning and pushing for a new Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training Operations group facility finally paid off.
"The United States Air Force is so proud to have the NATO pilot training in America, and they chose Sheppard because of the great air space and the great community support for this mission," Senator Huchison says.
Thirteenth District Congressman Mac Thornberry says, "The opening of this building today shows a commitment to all the nations that the United States is going to continue with this program."
The building will house ENJJPT's operational functions, bringing them all together.
Colonel Dieter Bareihs, commander of the 80th Flying Training Wing, says, "By having all the students and the divisions operating under one roof, it will improve the communication flow."
The 43-thousand square foot facility cost about $14.3-million.
"This is phase one of a three phase plan we have for the 80th Flying Training Wing and the ENJJPT program," Colonel Bareihs says.
The goals of phase two and three are to build a new wing headquarters building and flying training squadron facility.
Sheppard officials say Senator Hutchison was instrumental in securing funding.
"I wanted to make sure we have the facilities to give them the best quality of life and the best training," Senator Hutchison says.
"It's not just this building," Congressman Thornberry says. "It's years of support for Sheppard and both the training wings here that she has done so much for."
And so, as she prepares to move on from life as a politician, the woman who, since 2003, has helped raise more than $150-million for Sheppard improvement projects, says she'll depend on Congressman Thornberry, Senator John Cornyn, and her successor to continue Sheppard's missions.
"Working together with other countries starts here as far as the Air Force goes, and that's why this is so essential for the future," Congressman Thornberry says.
The facility will be fully operational by mid-month.
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