Story by LCpl Jesus Sepulveda Torres on 07/24/2016
MARINE CORPS AIR STATION KANEOHE BAY A ribbon cutting ceremony was held to commemorate the opening of the newly constructed MV-22 Osprey hangar aboard Marine Corps Air Station Kaneohe Bay on July 19, 2016.
This is the first hangar built on base since World War II and it now houses Marine Medium Tiltrotor-268, "Red Dragons," making them the first Osprey squadron to be stationed in Hawaii.
The hangar area will include a taxiway, a path connecting runways, and an apron, an area for parked aircraft, which will help to support the entire MV-22 squadron.
Andy Snow, a speaker at the ceremony and the construction manager overseeing the MV-22 hangar, said the 58 million dollar project required approximately 50 thousand square feet of earth to be moved and took almost two years to finish.
Senior military leaders such as Col. Sean C. Killeen, the commanding officer of Marine Corps Base Hawaii, members of Hawaii's Congressional delegation and key community partners attended the event.
Killeen, a Mundelein, Ill., native, welcomed the new MV-22 unit to its new home on MCB Hawaii during the ceremony.
"Marine Medium Tiltrotor-268 is a special unit and although I never had the privilege of being a Red Dragon, I had the honor of flying with them in combat, in Iraq, while they performed the number one cannot-fail mission of casualty evacuation," he said. "The machines have changed, but the spirit and commitment of the Red Dragons remains the same. We welcome VM-268, the newest addition to our Marine Air Ground Task Force here in Hawaii."
Killeen said the hangar completion is important for the base's operational capabilities and it is much more than just a building.
"This hangar represents more than just bricks, mortar and steel," he said. "True, it will be the home to the Red Dragons, but for the men and women who constructed this hangar, it represents quite the accomplishment a legacy that will endure for quite some time."
He stated how the hangars on base have played crucial roles in the decades they have been used, from the attacks on December 7, 1941, to the operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"This hangar now joins its sisters on the far end of the flight line as she takes her responsibility of sheltering VM-268's Ospreys and the crews that will maintain them," he said. "She will soon be joined by a sister squadron, Marine Medium Tiltrotor-363, the Red Lions,' in a hangar that is currently being constructed near here."
Mazie Hirono, a Senator and Representative for Hawaii, was one of the guests of honor for the ribbon cutting ceremony. She spoke about the significance of the hangar's construction in the Pacific and how much work it took to complete it.
"With nearly half of the world's population, one-third of the global Gross Domestic Revenue and some of the world's most capable militaries, the Asia-Pacific area is one of the world's most political and economic centers of gravity," said Hirono, a Honolulu, native. "Investments like this hangar and strategic force structuring on Hawaii military installations is our visual commitment to the rebalance."
Hirono said the rebalancing in the Pacific is part of the United States' plan to preserve and enhance a stable and diverse relationship with its allied nations through support from U.S. installations, such as the new MV-22 hangar.
"The MV-22s are not here by chance," she said. "The effort to base two MV-22 squadrons here, and complete the necessary preparations took a lot of work by a lot of us. The Marines, Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Watts Contrack and our Congressional delegation all worked together to make this happen, and over the past five years, we have been successful in securing over half a billion dollars in military construction funding, which has supported Navy and Marine Corps operations across the Pacific."
Hirono expressed with how proud she was of the newly built hangar and thanked all the military and civilian personnel involved in its construction.
"Our military ohana is a vital part of our island community, closely involved with our lifestyle and culture," Hirono said. "Never forget that service members, whether they are training at home or whether they are serving in combat missions abroad, are putting their lives in harm's way. I extend a heartfelt mahalo to everyone who helped in the hangar construction and who support our collective mission."