By Mark Hallum
The ribbon was cut last week for a $12 million upgrade to a U.S. Army building at Fort Totten which will help the facility maintain military equipment for installations across the region.
U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Little Neck), City Councilman Paul Vallone (D-Bayside) and Major Gen. Troy Kok led the Aug. 17 ceremony at Fort Totten’s newly upgraded building, which resembles an airplane hanger filled with Humvees and armored troop carriers. The U.S. Army Reserves can now refurbish aging and damaged equipment and outfit small arms in a dark-room for calibrating sights.
Vallone spoke of the importance of having a strong military presence in the community he represents and how young people in northeast Queens need to be able to see the men and women who serve stateside to gain respect for the sacrifice the military makes.
“So many children in our district interact with you everyday and I think sometimes you don’t even realize the impact you have here,” Vallone said, adding that projects such as the upgraded facility bring positive attention to the military presence in Bayside. “The most important realization for the next generation is to see our men and women in uniform right in front of them choosing this path to keep us safe.”
The revitalization included raising the roof of the old facility, part of the Army Reserve section of Fort Totten built in the 1950s, to expand the size of the main doors on the north and south side of the structure to allow larger vehicles to come in and out of building.
“These facilities were built predominately in the 1950s and they met the requirements of our Army and Army Reserve at that time with the types of equipment that we had during that period,” Kok said. “But as we’ve become a better fighting force, a more professional force, our equipment has adjusted for the time … so this revitalization project is extremely important for the Army Reserve to keep our Army Reserve relevant today.”
Suozzi, elected for the first time in November, said the 77th Division stationed at Fort Totten represents an example of what the nation should strive for in the current polarizing political climate.
“This is a very tough time in world history and in our nation’s history, we’re facing a lot of dark forces throughout the world and even in our own country right now,” said Suozzi, an outspoken opponent of the Trump administration. “We’ve got to go back to some of the very simple basics of what this nation is founded on and what we’ve promoted around the world. Your hard work and the professionalism as exhibited at a facility like this is a sign of what we need to face the challenges in this very long battle ahead of us.”
The U.S. Army Reserve station at Fort Totten is the largest Reserve installation in the country and, according to Lt. Col. Pete Lupo, the upgraded facility will offer support to 60 other Reserve units around the Northeast.
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall