With the final tug of a canvas case, the
unfurling and raising of its new flag, Joint Base
Lewis-McChord began its history at 10 a.m. Monday during a
ceremony in front of its new headquarters at Building 1010
on what is now called “JBLM Lewis Main.”
Joint Base Commander Col. Thomas H. Brittain and
his Air Force deputy, Col. Kenny Weldon, shared the honors
of uncasing the new JBLM Garrison flag along with their
senior NCOs, Command Sgt. Maj. Matthew Barnes and Chief
Master Sergeant Frederick Wade.
The ceremony marked the beginning of Initial
Operational Capability for the joint base, the founding of
the joint base headquarters and the official start of the
phased transfer of installation support functions for both
installations to the joint base configuration.
The composition of the color guard reflected the
spirit of amity between the two services, with two Airmen
and two Soldiers performing the honors.
The transition period of IOC will last eight
months until Oct. 1, when Full Operational Capability is
reached with all milestones and objectives completed. The
eight months will be divided into three phases during which
increasingly complex units will integrate and take their
places in the joint base structure.
“In a sense this is not new,” said Brittain.
“Fort Lewis and McChord have been cooperating in defense of
our great nation for many decades. In far-away places right
now, Airmen and Soldiers are side by side on the
Four years of planning and analyzing have gone
into this day since the Base Realignment and Closure process
designated Fort Lewis and McChord Air Force Base as one of
12 sets of installations to be merged.
“Really, the actual work starts today,” Brittain
said. “Now we begin this phased integration of all the
support services that previously resided in the 62nd Mission
Support Group ... and the services provided by U.S. Army
Garrison into our Joint Base Garrison.”
Barnes and Wade did the honors in removing a
cover from the “Joint Base Garrison” sign over the doorway
at the main entrance to the new headquarters. Brittain and
Weldon followed suit by jointly taking down a camouflaged
poncho covering the JBLM Headquarters sign at the front of
The casing of the U.S. Army Garrison flag that
initiated the ceremonies was another joint operation,
performed by Brittain and Barnes, with assistance from J.
Randall Robinson, the director of West Region of U.S. Army
Installation Management Command, and his senior NCO, Command
Sgt. Maj. Terry Braddock.
“The United States military has always built its
combat power on the legacy of those who have gone before us
and the traditions of the services,” Brittain said. “We will
preserve those traditions and heritage. We will create
something new and enduring for our joint base, our local
community and our nation. In fact, we envision that our
headquarters will be a center for the preservation of those
Brittain invited the crowd into the headquarters
after the ceremony to see the displays that lined both sides
of the entrance and main hallway commemorating historic
milestones of both Fort Lewis and McChord Air Force Base.
Displays traced “Camp Lewis” back to 1904 and McChord Field
to 1938, with brushes with famous figures such as Charles
Lindbergh, Gen. Colin Powell and President Dwight D.
“It is no exaggeration when I say history is
being made here today,” Brittain said, “as only one of 12
joint bases and the largest under Army management, the only
one with a corps headquarters. We are truly at the tip of