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GRAND OPENING -- Commander, congressman dedicate wing headquarters

LAUGHLIN AFB, TEXAS -- Congressman Henry Bonilla joined Laughlin Air Force Base's 47th Flying Training Wing Commander Col. Mike Minahan in cutting the ribbon from the new wing headquarters building Monday.

A T-38 Talon flyover marked the ceremony, and afterward, both Colonel Minahan and Congressman Bonilla addressed the crowd of more than 100, including many community leaders, gathered for the event.
"We're here to dedicate this wonderful building standing behind me," said Colonel Minahan.

The colonel praised the efforts of those who made the new headquarters a reality, including Congressman Bonilla, who secured funding for the facility, along with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the civilian contractor, and numerous others involved in the project.

The $8 million, 31,800 square-foot facility took two years to construct and provides twice the workspace as the headquarters it replaces. "It's the first of its kind in our Air Force," said the colonel. "It consolidates emergency functions under one roof enabling greater communication, coordination, and efficiency for more effective joint operations with first responders in Del Rio."

The colonel explained that aligning with local responders is critical.
"As the first anniversary of Hurricane Katrina approaches in a couple of weeks, this capability to integrate with the first responders off base is more important than ever," he said.

After his brief comments, the colonel introduced Congressman Bonilla and lauded his support of Laughlin.

"Congressman Bonilla has secured $30 million in military construction projects to modernize and improve Laughlin's ability to conduct its mission," Colonel Minahan said.
The large turnout impressed Congressman Bonilla, whose 23rd District stretches more than 700 miles along the Texas-Mexico border. "It's reflective of the great relationship between the community and the base," the congressman said. "The (Del Rio) community embraces and supports Laughlin more than any other community in the entire United States.

"Laughlin Air Force Base is one of my highest priorities as Del Rio's representative in Congress. The men and women who serve here are helping to keep our nation safe and secure. I am honored to have the opportunity to support them in this mission," the congressman said.

"I will continue to be an ardent supporter of the men and women of the United States military and particularly the men and women who serve here in the 47th Flying Training Wing."

The congressman said the military needs the best resources in order to combat today's enemy.

"The war on terrorism requires support of the military with the resources they need," he said. "We need to be better than we've ever been."