By Sgt. Gregory Solman
RSC-S Public Affairs
No one passing through the gates of the Joint Forces Training Base in Los Alamitos can get far without seeing the unmistakable signs of a makeover––but into what? And how will be the status of the CSMR units that call the base home change, if at all?
About six months ago, Lt. Col. John Goodnight, who heads up the southern region of the California Center for Military History, got a preview of the future. Goodnight was called in to a meeting with 40th Infantry Division (commander Brig. Gen. Scott Johnson. “He said, ‘I’ve got a mission for you,’“ Goodnight recounts.
Johnson said that pending the construction of the new headquarters for the 40th ID and 63rd Regional Readiness Command (USAR), CSMR and the history unit “might have a dedicated office—the old 40th ID HQ”—possibly the best-kept and nicest looking building among the older structures, which on JFTB date back to 1942.
Goodnight knew that it wasn’t going to come “rent” free. The history unit, which had already tasked to become docents of the Veterans Center museum under construction, was asked to create two additional museums, “one in the new HQ, one in the existing HQ,” in addition to the Veteran Services Center building.
After a flurry of e-mails, proposals and counter-proposals, the new spaces (better called “historical corridors” than museums, Goodnight adds, because of the unique security requirements within an active military base) will focus on 40th ID artifacts related to infantry, artillery and aviation, rather than a limiting historical display of the 40th ID. Goodnight says the plans will utilize the excess of materials stored on base and at an CSMR warehouse in Sacramento. A senior curator for Universal Studios with a bachelor’s degree in history and a master’s in museum science, Spc. Jeffrey Pirtle, is coming into CSMR to work on the projects ahead, Goodnight says.
“Initially, the commanding general is looking at these corridors to be by invitation only, or maybe opened to the public eventually,” Goodnight says. “We have the blessing of the CG to do whatever I want.” The renovation of CSMR’s medical building, which was moved to the space behind the 40th ID Band building on Doolittle Avenue, is already underway, using a combination of base resources—such as in the reconstruction of the exterior stairs—and CSMR personnel under the supervision of Command Sgt. Major Robert A. Jacob, according to Col. William Greene.
Dr. Greene says their unit has redone the door framing and begun waterproofing and rehabbing the ceiling in preparation for possibly opening up the long-dormant upper floor.
Will it be good enough for a sterile operating environment? “We don’t want to make it so nice that they’d like to take it back from us,” Greene joked.