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George H.W. Bush Gallery grand opening in Fredericksburg

  • Published
  • By Robert D. Martinez
  • 17th Training Wing Public Affairs
Eighty Goodfellow volunteers consisting of Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines from Goodfellow AFB, Texas, met before sun-up on Monday for a three-hour bus ride to Fredericksburg, Texas, to assist with the grand opening of the George H.W. Bush Gallery of the War in the Pacific Museum. Fredericksburg is 150 miles southwest of San Angelo, and the birth place of U.S. Navy legend Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz. The volunteers not only witnessed but also participated in a historic event that was held on a day of remembrance, Dec. 7, a "Day of Infamy," 68 years after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and brought the United States into World War II.

The former President George H.W. Bush, attended the ribbon cutting as well as Governor Rick Perry, State of Texas; General James T. Conway, Commandant of the Marine Corps and the master of ceremonies General Michael W. Hagee, former Commandant of the Marine Corps. Over 4,000 people were in attendance and filled the city block and lined the streets where the event was held. The museum also held a Pearl Harbor Day commemoration and wreath laying ceremony immediately following the gallery dedication on the grounds.

The volunteers sat up and tore down 4,000 chairs, escorted distinguished guests, and led tours of the new facility. Four of Goodfellow's Navy Chief Petty Officers also served as side boys, or Navy honor guard, for the event.

"Our involvement in this project started off several months ago as a simple request for 8 chief petty officers to serve as Navy side boys for the arrival of the official party. As the scope of the project became apparent, we began to offer assistance in other areas. We ended up with 80 volunteers from all services involved in a variety of roles, with several more members of the Goodfellow leadership team attending the ceremony as guests" said Master Chief Petty Officer Paul Zimmerman, Goodfellow Center for Information Dominance Detachment senior enlisted leader, "and I am pleased and humbled by the amazing level of support provided by the Goodfellow community."

The Center for Information Dominance Detachment coordinated the military support from Goodfellow with assistance from the other service senior enlisted leaders. A contingent of joint service personnel from San Antonio served as the color guard and support.

The new George H.W. Bush Gallery is a $15.5-million, 32,500 square foot expansion and part of the National Museum of the Pacific War, the only museum in the United States dedicated exclusively to telling the story of the Pacific theater in World War II. The addition houses many new interactive exhibits aimed at peaking the interest of younger generations.

The museum foundation provided refreshments for the volunteers including breakfast and lunch, and every volunteer received a numbered coin commemorating the event.

"We are so pleased to have all these fine young military men and women out here to make this day a memorable one" said Dawn Bourgeois, the museums head of Marketing and Public Relations. "The very least we could do was ensure they had something to drink and were fed. The coins are just a small token of our appreciation. We hope they cherish for a long time."

The buses arrived back at Goodfellow with its 80 plus passengers around 8 p.m. that evening.

"It was a long and tiring day, but it was worth it" said Senior Airman Francisco Manitas, 17th Comptroller Squadron. "It was a privilege to see the sacrifices that our nation's service members contributed in the Pacific Theater and a privilege to actually stand next to some of those veterans that were there at Pearl Harbor."