NEWS | Sept. 6, 2018

Colorado National Guard to break ground on Special Forces support facility in Watkins

By Colorado National Guard Public Affairs Colorado National Guard

CENTENNIAL, Colo. – The Colorado National Guard will host a groundbreaking ceremony for the 5th Battalion, 19th Special Forces Group (Airborne), Colorado Army National Guard Parachute Rigging Facility Sept. 7, 2018, at 10:00 a.m., at the U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Daniel A. Romero Readiness Center in Watkins, Colorado.

The Parachute Rigging Facility will be located next to the Readiness Center and is scheduled to open its doors in May 2019.

The Readiness Center, at 5049 Front Range Pkwy, Watkins, CO 80137, is named in honor of Romero, who was killed in action in Qandahar, Afghanistan, April 15, 2002.  About 250 COARNG service members are based at the training center.

The Adjutant General of Colorado U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Mike Loh is the guest speaker for the ceremony.  Other CONG senior leaders will attend.

Built on state land, the 13,789 square-foot facility will support the drying, inspection, repair, packing, and storage of parachutes, material and equipment used by the COARNG in airborne operations.

"Colorado National Guard Special Forces Soldiers play a critical role in the warfight, and this facility will enhance their readiness," General Loh said.  "The tireless support that the town of Bennett and surrounding communities provide to these Soldiers while they are training for deployment is also key to their readiness."  

A majority of the design, construction, materials and labor will be sourced from the Southeast Denver/Centennial area. This project is federally funded through a Military Construction Cooperative Agreement with the state. It will cost about $3.35 million. The architect, Yon Tanner Architects, is based in Denver. The General Contractor, Iron Mike Construction, is also locally based.

The current property does not have a parachute-drying tower. Troops dry their parachutes on the roofs of buildings or laid out on the drill floor. On-site packing takes place on the floor or on the four available packing tables, while some are completed off-site at either the Active Duty U.S. Army 10th SFG facility at Fort Carson, Colorado Springs, or shipped to the unit's higher headquarters in Utah.  

If the parachutes are not dried properly, they are susceptible to becoming moldy during storage or transit which degrades the integrity of the material and will potentially cause serious safety problems with risk to human life.  

Approximately 500 soldiers make up 5th battalion which is based in Colorado, California and Texas.   

The Colorado unit has deployed numerous times in support of the warfight.  Combat deployments include 2002 to Afghanistan, 2007 to Iraq, and 2013 and 2016 to Afghanistan.

Local elected officials have been invited to attend the groundbreaking ceremony