April 27, 2006

Ribbon cutting ceremony held for MATES

By Lt. Col. Chester C. Carter, III
Virginia Guard Public Affairs

Maj. Gen. Robert Newman, Del. Tommy Wright of the Virginia General Assembly, Mayor J. S. Harris of Blackstone, and Clarence Simpson of the Nottoway County Board of Supervisors cut the ceremonial ribbon officially opening the new Virginia Army National Guard Maneuver Area Training Equipment Site at Fort Pickett. (Photo by Lt. Col. Chester C. Carter, III, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs Office)

BLACKSTONE, Va. -- National Guard, state, and local officials gathered at the Maneuver Area Training Equipment Site, or MATES, on April 26 to cut the ceremonial ribbon for the newly expanded maintenance facility at Fort Pickett. The ceremony was the culmination of over $18 million in new construction and rehabilitation of existing facilities that began with a groundbreaking ceremony on December 9, 2003.

The purpose of the MATES is to provide track and heavy vehicles to units training at Fort Pickett. Using units travel to Fort Pickett receive equipment such as the M1 Abrams tank, M113 Personnel Carrier, or Paladin Howitzer from MATES; use the equipment; and then return the equipment to MATES when the Soldiers complete their training. MATES was established in 1961 with 31 employees and was know then as the Annual Training Equipment Pool. The Annual Training Equipment Pool was housed in an old warehouse and two locomotive repair shops that were constructed in 1942. Some of these facilities were still in use when ground was broken in 2003 for the new maintenance facility. The construction project increased the size of the MATES to over 153,000 square feet and eliminated the need for World War II vintage facilities where much of the maintenance on equipment supported by MATES took place.

Today the MATES has over 600 pieces of equipment supported by approximately 100 full time employees. The new construction provides MATES employees a state of the art maintenance facility fully capable of handling the complex equipment they must support. The facility, in conjunction with the $23 million Multi-Purpose Range Complex, assure that Fort Pickett is fully prepared to support training well in to the future.

Part of the new $18 million MATES facility at Fort Pickett. The facility has 153,000 square feet of space to support the maintenance of approximately 600 tracked and heavy vehicles positioned to support units training at Fort Pickett. (Photo by Lt. Col. Chester C. Carter, III, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs Office)

 

The building in the background of this picture is one of the old locomotive shops the MATES employees used from when it was first established in 1961 as the Annual Training Equipment Pool. The building was used to support maintenance operations until recently when it was torn down to make way for the new MATES facility. The photograph was taken in December 2003 following the ground breaking ceremony for the construction project. (Photo by Lt. Col. Chester C. Carter, III, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs Office)

 


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