The 1st Squadron of the 180th Cavalry of Oklahoma Army National Guard officially opened its renovated armory on Wednesday, cutting the ribbon and offering tours of the expanded “readiness center.”
The facility was re-dedicated with a Chamber of Commerce ribbon cutting, a flag-raising and short tours of the structure on Waldron Drive near Eaker Field.
A $2.1 million renovation of the 43-year-old building expanded its area from 18,000 square feet to almost 22,000. Among other improvements, an old firing range was converted to much needed storage space.
Modern new classrooms and offices have been added, and the building was completely outfitted with up to date wiring, lighting and heating and air systems. Military leaders said the upgrades would benefit the citizen soldiers who train and deploy from within the armory walls.
“This troop has served their state and country,” said Col. Curtis Arnold, Director of Engineering for the Oklahoma Army National Guard. “It’s a great opportunity for them. It’s definitely a huge morale booster.”
Durant is home to one of six National Guard facilities across the state. Wednesday’s event served to highlight the nearly century-long partnership between the military and Durant’s local leadership.
“Durant and the Oklahoma National Guard have a very long bond,” said Col. Mike Kinnison. “We look forward to working with the chamber, the leadership of Durant and the surrounding communities.”
Major Shane Riley, a Durant native and the current Executive Officer for the 180th, said the updated “readiness center” would be a boost for the troops of the squadron. Many of them have recently returned from overseas duty.
Flags of the numerous nations where the 180th has seen action line the walls of the renovated structure. Since 1903, the 180th has been deployed to the Mexican border in search of Pancho Villa, numerous World War II campaigns, Korea, and more recent deployments were in Egypt, Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait.