Military News

Thursday, July 30, 2015

‘Tent City’ celebrates Anchorage’s 100th anniversary

by Tech. Sgt. Robert Barnett
JBER Public Affairs

7/30/2015 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- In July 1915, official documents were signed creating Anchorage, which remained very small and without a military presence.

That changed in June of 1940, when Nazi Germany conquered France, which prompted the expedience of several military construction projects around Alaska, including building Fort Richardson.

Fort Richardson included land originally known as Elmendorf Field, which became Elmendorf Air Force Base after World War II, when the Air Force became a separate service. The two installations merged to become Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in October 2010.

One significant event was a 9.2-magnitude earthquake which struck Anchorage in 1964, resulting in the deaths of 133 people and $300 million in damages.
During this natural disaster, the military provided medical care, food, housing and other supplies to Anchorage and surrounding communities.

100 years after its birth, Anchorage has grown and flourished. To celebrate this history and look forward to the future, the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce, with JBER and multiple organizations throughout the community, hosted the 2015 Tent City Festival.

Each era was represented in various displays and tents, along with bouncy houses and other family-related events.

"The purpose of this Tent City celebration is to highlight Anchorage's 100th anniversary," said Bruce Bustamante, president of the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce. "It's an extremely important story to tell. We've invited vendors from industries that played a key role in the growth of Anchorage, and certainly the military was one of the biggest components of our history.

"It's extremely important for us to have base support to come out here and be a part of this. We've worked very closely, even in recent history, with the military. We sure appreciate their cooperation," Bustamante said.

JBER was represented with displays showcasing the Air Force's 673d Civil Engineer Group explosive ordnance disposal and fire personnel with a smoke house to emphasize fire safety.

They were joined by the Army's 549th Military Working Dog Detachment, an arctic living equipment display, and parachuting equipment from the 2nd Battalion, 377th Parachute Field Artillery Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division.

"The messages inside here telling kids what to do when there's a fire, and how to get out, what to do if they can't get out - even if just one kid gets reached, that kid could make a difference," said John Burpee, 673d Civil Engineer Squadron fire department inspector, who was running the fire prevention display.

"Some were asking about the fire career field, so we explained that. It's pretty cool to walk around here and see the old stuff and new stuff, to know that JBER has been a part of that," he said. "I think a lot of people were surprised and excited to see us out here; it definitely brought awareness."

"What they do is amazing," said Mary Cresap, an Anchorage resident. "They'll do everything they can so we'll be safe."

Adults and children quickly formed a line to try on the parachuting equipment, and to get just a taste of what airborne Soldiers wear.

"We're just interacting with the community, showing them what we're a big part of it, and a bit of what we do on a daily basis," said Sgt. 1st Class Jessie Hobbs, 2-377th's  battalion air noncommissioned officer. "We're showing them our airborne equipment, because we jump a lot here in Alaska.

"We're showing them our arctic equipment like our tent, pretty much our day-to-day life in the winter months here. They seem to be enjoying it. A lot of kids are trying on the parachute, going into the tent, looking around," Hobbs said.

"A lot of the outdoor guys who like to hunt want to use that type of equipment for moose hunting. They've taken good interest in it. It's always good to interact and let the community know what we do, to show them we're here for them."

The military has played a significant role in Anchorage history, celebrated on this birthday, Bustamante said.

"I think our relationship with the military is great, and the best judge of that are the people," Bustamante said. "I'd rather hear it from the military saying thanks for helping us, thanks for helping our families while we're in Anchorage.

"We just have a big passion for that. You'll see a lot of military return to Anchorage and make it their home; it's just a tremendous relationship. I don't know that we give the military as much as they give us, we just do the best we can."

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