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Enlisted heritage finds new home at Selfridge

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Dan Heaton
  • 127th Public Affairs
Quarters One has a new lease on life. One of the oldest buildings at Selfridge Air National Guard Base has been designated for use as the Enlisted Heritage House at the historic air base.

Quarters One, officially designated as Building 409, served for decades as the home for general officers assigned to both Selfridge and to the Detroit Arsenal complex in nearby Warren, Mich. Now the building will be used as meeting space for the 127th Wing's Chiefs Council, Noncommissioned Officers Council and similar organizations. A heritage room, featuring photos and other information about the contributions of Michigan Air National Guard enlisted Airmen, is planned and various artifacts will be placed throughout the building.

"The house will be used to recognize, support and honor the enlisted members, past, present and future, of the 127th Wing," said Chief Master Sgt. Wayne Fetty, a member of the 127th Wing and one of the organizers of the Enlisted Heritage House idea.

The decision to approve the house was formally made on Oct. 31, 2014, by 127th Wing commander Col. Philip Sheridan.

"This is an idea that not only preserves and honors the history of so many dedicated Airmen of the past, but I believe will also help to inspire today's Airmen," Sheridan said.

Built during a major period of construction at Selfridge, Quarters One was completed in January 1935 for a cost of $14,615. It has 3,187 square feet. While the house was not originally built specifically for use as a home for generals or commanders, from 1977 to 2006, it was exclusively used by general officers, beginning with the arrival of Army Major Gen. Oscar Decker, who was the commanding general of the Army Tank Command at the Detroit Arsenal. Since 2006, the home has been vacant, as a result of a Dept. of Defense realignment plan that no longer authorized the use of on-base housing at Selfridge.

Though it was not the original "commander's house" on the base - an earlier building, since demolished, had that distinction -- it began being used as such prior to World War II.

During World War II, the house became a nurses' quarters, accommodating seven women. Probably at this point the attached garage was converted to a fifth bathroom (with bath), making Building 409 the sole set of quarters at Selfridge to have five bedrooms and four baths. A detached, two-car garage was added at some point after World War II. Sometime after the war ended, the building reverted to field grade officer quarters, but during the early Vietnam War era, it housed nurses again, from June 1963 to June 1966. After the nurses left, Building 409 became the home of a series of families headed by majors through colonels to Colonel Decker's arrival in 1977.

Selfridge opened as an active duty military air base in the summer of 1917 during World War I. Following the war, the base was originally slated for closure. In 1922, it became a "permanent" base, leading to a wave of construction in the late 1920s and early 1930s. Many of those buildings continue to serve as the nucleus of the base today, including several hangars and the base operations building that were built in the same era. The base became an Air National Guard facility in 1971.

Today, about 1,350 enlisted Airmen serve in the 127th Wing at Selfridge, along with about 150 commissioned officers.

About the 127th Wing
Comprised of approximately 1,700 personnel and flying both the A-10 Thunderbolt II and the KC-135 Stratotanker, the 127th Wing supports Air Mobility Command, Air Combat Command and Air Force Special Operation Command by providing highly-skilled Airmen to missions domestically and overseas. The 127th Wing is the host unit at Selfridge Air National Guard Base, which marks its 97th year of continuous military air operations in 2014.