After formal remarks, the groundbreaking ceremony was held. Shoveling dirt April 25, left to right: Dr. Lester Dixon, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; Huntsville Mayor Loretta Spencer; Rep. Robert A. Aderholt; Sen. Jeff Sessions; Lt. Gov. Jim Folsom Jr.; Lt. Gen. Henry "Trey" Obering; Sen. Richard Shelby; Rep. Robert E. "Bud" Cramer; Lt. Gen. Kevin T. Campbell; Maj. Gen. James Myles, commanding general, U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command; and Dave Marchiori, vice president of Archer Western Contractors.

REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. - Lt. Gen. Henry Aca,!A"TreyAca,!A? Obering Jr., director of the Missile Defense Agency, welcomed VIPs to the Von Braun III groundbreaking ceremony on the sunny and blustery morning of April 25. The ceremony was a major milestone and the beginning of a critical step of expanding effectiveness of MDAAca,!a,,cs mission, Obering said.

MDA is working closely with number of organizations such as the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command, the Congressional delegation, the MayorAca,!a,,cs office, the Huntsville Chamber of Commerce and others, Obering said in planning the complex.

He said that building the complex should be a sign to the nationAca,!a,,cs adversaries Aca,!A"of our unwavering desire to protect ourselves, a sign to our nation of our dedication to our mission and respect that we have for our people, and a sign to the people of Alabama of the tremendous partners they haveAca,!A? in MDA.

Building the Von Brown Complex is a major undertaking, and its completion will Aca,!A"establish Alabama as the largest center of gravity for AmericaAca,!a,,cs missile defense program,Aca,!A? Obering said.

After OberingAca,!a,,cs opening remarks seven other VIPs presented comments.

Alabama State Lt. Gov. Jim Folsom Jr. said that it was a Aca,!A"historic occasion.Aca,!A? He applauded the congressional representatives and senators for Aca,!A"working so hard for making this happen.Aca,!A? He said that more than $260 million aerospace industry products were exported in the last year and there were more than 1,800 aerospace jobs in the last year -- the greatness of the Von Braun legacy through out the Tennessee valley. Folsom also said that if he were 21 or 22 years old again, he would be here in this area working.

Aca,!A"This is a great day,Aca,!A? said Sen. Richard Shelby. Aca,!A"Dr. Von Braun is no longer with us but his spirit is with us today; his vision is here. So, whatAca,!a,,cs all this about at the end of the day' ItAca,!a,,cs about the security of this nation. ItAca,!a,,cs about the honored memory of Von Braun. I couldnAca,!a,,ct think of a better legacy than what weAca,!a,,cre doing here. It [national missile defense, the Von Braun complex] should be here in Huntsville, I always thought it should be here.Aca,!A?

Sen. Jeff Sessions said, Aca,!A"Von Braun III represents a phenomenal expansion and growth in this area and in your participation, national missile defense in our nation and our allies around the world. I could not be more excited. Senator Shelby and I have talked about this a lot of times, about our vision for the Huntsville/Madison County area and what we wanted to see happen. Some things have come together and the nation has come to see missile defense really does work. General Obering was saying how taking down that satellite, that dangerous satellite, sort of electrified the entire world to the fact that national missile defense is a reality that works. We did it before the whole world in a test that the world watched. IAca,!a,,cm thrilled to be a part of this day. Thank you all for what youAca,!a,,cve done to make it a success.Aca,!A?

Aca,!A"General Obering, we need to keep meeting like this, it keeps getting better and better, every time youAca,!a,,cre here!Aca,!A? said Robert Aca,!A"BudAca,!A? Cramer, Congressman for the 5th district of Alabama. Aca,!A"We are an aggressive delegation.Aca,!A? The delegation has helped to garner $211 million for the complex with more to come. Aca,!A"We got $7.3 billion passed for Von Braun III with more to come - those are not easy figures to get through with this budget climate in Washington, D.C.,Aca,!A? Cramer said.

He said he was proud to represent missile defense and was proud to be able to attend the dedications of VBI and VBII, and now VBIII, recognizing the importance and need of the buildings.

Robert A. Aderholt, Congressman from the 4th Congressional district of Alabama said it was a Aca,!A"real pleasure and honorAca,!A? to attend the ceremony. He said Mayor Loretta Spencer was Aca,!A"a real keyAca,!A? to what goes on in the United States Senate for what gets taken care of in Huntsville.

Aca,!A"The work done in MDA is significant to the entire world,Aca,!A? Aderholt said. He said he has been very impressed with the tireless work. Aca,!A"Let me say that what goes on here is absolutely critical that we keep funding in the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate. I donAca,!a,,ct believe there is a better investment of our defense dollars than we can spend in defense technology. We look forward to working on that. I know that the gentlemen behind me [on the stage] will certainly do everything they can to make that happen; I look forward to working with this area as we move forward.Aca,!A?

Aca,!A"General Obering, I want to say a big thank-you to you,Aca,!A? said Huntsville Mayor Loretta Spencer. Aca,!A"We communicate and thatAca,!a,,cs one of the most wonderful things you can have, whether itAca,!a,,cs General Myles, General Campbell or the Delegation - the communication lines are open. But I want to thank General Obering for the job he has done nation-wide in trying to retrieve the best-of-the-best.Aca,!A?

Lt. Gen. Kevin T. Campbell, commanding general, SMDC/ARSTRAT, closed the VIPs remarks by congratulating the MDA director, Aca,!A"Hooah, Jim! In the Army, our Chief of Staff and Secretary of the Army often say the quality of our infrastructure should match the quality of service our men and women provide to this nation. And I think the congressional delegation has been delivering quality buildings for the men and women occupying them. So thanks to all of you for this world class structure.Aca,!A?

The entire complex consisting of three buildings will be cover about 840,000 square feet and will house more than 4,500 employees. Those employees will occupy about 2,700 office spaces. VBIII construction is scheduled to be completed by early 2010.

Page last updated Wed April 30th, 2008 at 13:33