JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. -- The Col. Jack H. Griffith Jr. Memorial Field House here re-opened May 5 following a 5-month, $750,000 transformation.
In addition to receiving a new gym floor and running track, the field house now features energy-efficient lighting and is compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
"This place has become an iconic symbol that imbues the values of loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor and personal courage -- values so dear to our military and the qualities we consider best about Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst," said Army Col. Martin F. Klein, commander of U.S. Army Support Activity, Fort Dix, and deputy commander of JBMDL.
"Col. Griffith was an exceptional Soldier, an exceptional husband and a great father -- a man who made a lasting impact on our Army," he added.
The field house was originally built in 1941 as the Camp Dix Sports Arena. Over the years, it has served many functions, to include sports arena for German and Italian Prisoners of War during World War II, venue for the Duke Ellington Orchestra in 1953, graduation center for Kuwaiti civilians trained to help liberate their country in 1991, and site for the 2014 CISM World Military Wrestling Championship.
And, of course, it has helped countless service members remain fit and ready to accomplish whatever mission they may be given.
"Since the establishment of Camp Dix in 1917, our call has been to provide unparalleled installation support, services and training opportunities to members of our military," Klein said.
The event was attended by members of Griffith's family, to include his widow Bonnie and daughters Barb and Megan.
"I've been in the 'Death and Dying' field for 25 years, and one thing we're learning a lot about is the importance of remembering our deceased," said Bonnie, who spent her career in nursing and as a board-certified spiritual counselor for Hospice. "I'm so impressed that my girls are here and that you all are here -- this is really beautiful."
Col. Griffith served as Fort Dix chief of staff from March 1984 until his death from cancer in December 1986. He was commissioned as an Infantry officer through the Reserve Officers' Training Corps at the University of Virginia, and was a graduate of the Army War College. He served two tours of duty in Vietnam where he was wounded in combat, and served in many other assignments around the world during his 26-year career.
"Right here on this hallowed ground is where America's military -- your military -- comes to train," Klein said. "Given our nation's new and emerging threats to our future, there is no question that Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst and Griffith Field House will remain an indispensable asset in our nation's installation footprint."