FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas -- Mission and Installation Contracting Command officials here marked their move to the historic Long Barracks with a ribbon-cutting ceremony today attracting more than 250 distinguished military visitors, local civic leaders and guests.

"Today's ceremony marks a new chapter in the life of this historic structure and a new chapter in the Mission and Installation Contracting Command," said Brig. Gen. Stephen Leisenring, MICC commanding general. "This building has been an integral part of much of our Army's history. It's an old soldier indeed and one that will now continue to serve the Army and Joint Base San Antonio for many years to come."

Renovations to the Long Barracks costing approximately $25 million got under way in September 2009 and now affords members of the MICC more than 72,000 square feet of modern office space and storage. That includes more than 220 cubicles, 53 offices, five conference rooms, eight large and small break rooms, and two source selection evaluation board meeting rooms.

After sitting vacant for a number of years, the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure Commission decision to move approximately 14,000 additional people to Fort Sam Houston breathed new life into the renovation efforts of the historic barracks. The concerted efforts of the Society for the Preservation of Historic Fort Sam Houston and other preservation organizations helped ensure architectural features were preserved to achieve the appearance of the barracks.

Initial construction of the barracks dates to 1885 and was completed in 1887 with the addition of its distinctive sally port and four additional barracks forming a 1,084-foot long line of nine contiguous, two-story barracks. The building, which came to be known as the Long Barracks, served as home to a variety of units and missions throughout its history.

Attending the ceremony and recognized by Leisenring was retired Master Sgt. Givens Forsythe, who was assigned as a cook to Headquarters Company, 23rd Infantry and lived on the first floor of Bldg. 613 in 1939.

"I've been in and out of this building a few times, and it's a beautiful building," Forsythe said. "The ceremony was really something; I won't forget it."

The 91-year-old Lytle, Texas, resident said his duties as a cook in an era before refrigeration included hauling 300-pound blocks of ice to coolers to keep food cooled. Earning $21 a month as a private, he and his fellow cooks fed Soldiers three meals a day for as little as 37 cents a day.

Forsythe transferred to the Army-Air Corps in October 1940 as an aircraft mechanic, supporting the Berlin Airlift. He retired as an Air Force master sergeant in July 1960.

The Long Barracks now serves as home for the MICC headquarters, Mission Contracting Center-Fort Sam Houston and Mission Contracting Office-Fort Sam Houston, whose members moved in last week.

Headquartered at Fort Sam Houston, the MICC is made up of seven mission contracting centers, nine mission contracting offices and 28 installation contracting offices throughout the country. In fiscal 2011, the command executed more than 63,000 contract actions worth almost $7 billion.

The MICC is responsible for planning, integrating, awarding and administering contracts in support of Army commands, direct reporting units, U.S. Army North and other organizations to provide the best value for the mission, Soldiers and their families. Contracting professionals at the MICC's subordinate units work with installation leadership throughout the generating force, or institutional Army, to translate their requirements into contracted materiel and services. The institutional Army prepares, trains, educates and supports the operational Army, which is made up of deployed forces.