YAKIMA, Wash. -- The Army Reserve opened its newest facilities in the remote town of Yakima, Wash. July 29. Located in the heart of apple country, and where 75% of hops are grown in the nation, the newly built buildings on the Yakima Training Center both have similar rustic brick finishes topped with red roofs. They house more than 400 Soldiers from both the Army National Guard and the Army Reserve. For Victoria Johnson and Loren Clevenger these are more than just buildings, they are reminders of loved ones that they lost in Iraq.
Hosted by the Brig. Gen. Alton G. Berry, Commanding General of the 88th Regional Support Command, The Sergeant Ross A. Clevenger Armed Forces Reserve Center and the Alan R. Johnson Maintenance Facility were both memorialized with a time honored military ceremony. Soldiers and Family members attended remembering Sgt. Clevenger and Maj. Johnson who both gave their lives in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
"This cements the fact that he will not be forgotten for his sacrifices," said Victoria, who lost her husband January 26, 2007. Maj. Johnson served as a civil affairs officer with the 402nd Civil Affairs Battalion in Iraq. Johnson, 44, died from wounds sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated near his Humvee in the town of Muqdadiyah. Johnson served with both the North Dakota National Guard and the Army Reserve and was commissioned after being an enlisted Soldier first. "He never gave up being a Soldier. He would be out there at the wash racks and performing maintenance on vehicles with his Soldiers," added Victoria.
The Alan R. Johnson Maintenance Facility houses a multiple-bay area for training, maintenance and administrative support. Victoria said that when they were looking for someone to name the facility after, they looked for a Soldier who never gave up and had a win-win attitude. "My husband always gave it a 100%."
Located next to the maintenance facility is the Sergeant Ross A. Clevenger Armed Forces Reserve Center named after the combat engineer who lost his life after his route clearing vehicle was hit by an explosive attack in Iraq's Anbar province just west of Baghdad in February of 2007.
"We always knew that Ross did great things," said Loren Clevenger, father of Sgt. Clevenger. "He always liked to make people happy." Clevenger served with the Army Reserve's 321st Engineer Battalion.
"The courage and bravery he displayed was a credit to his upbringing as a man and a warrior," stated 1st Sgt. Roy Smith who was with Clevenger during the attack. "I hope that those who perform duty in this building will take time to know more about Ross who is a son, a brother and a hero. We will never forget his sacrifice."
Due to the Base Realignment and Closure directive, in 2005, it was determined that two Army Reserve Centers in Pasco, Wash. and Pendleton, Wash. and one Washington Army National Guard Readiness Center in the area would be closed and units consolidated onto the Yakima Training Center. Moving these units under one roof not only saves costs but provides the 400 Soldiers and federal employees direct access to state-of-the-art facilities consisting of classrooms, administrative areas, a library, a learning center, a computer lab and storage space.
It is now the home for seven Army Reserve units and one Washington National guard unit.
These two facilities will now prepare Soldiers and their equipment for future global missions and will also serve as a remembrance of the two lost Soldiers.
"This new complex also signals a long term commitment by the U.S. Army Reserve to the city of Yakima and its citizens," said Berry, who feels that this building is the focal point for training and readiness. "Our men and women will learn the skills to be effective Soldiers in this ever changing environment where we must adapt quickly to emerging global threats."