More than 70 years of history went up in smoke Wednesday as Bossier fire crews burned the old Personnel Building at Camp Minden.
"There was a lot of history in that old building," said Jane Phipps of Elm Grove. She worked as a personnel representative for 41 years in that building. "It was a really good job and I really enjoyed it. I raised two kids and sent them to college with that job, so I feel like I accomplished something."
Patsy Garcin of Minden also worked in the Personnel Building and she, too, has fond memories of the place that afforded her a good life.
"It helped me educate my child and provided benefits I couldn't have otherwise had," the former Human Resources rep said. "I met many, many people working there. Hundreds of people from this community came through there and worked there (Louisiana Army Ammunition Plant)."
The building, which was listed as a "temporary building," was constructed in 1941. When crews were demo-ing the building they found a Shreveport Times newspaper dated three weeks after the attacks on Pearl Harbor occurred and a few old Coca-Cola bottles. The building was torn down on June 28 and then burned by Bossier fire crews yesterday.
"The new Armed Forces Readiness Center (AFRC) will be constructed in the location of A-102 Personnel Building," said Col. Carl Thompson, informations officer for Camp Minden. "Actually, the AFRC will occupy the entire space from the site of the Personnel Building east to encompass the entire area cleared of trees (stumps and brush tops now)."
All of the National Guard units (both Army and Air Force/Air Guard units) currently headquartered/located on Camp Minden and temporarily housed in buildings dispersed in various Camp Minden locations will be co-located in the AFRC.
"Of course, I know it's going to be torn down for a reason," said Garcin. "But it just held so many memories for so many people. It helps to know something good is coming out of it."
Another plus side to tearing down the building is free training for fire crews that did the work.
According to Bossier Fire Chief Albert Roe, the crews were able to practice sawing into roofs and beams while tearing down the building, and junior firefighters were able to practice handling the water hoses during the controlled burning of the building.
"We have a great partnership with Camp Minden and things like this are invaluable to the training our firemen get," Roe said. "Most of our firefighters are volunteer, so we don't have much of a budget. To be able to get free, quality training like this is great."
Site preparation for the AFRC will begin in August and will take one month to complete.