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Walls come tumbling down

LINCOLN, Neb. - -- As the debris is cleared away, the remains of a 52-year-old legend comes to an end, making way for a new community of joint military team work. 

A long-time relic of Nebraska Air Guard history, Building 660 was demolished in February to clear room for a new state-of-the-art state joint forces headquarters .

Built in 1956 for $103,000, the building was originally used as a warehouse with over 16,000 square feet of space. It later converted to a photo processing lab in support of the 155th Tactical Reconnaissance Group's RF-4 mission. 

Along with the photo processing team, the building also served as the main home for
base security. 

"I first got introduced to that building in 1978," said Chief Master Sgt. Matthew Swetland 155th Security Forces Squadron superintendent. For Swetland there were a lot of
memories he could recall while watching the building slowly come down. 

Swetland said he remembered how the location of the building kept them out of the
way of the rest of the base 

"When we were down there we liked it. When they told me they were going to build me a new building, I said 'Why don't you remodel this one?'" he said. "Out of sight out of mind, which we liked." 

The building also served as the initiation ground for many new Guard members' careers. 

"All the people that have been through this security unit through the years have been
through that building," said Swetland. For many, it was also a home away from home as Air Guardsmen came and went. 

"They did their 20 years there, and they (basically) grew up there." 

One of those who cut her teeth in the building when she first joined the Guard was Master Sgt. Mary Baker, 155th Mission Support Group first sergeant and 155th SFS administrative assistant. "It's a total closing of an era and the opening of a new era." 

Baker started her career in 1989, processing film that the 155th TRG's RF-4 Phantom II jets shot during reconnaissance training missions. Baker finally moved when she changed jobs in 1994. 

"It brings up memories," she said. 

One mid-90s spring saw the entire roof cave in during a heavy rain storm . 

"I don't know what year it was, but it had a flat roof and it let go," said Swetland. "It looked like it was raining in the building. We were using pallet covers to cover the furniture. That was not a good day" 

The roof finally proved to be the final downfall for the building. After several more roof
leakages and cave-ins it was finally determined to be uninhabitable and became part of an overall larger project to create an area for the new headquarters building. The Army was using it at the end for office space before it finally was turned into rubble. 

Besides the photo processing and security units, the building housed an array of different Guard units including: Bio-Environmental, Public Affairs, Multimedia, Intelligence, Armory, and Counter Drug. 

Also included in the demolition project were Buildings 644 and 648. Building 648 was the previous RF-4 simulator building and then became home to the Base Exchange.
Building 644 was most recently used as a medical clinic and then housed the Guard's
Counterdrug Task Force.
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