GUERNSEY – A ceremony to honor one of their own in the dedication of a new facility at Camp Guernsey brought senators and generals, civilians and soldiers, musicians and patriots.
The Lieutenant General R.L. Esmay Education Center, a combined facility that is 111, 755 sq. ft in size was dedicated July 15 in a special dedication ceremony that was open to both the military, the public and the Esmay family who witnessed the complex being officially named after their relative who was instrumental in bringing the Air Guard camp to Guernsey.
Lieutenant General R.L. Esmay was instrumental in establishing the Camp Guernsey training area and so it was apropos for this new facility to be named in his honor.
The facility is broken down into three separate buildings, the general instruction building which is 72,166 sq. ft., the 110-bed enlisted barracks which is 24,524 sq. ft., and the 400-person dining facility which is 12,065 sq. ft.
The building was completed in June 2020 by The Haskell Company and the design-build consultant was Design-Build Solutions. The total cost of the project was $36 million.
The dedication ceremony included comments from Wyoming Senator Mike Enzi, Secretary of State Edward Buchanan, Major General Gregory Porter and Retired Lieutenant Colonel, Dr. John Esmay, the son of LTG R.L. Esmay.
There was a ribbon cutting, a facility tour and a social gathering that followed the ceremony.
“What a great day to be in Wyoming and at Camp Guernsey,” Enzi said. “There aren’t a lot of building dedications going on around the nation anytime, but particularly not now. It’s so nice to have so many people come out and kick off this new phase of the camp.”
Enzi pointed out the importance of the guard and reserve and said that their history began even before the United States was formed.
“It was the guard and reserve, called the minute men at Concord and Lexington that stomped the British and then repeated it at Bunker Hill,” Enzi said. “I think that’s what gave us the courage to go ahead and become a United States.”
Enzi went on to say it is an exceptional facility that will serve all levels and all branches.
Buchanan, who followed Enzi on the platform, said it was an honor for him as a veteran and a son of a veteran to be a part of the dedication ceremony.
“The training facilities here at Camp Guernsey are really, really an essential part of our nation’s defense,” he said. “Ensuring that our fighting men and women are trained, they’re ready and they are poised to carry the mantle of defense for this great nation. The National Guard and its components are essential. That’s an understatement. They are crucial to fulfilling the mission of our United States Military which is to maintain a war-fighting supremacy that ensures peace not only for the country, but indeed for the world.”
Porter then addressed both his comrades in arms and the group who had come to celebrate with words of both wisdom and encouragement.
“We can see that it was General Esmay’s vision and his forethought brought it to being,” he said. “We are once again reminded of how much one person can affect the lives of so many. I doubt that General Esmay really envisioned all that Camp Guernsey would become when he began his quest to ensure that the Wyoming military department had a place to train. What he did allow was his succeeding generations of leaders to build upon his vision for what Camp Guernsey could become.”
The audience was then treated to an endearing look back at the history of the man who was being honored and who the facility was named for. The words came from Esmay’s son, John, who was successful in his own right as a soldier and who had attained the rank of Lt. Col.
Esmay told of how his grandfather, who was a contractor built the first county courthouse and of the first band in Douglas and in Casper.
“My father lied about his age so he could join the army guard at 16 years of age,” Esmay said. “He was assigned to the 362nd infantry unit, 91st division in World War I. He served in offenses in Belgium and France. He was mustard gassed, he was wounded twice in the Argon Forest Sept. 29, 1918. He was discharged and returned to Douglas. In 1921 he was appointed an adjutant general, and you wonder how a 23-year-old was appointed.”
Esmay shared how his father wore many hats outside of the military as a teacher, a banker and an engineer, all while remaining in the guard. In 1929 he was reappointed and in 1938 he established Camp Guernsey. He also mentioned that his father was very proud of the fact that he was a horse cavalry officer.
According to published information provided at the dedication ceremony, the staff at Camp Guernsey, the facility brings together the administrative, command, instructional and support elements of the Camp Guernsey Training Site to provide outstanding training opportunities for soldiers from across the United States. The general instruction building provides emergency shelter capabilities for up to 140 persons.
The new general instruction building also provided a large auditorium, classrooms, multipurpose training, learning resource, aid station, administrative offices and building support space. It will also serve as a modern training facility that will position the 213th REG RTI to provide premiere training and development experiences to foster soldier success.