Guardsmen celebrate return of Jackson Barracks after Katrina

Spc. Tarell J. Bilbo 241st Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
At upper left, F-15 fighter jets from the Louisiana Air National Guard's 159th Fighter Wing perform a flyover during the rededication ceremony of Jackson Barracks in New Orleans, Nov. 5,. The ceremony marked the official return of the LANG's Headquarters to Jackson Barracks. The F-15 fighter jets from Belle Chasse will perform a flyover during the during the Veteran’s Parade in Gonzales Thursday at 4:15 p.m.

NEW ORLEANS – The Louisiana National Guard celebrated the official rededication of Jackson Barracks in New Orleans during a ceremony, Nov. 5. The event marked the official return of the headquarters to the post since the damage it received in 2005.

Katrina brought severe flooding and wind damage throughout the city of New Orleans. St. Bernard Parish and the Lower Ninth Ward, including Jackson Barracks, were hit particularly hard. All the buildings at Jackson Barracks were destroyed or damaged by storm-induced flooding with water depths ranging from three feet at the levee to almost 18 feet at the northernmost part of the Barracks.

After the devastation, the headquarters of the LANG and much of its operations relocated to Camp Beauregard in Pineville and to Gillis W. Long Center in Carville.

The ceremony, which included a 19-gun salute, the display of the Headquarters Direct Reporting Units’ colors, and a flyover by F-15 fighter jets, celebrated the official return of the LANG’s Headquarters to Jackson Barracks.

“The rebuilding efforts for Jackson Barracks began in early 2006,” said 1st Lt. Heather S. Englehart, a project officer in the Construction Facilities Management Office. “We were presented with many great challenges, but we achieved our goals.”

The construction that is completed, the current construction projects and the pending construction projects will total approximately $300 million.

“A project of this enormity does not just happen by itself,” said Maj. Gen. Bennett C. Landreneau, adjutant general of the LANG. “Today would not be possible without the hard-working men and women of the National Guard.”

At the ceremony, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, Landreneau and the official party unveiled the new historic marker that will be placed outside of Jackson Barracks. Around the city of New Orleans, in front of historic buildings and areas, these markers are placed to give information of the landmark it represents.

“Today we celebrate so much more than just renovated buildings,” Jindal said. “We’re on our way to the greatest comeback yet.”

Not only did Katrina affect the buildings and homes of Jackson Barracks, it also affected the people who live and work on post.

“I grew up here when my father was in the military and remained after I joined the Guard,” said Capt. Will J. Santos, LANG officer strength manager. “I wanted my son to enjoy an upbringing like I did … Katrina interrupted that.”

Jackson Barracks was built under the administration of President Andrew Jackson, to house the Federal military garrison defending the city of New Orleans and the Lower Mississippi Valley.

The Barracks was originally named the New Orleans Barracks or simply the United States Barracks; however, the name was changed to Jackson Barracks in 1866 in honor of then Gen. Andrew Jackson, hero of the 1815 Battle of New Orleans and seventh U.S. president.

Soldiers with the Louisiana National Guard’s 1st Battalion, 141st Field Artillery Regiment fire off a 19-gun salute at the rededication ceremony for Jackson Barracks in New Orleans, Nov. 5, 2010. The 19-gun salute symbolizes the presence of Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal at the ceremony.