Navy cuts the ribbon on new building at bombing range

U.S. Navy Capt. Michael Nortier, left, and Chief Machinist's Mate Donald Veach cut the ribbon on a new $1 million operational support and medical treatment building at the Naval Weapons Systems Training Facility near Boardman.

The U.S. Navy has invested $1 million into a new staff housing building at its training facility and bombing range south of Boardman, replacing two older and obsolete buildings on the property.

Naval officers and Morrow County officials came together for a ribbon cutting ceremony Feb. 18. The building will provide housing and offices for six personnel assigned to the range, as well as a first-response medical unit during training exercises.

Kent Mathes, who serves as the Navy’s Northwest Training Range Complex manager, said having a first-class support building reflects the vital role of the Boardman Range in preparing military personnel for combat.

Currently, the Boardman Range is the principal training grounds for Boeing EA-18G Growler aircraft based at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island in Washington. These squadrons are essential during airstrike missions around the world, Mathes said, by eliminating the enemy’s radar and communication defenses — known as tactical electronic warfare.

“Basically, we attempt to blind and deafen the enemy before we attack,” Mathes said.

The 47,400-acre Boardman range is also used for drone testing and training pilots on low-altitude maneuvering. Eastern Oregon’s relatively flat, isolated terrain and dry climate make it an ideal location for these exercises, Mathes said.

The Navy uses the Boardman range almost year-round, though its support buildings had simply become substandard. One office building, which Mathes said was more like a double-wide trailer, was condemned due to water damage and another building was converted into offices and outlived its original purpose.

“We wanted to replace both of those with something new and more functional,” Mathes said.

The nine-month building project was completed in January. Capt. Michael Nortier, commanding officer from NAS Whidbey Island, attended the ceremony along with Chief Machinist’s Mate Donald Veach, the leading chief petty officer on the range.

Morrow County Judge Terry Tallman, Commissioner Don Russell, Planning Director Carla McLane and others were also invited to attend and toured the new building. McLane said the community is proud of its ongoing and historical support of the U.S. military.

“The Navy’s involvement in Morrow County has done nothing but improve,” McLane said.


Contact George Plaven at or 541-564-4547.

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