Loring Military Heritage Center holds grand opening

16 years ago

The Loring Military Heritage Center held its grand opening  on Saturday, June 23 with a turnout of over 150 participants throughout the day. The grand opening even drew one individual who had formerly been stationed at Loring Air Force Base all the way from Vermont.
Festivities began with the posting of the colors by the Young Marines of Caribou, followed by the singing of the national anthem by Aroostook Idol Annie Charles.
    Dean Brakel, president of the Loring Military Heritage Center welcomed visitors and gave some of the background of the center.
“The idea to try and form a heritage center on the former Loring Air Force Base started back in 1995 by a group of folks who had the idea to establish a location to collect items and maintain and preserve the 50 plus years of history of Loring and the 42nd Bomb Wing. Members of this group were Larry Conrad, director of DFAS here at the Loring Commerce Centre, Cathie Welch, Richard Saucier, Emmett Ross and Dave Corriveau. All of them are here with us today,” said Brakel.
Due to an inability to find a building to house the heritage center the dream died out, and was not reborn again for ten years.
“It was not due to a lack of hard work and determination that the heritage center did not come about then,” said Brakel.
The new push to develop the center began in 2005 largely due to the enthusiasm of Matt Cole, vice president of the Loring Military Heritage Center.
“In the spring of 2005, I received a phone call from someone by the name of Matt Cole, who I had never heard of. He started talking about forming a museum on Loring and asked if I knew of others who would be interested,” said Brakel.
Finally after numerous meetings with the LDA a building was attained to house the museum. The building was formerly a bank and beauty shop, and required a great deal of work, done by a number of volunteers, to turn it into the heritage center as it exists today.
“We did it together, and had fun doing it, whether it was tearing out the safes, building walls, painting or taking part in fund-raisers,” said Brakel.
Today a scrap book inside the museum details what this work entailed.
“I’d like to say that this would not have been possible without the hard work and persistence of our members, local businesses, friends and other supporters.
After explaining the history of the Loring Military Heritage Center Brakel introduced the keynote speaker, Lt. Col. Ed Buck of Stockholm.
Buck served in the Air Force for 33 1/2 years, spending his last nine and 1/2 years at Loring. Buck arrived at Loring in 1977 and held a number of positions while at the base including: navigation instructor, operations officer with the 407 air refueling squadron, commander of the avionics maintenance squadron, chief of base operations and training and finally the Loring Air Force Base Deputy Base Commander until his retirement in 1986.
Buck detailed some of the history of Loring Air Force Base, which the audience found fascinating. Due to Buck’s in depth experience with the base he was able to share a number of details few people were aware of, such as Loring’s designation as an alternate space shuttle landing spot.
To round off the ceremony Charles came back up to sing America the Beautiful.
After the ceremony, visitors were free to enjoy refreshments and explore the Loring Military Heritage Center. A bus tour of the flightline and East Loring, which around 50 visitors enjoyed was also a part of the festivities.
The Loring Military Heritage Center houses 838 items, from Loring’s past, which were donated by 67 individuals. The museum is always open to new donations as well as new members.
Monthly meetings are held at the heritage center on the first Tuesday of the month at 6 p.m. and are open to anyone interested in getting involved.
The museum is open Saturdays from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. and Sundays from 12-3 p.m. For more information about the center call Brakel at 492-7582.