Old Fort Stewart airstrip to reopen as landing zone - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Old airstrip to reopen as landing zone

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A remote portion of Fort Stewart's training area will soon serve a new purpose.

Camp Oliver, located in the northwest corner of Fort Stewart in Evans County had a landing strip that has not been used in decades. Members of the Georgia National Guard found a unit from the other side of the country that could resurrect it for use.

A Red Horse engineering unit from the New Mexico Army and Air Guard sent 25 members to Camp Oliver to inspect, compact, and regrade the airstrip. Within days, they will finish the two week mission. 

"It's very rare for us to get their kind of project outside a combat zone," explained Lt. Col. Tom Benton, who commands the unit.

Besides the grading and compaction work on the strip, the unit also cleared a 100 yard long row of burms - walls of dirt 10 to 15 ft. high - to extend one end of the strip. The airstrip will be roughly 4,000 feet long, capable of handling C-130 aircraft. The site will allow units to practice landing on the kinds of surfaces they see in theater.

"When the 165th Airlift Wing picks up paratroopers, they'll be able to drop them here and land here and load them back up and take them back to Hunter," explained Colonel Todd Freesemann, commander of the National Guard Combat Readiness Training Center.

The site will save the units travel time and fuel to practice these skills somewhere else.

The Camp Oliver strip will play a pivotal role in an upcoming exercise for units from all over the country in March.

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