WEST POINT -- Four barracks renovated. Five more to go.
West Point on Tuesday rededicated the Pershing Barracks, where a $60 million renovation is just about finished.
The ribbon-cutting ceremony was timed to coincide with celebrations of the centennial of the end of World War I. The barracks' namesake, General John J. "Black Jack" Pershing, distinguished himself as commander of the American Expeditionary Forces during that war.
The 123-year-old, four-story barracks will be ready for 270 cadets to move in by December.
But it won't be until the hot weather returns next year that cadets will be able to appreciate one new feature: air conditioning.
"That's the thing the cadets care about more than anything else" in their living quarters, said Capt. Benjamin Bruder of the Army Corps of Engineers, who's a 2009 West Point graduate.
Pershing was also a West Point grad -- class of 1886.
"From obscurity, he came along at the right time," said Lt. Gen. Darryl Williams, West Point's superintendent.
Williams said Pershing was earning $24 a month as a teacher when he heard about the chance for a scholarship to West Point. He took advantage of it because of the educational opportunity.
"He had no desire for a career in the Army," Williams said. "He was an average student, but he excelled as a soldier (here) and was appointed first captain."
Pershing went on to take part in the Battle of San Juan Hill under the command of future president Teddy Roosevelt, and helped track down Pancho Villa, before getting his World War I command.
Williams said the Pershing Barracks honors not only the general but "the millions of soldiers who were under his command."
The Pershing Barracks are part of a $600 million-plus renovation of the nine cadet residences built before 1972. The project is tentatively expected to be finished in 2022.
The Davis Barracks, completed and opened last year, were the first barracks to feature air conditioning as part of their original design.
This article is written by Michael Randall from The Times Herald-Record, Middletown, N.Y. and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.