By Wayne Amann, Air Force ISR Agency Public Affairs
/ Published February 19, 2013
JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO - LACKLAND, Texas -- On June 13, 1980, a new dining facility debuted on Security Hill here. Nearly 33 years later, the building is rejuvenated, goes by a new name and offers customer amenities second to none.
The Gott Commons Community Center, formerly the Rodney H. Gott Dining Hall, officially re-opened for business Feb. 19, sporting options never before enjoyed by patrons on the Hill.
The center piece of the transformation is the new Heroes Restaurant, serving a variety of breakfast, lunch buffet, dinner buffet and catering menu items rivaling top civilian eateries.
The new-look Gott offers "The Grind" coffee shop brewing Starbuck's coffee only an arms length from an extensive Grab-and-Go snack area.
Sports fans can enjoy action on four flat screen TVs in the full sports bar while travelers can make airline, hotel and vehicle reservations in the new WiFi-enabled internet café with its three computer stations.
Readers can swap materials at the lending library book nook while The Commons dining area doubles as a group meeting space. Capacity is approximately 185 people.
If early reviews are any indication, the new and improved facility should enjoy un-common success.
"It's critically important that regardless if you're military, civilian or a contractor on Security Hill [or Lackland], you can come here and get a great meal. The breakfast and lunch hours should satisfy everybody," said Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Agency Director of Staff Ken Williams, who attended the Taste Test soft opening Feb. 13 for Security Hill leadership. "It's amazing how they renovated this place from top to bottom with all state-of-the- art cooking equipment."
That modern kitchen capability is designed to prepare something for every taste and then some.
"We tout our folks to live a healthy lifestyle and you can eat extremely healthy with the all choices they have," said Air Force ISR Agency Command Chief Master Sgt. Arleen Heath. "It's great to have so many meal options. I love the energy our partners have brought to this project."
Joint Base San Antonio - Lackland's 802nd Force Support Squadron teamed with the Air Force Non-Appropriated Funds Purchasing Office to contract Selrico Services, Inc., a local leader in the food services industry, to best meet the needs of Security Hill with an inviting, comfortable dining experience.
"The 802nd Civil Engineer Squadron upgraded the building's exterior roof and shrubbery plus the interior ceiling tiles, duct work, etc., to protect the contractor's investment on the aesthetic improvements," said Mark Tharp, 802nd FSS Sustainment Services Flight chief and Gott Commons project coordinator.
Through the years the combination of streamlined base operations, the Base Realignment and Closure initiative and Airmen gradually moving out of the aging Security Hill dormitories resulted in an under-used Gott Dining Facility.
Building 2041, Gott's address on Kirknewton Street, stayed open for several years catering to community "Hearts Apart" dinners, Federal Holiday Family Brunches and the few remaining Security Hill dorm-dwelling Airmen.
"Following an in-depth fiscal analysis, the Gott D-Fac closed its doors on Feb. 1, 2012," Tharp said. "Two months later the demand for more dining options was such that we started recruiting vendors."
The Gott recovery is in line with the new trend in FSS delivery, much like a college campus.
"To better meet the needs of our customers, we redesigned it from a dining facility to a common area providing multiple capabilities under one roof," Tharp said. "To preserve the heritage of Rodney Gott, we now call it 'Gott Commons.'"
Then Staff Sgt. Rodney Gott, an airborne morse systems operator, was assigned to Detachment 2, 6994th Security Squadron, United States Air Force Security Service, Pleiku Air Base, Vietnam. He and nine fellow crewmembers were killed in action on Feb 5, 1969, when their EC-47 aircraft went down 21 miles west-northwest of Chavane in Saravane Province, Laos, while on an airborne radio detection mission. The wreckage was not found until the fall of 1969. Gott was posthumously promoted to technical sergeant and awarded the Purple Heart.
"Everyone is a hero here," said Rick Aleman, Selrico Services president and Army veteran during the soft opening. "We've been serving the military for 23 years and we're here to serve you."
Editor's Note: Monday - Friday operating hours: Heroes Restaurant for Breakfast 6:30 - 9 a.m., for Lunch 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.; The Grind Coffee Shop 6:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Sports Bar 4 -6 p.m.; Grab and Go 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. The Gott Commons Community Center is closed on holidays.