Vandenberg breaks ground for Reagan Memorial

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Riki Ellison, president and founder of Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance, breaks ground with Col. Steve Tanous, 30th Space Wing commander, during a ceremony here on Aug. 29.  The ceremony symbolized the beginning of construction of the Ronald W. Reagan Missile Defense Site Memorial that will honor the 40th U.S. president who made many contributions to a national missile defense program.  The limestone memorial, set to be completed around Jan. 17, 2008, will replace the existing on-base launch viewing site at Del Punta, and will feature the bronze bust and plaque which was unveiled on April 4, 2006 by Former First Lady Nancy Reagan during a dedication of the Ronald W. Reagan Missile Defense Site at Vandenberg. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Cole Presley)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Riki Ellison, president and founder of Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance, breaks ground with Col. Steve Tanous, 30th Space Wing commander, during a ceremony here on Aug. 29. The ceremony symbolized the beginning of construction of the Ronald W. Reagan Missile Defense Site Memorial that will honor the 40th U.S. president who made many contributions to a national missile defense program. The limestone memorial, set to be completed around Jan. 17, 2008, will replace the existing on-base launch viewing site at Del Punta, and will feature the bronze bust and plaque which was unveiled on April 4, 2006 by Former First Lady Nancy Reagan during a dedication of the Ronald W. Reagan Missile Defense Site at Vandenberg. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Cole Presley)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Col. Steve Tanous, 30th Space Wing commander, speaks with Riki Ellison, president and founder of Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance, on Aug. 29 before breaking ground to symbolize the beginning of construction of the Ronald W. Reagan Missile Defense Site Memorial. The limestone memorial, set to be completed around Jan. 17, 2008, will replace the existing on-base launch viewing site at Del Punta, and will feature the bronze bust and plaque which was unveiled on April 4, 2006 by Former First Lady Nancy Reagan during a dedication of the Ronald W. Reagan Missile Defense Site at Vandenberg for his many contributions to a national missile defense program.  (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Cole Presley)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Col. Steve Tanous, 30th Space Wing commander, speaks with Riki Ellison, president and founder of Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance, on Aug. 29 before breaking ground to symbolize the beginning of construction of the Ronald W. Reagan Missile Defense Site Memorial. The limestone memorial, set to be completed around Jan. 17, 2008, will replace the existing on-base launch viewing site at Del Punta, and will feature the bronze bust and plaque which was unveiled on April 4, 2006 by Former First Lady Nancy Reagan during a dedication of the Ronald W. Reagan Missile Defense Site at Vandenberg for his many contributions to a national missile defense program. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Cole Presley)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- A ground breaking-ceremony symbolized the beginning of construction of the Ronald W. Reagan Memorial at 3 p.m. on Aug. 29 at North Base.

The memorial, which is set to be completed around Jan. 17, 2008, will replace the existing on-base launch viewing site at Del Punta. It was designed by Bobby Woods, an architect from Arizona, who drafted the memorial free of charge, according to Bob Griswold, an architect with the 30th Civil Engineer Squadron.

Construction of the limestone memorial is set to begin in the first week of September 2007. Icon Consulting Group, Inc., is set to begin construction after winning the base bid of $344,200 on July 13 through the Simplified Acquisition of Base Engineering Requirements.

The memorial will feature a bronze bust and plaque to honor the 40th president, which was unveiled on April 4, 2006 by Former First Lady Nancy Reagan during a dedication of the "Ronald W. Reagan Missile Defense Site" at Vandenberg.

"This memorial will last for generations of people watching a launch," said Ron Cortopassi, 30th Space Wing director of staff. "When they come here, they will learn about President Reagan's contributions to missile defense. It's important that we give it the proper dignity, so a lot of people have been working very hard on this."

The 30th Space Wing's engineers and contractors cooperated with Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance to see the vision of the Reagan Memorial become a reality. Riki Ellison, president of MDAA, thanked the 30th Space Wing on behalf of Mrs. Reagan and the 60,000 members of the MDAA.

"You can see it here, and in Europe--what you do here makes the world and our families safer," he said.

President Reagan's establishment of the Strategic Defense Initiative Organization was essential to developing and fielding the initial elements of the first missile defense system capable of defending all 50 states against a limited long-range ballistic missile attack.