Hamilton National Guard Armory closes

The Montana National Guard marked the end of an era as it closed its armory in Hamilton Tuesday.

The Hamilton Armory on West Main Street is 57 years old.

Detachment 2,230th Engineering Company, which called the armory home, will be transferred to Anaconda.

Montana National Guard soldiers did a final walk through of the landmark building Tuesday, making sure all the equipment was out.

Thirty to 40 soldiers trained here every month. They came from all over Montana.

“The unit as a whole is going to stay as a whole,” said Major Troy Wacaser of the Guard’s 495th OIC. “All of the soldiers that were part of the unit are still part of the unit and it’s going to be based in Anaconda instead of Hamilton now.”

Adjutant General for Montana, Major General Matthew Quinn, said “the change is part of a statewide effort to rebalance our forces for the future. The end goal is to gain efficiency by simplifying the chain of command and to increase combined unit training opportunities,” and to save taxpayer’s money.

There were two full-time staff at the Hamilton Armory. One took a job in Missoula, and the other position was already vacant.

The soldiers who trained here also did community service work. For many in Hamilton they were a welcome fixture.

“I’ve enjoyed drilling here,” said Staff Sgt. Jeff Davidson from Helena. “It’s a great little town and a great community. So it’s going to be kind of a bummer leaving, but that’s the way it goes.”

The building and Claudia Driscoll Park, which used to be called Armory Park, will be offered for sale. Local governments will have first options to buy the property.

The city of Hamilton has expressed interest in buying the property. The council will discuss the issue at its meeting Tuesday evening.

From NBC Montana