With Kenny Loggins’ song “Danger Zone” providing a musical backdrop, the commander of Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base took the stage Wednesday and accepted the Vandergriff Award, one of the Fort Worth Chamber’s most prestigious annual awards.
“This event speaks volumes to the military support and appreciation in this community, and for the base it’s something we couldn’t do our mission without,” Capt. Jonathan Townsend, commanding officer at the base, told several hundred people attending the ceremony.
The event, which was held at the Worthington Renaissance Fort Worth hotel, was sponsored by the Fort Worth Chamber and coincided with Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley’s annual State of the County address.
The base began in 1932 as Tarrant Field Airdrome, and later was dubbed Fort Worth Army Field. But the name was later changed to Carswell Air Force Base — the name still used by many veterans who trained, worked and lived there.
The base was closed in 1993 after the federal government realigned its military resources. But it was re-purposed a year later as a joint reserve base used by all military branches.
Today, the base employs 10,200 active duty, guard and reserve service member and civilian employees, making it one of Fort Worth’s largest employers. It has an economic impact of about $6.6 billion, including domestic product and aviation assets, according to the Texas Comptroller.
“The very foundation of Fort Worth was a military objective — the fort where the west began — and our residents are proud of that history,” said Bill Thornton, chamber president and chief executive officer.
The Vandergriff Award is named in memory of Tom Vandergriff, a former Arlington mayor and Tarrant County judge who died in 2010.