Jul 20, 2012 6:52 PM by Jen Hollenbach (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Malmstrom Air Force Base officially cut the ribbon on a new Base Exchange (BX) on Friday.
Colonel H.B. Brual, the commander of the 341st Missile Wing at Malmstrom, noted, "This is a significant improvement to the quality of life for our airmen. It provides them a one-stop shop for fuel services, food, clothing."
For many of the airmen, it's vital to have one facility housing most of their everyday needs; Brual noted, "We have a community of over 1,000 homes plus another 700 airmen who live in the dorms, and it's really a convenience issue."
Exchange manager Mark Downs explained, "We have a lot of single airmen on Malmstrom; they live in the barracks, and they have really nowhere to go."
Downs also noted that the facility is simply called "the Exchange," explaining that the nomenclature is a move by the headquarters agency to re-brand the various exchange facilities across the military services - NEX (Navy), PX (Army), BX (Air Force), etc.
A portion of the new facility is open 24 hours a day, similar to a convenience store, in order to cater to the revolving schedule of the airmen who work unusual and/or long hours.
Brual said, "Our airmen do a hard job out here, doing a very important mission for our nation. We of course have these 150 missiles out in the ICBM complex, it's a 24-7 mission, and now we have this 24-7 larger exchange with a mini-mart right there."
The Exchange serves active duty military members, their families, and retired military personnel and their families.
In addition to selling retail goods, clothing, appliances, electronics, and military uniforms, the facility also boasts an optical shop and a barber shop.
Also inside are several small eateries, including Popeye's and Subway. There is also a gas station on the property. The new facility is 40,000 square feet and cost $12.9 million.
The old BX and auto service station have both been shut down and Colonel Brual says will be demolished once they've been cleared out.
Transitioning to the new Exchange also increased the number of employment opportunities on base; more than 110 residents from the base and the Great Falls community are employed at the facility.
Click the photos above for larger views and a look inside the new Exchange.