BATTLE CREEK, Mich., –
Nearly a thousand pieces of usable furniture were recently awarded to the Portuguese government as part of a one-time sale held at Lajes Field in the Azores archipelago in the mid-Atlantic.
The U.S. has based personnel at Lajes Field since WWII, as a waystation for anti-submarine aircraft and a refueling point for military cargo planes bound for the U.S., Africa, and Europe.
Defense Logistics Agency Disposition Services has long maintained a field office at Lajes, supporting the property turn-in needs of various Air Force and Navy units headquartered there. Property Disposal Specialist Luciano Barbosa De Lima is DLA’s site lead and a 25-year DLA veteran who hails from the island chain. He said the last major property sales DLA conducted in the Azores occurred in 2015, when a hospital and family housing closed as the base was drawing down.
“The base used to be really big,” Lima said, noting that of the thousands of U.S. troops previously stationed there, a relative handful are still there. Of the 2,000 local nationals he estimated were once employed by the base, he said 417 remained. “DLA made big donations to the Humanitarian Assistance Program in 2015, and an entire hospital full of equipment – X-ray machines, dental chairs and equipment – went to a Portuguese air base in Lisbon.”
The recent sale included bedroom and office furniture – chairs, desks, wall units, chests, dressers, beds, and tables – left over from the drawdown. At first, Lima said, no one wanted to buy a giant furniture lot located in a dramatically remote place. He said that without a taker, the agency would need to downgrade the furniture condition codes and it would have cost DOD tens of thousands of dollars to collect, transport and incinerate the items.
Then came a stroke of luck.
“I am so happy,” Lima said. “A new Portuguese base commander arrived, examined the property lot and said, ‘whoa, this is better than what we have in our housing. We probably can’t use everything, but we can use a lot of it.’”
Lima said the Portuguese Air Force made an offer to the DLA contracting officer that was accepted and then personnel quickly got to work clearing out spaces.
“It was great. We saved quite a bit of money. They took everything, they cleaned out our buildings,” Lima said. “They came in and used their trucks, their people, they loaded everything, they did the whole job.”
He said he expects a future sale of remaining furniture from a couple of buildings currently being used as quarantine quarters for servicemembers traveling to and from the U.S. who need lodging facilities while they wait for mandatory COVID-19 testing periods to elapse.
The official name of Lajes Field is Airbase No. 4. It was a primary location from which U.S. forces hunted German U-boats in WWII, and later, where Atlantic search-and-rescue missions often originated from.