Airmen stand outside waiting for the Red River Dining Facility to open for lunch at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., in 2020.

Airmen stand outside waiting for the Red River Dining Facility to open for lunch at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., in 2020. (Daniel Martinez/U.S. Air Force)

An infestation of rats and mice at the dining hall at Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana has forced base officials to shut down the facility for more than a week.

The Red River Dining Facility closed April 12 and officials are uncertain when it will reopen, said Capt. Hunter Rininger, spokesperson for the 2nd Bomb Wing, the host unit for the base.

Rininger referred to the problem as a pest infestation and did not specifically identify them as rats or mice. However, photos posted to a social media page popular with airmen showed rodents running through the dining facility or caught in traps. The pest problem was exacerbated by recent heavy rainfall, Rininger said.

“Our leadership team is continuously engaged with frequent public health assessments to ensure the safety and sanitation of all food service facilities,” she said. “Based on the recommendations of public health [officials] and the need for civil engineers to take more invasive measures, and out of an abundance of caution, the decision was made to temporarily close the Barksdale [dining facility].”

Airmen living in dorms that have dining facility meals automatically deducted from their pay will receive refunds for the time that the facility is closed, Rininger said. To reopen, the facility will undergo a “thorough joint inspection.”

An email posted to social media about the closure recommended airmen get meals from other restaurants on base, including the café in the base’s bowling center or the food court in the base Main Exchange.

Barksdale is located near Shreveport in northwest Louisiana and has more than 11,400 military and civilian personnel assigned there, according to the base website. The 2nd Bomb Wing is responsible for providing B-52H Stratofortress bombers for conventional or nuclear operations.

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Rose L. Thayer is based in Austin, Texas, and she has been covering the western region of the continental U.S. for Stars and Stripes since 2018. Before that she was a reporter for Killeen Daily Herald and a freelance journalist for publications including The Alcalde, Texas Highways and the Austin American-Statesman. She is the spouse of an Army veteran and a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in journalism. Her awards include a 2021 Society of Professional Journalists Washington Dateline Award and an Honorable Mention from the Military Reporters and Editors Association for her coverage of crime at Fort Hood.

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