Army Reserve unit activating Saturday

September 19, 1997


Staff Writer, Waynesboro

GREENCASTLE, Pa. - The 309th Transportation Co., the area's newest Army Reserve unit, will be officially activated at a brief ceremony at 1 p.m. Saturday in a facility that once housed a sophisticated communications center during America's fight in the Cold War.

The 309th calls home a little used military complex off Pensinger Road south of Greencastle that "very few people in this area knew about," said Larry Steinberger, unit spokesperson.

The complex was built in the 1950s to house the first communications relay station for Site R, the underground Pentagon complex at Fort Ritchie. "It was manned full time. The building we're in now was used as a barracks," Steinberger said.


The complex covers about 30 acres and has three main buildings.

When the government moved the communications center out, the Army Reserves moved in, he said.

The 357th Transportation Co. occupied the site from 1972 to 1988. An aviation regiment that repaired Army helicopters at a government facility at the Washington County Regional Airport, was headquartered at the Pensinger Road facility, he said.

The base became idle in 1993 when the helicopter repair operation was turned over to the National Guard and the Reserve unit was deactivated as part of the overall realignment of the entire Army Reserve structure, Steinberger said.

The base stayed idle from February of 1993 to March of this year, when the 309th started up. A small Army Reserve vehicle repair operation also occupies space at the base. It repairs vehicles for all area Reserve units, he said.

The 309th's mission will be transporting fuel to an army in battle. The unit's fleet of large tractor trailer tankers has already been moved onto the site.

What Steinberger needs now, he said, is bodies.

The unit's authorized complement is 160 people. So far he has about 35. About half of them have transferred from other Reserve and National Guard units, he said. The rest are new members.

"We're just kicking this off now so it's a good opportunity for someone who wants to learn how to drive a tractor-trailer truck," Steinberger said. "Women as well as men are encouraged to join," he said.

Steinberger was working for a Reserve outfit stationed at Fort Ritchie, but it has moved to the Washington, D.C., area. The job at the 309th dropped into his lap just as he was considering whether to make the long daily commute to Washington to keep his old job.

"This just happened to activate. It's like it came from God," said Steinberger, 43, who lives in Chambersburg.

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