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Top brass has top marks for Depot

December 08, 2006|by DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - The top noncommissioned officer of the U.S. Army Materiel Command toured Letterkenny Army Depot and said that his former post can handle more of the workload of overhauling military equipment.

"They are positioned to take on more work, they just need the money to do it," Command Sgt. Maj. Daniel Elder said Thursday during a visit to Chambersburg. "They have the skills and the work force and the lean manufacturing principles to make it happen," said Elder, who was a sergeant major when he served at the depot in 1997-98.

The money should be forthcoming. In October, Congress approved and President Bush signed into law an appropriations bill containing and additional $23 billion for the overhaul of well-worn Army and Marine Corps equipment in 2007, according to U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster's office. More than $17 billion of that will go to the Army, a staff member in Shuster's office said.

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Military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan have accelerated the wear-and-tear on military equipment ranging from tanks and helicopters to the Humvees repaired, overhauled and upgraded at Letterkenny. Elder noted that the depot was recently awarded a Shingo Prize for excellence in manufacturing for the second year in a row, this time for its Humvee program.

"We see the value of having our nation's industrial capacity at places like Letterkenny," said Elder, who made his visit on the 65th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Letterkenny Township was selected as the site for a depot as America geared up for World War II and opened for business in 1942.

While in Chambersburg, Elder also stopped at the Lowe's Home Improvement Center on Lincoln Way East to present the store with a plaque from the Army Materiel Command thanking it for offering discounts to military personnel throughout the year.

"Being a soldier these days is kind of tough," Elder said, thanking a group of employees for easing the financial burden on military personnel.

"We appreciate all you guys do for us, as well," said Jason Martinage, the store's operations manager.

The Chambersburg store offers discounts to active military personnel, as well as reservists, National Guard members and retirees, Martinage said. Some other Lowe's stores also offer year-round discounts to military personnel, while others offer them during certain holidays, such as Veterans Day, he said.

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