A changing of the guard at Letterkenny

September 14, 2009|By JENNIFER FITCH

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. -- Letterkenny Army Depot will welcome its first female commander Sept. 25, when Col. Steven Shapiro leaves the depot after two years and prepares to deploy to Kuwait.

Col. Cheri Provancha will be the first woman to assume command of the depot in its 67-year history. She comes to Letterkenny on the heels of a 15-month stint in Iraq.

"She's going to be very current from the fight," Shapiro said.

Shapiro's new role in Kuwait calls for him to manage the retrograding of equipment coming out of the war. It marks the 15th time he's moved in 24 years with the U.S. Army.

His wife, Mary, and two daughters are settling into a home in Washington, D.C. They moved in time for the 10-year-old and 15-year-old to start school.


"When it's time to retire, we're coming back to southcentral Pennsylvania," Shapiro said.

Although he grew up in New York and his wife in Massachusetts, Shapiro said they felt deep connections to people living and working in the Chambersburg area. He described this as their most emotional move.

The 3,600 people working at Letterkenny Army Depot are very family-oriented, he said.

Letterkenny's workload grew under Shapiro's command, as uniformed and civilian employees produced equipment for the war effort. The depot increased focus on work-force training for white-collar and blue-collar workers.

"The influx of work isn't going to be as smooth as it was ... as steady as it was," Shapiro said, talking about how changes in the Middle East affect Letterkenny.

When talking about the depot's future, Shapiro highlighted good money management, improvements to the physical plant, and partnerships with companies like Raytheon Integrated Systems and BAE Systems. He said those efforts should beneficially position the depot for the next Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission process, which last threatened Letterkenny in 2005.

"I've met people who while in Letterkenny equipment were hit by IEDs and they've lived to tell about it," Shapiro said.

He left the Army War College in Carlisle, Pa., to join Letterkenny as its commander in August 2007.

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