NEW CUMBERLAND, Pa. –
Defense Distribution Susquehanna is celebrating a 100th Anniversary this year. To commemorate the event, DLA interviewed several former employees from the installation, including Ron Sprout, who worked in the rail yard and motor pool before retiring.
“My name is Ron Sprout. I started at the Depot in April of 1977. I worked there until September of 2013 when I retired with a total of 41 years of service. I had a couple of years in the Marine Corps. I worked at the Post Office for a couple of years and then I saw no future there so I moved to the Depot and I bought a house in New Cumberland because of me moving to the Depot. I moved to New Cumberland on Sunday and I started at the Depot on Monday.
When I first started at the Depot, I started as a laborer. I worked a couple of years as a laborer and in that tenure, I became a messenger for transportation division and I got to know the people in the railroad so I went to the railroad in 1979. I spent my time in the railroad from 1979 to 2002 starting as a brakeman and working myself up to yardmaster.
Back then, the tickets weren’t automated so they had to be picked up at the warehouse and then taken to every warehouse. So I picked up the tickets and delivered them to all the warehouses. We used anything from a car to a three-wheel Cushman.
I loved the fact that being former military, what I did made a difference to all my brothers and sisters in the military. It was very exciting. Even though it was mid-1970’s, there was a lot of stuff still coming back from Vietnam and we had the air maintenance mission there. So we were getting a lot of the damaged helicopters coming back that we repaired and we refurbished them and then we took them and we shipped them all over the world for reuse and then during my tenure, starting in I think 1991, the Blackhawk Program came into existence and we were responsible for shipping all the Blackhawks from CONUS to OCONUS. It was a major part of the Depot. We had supply. We had air maintenance. And air maintenance did a lot of projects that people don’t know about. We had a lot of helicopters that we have to take care of at night. They come in at night undercover. They would be modified with weapon systems and technical equipment and we’d put them under arms again and then send them right back out. It was a great time to be at the Depot. It downsized because we became a repair parts Depot and DLA had a requirement for us to standardize our rail with commercial rail and it was just not economically feasible to do that. So they phased out in 1991. I left the railroad and I became part of the motor pool.
I don’t think people in this area that have been in this area for a long time just realize how important that Depot is to our national defense. We just supply a whole lot of stuff to a whole lot of people and we do it very well.”