New Cumberland installation celebrates 100 years with ribbon cutting

By Emily Tsambiras DLA Distribution Public Affairs

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The Defense Distribution Center, Susquehanna installation continued its yearlong celebration of its centennial with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Nov. 1.

The final event celebrating the installation’s centennial year served to recreate the ribbon-cutting that likely took place in the same area in 1918.

Outside the historic Susquehanna Club- the only original remaining building on the installation not currently slated for demolition- attendees took a tour through the depot’s history with three installation leaders: installation site director Rob Montefour; installation and DLA Distribution Susquehanna, Pennsylvania, commander Army Col. James Callis II; and DLA Distribution headquarters chief of staff Perry Knight.

First, Montefour spoke of the installation’s early years, opening in 1918 in support of World War I.  Following the end of the war, it served as a receiving point for supplies returning from overseas.  In the years that followed, the depot provided engineer and chemical warfare support and, then, from 1921 through 1941, the base was a Quartermaster, Ordnance, Signal and Medical inactive storage area. From 1941 to 1946, the depot served as a WWII reception center and recruit processing center. Then from 1945 to 1949, it was a German and Italian prisoner of war camp.

Callis spoke of the depot’s years as a helicopter repair and maintenance site.  From 1955 through 1985, Chinook helicopters were repaired and maintained on the depot.  During that timeframe, in 1962, the name changed to New Cumberland Army Depot. The depot then provided an air maintenance mission from 1958 through 1983.

In his remarks, Knight followed the installation’s history through the 1980’s and the addition of the Eastern Distribution Center, the largest distribution center in the Department of Defense, and into the ‘90’s, when the depot changed from an Army to a Defense Logistics Agency site and received its current name of Defense Distribution Center, Susquehanna.

Entering the new millennium, the depot continued to look for better ways to support its warfighting customers- whether through continuous process improvement initiatives or through use of technology – always ensuring stewardship excellence and best value to the customer, said Knight. 

Following the terrible acts of September 11, 2001, and the resulting military response in support of the global war on terrorism, the depot saw an increase in workload on the installation, with its strategic distribution platform pushing material into theater. 

The depot then launched its deployable capability, which has supported numerous humanitarian and disaster relief efforts over the past decade and has allowed storage and distribution services to be closer to the warfighting and peacekeeping forces than ever before.

In closing, Knight again acknowledged the installation’s rich 100-year history, and added, “The common thread woven throughout is the men and women who have supported, continue to support today and will support for the next 100 years.  They are the heart and soul of this installation; they are the unsung heroes.  Ladies and gentlemen, I can assure you that our military forces are in good hands.”

Following the remarks, Knight and Callis placed historic items in a time capsule and lined up to cut the ceremonial ribbon.  Following behind them were Army Lt. Col. Geoffrey D. Kuhlmann, deputy commander, Baltimore District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; Sharen Ewell, Susquehanna Club manager; and Bonnie Smyers, sister of the late Tom Haskill, long-time installation employee.

At the conclusion of the ribbon cutting, guests filtered into the Susquehanna Club to enjoy refreshments and examine the many displays of historic items representing the installation’s 100-year history.

You can view a video highlighting the Defense Distribution Center, Susquehanna’s history here:

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