BATTLE CREEK, Mich. –
If an observer was judging just by the Defense Logistics Agency Disposition Services support level at upstate New York’s Fort Drum in 2020, they might not know that the nation was having a rough go of things.
DLA’s enduring property disposal presence at Fort Drum was emblematic of the can-do attitude that its personnel adopted across the North-East directorate despite major interruptions to normal operations in 2020 like reduced site manning, travel bans and recurring office shutdowns for deep cleaning.
Longtime area Property Disposal Specialist Rob Delong served point on a variety of notable projects in his neck of the woods, including a surge of personnel to Fort Drum to ensure that elements of the historic Army 10th Mtn. Division could get property off their books prior to a large-scale deployment to Europe.
More recently, Delong helped finish up a scrap removal project for the Air Force Research Laboratory involving old airplanes at regional facilities, including an Air Force “superlab” near Rome, New York.
“Rome Labs is at the far reaches of the Fort Drum area of responsibility and these sites are really remote. Going by Fort Drum standards, that means they are really in the sticks, situated in the hillsides of Mohawk Valley,” Delong said. “Once off the main road, it’s very sparsely populated. A traveler is more likely to see an Amish horse and buggy than another vehicle.”
Delong said the contractor – which dismantled another large fuselage for the region at Hanscom Air Force Base earlier in the year – performed very efficiently, taking only a handful of days to shear and remove about 81,000 pounds of what was once a Boeing KC-135.
While staff safety was the top priority across DLA Disposition Services for the year, property receipt and scrap efforts continued mostly unabated across North-East directorate. At the western end of the region, its personnel oversaw an expansion of property mutilation operations at Indiana’s Naval Support Activity Crane, where 6.8 million pounds of scrap was processed. Region leadership said full-service sites averaged about 60% of the overall property receipts forecasted for the year prior to the pandemic, including three sites that achieved at or near 100% capacity despite significant COVID-19 restrictions.
Sites across North-East made too many noteworthy contributions to pandemic and disaster response efforts throughout the year to list them all, in addition to deploying eight employees in support of DLA expeditionary operations.
When national personal protective equipment stocks were sparse early in the pandemic, Letterkenny site staff coordinated a speedy retrieval of more than 47,200 N95 face masks from the agency’s commercial sales contractor, allowing the Department of Health and Human Services to requisition them. They provided more N95s to protect Coast Guard rescue operators near Washington, D.C. Hundreds of thousands of masks shipped from the Columbus, Ohio, site to personnel aboard three aircraft carriers in the Pacific and to Marine Corps units stationed at Okinawa, Japan. North-East sites also provided ventilators to Federal Emergency Management Agency and Army medical teams, along with thousands of human remains pouches and protective suits. Customers from states across the region, including New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Indiana, and New Hampshire used tents received from Susquehanna and other sites for use as walk-up and drive-thru COVID-19 testing locations, and more than half the states in the country requested critical medical equipment, much of it coming from the region’s excess property warehouses.
In October, Norfolk contributed $3.4 million in surgical and water sterilization equipment bound for U.S. Agency for International Development aid recipients like Honduras, which was pounded by back-to-back hurricanes in 2020, and the Fort Dix site supported Hurricane Laura relief efforts by issuing HMMWVs valued at $123,000.
Region staff made personal contributions as well. New England Area Manager Brandon Meyer took it upon himself to address the early mask shortage. As a 3D-printing enthusiast, he spent a good deal of his free time in the spring creating 3D-printed masks and donating them to community-care organizations, family members and essential agency employees who are still working in warehouses in the area.
The Fort Meade site staff rallied to put a food drive together and contribute to a local Maryland food bank for the Thanksgiving holiday.
“For Christmas, we set out to beat that,” said Meade Area Manager Steve Herb, noting that they ended up donating twice as much food the second time. “Mission accomplished.”