News | Feb. 11, 2016

Vietnam Veteran recognized as beacon of support to New Cumberland installation

By Dr. Tanya Johnson DLA Distribution Public Affairs

Some may say that the recent civilian retirement of Joseph Spielbauer, executive director, Pennsylvania Military Community Enhancement Commission is bittersweet.  For Spielbauer, it means more personal time; for those who worked with him and relied on his support and expertise, it means a huge void.  At the New Cumberland installation, Jan. 28, one day prior to Spielbauer’s retirement, senior leaders honored the Vietnam Veteran for his support to his country, both in uniform and out.   

Spielbauer served the American public for over 45 years.  He fulfilled 25 years of active military service in the United States Army followed by over 20 years of public service to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. 

Serving as executive director, Pennsylvania Military Community Enhancement Commission and previously as director, Base Development Committee, Spielbauer was responsible for pulling together the myriad of military operations in Pennsylvania and preparing an effective strategy to expand military presence through the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure. “Joe has been an advocate for this installation for many years. DLA Distribution, as well as the men and woman in uniform around the world, certainly benefited and we sincerely appreciate the support he has provided,” said Army Brig. Gen. Richard Dix, commander, DLA Distribution.  Dix presented Spielbauer with a star note and personal coin as he lauded his efforts in support of DLA Distribution.

Spielbauer was also honored for his service as a Vietnam Veteran.  Designated by the Secretary of Defense Honorable Ashton Carter in May 2015, DLA Distribution became a proud partner of the United States of America's Vietnam War Commemoration Program.  The program calls upon Federal, state and local officials to honor Vietnam Veterans, the fallen, the wounded, those unaccounted for, former prisoners of war, their families and all who served.  Expressing his gratitude on behalf of the command and the commemorative program, Dix presented Spielbauer with a certificate and pin saying, “This is long overdue, but thank you for all you have done to pave the way for soldiers like me.”

Spielbauer earned his undergraduate degree from Gonzaga University and was immediately commissioned as a 2nd lieutenant in the United States Army in May 1967.  After earning his paratrooper wings and the prestigious Ranger tab, he was initially assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division.  Spielbauer was later reassigned to the combat duty with the 1st Infantry Division in the Republic of Vietnam as the artillery service battery commander.    

As the need for US Military presence in Vietnam declined and the Cold War surfaced, the Army decided to create a combat ready Ranger battalion in Europe.  After a vigorous screening process, Spielbauer was selected to be the first fire support coordinator for the European Ranger battalions.  He excelled in the position, and, as a result, was reassigned to help train the next generation of military leaders at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.  Spielbauer continued his Army career with various challenging assignments to include working with NATO, the Army War College and his final duty assignment with the Pennsylvania National Guard.  He retired from active duty as an Army colonel in September 1992 and transitioned to civilian service with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.