Historic arsenal celebrates its 200th birthday, welcomes new commander
July 22, 2013
- Historic arsenal celebrates its 58th change of command in its 200-year history
WATERVLIET ARSENAL, N.Y. -- When former Arsenal Commander Col. Mark F. Migaleddi took command of the Watervliet Arsenal three years ago, he knew then that when he relinquished command in 2013 that it would be a historic event. Not because of the success he may have achieved shaping the arsenal for future generations, but because his eventual change of command would coincide with the arsenal's 200th anniversary.
With the backdrop of Soldiers from New York's Army National Guard holding flags and organizational colors, Col. Lee H. Schiller Jr. took command Thursday of the 200-year-old Army manufacturing center from Migaleddi in a formal Army ceremony called a Change of Command. The official party, consisting of Migaleddi and Schiller, was led by Maj. Gen. Michael J. Terry, the commanding general of TACOM Life Cycle Management Command.
This was the arsenal's 58th change of command since 1813. On July 14, 2013, the arsenal celebrated 200 years of continuous support to our nation's military.
This colorful ceremony formally restates to Soldiers and to Department of the Army Civilians the continuity of command by denoting the transfer of authority. The ceremony holds a special significance in that it honors the outgoing commander after a successful command and also serves as a welcome to the incoming commander. This event is symbolized in the ceremonial passing of the Organizational Colors before the assembled members of the command.
In his remarks, Terry praised the arsenal's workforce, its 200-year history, as well as had kind words for Migaleddi.
"For 200 years, the arsenal has produced the weapons, parts, and material that helped hundreds of thousands of our nation's war fighters to come home safely," Terry said. "We are proud of who you are and what you do to make our Army the best equipped quality force in the world."
"Today, we bid farewell to a tremendous leader who has served as your commander for the past three years," Terry said. "Mark Migaleddi's most important qualities and achievements during his time as arsenal commander are his heart, his passion for his people, and his efforts to maintain workload with the right-sized workforce, while ensuring minimal impacts to employees and their families, especially during these times of fiscal uncertainty."
Migaleddi said during the ceremony that when he first saw the arsenal's history pictorially captured on a timeline, he was humbled.
"The fact the arsenal has played a major role in every military conflict since the War of 1812 and has always used the latest in technology, from the Erie Canal to state-of-the-art lathes, is truly a significant achievement," Migaleddi said. "I challenge anyone to name any military manufacturer or defense contractor that can boast 200 years of continuous service to our military."
Migaleddi also praised the community's effort to honor our nation's fallen troops, as well as our current military.
"The monthly ceremonies in Albany and Rensselaer counties display an unwavering dedication to not allow memories of brave men and women who have given their all to their country to go unnoticed," Migaleddi said.
In keeping with Army tradition, Schiller's remarks were kept short. He nonetheless took a moment to talk directly to the workforce.
"A lot has changed at the Arsenal since 1813 such as equipment, machinery and buildings," Schiller said. "But the one thing that has not changed is the overwhelming sense of pride the workforce puts into every product made at the Arsenal."
Schiller also touched on a subject -- sequestration and furloughs - that is on the minds of every one of the 600 arsenal workers by saying the workforce has for 200 years been resolute in meeting the urgent demands of our nation's war fighters despite the ebbs and flows of defense budgets. He said they (workforce) must be as determined today as the workforce was in 1813 to meet the significant fiscal challenges they now face and to do so with a strong sense of dignity and pride.
After a brief, well-deserved vacation, Migaleddi will head to Afghanistan for his follow-on assignment.
The Arsenal's dedicated and highly-skilled workforce contributes to our national security by providing U.S. and foreign militaries the most advanced, high-tech, high-powered weaponry for cannon, howitzer, and mortar systems. The Arsenal is also the Defense Department's sole manufacture of large caliber cannons, from 105 mm to 155 mm, as well as DOD's manufacture of choice for 60 mm, 81 mm, and 120 mm mortar systems.