Longest-serving Defense employee retires
February 7, 2007
A 94-year-old Army civilian retired Jan. 2 after 65 years of service, making him both the longest-serving and oldest Department of Defense employee.
Louis Dellamonica worked as an engineer for Hawthorne Army Depot in Hawthorne, Nev., his entire career.
At the retirement ceremony Dec. 15, Dellamonica was honored with letters and mementos from President George W. Bush, former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Sens. Harry Reid and John Ensign, and Rep. Jim Gibbons. Kathryn Condon, AMC's executive deputy to the commanding general, presented Dellamonica with the Meritorious Civilian Service Award and a letter and coin from Gen. Benjamin Griffin, commanding general of AMC. Brig. Gen. James Rogers, commander of the Joint Munitions Command, presented Dellamonica with the Superior Civilian Service Award.
Maj. Gen. Jerome Johnson, commanding general of the Army Sustainment Command, has nominated Dellamonica for the U.S. Army Ordnance Hall of Fame. In addition, AMC has renamed its "10 Outstanding AMC Personnel of the Year" award in his honor.
Dellamonica began working at Hawthorne in December 1941, just a few days after the attack on Pearl Harbor.
He used his expertise in electrical engineering to ensure that the electrical systems installed at the plant and equipment used in the loading facilities were explosion proofed. This type of electrical system was a "new art" in the 1940s, and many electricians did not have the skills to install them. Dellamonica's efforts in the development of ammunition quality electrical systems and lights, in addition to his training of contractors and employees, were significant contributions to the entire Ordnance community during World War II.
After World War II he again influenced the Ordnance field by becoming an expert in ammunition production design. He was instrumental in developing and implementing test systems and ranges. Between the Korean War and Vietnam, he designed and implemented munitions demilitarization equipment.
Dellamonica was the driving force behind the Western Area Demilitarization Facility at Hawthorne and later for the more environmentally safe, non-destructive alternative to demilitarization.
In addition to his service to DoD, he also contributed to his community as a member of the Civil Air Patrol for 42 years. After obtaining his pilot's license in 1935 he flew hundreds of search and rescue missions throughout Nevada and California.
He was also instrumental in bringing electricity to the town of Hawthorne in the mid- 1950s, and was actively involved in the maintenance and upgrading of the system until 1995. In the winters of those early years he would periodically put on snowshoes and hike to the remote translator sites to restore service.