Elite group honors depot engineer for Firefinder work
April 26, 2011
- Tobyhanna engineer named to the Order of Saint Barbara for his extensive work supporting the Army and Marine Corps radar mission
TOBYHANNA ARMY DEPOT, PA. - A Tobyhanna mechanical engineer is now a member of the Order of Saint Barbara for supporting United States field artillery while working on a critical radar system.
Frank Balish was awarded the Honorable Order of Saint Barbara medal during the annual ceremony at Fort Monmouth, N.J., for accomplishments while assigned as the Firefinder Lead Mechanical Engineer from 1992-2010.
"It's a challenging job, but I like working with the customer, the radars and the Soldiers in the field," he said. "I work with a great group of people who are willing to do whatever needs to be done."
Officials recognized Balish's efforts to ensure the Firefinder Radar System remains battle ready around the world and around the clock. He has been involved with the AN/TPQ-36 and AN/TPQ-37 missions since transitioning from Sacramento Army Depot, Calif., in the 1990s.
Today, Balish is the BRAC (Base Realignment and Closure) lead for the transfer of the Marine Corps AN/TPQ-46 Firefinder mission from Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow, Calif.
The Order of Saint Barbara is an honorary military society composed of personnel associated with U.S. field artillery. Marine Corps and Army field artillery personnel, along with their military and civilian supporters, are eligible for membership.
There are two levels of recognition: Ancient Order of Saint Barbara and Honorable Order of Saint Barbara. The criterion for accession into the Ancient Order is to have performed conspicuous, long-term service for or on behalf of the U.S. Army Field Artillery or Marine Corps Field Artillery. Membership in the Honorable Order is not a prerequisite for membership in the Ancient Order.
"Frank has a wealth of technical knowledge and is known throughout the Firefinder community," said Joe Salamido, ISR Engineering Branch chief, noting that Balish has been with the program for more than 18 years.
"His extensive contacts and networking skills have played a vital role in acquiring workload worth millions to the depot."
As project leader, Balish has been instrumental in the design, documentation, fabrication and fielding of the digital upgrade modification, and the transition, production and configuration management of the Block 1 modification. In addition, he fields equipment for active duty Army, National Guard and Marine Corps units worldwide.
Balish noted that he spends a lot of time on the road. Over the years, system upgrades have afforded him the opportunity to travel to several stateside locations as well as overseas locations in Turkey, Portugal, Egypt, India and Greece.
Balish also ensures the consistent and accurate flow of information by participating in production control boards, in-process reviews, integrated program teams and quarterly management reviews.
"Frank is a plain-speaking, no-nonsense, hard-working type of man who focuses on getting the job done," Salamido said. "He demonstrates the highest degree of professional competence and leadership in his service to the Army and Marine Corps field artillery."
Saint Barbara died about the year 300. She was venerated as early as the seventh century, according to legend. When gunpowder first appeared in the West, Saint Barbara was invoked to ward against accidents resulting from explosions, and since early artillery pieces tended to explode instead of firing the projectile, Saint Barbara became the Patroness of Artillerymen.
Tobyhanna Army Depot is the Defense Department's largest center for the repair, overhaul and fabrication of a wide variety of electronics systems and components, from tactical field radios to the ground terminals for the defense satellite communications network. Tobyhanna's missions support all branches of the Armed Forces.
About 5,600 personnel are employed at Tobyhanna, which is located in the Pocono Mountains of northeastern -Pennsylvania. Tobyhanna Army Depot is part of the U.S. Army CECOM Life Cycle Management Command. Headquartered at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., the command's mission is to research, develop, acquire, field and sustain communications, command, control computer, intelligence, electronic warfare and sensors capabilities for the Armed Forces.