59th nearly gone, but one of best remains
September 7, 2011
When the 59th Ordnance Brigade packed up their classrooms and moved the Ordnance Munitions and Electronics Maintenance School from Redstone Arsenal, they left one of their best assets behind.
And that asset -- carrying the name and rank of Command Sgt. Maj. Angel Clark-Davis -- is now serving at the benefit of the employees and tenants of Team Redstone.
Recently named the Garrison's senior enlisted Soldier, Clark-Davis has put aside the day-to-day management of Soldier affairs to be the "eyes and ears" of the commander, Col. John Hamilton, throughout the Arsenal.
It's her first Garrison duty assignment, and one that, at first, she thought wasn't even a possibility.
"I was on TDY and I got an email from (Atlantic) regional Command Sgt. Maj. (Charles) Durr (of the Installation Management Command) that said 'Congratulations on your selection to be the next command sergeant major at Redstone Arsenal,'" Clark-Davis recalled. "I thought 'This has got to be a mistake.' I just didn't expect this. But Command Sgt. Maj. Durr told me he would not have sent the email if he wasn't sure about it. And he said I would be getting orders."
At the time back in June, Clark-Davis was making plans to take a command sergeant major position at the Program Executive Office for Missiles and Space.
"I didn't even know this (the Garrison position) was in play or an option," she said. "Not going to Missiles and Space was bittersweet because I had met (Brig.) Gen. (Ollie) Knudson and his team, and I was looking forward to going there, too. They have a really great mission. I really liked the fact that the mission was DoD-wide."
"But this is also an awesome opportunity. The Garrison has a big responsibility for Team Redstone and for all the tenants that touch DoD and are part of this installation. I can't think of another installation where I would want to be part of the Garrison team."
The Garrison position is her fourth brigade-level job.
"Every one of those jobs has been different from the other," she said. "This job involves a lot of civilians and it's a great mission. I will be learning something different and I always look forward to that. I want to learn how an installation is run, and how you plan out and program in new work facilities and support facilities."
Clark-Davis' first brigade-level position was with the 29th Support Group, 21st Theater Support Company, in Germany, which consisted of truck, maintenance and ammunition companies as well as transportation units.
"Our mission was really logistics support throughout Europe," she said. "Then, I actually worked on deactivating of the 29th Support Group. So, there are some similarities between that assignment and what I did with the 59th. Some of the concepts were the same in the planning. But things were also different because at the 29th we were deploying and redeploying at the same time we were deactivating while at the 59th we were training while also moving."
She, herself, deployed as a command sergeant major to Iraq in support of Desert Shield/Desert Storm, to Egypt in support of Bright Star and to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
She then served in Romania and Bulgaria as the command sergeant major for the Joint Logistics Task Force responsible for standing up new installations in the two countries as well as providing training for the installations as part of Joint Task Force East.
"We were in temporary facilities while providing training and also overseeing the process to build new headquarters buildings," she said.
Her assignment with the 59th/OMEMS brought Clark-Davis back to her military career roots, as it was at Redstone, in 1983, that she trained as an ammunition storage specialist at OMEMS. That first assignment in addition to her experience in deactivating a brigade and training Soldiers made Clark-Davis a good match as the command sergeant major for the 59th/OMEMS as it began its moves to Fort Lee, Va.
"Things were somewhat prepared when I got here (in 2009). But there were so many classes going on and a lot of training equipment to move and a lot of buildings to empty here," Clark-Davis said. "We had to empty every building so that they could be turned over to Garrison for reutilization. It was a large mission to try to do all at once and we never took a pause in our mission, which was to train Soldiers, move a class after completion and then train Soldiers on the other end."
At the height of its mission, the 59th/OMEMS had a staff of about 1,100 military and civilian personnel who trained Soldiers of the 832nd Ordnance Battalion at Redstone. Of that staff, only a handful is left.
"There are about 25 Soldiers still here with the 59th. Some are retiring in the next few months. Some are PCSing and don't report for duty until November or December," Clark-Davis said. "They will be transferred into the Garrison's Headquarters & Headquarters Company and we will facilitate for those Soldiers a mission for the little time they are still here. We still have to account for them and their mission."
As the 59th winds down to just a couple of buildings and then to no longer having a presence at Redstone, Clark-Davis' attention turns to the Garrison, where, coincidentally, she will help with a plan to refill those empty buildings with civilian offices for the Arsenal's growing number of tenants.
"I sit on a different side of the aisle now," she said. "I'm concerned now with what the Garrison can do to support the last of the 59th and help facilitate the final closing down of the organization.
"Ninety-five percent of the buildings have already been identified for a new tenant. The Garrison made recommendations on those tenants based on need, space and funding for renovations, and Maj. Gen. (Jim) Rogers (Redstone senior commander) was the approving authority. So, those buildings are now being reallocated and the Garrison is overseeing those tenant moves."
Clark-Davis said there are additional plans for the area surrounding the 59th/OMEMS buildings, including renovations at the Dining Facility that will turn it into a military and civilian service center.
"We're really going to save a lot of money because we will take the building's basic foundation and structure and reutilize it in a way that it will be an asset to the whole community," she said. "We will also be redoing the Redstone Fitness Center, and other MWR projects in the area that will make it a center for Soldiers, civilians, families and community support."
The command sergeant major is also looking forward to assisting the Garrison as it moves forward on plans for the Army Contracting Command headquarters on Martin Road, a shoppette along Martin Road and a new Exchange in 2013.
"All the things being planned will definitely be an asset to our community and will truly be utilized to capacity," she said. "It does take time to make these things happen and some may say they are long overdue. But we will get there."
Clark-Davis has enjoyed making the transition into her new assignment.
"I am still not up to speed on all the Garrison acronyms, but at least I am already familiar with the installation," she said. "There are a lot of great people here at Garrison. They have been very welcoming and very willing to teach me what I need to know. I really appreciate that."
As she "gets up to speed," Clark-Davis hopes to be an effective partner in communicating the Garrison commander's priorities and in bringing concerns back to the commander from Garrison employees and tenants.
"Feedback is so important," she said. "I hope to be another set of eyes and ears for the commander in continuing to improve the installation."
Clark-Davis is also looking forward to assisting in representing the Arsenal in the community.
"The community is so involved in supporting Redstone. We can't help but return the favor," she said. "Being out there in uniform and showing the community -- and especially our youth -- that we're behind them and supporting them and showing them what the military is all about is rewarding for me.
"On the installation, I hope I can help communicate that the Garrison team is here to support our tenants, and that our mission is not only to manage the installation but also to improve it. Everybody knows that Redstone is an awesome place. But we can always make it even better."
Clark-Davis was raised in Tuscumbia and attended Alabama A&M;University. In 1983, she joined the Army but, like other Soldiers, didn't expect her commitment to extend into a full military career with honors. During her 28 years of service, she has earned a Legion of Merit, Bronze Star Medal and numerous combat medals, and was the recipient of the Ordnance order of Samuel Sharpe award. While serving, Clark-Davis, also raised one daughter as a single parent with the help of other family members, and today her family includes her husband of 10 years, three daughters through her marriage, two sons-in-law and three granddaughters.
"At one point, I decided I would serve for 20 years, so everything beyond 20 has been gravy," she said. "My next new goal is 30 years and beyond. My last chapter as a Soldier has not been written yet.
"Being able to serve as a Soldier and have the privilege to wear the uniform is unlike any other experience. When people tell me 'Thank you for your service,' I respond 'It's been my privilege to serve for over 28 years.' It has been a privilege to serve and protect our country, to represent the United States in foreign countries, and to do the mission of our elected leaders and officers. It's a great day to be a Soldier. Every day is a great day to be a Soldier."