Red River set to celebrate 71st birthday
July 31, 2012
RED RIVER ARMY DEPOT, Texas -- Employees of Red River Army Depot will commemorate 71 years of service to the Soldier August 9. During the ceremony, Red River officials will cut a celebration cake and make remarks about the great history of the depot.
The story of RRAD began in 1939 when the need of a nation led to the establishment of an ordnance depot in Bowie County, Texas. At the time, Texarkana was primarily a railroad town in the center of an area of sprawling farms and pine forests. The depression had hit particularly hard in the Four States area which lacked any major industry to lead it on the road back to prosperity.
Robert Maxwell headed a five-member Texarkana Chamber Commerce which had been tasked with attracting some of the growing defense dollars to the area. Other members of the committee were Estil Vance, H.T. Wiegel, J.E. Wood and L.C. Cargile.
"Things were tight, real tight, and there wasn't much hope things would get better soon," said Maxwell in a 1979 interview. "There were of a lot of defense projects being funded and we figured if we could land one of them for Texarkana we could put some people back to work."
And that's just what they did.
During the next two years, over 20,000 construction workers transformed 18,000 acres into the Red River Ordnance Depot. The depot was originally established as an ammunition storage facility; however, due to the demands of World War II, the mission was expanded to include general supply storage and tank repair.
Employment peaked at its highest level with more than 11,500 employees in 1951 when America sent troops into combat in Korea.
Today, a dedicated workforce of 6,000 people (government and contractor employees) are engaged in work ranging from producing timber to remanufacturing the mighty Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicle.
"Just as in the past, we are prepared to adapt our ever evolving processes to meet the requirements of our nation and the Soldiers that depend on us to reset and rebuild the vitally important equipment used to conduct combat operations and to support the training of units preparing for combat," said RRAD Commander Col. Doyle Lassitter.