Challenge of change memorable for AMC employee
September 12, 2012
REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. -- Even as the Army's big five military systems -- Apache Helicopter, Black Hawk Helicopter, Abrams Tank, Bradley Fighting Vehicle and Patriot Missile System -- were making a name for themselves in the 1980s, Lance Wiltshire was establishing himself as a Department of the Army civilian with the Army Materiel Command.
Wiltshire, who now works for AMC's Office of Small Business Programs, started his career with AMC in October 1981. So, as AMC celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, Wiltshire is finishing up his 30th year with the organization. He may be 20 years behind on the birthday count, but he's made up for that in his experience with helping AMC through an era of expansions, reorganizations and leadership changes.
Wiltshire was an 18-year-old clerk typist in 1981, working in support of what AMC was at that time -- the Development and Readiness Command -- and its 2,000 employees located in the Eisenhower Ave. high-rise in Alexandria, Va.
"When I started, the headquarters was undergoing a major realignment," he said. "We were building up. There were a lot of job opportunities in the '80s."
That major realignment translated into a lot of paperwork for Wiltshire, who was tasked with managing the applicant supply file for vacant positions for the headquarter's seven-member realignment team. As an employee of the Civilian Personnel Office, Wiltshire was assigned to the recruitment and placement branch.
"Over a period of three months, 30,000 applicants were received for the vacant positions at headquarters DARCOM," he said. "As a result, we screened the applicants for submission to the personnel specialist for vacant positions.
"Working with the 30,000 applications for the 1981 realignment was memorable because I was coming right out of high school and had no idea how things worked in the government. And to be told I would be responsible for all those applications was overwhelming at first, but ended up being a good experience"
The task was completed in about two years. By 1984, DARCOM was once again AMC, and Wiltshire had gone on to work for the deputy chief of staff for Supply, Maintenance and
Transportation in the AMC Administration Office.
"I handled civilian personnel matters to include recruitment actions, processing awards, and all other required personnel actions," he said. "In the '80s, unlike today, the Civilian Personnel Office was not regionalized and was located in the headquarters and back then actions
were performed manually."
Manually meant with typewriters, and with all the red, pink and blue carbon copies that were the way business was conducted back then.
"Every time you made a mistake you had to type it all over," Wiltshire recalled. "We really didn't have anything automated."
During the '80s, Wiltshire also experienced four command changes within the top level of the organization's leadership. Gen. Donald Keith commanded from 1981 to 1984; Gen. Richard Thompson, 1984 to 1987; Gen. Louis C. Wagner, Jr., 1987 to 1989; and Gen. William G.T. Tuttle, Jr., 1989 to 1992.
His work was in direct support to Wagner and then Tuttle when, in 1988, Wiltshire began working in the Secretary of the General Staff's Office.
"I got to work on preparing trip books for them when they went on travel," he said.
"Everything that goes to the command group comes through the SGS office, and that was a big deal for a 26 year old. As a staff action control officer, you are responsible for certain offices and major or subordinate commands so you get to learn what they are responsible for doing. In addition, I learned everyone's functions in the headquarters."
Wiltshire enjoyed the job so much that he remained in that position for 20 years, before going on to his current job.
"I'll never forget those early years with AMC," he said. "The atmosphere was tremendous. There was a lot of transition and transformation going on. It was a fun atmosphere.
"Overall, AMC has been very good to me for over 30 years. As a high school graduate with no college experience, I could have not asked for more. Even though I am looking forward to retirement in a couple of years, I will miss the people that I work with now and have worked with in the past."
Editor's Note: This is part seven of AMC's 50th anniversary series, which will include insight from each decade and comments from people who worked with AMC throughout the years.