By John B. SnyderDecember 19, 2013
WATERVLIET ARSENAL, N.Y. (Dec. 19, 2013) -- Searching the arsenal every month for someone who's talents, professionalism, or their call to duty has placed them in an exceptional category of being an arsenal Faces of Strength is not an easy task.
After all, there are so many who directly or indirectly make a powerful difference every day toward mission accomplishment, as well as providing support to the broader Army. What is tough, however, is finding the right person, at the right time, to showcase to the rest of the arsenal.
Once identified, their story is told in the arsenal's monthly newsletter, called The Salvo.
Through the years, we have highlighted such folks as Gregory Stone who stepped in to lead the arsenal's welding team several years ago when the team's supervisor retired. His sense of pride that he instilled was uncompromising even when challenged. When asked at the time if any welding product had ever been returned during his tenure he said, "No way, never, not when my fingerprints are on every product."
Then there was the arsenal's electrical engineer Benjamin Dedjoe, who was born in the West African country called Ghana. As a child, Benjamin was almost electrocuted by an unsecured light switch. Since that near death experience, he has had a profound interest in electricity. After graduating from the University of Ghana with a degree in geophysics, he left his home country wearing a pair of shoes he purchased at a flea market to seek the American dream. The year was 1996.
In 2009, Roxanne "Rocky" Mesick was also a Face of Strength. As one of just a few women to have graduated from the arsenal's apprentice program, it was that piece of trivia that she did not wish to promote. In fact, there hasn't been one person in the four years we have written about as an arsenal Face of Strength that has wanted their personal story told. But their significance must be shared.
A Veteran of the Air Force, Rocky's sense of personal pride, coupled with a high level of self-confidence, allowed her to be recognized by then arsenal Operations Director John Hockenbury. He said of Rocky, "Not only did she do great as an apprentice, but there isn't a machine that she can't run today."
These are just a few stories and there are hundreds more within the arsenal fence line. So, who should be highlighted this month?
The arsenal workforce, from contracting to public works to transportation to machinists, has endured significant challenges this year. These challenges, such as no pay raise in three years, furloughed for six days, no or limited overtime, and a hiring freeze, have tugged at the fabric of this workforce.
This period of fiscal uncertainty, or sequestration, also put a damper on the proper recognition of the arsenal's 200 years of continuous service that it celebrated in July of this year. All 200th anniversary ceremonies and activities were either downsized or eliminated.
Nevertheless, despite these challenges the workforce professionally responded to several urgent needs requests, such as providing 60 mm mortar systems for the Afghanistan Army, as well as closing out the year with an on-time delivery rate that exceeded 96 percent.
Former arsenal Commander Col. Mark F. Migaleddi said at his July 2013 change of command, "Many of today's employees are a part of families, generations of skilled artisans and technicians who have dedicated their lives in making weapons for our war fighters … weapons that have helped countless numbers of Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines to come home safely."
No matter what the challenge was this year, the workforce made mission.
Therefore, for its strong sense of purpose through great adversity, the entire arsenal workforce is this month's Face of Strength.
The Watervliet Arsenal is an Army-owned and -operated manufacturing facility and is the oldest, continuously active arsenal in the United States having begun operations during the War of 1812. It celebrated its 200th year of continuous service to the nation on July 14, 2013.
Today's Arsenal is relied upon by U.S. and foreign militaries to produce the most advanced, high-tech, high-powered weaponry for cannon, howitzer, and mortar systems. This National Historic Registered Landmark has an annual economic benefit to the local community in excess of $90 million