By John B. Snyder, Watervliet ArsenalJanuary 23, 2017
WATERVLIET ARSENAL, N.Y. (January 2017) -- When the New York American Legion commander met the Watervliet Arsenal commander January 19, both quickly discovered that they have at least one thing in common. Both took command of their respective organizations last July.
Beyond that commonality, however, they also found that both organizations, the American Legion and the Army's arsenal at Watervliet, have much more in common that transcends the arsenal's fence line. Both organizations strongly believe it is in their organizations' DNA to support veterans, today's military, and military families.
The purpose of Legion Commander John Sampson and his staff's visit here was to receive a command briefing and a tour of the arsenal's manufacturing center, to include a visit to the Army's Benét Laboratories. Given that Sampson represents more than 113,000 veterans in New York and that more than 40 percent of the arsenal workforce are veterans, there are strong ties and reasons for Sampson's visit here.
Although this was Sampson's first visit here, the arsenal had also hosted the last two New York Legion commanders, as well as the last two national commanders of the American Legion.
Arsenal Commander Col. Joseph Morrow started the visit by walking Sampson through more than 200 years of arsenal history during a command briefing. Morrow highlighted that the arsenal has supported every U.S. military conflict, from the Battle of New Orleans to the battles today in the mountains of Afghanistan.
One highlight that stood out from the command briefing is that although the buildings and machinery have changed since the arsenal began operations in 1813, the one thing that has not changed is the workforce's strong sense of duty to the American war fighter and to those who have served.
With briefings complete, Sampson was led by arsenal Foreman Scott Huber through two production buildings where tubes were heated to nearly 2,000 degrees and then pounded into the near shape of a finished product to a mortar inspection area where Sampson was able to feel the difference between a legacy mortar tube and a new lightweight mortar tube.
Sampson completed his visit by being escorted through Benét's product display lab by Alice Crayon, Benét's deputy director, and Raymond Brands, Benét's chief of Direct Fire & Armaments. Here, Sampson was shown some of the Army's weapons prototype developments and potential future weapon systems that are undergoing research, design, and field testing.
Throughout the tour, Sampson said that he was surprised at the massive defense manufacturing capability that resides in New York at Watervliet. He added that he will take the arsenal's story and tell it at the state and national level because he believes the arsenal is so important to national security that its story must be told.
Morrow ended the visit by suggesting to Sampson that both organizations, the Legion and the Watervliet Arsenal, should improve their coordination of support to those who have served, who serve today, and to those who will serve tomorrow.
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 anniversary 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 had revenue in fiscal year 2016 that exceeded $126 million and provides an annual economic benefit to the local community in excess of $90 million.