By Thomas PeskeOctober 5, 2017
CRANE, Ind. - Forty years after the U.S. Army took over the conventional munitions mission at the Crane Navy base, 12 Navy rail employees took the civilian oath as new Crane Army Ammunition Activity employees.
The rail operators remained Navy employees in 1977 when Crane Army was formed to carry on the legacy mission of providing munitions readiness to the entire DoD. Now, since missions have evolved over the years to today, when most rail operations on Naval Support Activity Crane involve Crane Army, it made sense for the employees to fall in as Army civilians.
"Crane Army Ammunition Activity houses a quarter of the DOD's strategic munitions and we've relied on the railway to transport them," Col. Mike Garlington, CAAA commander, said before the operators were sworn in. "Now, with CAAA turning 40 years old yesterday, it's important to have the railway fall under us as we continue to support our mission and the warfighter."
While there will be minor differences in the way Army and Navy regulate rail on a military installation, it is expected that the employees will continue to do their jobs largely as they always have.
"The transfer is a good thing because the work we do is 100 percent supportive of the Army and this will eliminate the middle man," Patrick Ash, a former Navy heavy mobile equipment maintenance and operations supervisor and now Army plant supervisor, said.
Ash spent his career working for both Army and the Navy, and when he heard about the transfer he postponed his retirement to stay on a little bit longer. "I've worked with these men for a long time," he said," and there wasn't anyone to oversee operations, so I decided to stay and see it through."
The ability of Crane to get ammunition to the Warfighter around the world is key to its value to the Organic Industrial Base. Cmdr. Joel McMillian, public works officer for Public Works Department Crane, spoke to the important legacy the rail has had through the decades at the base as he said farewell to the rail operators who were under his command
"Since the 1940's railways have been used for various purposes. Here at Crane the railway is the heart of the base," McMillian said. "Today that heartbeat beats more based on world events."
Established Oct. 1977, Crane Army Ammunition Activity produces and provides conventional munitions requirements in support of U.S. Army and Joint Force readiness.