By Ms. Brigitte Rox (AMC)October 26, 2017
Corpus Christi, Texas -- Downtown Corpus Christi, Texas was the place to be for defense leaders, helicopter maintenance and support professionals attending the 13th Luther G. Jones Army Aviation Depot Forum, October 4-5.
The forum, hosted by Army Aviation Association of America, showcases the Corpus Christi Army Depot, US Army Aviation and Missile Command's organic industrial paragon for large-scale helicopter materiel readiness.
The depot has been a mainstay in the defense aviation playbook since its World War II days when it served as an aircraft overhaul and repair facility. The facility shifted gears in 1961 to handle only Army Aviation assets. Since then, the CCAD facilities and skilled workforce continue to adapt to meet the nation's evolving need for aircraft, components and support, making Corpus Christi indispensable to defense maintenance operations.
"CCAD is a vital national asset that insures we have the surge capability to meet future conflict requirements while providing daily state-of-the-art remanufacturing and depot-level maintenance to the Army today," said AAAA President Brig. Gen. (Ret.) Stephen Mundt during his opening remarks at the depot forum.
Capt. Kathryn Munera, Commander of Company D, 6th Battalion, 101st General Support Aviation Battalion participated on the Soldier to Artisan Training panel. A pilot and avid maintenance supporter herself, Munera talked at length about the improvement she experienced throughout her unit since they began utilizing CCAD as a source of aviation maintenance skill development.
"My Soldiers are eager and are fighting for the opportunity to train down here," she said.
"CCAD is the Army Aviation Depot," said Joe Ash, who attended the forum representing Parker Aerospace. "They are great producers and very important to the nation with [US Army's] Ready to Fight, Tonight! mission. They are a key player and key partner in the industry."
As an industry partner who designs and manufactures Black Hawk and Apache components, Ash said, "it helps to align goals all the way up to the top, like AMCOM, and helps to increase collaboration."
CCAD commander Col. Allan H. Lanceta took the stage to thank Mundt, AAAA Executive Director Bill Harris and the AAAA team for their support hosting the forum in its 13th year and for their support after Hurricane Harvey pummeled South Texas as a Category Five, displacing dozens of CCAD families living in Rockport and other nearby communities.
"Together with our local chapter, AAAA provided $8,950 to 25 families who suffered loss to their homes; in some cases a complete loss," Lanceta said.
"We did sustain damage but it could have been much worse," the commander said of CCAD after Harvey hit. "We could have been fishing helicopters out of the bay. We could have been pulling rotor blades out of trees. We lost no helicopters whatsoever."
CCAD lost eight full days of production from Hurricane Harvey, but in the end, the workforce successfully rebuilt 32 UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters on schedule.
"I owe the team a great debt of gratitude for doing what was necessary," he said, recognizing the CCAD team.
One artisan, in particular, stood out for his leadership and excellence in Army Depot maintenance. George M. Gonzales Jr., an aircraft mechanic leader in CCAD's Black Hawk recapitalization program who was especially instrumental in achieving the production schedule as a leader and mentor, was honored as the AAAA Donald F. Luce Depot Maintenance Artisan of the Year on stage.
"It feels good to be recognized," said Gonzales, adding that it was a team effort that led to the successful completion of Black Hawk aircraft on time and under budget.
Gonzales said that embracing change was critical to sustaining Army readiness. This includes adapting to the latest modernization programs the Army is using to capture and track its resources and internal cultural change within the organization.
The Army Depot's newest initiative, the Art of the Probable, or AoP, shows promising metrics after its first year, bringing Army Aviation closer to optimized supply levels than ever before.
"AoP is really process-involved to ensure we have everything we need to meet the demand of the warfighter. So this is a very busy time."
"Col. Allan Lanceta is an outstanding leader who is making a huge impact not only here in CCAD but across Army Aviation," said Mundt. "What he has brought with the new processes and procedures in the Art of the Probable has truly made a huge difference."
"We can't lose sight of the fact that we are going to be flying today's aircraft for decades to come," added Mundt. "CCAD is a key part in making that possible."
Brigitte Rox joined the Army Civilian Service in 2008 when she began her career as a public affairs specialist at the Corpus Christi Army Depot. Markita Daniel and SGT Matthew Magreta, both of CCAD, contributed to this story.