By Kelly White, U.S. Army Chemical Materials Activity Public Affairs OfficeMarch 20, 2018
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. -- The U.S. Army Chemical Materials Activity (CMA) hosted a Commanders Run March 13 to commemorate the role Aberdeen Proving Ground played in chemical weapons history.
The tour served as the kickoff for the Readiness, Operations and Closure Forum, a quarterly planning meeting held at CMA's Chemical Demilitarization Training Facility.
CMA Director Col. James Reckard organized the run, mapping out memorials highlighting the legacy of the U.S. Army Chemical Corps, which marks its 100th anniversary this year. During World War I, as many as 11,000 people worked at what was then called Edgewood Arsenal, working at shell-filling plants and factories.
"CMA is proud to showcase its own Chemical Corps history," Reckard said of the four-mile run, which started before dawn and included stops at 10 sites.
Among those sites was a memorial to the 1st Gas Regiment Role of Honor on McBride Field. The modest bronze plaque commemorates the "Hellfire Battalion," U.S. Army's first offensive gas regiment, which suffered dozens of casualties during World War I. McBride Field also includes memorials to the 87th Chemical Mortar Battalion and 2nd Chemical Mortar Battalion.
"It is important for our workforce to honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice, while recognizing the area's achievements working in chemical weapons activities over the last century," Reckard said.
Joining him on the run tour were Col. Christopher A. Grice, commander of Pueblo Chemical Depot, and Col. Scott D. Gould, commander of Blue Grass Chemical Activity (BGCA). Incoming BGCA Commander Lt. Col. Rodney McCutcheon joined the early morning activities. All agreed the Warrior Ethos, also known as the Army Values, behind the run made the day extra special.
"It was a great-team building exercise with an opportunity to learn about areas of CMA and the Chemical Corps we may not have known otherwise," Gould added.
McCutcheon, who takes command of BGCA this summer, likened the run to a "re-greening," noting how the course and historical aspect of the run gave him a different perspective and to learn about CMA's origins.
The run ended where it began, at CMA Headquarters in building E4585. The building was constructed during World War II for the Chemical Corps Board, which checked the quality of the equipment developed for chemical defense. Since the 1970s, it has served as the headquarters for the chemical demilitarization mission, undergoing numerous name and organizational changes until the U.S. Army Chemical Materials Agency was created in 2003 to merge demilitarization with the storage mission. CMA transitioned to the Chemical Materials Activity in 2012 after completing destruction of nearly 90 percent of the chemical weapons stockpile.
Today, CMA continues to support the Army and the nation by assessing and destroying recovered chemical warfare materiel, by storing the remaining chemical stockpile, and by supporting continued demilitarization of the remaining 10 percent of the stockpile.
For more information, visit https://www.cma.army.mil.