FORT DETRICK, Md. -- In the 46 years that U.S. Army Medical Materiel Agency has called Fort Detrick home, Linda Foltz has been there.
The longest-tenured civilian employee of the agency, Foltz served through several military conflicts and worked to forward USAMMA’s mission of developing, delivering and sustaining medical materiel capabilities to build and maintain readiness for the Army and joint forces.
After contemplating retirement several times in recent years, Foltz, 66, finally called it a career on Sept. 30, retiring as deputy director of USAMMA’s Force Projection Directorate during a ceremony at Fort Detrick.
“This is not fake news, so I am retiring,” Foltz smiled as she opened her remarks. “I’m really humbled and honored.”
USAMMA is a direct reporting unit to Army Medical Logistics Command. Both organizations are headquartered at Fort Detrick.
First hired as a supply clerk/technician in 1974, Foltz was one of four graduates of then-Hagerstown Junior College brought on to work for USAMMA when it relocated to the post in Frederick, Maryland, from Valley Forge General Hospital in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, that closed the same year.
In numerous roles over the next five decades, Foltz, a native of Hagerstown, Maryland, gained extensive knowledge and expertise throughout the Army medical logistics and supply management enterprise as she worked her way up the civilian ranks.
Claudie Shelton, a longtime coworker at USAMMA, described Foltz’s impact on the organization -- and wider Army medical enterprise -- as “immeasurable.”
“I’ve known few who are as knowledgeable and passionate about medical logistics and the advance of the Army medical mission,” he said. “Linda, thank you greatly for all of your contributions, including long evenings, and I wish you well in life’s next adventure.”
Col. Lynn Marm, who commanded USAMMA from 2016 to 2018, served as the guest speaker during the ceremony. She said Foltz is “one of the most significant and humble leaders in the history of Army medical logistics.”
Marm highlighted Foltz’s impact on USAMMA, joining the organization on the heels of the Vietnam War and supporting Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. Marm said Foltz’s influence, expertise and dedication to medical logistics launched USAMMA into a new tempo to support the fight in the Gulf and beyond.
“Linda and her team were absolutely essential to the posture in theater and enabling power projection to Iraq,” Marm said. “… And she ensured the best care was available for Soldiers.”
Marm, who currently works as director of medical logistics for the Army Surgeon General, said that despite successes across the enterprise, Foltz always remained focused on “the Soldiers who didn’t make it home.”
“She constantly strives to help others, because 95% to 98% (survival rates are) not good enough,” she said.
Col. John “Ryan” Bailey, current USAMMA commander, said Foltz was a valuable mentor when he was a young officer. He said terms often used to describe Foltz include “master logistician, icon and a legend” to the enterprise, but above all else, she’s just “a wonderful human being.”
“And someone mentioned ‘hero.’ That’s what you are: A true hero,” Bailey said. “There is no doubt in my mind there are people who are living today who were involved in battlefield operations over the past many years, and your efforts directly contributed to saving lives.”
During his remarks, Shelton emphasized the scope of Foltz’s service to the agency, serving in one capacity or another under 23 of 26 commanders since the agency officially became known as USAMMA in 1965.
Shelton, a logistics management specialist and master of ceremonies for the event, thanked Foltz for her years of service to the nation, as well as to her military and civilian colleagues who benefited greatly from her knowledge and mentorship over the years.
“In the end, I’m just one of the many who have benefited from your experiences, knowledge, guidance and the example you have set,” he said. “Thank you from all of us.”
After receiving several awards and gifts, Foltz took to the podium to share stories from over the years, but, most importantly, to also thank the friends, family and colleagues who helped and supported her along the way.
“Without everyone, I would not be here today and the person that I am today,” she said. “It’s been my honor and privilege to work for USAMMA.”