MCDM program inventory manager to retire in May, reflects on 38-year career

By C.J. LovelaceMarch 30, 2022

Boyle with AMC coin
1 / 6 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Migdalia “Miggy” Boyle poses with a 4-star commander’s coin presented virtually Feb. 10 by Gen. Ed Daly, commanding general of U.S. Army Materiel Command. Boyle, inventory manager for the Army’s Medical Chemical Defense Materiel program, will retire in May, capping off a 38-year career in federal service, including the past 16 years with the U.S. Army Medical Materiel Agency at Fort Detrick, Maryland. (Photo Credit: C.J. Lovelace) VIEW ORIGINAL
First Army photo
2 / 6 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Migdalia "Miggy" Boyle, then Pvt. Vazquez, is pictured during basic training at Fort Dix, New Jersey, in 1980. (Photo Credit: Courtesy Migdalia "Miggy" Boyle) VIEW ORIGINAL
Basic training
3 / 6 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Migdalia "Miggy" Boyle, then Pvt. Vazquez, is pictured with her platoon at basic training in Fort Dix, New Jersey, in 1980. Boyle is third from left in the second row. (Photo Credit: Courtesy Migdalia "Miggy" Boyle) VIEW ORIGINAL
Air Assault School
4 / 6 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Migdalia "Miggy" Boyle, then Pvt. Vazquez, is pictured with her graduating class from Air Assault School in Fort Campbell, Kentucky, in 1981. Boyle, center in second row, was the lone female member of the class who completed the course. (Photo Credit: Courtesy Migdalia "Miggy" Boyle) VIEW ORIGINAL
Color Guard
5 / 6 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Migdalia "Miggy" Boyle, second from right, then Sgt. Vazquez, is pictured while serving on the Color Guard at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Bethesda, Maryland, in 1989. (Photo Credit: Courtesy Migdalia "Miggy" Boyle) VIEW ORIGINAL
First duty station
6 / 6 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Migdalia "Miggy" Boyle, then Pvt. Vazquez, is pictured during her first duty station assignment in Fort Campbell, Kentucky, in 1982. (Photo Credit: Courtesy Migdalia "Miggy" Boyle) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT DETRICK, Md. -- When a Soldier deploys, they can count on protection against chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear-related casualties thanks to medical countermeasures through the U.S. Army’s Medical Chemical Defense Materiel, or MCDM, program.

It’s a promise that Migdalia “Miggy” Boyle takes very seriously.

“We are here to take care of our people,” said Boyle, inventory manager for the MCDM program. “If they are moving out, we are there.”

MCDM is one of several contingency stock programs under the Office of the Army Surgeon General. In collaboration, the U.S. Army Medical Materiel Agency, a direct reporting unit to Army Medical Logistics Command, provides medical logistics support to meet the needs of deploying forces.

Boyle has overseen the MCDM program at USAMMA for the past 16 years, leading an overhaul that has increased efficiencies and accountability for 26 storage sites throughout the United States and abroad.

With a combined 38 years of service to the federal government, she will leave some big shoes to fill when she retires in May.

“The MCDM program has become what it is today because of Miggy’s efforts and dedication,” said Maj. Christopher Baisa, chief of centralized contingency programs at USAMMA’s Force Projection Directorate. “She has been the sole point of contact and subject matter expert as the MCDM inventory manager at USAMMA, providing the Army with the capability to decontaminate and treat casualties in a CBRN environment.”

The program provides capabilities to deploying medical units to treat and protect against various types of chemical attack, such as nerve agents, for Soldiers and working dogs alike in a deployed setting.

Boyle said the MCDM program was in a state a flux when she arrived in 2006, with little direction from her predecessors at the time.

So she did it her own way and made the program her own.

“I established my work from the ground up,” Boyle said. “I made everything what it is today.”

It’s a story that Boyle has seemingly lived her entire life.

Humble beginnings

Growing up in the 1960s, Boyle, the middle child of five children, lived in what she described as the poorer “bayou” area of Puerto Rico.

“It was like a lagoon,” Boyle recalled. “The houses were on stilts and the ‘streets’ were planks, with water running under the planks.”

As a youngster, Boyle remembers making the best of a tough situation, enjoying the warm weather, playing with other kids and even taking showers outdoors when rainstorms passed over the island.

“When it would rain, we would all run outside,” she said. “We loved it. And at times, it was necessary.”

Boyle’s life changed forever when she was just 7 or 8 years old. That was when her mother, Sofia, and her aunt decided to take the family to New York to pursue a better life.

Boyle credits her mother’s foresight in knowing the difficulties of breaking the cycle of poverty and wanting to make a better life for her children.

“I don’t know where I’d be today without her,” Boyle said. “… She was determined, expected greatness, even though we were in a place where there was no greatness.”

Living in the Bronx was still an uphill struggle. They all shared an apartment in a partially-abandoned building. They all slept in the same room for comfort and warmth, since the building had no heat during the cold winter months.

“At the beginning, it was rough,” Boyle said. “We paid to live there, but there was no one taking care of the building. We lived like that for about a year and a half until we moved to another place.

“We moved every year, and even though it was very hard on us, my mother was always looking for a better place and doing the best she could for us,” she added.

The experience was eye-opening, but several years later, the family moved back to Puerto Rico, where Boyle finished high school and pondered her next steps.

But it was different.

“That was a nightmare,” she said. “The Puerto Ricans that were in NYC, when they came back to Puerto Rico, they came back with different attitudes. They changed the Puerto Rican community. They were coming in with different music, everything started changing. They didn’t want us back.”

By age 20, Boyle knew that she wanted to leave Puerto Rico for good and make a better life for herself and her family. She saw the military as a way to do that and decided to join the Army.

“My family has always been very proud (of my service),” Boyle said. “I was the only female that joined the military and followed in my father’s footsteps.”

Army career

Boyle started her career in the CBRN field, short for Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear.

After completing basic training in 1980 at Fort Dix, New Jersey, then-Pvt. Vazquez went to the U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, to train to become a CBRN warfare decontamination specialist.

In short, her units -- 63rd Chemical Company, Fort Campbell, Kentucky, and 95th Chemical Company, Germany -- decontaminated people and vehicles after being exposed to possible CBRN agents.

Boyle went on to complete Air Assault School in 1982 as the lone female of the class that started with over 100 students, only three of them women, she said.

“I was only like 99 pounds,” she laughed. “And I was doing the same thing as the men who were 6-foot-5, 200-something pounds. And I carried the same amount in my pack. I wasn’t spared.”

Boyle continued her career as a medical logistician for nine years, serving as Keller Army Hospital in West Point, New York, 18th Medical Command Dental Activity Korea and Water Reed Army Medical Center Dental Activity in Bethesda, Maryland.

Her final duty station assignment was at Tripler Army Medical Center in Hawaii, serving as the senior logistics non-commissioned officer for the logistics commander.

Boyle’s awards include the Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, Army Good Conduct four times, Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Driver Badge with National Service Medal, NCO Professional Development Ribbon twice, Air Assault Badge, Army Lapel Button and Meritorious Service Medal.

In 1992, following the Gulf War, Boyle was honorably discharged from active duty service at the rank of sergeant, serving a total of 13 years.

Transition to civilian

She went on to work as a contracted supply specialist at the now-closed Fort Ritchie Army Base in Cascade, Maryland, until 1997. Formerly known as Camp Ritchie, the installation existed as an intelligence training and communications hub during the World War II and Cold War eras.

From there, she joined the federal civilian service at the National Institutes of Health, serving as a medical logistician inventory specialist at the NIH warehouse in Bethesda, Maryland.

“I turned that place upside down,” she said. “That was my life.”

During her nearly 10 years at NIH, she redid “everything from scratch,” overhauling the warehouse storage operations and making it easier to receive and store items the NIH kept in stock.

Boyle’s drive and determination would carry into her next role when she joined USAMMA at Fort Detrick in 2006 to take over the MCDM program.

USAMMA coordinates closely with the Office of the Army Surgeon General to administer the program, along with several other contingency programs through its Force Projection Directorate.

“She has been a very dedicated employee,” said Linda Foltz, a longtime colleague with USAMMA’s FPD. “She kept in continuous contact with the points of contact from all of the MCDM sites to ensure she knows who is at each site at all times. She has been a well-known entity for the MCDM program.”

‘I’m going to miss it’

In retirement, Boyle plans to move to Florida to live closer to family, but said she will miss her coworkers and being able to help the nation’s Soldiers every day.

“I’m going to miss it,” she said. “My coworkers, my bosses … I love my people.”

Looking back on her career, Boyle said she always tried to be honorable and do the best she could every day, while caring about others and always being true to herself.

That’s not to mention the challenges she overcame along the way -- growing up in Puerto Rico at a time when it was “like a third-world country,” being a female Hispanic in the military, and taking on challenging work assignments that required time, thoughtfulness and dedication to find solutions that improved support for the warfighter and the nation as a whole.

Boyle never let her circumstances keep her from achieving what she knew she could.

“I never let the bad affect me,” she said. “I always stayed focused, stayed on course. Do your best every day and be proud. I’m proud of what I do.”