Andy Parsons and Jim Mayo don Self Contained Breathing Apparatus suits to demil Bullpup liquid rockets at Anniston Army Depot.
Andy Parsons and Jim Mayo don Self Contained Breathing Apparatus suits to demil Bullpup liquid rockets at Anniston Army Depot. (Photo Credit: Courtesy photo) VIEW ORIGINAL

REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. (Aug. 25, 2022) - If you hear one of Redstone Arsenal’s trademark booms, it might be these guys.

Granted, it could be fellow Redstone tenants the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, or the Federal Bureau of Investigation. But there is a good chance that if you live near Redstone your dishes have rattled due to the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Aviation & Missile Center, Technology Development Directorate, Weapons Analysis and Evaluation Division, Fabrication and Test Team.

“That is the sound of freedom,” said Engineering Technician Andy Parsons, who just celebrated 20 years with the Center.

It is also the sound of a highly skilled team with decades of experience testing solid, liquid and hybrid propellants for many of the Army’s marquee weapon systems. The technician team that consists of Brandon Bodkin, Gary Lynn, Justin Campbell and John Michael Bush, works with engineers Anthony Robertson, Ryan Blank and Derek O’Rear to support DEVCOM AvMC’s Stockpile Reliability Program, which gives information to the program management offices on the timelines for weapons currently utilized on the battlefield.

“What kind of longevity do they have? What kind of life cycle do they have?” Parsons said. “Any way we can expedite getting information to the Warfighter, that is our main goal. How we can make their weapons better.”

Engineering Technician Andy Parsons works for the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Aviation & Missile Center.
Engineering Technician Andy Parsons works for the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Aviation & Missile Center. (Photo Credit: Photo by Haley Myers, DEVCOM Aviation & Missile Center Public Affairs) VIEW ORIGINAL

The team performs temperature testing -- be it extremely hot or extremely cold temperatures, to gauge performance. They also test new technology developed by the U.S. military and industry partners. It is not uncommon for team members to turn on the nightly news and see a weapons system that they have tested.

“Some of the research we see is 30 years out – ‘Star Wars’-type of stuff,” said Technician John Michael Bush. “But some of this stuff is right around the corner. It might get onto the field and save some kid’s life.”

The wealth of knowledge between these technicians would be hard, if not impossible, to replicate.

“How many patents do you have?” Parsons asked Bush, with 32 years on the team.

“Just two,” Bush humbly replied.

And while they are humble and they joke and have fun – the team never loses sight of their objective and they don’t let their propensity for cutting up interfere with the work which is delicate and dangerous, be it testing programs for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency or donning Self Contained Breathing Apparatus suits to demilitarize lethal components in weapon systems. It is work that makes a difference and that is what motivates the team.

“We have assembled an incredible group of people who come from many different diverse backgrounds,” Parsons said. “But when we all come together, we can do a lot of amazing work with very little assets, so to speak. We always have -- it’s the nature of our work.”

If you have seen the Pixar movie, "Monsters Inc.," you know.
If you have seen the Pixar movie, "Monsters Inc.," you know. (Photo Credit: Courtesy photo) VIEW ORIGINAL

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The DEVCOM Aviation & Missile Center, headquartered at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, is the Army’s research and development focal point for advanced technology in aviation and missile systems. It is part of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (DEVCOM), a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Futures Command. AvMC is responsible for delivering collaborative and innovative aviation and missile capabilities for responsive and cost-effective research, development and life cycle engineering solutions, as required by the Army’s strategic priorities and support to its Cross-Functional Teams.