By Yvonne Johnson (USAG-Aberdeen Proving Ground Public Affairs)May 27, 2010
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. -- The 61st Ordnance Brigade and the Ordnance Mechanical Maintenance School held its final ceremony on Aberdeen Proving Ground May 17, during a colors casing ceremony at the Aberdeen Area Athletic Center.
Col. Dan J. Reilly, brigade commander and OMMS commandant, hosted the ceremony, which symbolized the movement of the brigade and the 16th Ordnance Battalion to Fort Lee, Va., along with the rest of the U.S. Army Ordnance Center and Schools under base realignment and closure.
The 143rd Ordnance Battalion in the Edgewood Area will remain at APG until its facilities at Fort Lee are completed, sometime in 2011.
Guests included Maj. Gen. Nick G. Justice, commander of APG and the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command and Brig. Gen. Lynn A. Collyar, commander of OC&S and Chief of Ordnance.
Reilly, assisted by OMMS Command Sgt. Maj. Robert A. Tolbert, drew the casing over the brigade colors and then commended the units on the 'field.'
They included representatives of the brigade, the 16th and 143rd Ordnance battalions, and the Marine Corps and Air Force detachments. The commander of troops was Maj. Richard McConico, Brigade S3. Sgt. 1st Class Reginald Edwards served as the noncommissioned officer in charge of the color guard.
Reilly said that since the Ordnance Corps colors were cased one year ago, "we always knew this day would come."
"I must tell you personally and professionally that this day has a bittersweet flavor to it," he said, noting that his first day on active duty was when he arrived at APG as a young Ordnance officer in 1986.
"This has been the home of my corps, the Ordnance Corps, for ninety-two years," he said. "I do know first hand, though, the wonderful transformation that is occurring here at APG as it truly becomes the center for Army research, development and communications for our Army and [about] the state-of-the-art training facilities at our new Ordnance home at Fort Lee that will allow us to better train America's most precious resources - its young men and women - who have made the commitment to serve our nation as ... an Ordnance Soldier. This is the right move at the right time for our nation."
Reilly thanked all who supported his Ordnance Soldiers. In particular, he thanked the APG Garrison for reopening the dining facilities and barracks when Soldiers were prevented from going on holiday block leave due to a Dec. 19, 2009 snowstorm.
He said that support from Justice, the Directorate of Public Works, which cleared the roads and parking lots, the Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation, which reopened the recreation centers, and Harford County, ensured that every troop got home in time for Christmas.
"I want to thank the leadership at APG, the Garrison and the local community not only for this amazing act of support but for the thousands of similar acts of kindness and support over the ninety-two years in which [they] have embraced Soldiers, Airmen and Marines and their Families. We have enjoyed school partnerships, parades and ceremonies throughout Harford County and even Delaware. You have embraced us like Family and it is very hard to leave."
"I will always be proud to speak about the incredible relationship our Corps and our Brigade enjoyed with the APG Garrison, support agencies, tenants and the surrounding communities. "Our relationship is forever linked in the pages of history."
Collyar agreed that it was a bittersweet time for the brigade and said that like the OC&S, the APG community will "benefit in the long run."
"APG will welcome in a whole new corps of civilians who will bring a lot more to the community," he said.
Regarding the ongoing construction at APG, which has seen the destruction of several former OMMS classrooms, Collyar said it was good to see the buildings come down.
"They were old buildings. I trained in them," he said. "The new facilities they're building here will benefit the whole community just as the facilities at Fort Lee are benefiting Ordnance Soldiers.
"It's sad to see it all end but only because we've been partners for so long."
Tolbert added that he realized what APG and the Ordnance Corps meant to the community during the Armed Forces Day Celebration at the Ordnance Museum May 14.
"We've been here for over ninety-two years and you could see the appreciation the community has for us," he said.