By Dijon Rolle, USAG Baden-WuerttembergOctober 13, 2011
GERMERSHEIM, Germany - Back in 1951 miles of military tanks, trucks, equipment and other remnants of World War II filled nearly every inch of Germersheim Ordnance Vehicle Park.
The park, located on an old German training ground in Germersheim near the Rhine River, was created to store, receive and issue equipment and supplies in support of the U.S. Army in Europe.
The area's close vicinity to railways and a river port, made it ideal for a host of logistical operations.
But these days, you'd be more apt to spot bulldozers and brightly colored shipping trucks from all over the world crowding the small winding roads of what is now known as Germersheim Army Depot.
The installation will mark its 60th anniversary Tuesday.
"This base is the starting point for all logistical support in Europe and the Middle East and it provides numerous support services to Soldiers and their family members," said Andrew Washington, base manager.
"For 60 years the mission has continued and that's something we are all proud of. This installation is going through a major restructuring and as a result of transformation our mission has now increased and so has the activity on base," Washington said.
The depot is now one of the few select military installations in the area that Army officials have marked as enduring.
Some of the most recent activity includes the construction of the Defense Logistics Agency's new administration and distribution building, scheduled for completion early next year and the movement of the Exchange's (formally known as the Army and Air Force Exchange) headquarters from Giessen to Germersheim next year.
A road construction project is also planned near one of the base's entry gates.
Arthur Eschenbach, Chief of the Defense Commissary Agency Central Distribution Center, another GAD tenant organization, has worked here for the past 41 years and recalled the first time he stepped foot on the installation Feb. 1, 1970.
The DeCA distribution center ships more than 8,000 different products to commissaries across Europe, the Middle East and U.S. embassies.
"At that time the depot was full of hardware and trucks all over. There were thousands of pieces of equipment. It was a hectic place," Eschenbach said.
"Fifteen hundred people were working here including Soldiers, and at that time they started building up the main warehouses here in 1970. I remember getting off the bus and sinking in the mud because the roads were not done and there were wooden sheds as offices," he said. "I look at it now and I'm amazed at all of the changes over the years."
As the number of units, Soldiers and employees increased, a 1,200 person dining facility, chapel, gymnasium, several barracks buildings, a child care center, commissary, library and a movie theater were added.
Today, many of those facilities are closed and the majority of GAD's population is now made up of civilians and less than a dozen Soldiers continuing the overall mission to support the military and its assets.