FORT LEE, Va. (May 18, 2012) -- As part of the 200th anniversary celebration of the U.S. Army Ordnance Corps, the north recovery range training complex was dedicated May 16, in honor of Lt. Col. Harry M. "Bulldog" Downer, who gave more than 40 years of service to the nation.
"I cannot think of a better way to officially kick off the 200th year of our great corps than by dedicating this field to this great man," said Col. Greg A. Mason, U.S. Army Ordnance School commandant. "He was a great warrior, logistician and trainer who led from the front."
Mason explained to the military and community members gathered how this hall of fame member helped define and shape what it means to be an Ordnance Corps Soldier.
During World War II and the Korean War, without regard for his own welfare, he traveled on unsecured supply routes to get first-hand knowledge of the units he supported, he said.
"Due to overwhelming enemy attacks, battalions were being overrun during this period. His efforts and situational awareness significantly reduced the time required to rebuild the combat power in these units," Mason explained.
Across their core competencies of maintenance, ammunition and explosive ordnance disposal, the Ordnance Corps is composed of an Active Army, Army National Guard and Army Reserve force of more than 105,000 Soldiers; that is more than one-third of the sustainment force and 11 percent of the total Army force. The Ordnance School, which is part of the Combined Arms Support Command, instructs almost 30,000 students a year in 288 courses, which support training for 34 enlisted military occupational specialties, nine warrant officer and two officer areas of concentration.
"Downer epitomized the best of the Ordnance Corps. He conducted research and prepared programs of instruction, lesson plans and manuscripts. He also taught," Mason said. "He developed ordnance doctrine and worked personnel actions for 58 military occupational specialties.
"He is the Ordnance Corps," Mason said. "And, the Soldiers that we train on this range will be leading from the front just as he did. The skills they develop here, by executing tough recovery operations, are being used in places like Afghanistan daily."
The dedication ceremony was followed by a recovery capabilities demonstration that included the Multi-Mission Recovery System, a prototype system nicknamed "The Beast;" the Interim Stryker Recovery System Generation II; and the M88 Recovery Vehicle. These systems were used to demonstrate techniques for recovering (towing, winching or hosting) damaged or incapacitated vehicles, which are critical skills Soldiers develop through training courses taught at the facility.