By U.S. ArmyAugust 1, 2012
General Frank S. Besson, Jr.
As the first Commander of the U.S. Army Materiel Command (AMC), General Besson was charged with consolidating six Army technical service organizations into a single command without disrupting effective materiel support. On May 27, 1964, Besson became the 75th officer in the U.S. Army's 189-year history to wear the four stars of a full general. He was the first Army officer to achieve that rank as head of a logistical organization in peacetime. During his command of AMC, the Command's annual budget exceeded $14 billion, with an inventory of $21 billion and was managed by over 160,000 civilian personnel in addition to its military complement of 14,000. General Besson recognized the emerging tactical importance of Army aviation, establishing the Army Aviation Depot Maintenance activity at Corpus Christi and was instrumental in securing approval for the Army to not only procure its own aircraft but also do its own research, development, and engineering.
After his retirement from AMC in 1969, General Besson was recalled to serve as Chairman of the Joint Logistics Review Board, reporting on worldwide logistic support to U.S. forces during the Vietnam conflict. General Besson retired in 1970 after more than 37 years of commissioned service, 25 of them as a general officer. He passed away at Walter Reed Army Medical Center on July 15, 1985.
Lieutenant General William Beehler Bunker
Lieutenant General William Beehler Bunker was recruited by General Frank S. Besson, Jr. to serve as his principal assistant as the Army Materiel Command (AMC) was being formed. General Besson believed that General Bunker "had a better understanding of the problems of logistics operations in the continental United States than any single individual." In June 1962, he became the Comptroller and Director of Programs of AMC. He became the command's fourth Deputy Commanding General (DCG) on April 1, 1964, as a major general. On May 9, 1966, he became the first DCG at AMC to wear three stars when he was promoted to lieutenant general.
Widely recognized as one of the fathers of Army aviation and a pioneer in program management, General Bunker improved the integration of technology and modeling and simulation. He was early to recognize the immense potential of the computer. His IBM 604 was the tool that enabled him to put into practice effective theories of inventory control that had previously existed only in research monographs. Working with General Besson, he produced the foundation of Army materiel management and program management.
General Bunker was Deputy Commanding General of AMC and was scheduled to retire in six weeks, when he passed away from a heart attack on June 5, 1969 in Fort Myer, Virginia.
Lieutenant General George R. Sammet, Jr.
Lieutenant General George R. Sammet, Jr. was part of the planning group that put the initial Army Materiel Command (AMC) command concept together under General Frank S. Besson, Jr in 1962. During his career, he served in various assignments at AMC, culminating with his being named Commander of the U.S. Army Materiel Development and Readiness Command (DARCOM, formerly AMC) on February 1, 1977. He retired from that position on May 17, 1977.
When asked in September 2011 why he thought that General Sammet should be inducted into the AMC Hall of Fame, General John R. Deane, Jr., the Commanding General of AMC/DARCOM from February 12, 1975 -- January 31, 1977, said "Among his many accomplishments and contributions to the success of AMC and its achievements, as the Deputy CG for Research and Development, is his designing, establishing, and providing the initial guidance to the Career Management Program for Army Program and Project Managers, perhaps his single greatest contribution to the Army. He also was a key player among the members of the Army Staff, TRADOC, and AMC who brought The Big Five, the weapons systems that are still the core systems of the combat force, to fruition."
General Sammet passed away on January 18, 2012.
Major General John G. Zierdt
Major General John G. Zierdt centralized direction and control of Army laser research while serving as Deputy Director, Research and Development, U.S. Army Materiel Command in 1962-1963. This effort ultimately resulted in concentrating Army high energy laser research at Redstone Arsenal and provided much of the impetus that led, later in the decade, to the Army Missile team's development of laser semi-active guidance technology that found its first combat application in the "Smart Bombs" employed by U.S. forces in the later stages of the war in Vietnam. From September 1963 until July 1967, as Commander of the U.S. Army Missile Command and Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, he personally led the Army missile team in an era of many of its most significant achievements. Also, his personal support and direction enabled the Army laboratory at Redstone to design, fabricate, and demonstrate the first laser surgical device for treatment of cancer in humans.
After his retirement from the Army in 1967, General Zierdt remained very active in the Huntsville, Alabama, community, spearheading efforts to establish the University of Alabama in Huntsville. He also proposed that the Army and NASA combine forces to establish a museum to commemorate the history of missile and space systems. This concept became the U.S. Space and Rocket Center.
Mrs. Sarah W. Clements
Sarah W. "Sally" Clements was the Assistant Chief of the Office of Project Management at Headquarters, Army Materiel Command (AMC) from 1964 to 1975. Lieutenant General George Sammet, Jr., described the important influence that Mrs. Clements had during her tenure at AMC, explaining that General Besson was the first "father" of Army Project Managers because every Project Manager reported directly to him, and if he was the father, Sally Clements was the "mother". Project Managers sought her out, knowing she had General Besson's ear. She was number two in the Command around Washington as far as the PMs were concerned.
In August 1975, as Assistant Deputy for Materiel Acquisition in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Installations and Logistics), she became the first female career civilian super grade in the Army. She capped a career of unparalleled government service as the Deputy for Materiel Acquisition Management, Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army, a position from which she retired in January 1981. As an indication of her high regard held by the Army logistical community, she was inducted into the Ordnance Hall of Fame in 1991.
Mrs. Clements passed away in Arlington, Virginia, on January 13, 1997.