WATERVLIET ARSENAL, N.Y. -- For nearly 200 years, most Arsenal employees began their careers here and ended them here. Given the unique and specialized skills required of the Arsenal's workforce, few have sought the opportunity to venture off to work at some other Army arsenal or depot, nor may the Arsenal leadership have wanted them to.
Some might have thought that being able to raise families at one location was a blessing, while others might have wondered what life would have been like if they had worked at some other installation. There is one current employee, however, who is living the life of both extremes and has been for more than 50 years.
The year of 1961 was an interesting year: the first American to be launched in space, Navy Cmdr. Alan B. Shepard, shoots up 115 miles into the atmosphere; approximately 1,200 U.S.-supported anti-Castro rebels invade Cuba at the Bay of Pigs and are either killed or captured; the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries or OPEC is constituted; and a young Italian immigrant began work at a research facility that would soon become the Army's Benét Laboratories.
Dr. Giuliano D'Andrea, who is the Foreign Science & Technology Science Advisor for Benét Laboratories, lived most of his youth in Italy. But when his father immigrated to Connecticut in 1952, Giuliano followed in 1956. His dad worked in a foundry, which was tough, backbreaking work, and he would sometimes bring Giuliano to the foundry and say, "This is what you will do if you don't stay in school."
Giuliano didn't need much encouragement after that and so there was little doubt that he would go to college. The question was, what should he study given that he spoke little English?
He said he was always good with math and thought that mechanical engineering might be the best college route for him. After all, how much does one need to speak to do well in engineering classes, or so he thought.
He breezed through his mechanical engineering studies at the University of Bridgeport, Conn., and after graduation began work at a U.S. Navy weapons lab in Dahlgren, Va., earning about $5,000 a year.
But in 1961, Giuliano said he yearned to get back to the Northeast and was delighted when he learned about a job opening at a future Army research center that was standing up on the Watervliet Arsenal called Benét Laboratories.
During these past 50-plus years, Benét Labs has been very good to him, Giuliano said.
"The Benét and Arsenal leadership, such as Dr. Bob Weigle and Fred Class, took great care of me in the 1960s to not only give me more challenging work at every opportunity, but they also gave me a better education," Giuliano said. "Benét funded my master's and my doctorate degree in Mechanics from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute."
His work while at Benét Labs has been rich with accomplishments from writing numerous publications to attaining five U.S. Patents related to improving gun systems to extending his service to forward-deployed troops.
Giuliano said that although his work at the Arsenal has been very challenging and exciting, his service to overseas troops have been some of the most memorable and rewarding of his career.
"I have been Benét's eyes and ears for forward deployed troops on three occasions," Giuliano said. "I have served twice as the science advisor for U.S. commands in Italy as part of the Army's Southern European Task Force and the U.S. African Command, as well as served as the Directory for the U.S. Army Far East Research Office in Japan."
Giuliano listened to the troops' needs and brought to them "fixes" and new technologies such as the new aviation general mechanics tool box needed by the 502d Regiment and later adopted by the U.S. Army and industry, and a small-unmanned aerial vehicle named Pointer and later renamed Raven that became part of the U.S. Army arsenal. Two of his latest projects deal with the modernization of a large caliber recoilless rifle system and the fielding of a Waste to Energy Portable System to remediate waste and create energy at forward operating bases.
In 1981, Giuliano was promoted to the position of Director of Research for Benét Labs and held that position until 2011 when accepted the new Benét Labs' Foreign Science & Technology Science Advisor position.
Although Giuliano has been continuously employed at the Arsenal since 1961, he doesn't sound as if he plans to slow down.
"I will never retire as long as I love doing what I am doing," Giuliano said.
For his more than 50 years of professional, personal support to our nation's servicemen and women, Dr. Guiliano D'Andrea is truly a Face of Strength at the Watervliet Arsenal and in our Army.
Benét Laboratories is a Department of the Army research, development and engineering facility located at the Watervliet Arsenal. It is a part of the Weapons & Software Engineering Center (WSEC), Armament Research, Development, and Engineering Center (ARDEC), which is located at Picatinny Arsenal, N.J.