ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. – The engineers and scientists at the U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center (ECBC) provided a different kind of support than usual to the Nation’s Warfighters this year. In addition to the life-saving equipment and ChemBio expertise ECBC provides to the Warfighter on a daily basis, the Center sent words of encouragement and gratitude in the form of appreciation banners to Warfighters in the Homeland and abroad to thank them for their service and commitment to our country. The effort was sponsored by the Center’s Engineering Directorate.
“It’s like having a trophy,” said Charlie Kranz, an engineer with Army Research Laboratory who is deployed to Afghanistan. Kranz works alongside Warfighters in theater, helping them solve technical equipment issues at a facility with the Research Development and Engineering Command (RDECOM) Field Assistance Technology Program (RFAST). “Every time someone comes in to the Production Integration Facility (PIF), I want them to see it. It adds an extra sense of pride in the Facility that will reflect in our work and support for our customers.”
In May 2012, as part of Military Appreciation Month, employees at the Edgewood, Md. and Rock Island, Ill., ECBC sites wrote heartfelt messages on large vinyl banners that were sent to two locations that directly support Warfighters abroad and at home. Rock Island’s banner was presented to a Community Based Warrior Transition Unit (CBWTU) in Rock Island, Ill., where wounded Warfighters are recovering as they make the transition back home. Edgewood’s banner was shipped to Bagram Airbase, Afghanistan, where Kranz and other employees from RDECOM and ECBC support Warfighters with solutions to technical equipment challenges they are having in theater. Since the summer of 2011, ECBC along with other RDECOM organizations have been sending engineers and scientists to the RFAST program in Afghanistan, where Warfighters visit the PIF on a daily basis to get assistance with equipment and other technology that RDECOM organizations develop.
The banners were decorated with photos of ECBC employees and with photos of their loved ones who have served in the military, giving the messages a personal touch.
“It’s nice to see that some people really care about those in the field trying to help and make a difference,” said Glenn Wetherell, an ECBC Advanced Design and Manufacturing engineer currently working with RFAST. “Thank you, to all who made the effort to thank us. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.”
Wetherell said receiving the banner was a reminder of the committed men and women whom he worked with at ECBC, and the support system he is looking forward to returning to at the end of his term. “I’m glad to know that this banner is coming from where I’m going back to. ECBC is made of many dedicated employees who want to make a positive difference in helping the Warfighter. It’s nice to know that we have the support of our home base and people. The Warfighters who come to the PIF for help, can also see the great support that this team has,” Wetherell said.
“Everyone appreciates a job well done,” said Steven Tucker, an engineer with Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center. “But the best recognition is the smile on a Soldier’s face when we give them a solution to a pressing problem they have.”
ECBC helped initially set up the Bagram Airbase PIF in 2011 and since then has sent five engineers to the program. Despite the hardships of being away from home, the engineers working at the PIF find it a small price to pay in exchange for the round-the-clock support they give, and the invaluable experience of working on the scene with Warfighters.
“Being informed of having lost a soldier, Warfighter or any supporter of Operation Enduring Freedom is the hardest thing about working over here,” said Wetherell. “The loss of human life is the greatest sacrifice anyone can make. Being here has shown me just how good we have it back home. The temporary, but extended separation from family and friends is difficult, but it is a small price to pay for the freedom and security of all.”
Nan Ramsey, Associate Director of Engineering and Rock Island Site Manager, delivered Rock Island’s banner to a CBWTU at Rock Island Arsenal where Warfighters come for medical attention while still on active duty. Col. Nathaniel Jones of Rock Island CBWTU is happy to have a display of appreciation for all who come through the Unit.
“Now we have something we can display where a Soldier can actually read ‘thank you for your service to this country’ while they are receiving the help they need,” Col. Jones said.