Watervliet Arsenal Newsletter : Salvo - 30 September 2013
Watervliet Arsenal ... 1813-2013
Vol. 13, No. 9 U.S. Army Watervliet Arsenal Sept. 30, 2013
SecArmy’s first visit to the
Army’s manufacturing center
Story on page 3
Photo by John B. Snyder
Page 2 Salvo Sept. 30, 2013
The Arsenal Salvo is an authorized monthly publication for members of the Department
of Defense. Contents of the Salvo are not necessarily the official views of, or an endorse-
ment by the U.S. Government, the Department of Defense, the Department of the Army, or
the Watervliet Arsenal.
News may be submitted for publication by sending articles to Public Affairs Officer,
1 Buffington Street, Bldg. 10, Watervliet, NY 12189, or stop by office #102, Bldg. 10,
Watervliet Arsenal. The editor may also be reached at (518) 266-5055 or by e-mail:
email@example.com. The editor reserves the right to edit all information submitted
Commander, Col. Lee H. Schiller Jr.
Public Affairs Officer, John B. Snyder
Editor, John B. Snyder
Photographer: John B. Snyder
Lee H. Schiller Jr.
As we enter this time of year, change is all around us.
Trees change colors, plants stop flowering and last year’s
gas is being drained from snow blowers in anticipation that
winter is coming. Change is abundant too at the arsenal.
Fiscal year 2013 was not only challenging, it was also
frustrating to many of you. Many things that were out of
our control, such as a declining defense budget and seques-
tration, affected every corner of the arsenal. Most of you
lost pay due to furloughs and some of you lost great work-
force companions as many retired in the last few months.
But through it all, we passed 200 years of continuous
operation last July with our reputation and history beyond
With the 200th
anniversary behind us, your leadership
is working hard to maintain a sufficient level of workload
for 2014 and 2015 to ensure that we retain a core capability
that can respond to any urgent needs of our troops.
What will be key as we go forward does not have so
much to do with our history, but has everything to do with
When we can machine a great product that gets into the
hands of our military or an allied military on time, that is
When we can respond to an urgent order for 60 mm
mortar systems for the Afghanistan National Army, an order
that will help to create an environment that will allow our
troops to withdraw from that country, that is our reputation.
When we can do all that and do so safely, that is our
Everything that we do must be done with a strong sense
of appreciation for and understanding of that our reputation
rides on your actions. At the end of the day, our reputation
is our blood and soul.
This is a great command that truly has significance
to our national security and Secretary of the Army John
McHugh said so last week.
This was a great visit for us because this was the secre-
tary’s first visit to the arsenal, even though he was a U.S.
congressman from New York. Nevertheless, we filled his
visit with our history, capacity, and a sense for our crtical
capabilities that we can respond to any manufacturing re-
quirement thrown our way. I have no doubt that he left us
with a better understanding and appreciation of who we are.
Once again, your reputation showed as every area the
secretary visited and person he talked to was well prepared.
I can’t thank you enough for your support.
As we get into the winter months, please plan now for
adverse weather and don’t wait until you get 12-inches of
snow before you check out your snow blower or get your
car tires replaced. And, please be extremely careful as you
remove fallen leaves from your yard. I have read too many
stories of people falling off of ladders trying to clean out
their gutters on their roofs. I only want to read about you
as part of a positive story.
Page 3 Salvo Sept. 30, 2013
Secretary of the Army visits,
touts, challenges Watervliet
John B. Snyder
Maj. Christopher Kasker
George Flanders grinding burs while the Secretary of the Army passes by. This was the secre-
tary’s first trip to the arsenal.
Secretary of the Army John
McHugh was at the Watervliet
Arsenal September 26 to assess
the effect of sequestration on the
arsenal’s ability to conduct research
and design efforts, and manufactur-
ing, in support of howitzers, can-
nons, and mortars for U.S. Armed
Forces and allies.
During the visit, McHugh, a
former U.S. Congressman from up-
state New York, met with Arsenal
leaders and the civilian workforce,
where he provided insight into the
Army’s current fiscal challenges
and received updates about arsenal
“Let me be clear, the Army is
undergoing a significant cut to its
budget that has caused us to look
at reductions in organizations, pro-
grams, and activities,” McHugh
said. “No staff or command will be untouched during
this fiscal uncertainty.”
He stated what the work force needs to do.
“Throughout its 200-year history, the arsenal’s
workforce has a track record of bold and innovative
strategies that better supported the needs of our sol-
diers,” McHugh said. “That kind of leadership and
innovation will be critical for our future.”
Despite the challenges McHugh noted the impor-
tance of the arsenal to the United States Army.
“The Watervliet Arsenal provides critical support
to our national security, which is why, earlier this year,
I designated it as a Center of Industrial and Technical
Excellence (CITE) for cannons and mortars,” he said.
“This designation means the Arsenal’s core compe-
tency to manufacture cannons and mortars cannot be
found anywhere else in the Defense Department.”
A significant effect of the CITE designation is that
the Arsenal may now more freely enter into public-
private partnerships to perform work that will enhance
its manufacturing core competencies.
“Such private-partnership may not only keep the
Arsenal’s skills sharper, but may also reduce the Ar-
senal’s cost of operation,” said Joe Turcotte the Arse-
nal’s director of Installation Management.
The CITE recognition by the Army secretary is some-
thing the arsenal commander knows the workforce will
“The arsenal’s ability to adapt goes beyond the lever-
Story continues on page 4, See SecArmy
Photo by John B. Snyder
Page 4 Salvo Sept. 30, 2013
Clockwise from Top Right: Secretary of the Army John McHugh taking a moment from his busy trip to thank the workforce for all that they
do everyday to support our troops and especially for their great effort in providing 902 60mm mortar systems to the Afghan National Army.
Remy A. Polacinski taking a measurement for quality control while the Secretary of the Army approaches. Secretary of the Army John
McHugh, pointing, is asking Benet Laboratories’ Deputy Director John Askew, left, a question about the mortar systems on display.
Photos by John B. Snyder
aging of skilled artisans who work in tens of thousandths
of an inch tolerances as they machine today’s products
that support artillery, tank, and mortar system in the U.S.
military,” said Arsenal commander Col. Lee H. Schiller
Jr. “There is also a strong sense of duty that each worker
has that drives their ability to leverage unique capabili-
ties and capacity to meet the critical, urgent needs of
McHugh also acknowledged the strong support of
the area’s Congressional delegation, and state and local
“This facility and its mission have benefitted from
our longstanding partnership with Senators Schumer and
Gillibrand and Representative Tonko, as well as the state
and local community,” he said. “We’re grateful for their
continued leadership and support.”
The Watervliet Arsenal is an Army owned-and-operat-
ed manufacturing facility and is the oldest, continuously
active arsenal in the United States. It began operations
during the War of 1812, and celebrated its 200th year of
continuous service to the nation on July 14, 2013.
Today’s Arsenal is relied upon by U.S. and foreign
militaries to produce the most advanced, high-tech, high-
powered weaponry for cannon, howitzer, and mortar sys-
tems. This National Historic Registered Landmark has an
annual economic benefit to the local community in excess
of $90 million.
As Secretary of the Army, McHugh has statutory re-
sponsibility for all matters relating to the United States
Army: manpower, personnel, reserve affairs, installations,
environmental issues, weapons systems and equipment
acquisition, communications, and financial management.
Page 5 Salvo Sept. 30, 2013
Where Army manufacturing
supports U.S. troop withdrawal
A final shipment of 60mm mortars left the Watervliet
Arsenal, N.Y., this month en route to the Afghanistan
National Army and with each crate was a tremendous sense
of pride that the arsenal is
helping the president to achieve
his goal of bringing 34,000
troops home from Afghanistan
by the end of 2014.
The Arsenal announced last
February that it received a $5.9
million contract to provide the
Afghanistan National Army
with approximately 900, 60mm
The former arsenal
commander, Col. Mark F.
Migaleddi, said in February
that this was a very aggressive
fielding with up to 150 systems
to be sent out in the first 30
days upon receipt of the order.
“This order not only
reflects the high confidence
the Department of Defense
has on the arsenal’s ability to
rapidly support the warfighter,
but also speaks volumes
to the importance of DOD
maintaining an Army-owned and
-operated manufacturing center,”
Migaleddi said in regards to the
rapid fielding schedule that the arsenal promised and has
To put this fielding challenge into perspective, Lt. Col.
William McDonough, the Army’s Program Manager for the
60mm order, said this type of order would typically take
the Army about two to three years to achieve. The Arsenal
completed the order in less than eight months.
“This was a great team effort and the fact that we could
complete the order in about seven months says a lot about
the strong relationship we (Army program managers) have
with the Watervliet Arsenal,” McDonough said.
McDonough validated that the rush to get this order
into the hands of the Afghanistan army was to support the
President’s goal to get 34,000 U.S. troops home by the
end of 2014. In essence, the sooner the Afghanistan army
is equipped and trained, the sooner U.S. troops may come
This week’s shipment of 92 mortar systems to the
Afghanistan National Army
completed the arsenal’s role
in the U.S. State Department’s
Foreign Military Sales
program, or FMS, to equip the
Afghanistan Army with 60mm
mortar systems. FMS is a
program that provides sales of
U.S. arms, defense equipment,
defense services, and military
training to foreign governments.
“There is a tremendous sense
of pride and professionalism for
us to be at the tip of the sphere
of the national security strategy
by supporting the Afghans in
their own mission in taking
over the fight, thus allowing
our servicemen and women to
come home,” said Col. Lee H.
Schiller Jr., the current arsenal
commander, as the final crates
were being sealed.
According to Ray Gaston,
the Arsenal’s chief of the
Production Planning and
Control Division, the main
part of the contract required the Arsenal to act as a staging
area for the various parts of the 60mm mortar system that
are being collected from other Army installations. Upon
the receipt of the parts, which consisted of such things as
barrels and base plates, the Arsenal packaged them into
complete mortar systems and then shipped to Afghanistan.
The contract also required traditional manufacturing of
select parts for the mortar system.
The 60mm mortar system is used primarily by the
infantry as an indirect fire weapon when a high angle
trajectory is required to hit enemy troops, materiel, and
positions. It has a maximum range of about 3,500 meters.
Final crates loaded on a truck signify great success to Army
Program Manager Lt. Col. William McDonough, left, and Arsenal
Commander Col. Lee H. Schiller Jr.
By John B. Snyder
Photo by John B. Snyder
Page 6 Salvo Sept. 30, 2013
Watervliet, with $10M in
new contracts, is still Army
Strong after 200 years
By John B. Snyder
Photo by John B. Snyder
Some may think that at the
grand old age of 200 that things
ought to be slowing down for the
Watervliet Arsenal, but that does
not seem the case as the arsenal
announced last week more than
$10 million in new contracts for
two different types of 155mm
howitzer tubes for the U.S. Army.
These new contracts will add
to the $4.3 million contract an-
nounced last month for experimen-
tal mortar work and to the more
than $27 million in new work
announced last spring, said Ray
Gaston, the arsenal’s chief of Pro-
duction Planning and Control.
“This is great news in that these
orders were not part of our planned
workload for fiscal years 2014
or 2015,” said Gaston. “Given
an era of fiscal uncertainty in the
U.S. defense budget, just trying to
maintain production on planned
work can be very challenging and
so, when new work comes in each
order is critical to sustaining the
critical skill base that resides at the
The two contracts require the
arsenal to manufacture: 60 M284
155mm cannon tubes with a con-
tract value of approximately $8
million; and 10 M776 155mm
cannon tubes valued at nearly $2
“The M284 contract will add
to our current workload more than
13,000 hours of direct labor,”
said Diane Nelson, the arsenal’s
program manager for the order.
“And I am very hopeful the Army
will provide us a follow-on or-
der sometime next year for more
The arsenal has not manufac-
tured the M284 barrel since 2007
and the barrel goes on the Army’s
M109 155mm self-propelled how-
itzer, Nelson said.
“We will ship our first barrel
in August 2014 and complete the
contract in July 2015,” Nelson
The M776 tube is for the M777
155mm lightweight howitzer, said
George Roach, the arsenal’s pro-
gram manager for this order.
“Although this is not a new
type of barrel for us to manufac-
ture, we will try a new plating
process in anticipation the new
process will extend the life of the
tube,” Roach said. “If testing of
the new plating process goes well,
this could open the door for a sig-
nificant amount of work for the
Roach said that more than
2,200 direct labors hours will be
added to the manufacturing sched-
ule and that shipment of the barrels
will begin in April 2014 and the
last shipment is planned for June
The Watervliet Arsenal is an
facturing facility and is the oldest,
continuously active arsenal in the
United States having begun opera-
tions during the War of 1812. It
celebrated its 200th anniversary on
July 14, 2013.
Today’s Arsenal is relied upon
by U.S. and foreign militaries to
produce the most advanced, high-
tech, high-powered weaponry for
cannon, howitzer, and mortar sys-
tems. This National Historic Reg-
istered Landmark has an annual
economic benefit to the local com-
munity in excess of $90 million.
Arsenal machinist Ryan Putnam is preparing
a 155mm barrel for pressing. Putnam has
learned through his 20,000 hours of machin-
ing experience that listening to how tubes
"groan" when he presses them with up to
900 tons of pressure assists his ability to
straighten the tubes.
Page 7 Salvo Sept. 30, 2013
Congrats to Arsenal Softball Champions
Our Watervliet Arsenal Howitzers Softball
team won the 2nd Annual Northeast Military
Softball Tournament at the Picatinny Arse-
nal this month. They beat teams from the
Picatinny Arsenal, Tobyhanna, Fort Hamil-
ton, Aberdeen and the Boys of Summer team
which included Larry Berra (Yogi Berra’s
son) and Gil Hodges Jr.
Top Row from left to right: Zach Kirsch,
Greg Delgado, Kyle Morcotte, Matthew
Marsh, Matthew Church, Rob Cavanaugh,
and Chad Peters. Bottom Row from left to
right: Jordan Selin, Kyle Buono, Andrew
Gorman, and Tom Pond Jr.
Photo by John B. Snyder
Photo provided by Kyle Buono
First Town Hall for Schiller
This September marked the first opportunity for Col.
Lee H. Schiller Jr. to address the workforce since his
change of command on July 18, 2013. Unlike town halls
from recent commanders, Schiller took on the entire
program briefing and discussing such topics as workload,
safety, and his priorities.
One of the main promises Schiller had for the workforce
was that his command would be one of complete trans-
parency and that he will share a vast amount of informa-
tion, as he gets it, with the workforce and its leaders.
Photo by John B. Snyder
Retreat and 9/11
The arsenal workforce assembled this month underneath
the garrison’s flagpole to not only recall the events of 9/11 —a
day that is strongly sewn into our nation’s fabric — but also to
renew our faith in tradition and history.
In a simple ceremony that brought together Department
of the Army Civilians and troops from the New York National
Guard the arsenal commemorated those who died and those
who became heroes as a result of those tragic events.
Retreat is a ceremony in which the unit honors the U.S. flag
when it is lowered in the evening. This ceremony is conducted
at the direction of the commander.
Page 8 Salvo Sept. 30, 2013
Watervliet: Where family
tradition helps the war effort
This 1893 photo shows 24-year-old Robert Cockburn in the first row, first from the left. Carl Christiansen, the
Master Engineer of the 16-inch gun project, is seen in the back row, six men from the left.
Next year marks the beginning of the centennial obser-
vations for the events leading up to World War I. While
the war began in August 1914, the United States did not
enter the fighting until 1917. Once war was declared by
Congress, the Watervliet Arsenal began a “crash course”
of internal improvements, expansion to its existing physi-
cal structures, and the hiring of thousands of additional
skilled workers. Brothers Robert, Alexander, and Andrew
Cockburn were part of this skilled workforce and as many
other workers of the day, they had followed their father’s
footsteps into arsenal employment.
William Cockburn (1840-1918) was born in Edinburgh,
Scotland, and immigrated to Canada as a young man. At
51, he moved his family to Watervliet in search of a better
life. He worked at the arsenal as a machinist from 1891
until his retirement in 1908. Three of William’s seven
sons also worked at the Arsenal: Robert worked 37 years
(1891-1928) as a machinist, foreman and Master Mechanic
in the Heavy Field Cannon department; younger brother
Alexander worked at the arsenal from Oct. 12, 1917 until
June 6, 1918; and older brother Andrew worked 29 years at
the Arsenal (1895-1924) as a machinist and was a charter
member of the 20-Year Club.
Production and hiring of new employees increased at
a steady rate in 1917 as many arsenal men enlisted in the
Army. Robert was commissioned an officer on Sept. 7,
1917 and as a major, reported to active duty at the arsenal
on Oct. 3, 1917. He shipped out to France to serve for
18 months, from Feb. 18, 1918 to May 27, 1919, serving
in the Ordnance Shop, 8th
Battalion. Alexander, a former
professor of Mechanical Engineering at RPI, was com-
missioned a captain in the Ordnance Department, and was
employed at the Arsenal prior to him shipping out for over-
seas. He was stationed in France, also with the 8th
ion. Andrew remained at the arsenal during World War I.
After the war, both Robert and Alexander were hon-
orably discharged and resumed their pre-war lives and
careers. Robert returned to work at the arsenal as Super-
intendent of Heavy Field Cannon Department, retiring in
1928. Alexander was assigned to duties at the Aberdeen
Proving Grounds, Maryland for three years but ill health
forced him to resign from the military and he returned to
Watervliet. Andrew worked at the arsenal from 1895 until
his retirement in 1924 after 29 years of employment.
The Cockburn family is just one of many who have not
only become part of the arsenal tradition, but also have
made working at the arsenal part of a proud, family tradi-
Photo provided by arsenal museum
By Mark Koziol
Page 9 Salvo Sept. 30, 2013
Albany County’s Veterans’ Day Parade
You will have a chance to join us this November as we honor our Nation’s Vet-
erans. As you read this, the Arsenal parade committee is beginning to prepare
the Arsenal for the Albany County’s Veterans’ Day Parade down Central Av-
enue. In addition to two Arsenal/Benét Labs floats, we plan to have continued
support from our emergency services, and from the Hudson-Mohawk Military
We need folks to march with us on Veterans’ Day, 11 November. What a great
way to pay proper recognition to our Veterans’ as well as to showcase the Ar-
senal to the community. More info to follow in the near future.
SAVE THE DATE
Nov. 11, 2013
Veterans Day Parade
Page 10 Salvo Sept. 30, 2013
Face of Strength: Bob Rawls
To some people who
worked with Bob Rawls
during his 38 years as an
arsenal machinist, they
may have thought that
when Bob retired in 2004
that he simply faded away
to some sandy beach
where sunshine is abun-
dant and machinery is
But for those who tru-
ly know Bob, they must
have known that when
Bob drove out the gate
one last time as a Depart-
ment of the Army Civil-
ian that he couldn’t stay
gone very long.
And he didn’t.
After all, Bob had in-
vested more than 76,000
hours at the arsenal turn-
ing and machining barrels
for every major artillery
and tank system since the
Vietnam War. Machining
was in his blood.
Unlike most retirees,
Bob didn’t fade away. In
fact, he has quietly become a very
valued and productive worker at
the arsenal, albeit one without pay.
Immediately after Bob retired, he
came right back to work in an ar-
senal machine shop.
Although the machine shop,
which consisted at the time of a
few broken machines from the
late 1800s era, wasn’t meant to
produce weapons for our troops, it
nonetheless had a very important
mission … to tell the arsenal story
Tucked away in the arsenal mu-
seum is a late 1800s-era machine
shop with working lathes and
drills. Bob built this display from
scratch using his personal funds,
as well as thousands of hours of
his personal time repairing the ma-
Although his hands now move
a little slower than when he was
a machinist at the arsenal, Bob’s
mind is just as sharp, if not more
so. The repair of each machine
often meant that Bob
would spend countless
hours researching how
the old machines used
to work and then fabri-
cating parts in a small
machine shop he has
set up in his garage to
bring the machines up
to working order.
Why does he do it?
Bob said he loves
working with his hands.
But just as important,
Bob loves working at
the arsenal and helping
to tell the arsenal story.
Watching Bob en-
gage visitors, who have
ranged from cadets
from the U.S. military
academy at West Point
to local high school stu-
dents, is amazing. His
technical expertise, his
love of the machines,
and his historical
knowledge of machine
operations is always a
The museum will temporary
close on September 30 due to a
reorganization being conducted by
the Center of Military History, but
Bob’s machine shop will stay and
will be a large part of our museum
activity when it reopens in 2015 or
For his countless hours of dedi-
cation toward helping the arsenal
tell its story, Bob Rawls truly de-
serves to be this month’s arsenal
Face of Strength.
Photos by John B. Snyder
Top: Bob Rawls, with hat, explaining the machining shop operations
to Sullivan County high school students.
Below: Bob Rawls, right, talking to high school students about the
machining techniques and procedures used during the late 1800s.
By John B. Snyder
Page 11 Salvo Sept. 30, 2013
Civilian Personnel Advisory Center
Military Service Deposit Receipts and Crediting your Military Buyback
In order to be credited for your military service deposit, your eOPF (electronic Official
Personnel Folder) must contain proof of payment from your military service deposit. DFAS
does NOT automatically send this document to you and ABC-C will not accept Leave and
Earning Statements, payment statements or any other documentation as acceptable proof of
payment. In order to receive credit, follow the procedures outlined below.
1. Request Proof of Payment:
For military deposits paid back to the government AFTER 2004:
Contact a payroll representative and ask that he/she send a remedy ticket to DFAS
requesting a “PIF” letter (Paid In Full letter). The letter will be mailed to your home
address so make sure it is correct in the payroll system. This can take up to six weeks.
For military deposits paid back to the government BEFORE 2004:
You will need to compose a letter containing your name, mailing address and social
security number. In the body of the letter, state that you are requesting a Service Credit
Receipt from your military deposit. This request should be faxed to OPM at (724)-794-
4668 or (724)-794-6633. This can take up to six weeks.
2. Provide Proof of Payment to CPAC to be uploaded into your eOPF.
If proof of payment has not been received by your date of retirement, you should
compose a memo stating that you are in the process of obtaining your proof of payment
letter. Submit this memo to CPAC to be placed in your eOPF until your letter is received.
Be sure to supply CPAC with a copy of your proof of payment once it is received.
Please note that your Service Comp Date (SCD) on your SF-50s will not change based on this
process. The SCD on your SF-50 is your SCD for Leave purposes. Any creditable military
service you have should already be reflected in this date regardless of whether you pay back
your military deposit or not.
For questions regarding military deposits, please call 266-5400 or 266-4058.