MARINE CORPS LOGISTICS BASE ALBANY, Ga. -- Members of the Marine Corps Logistics Bases community gathered Feb. 22 to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the merger between the Marine Corps Supply Center Albany, Ga., and the Marine Corps Supply Activity Philadelphia, Pa. -- the Marine Corps? Inventory Control Point.
During late 1975, the deactivation order was issued for the Marine Corps Supply Activity Philadelphia. At that time, more than 150 employees transferred from Philadelphia to Albany with Marine Corps Supply Activity functions.
Retired Marine Maj. Gen. Warren R. Johnson, who was the base commanding general here from May 22, 1974, until April 1, 1976, was the guest speaker at the anniversary ceremony.
Before introducing Johnson, Brig. Gen. Richard S. Kramlich, the current commander of Marine Corps Logistics Bases, expressed his memories of the merger.
?My main concern at the time when the Supply Activity Center was coming down here [Albany] was ?what?s going to change for those of us in the Fleet Marine Force??? said Kramlich, a Whitehall, Pa., native who was a first lieutenant at the time of the 1976 consolidation.
?Things changed, but they changed for the better,? Kramlich said.
The consolidation became a learning tool for Marines and civilians alike.
?We have learned two things over these past 25 years,? Kramlich said. ?The only thing constant is change, and no matter how difficult a task appears, if you use the team we have here in Albany, we will succeed.?
Johnson, a Stillwater, Minn., native who retired in August 1980, worked closely with Marine Corps supply activities throughout his career.
Following an overseas tour during Vietnam, Johnson was assigned to Marine Corps Supply Activity Philadelphia in 1968 as the operations officer and later as director of the Supply Operations Division. He later served another tour in Philadelphia as the director of the Technical Operations Division and the deputy chief of staff for operations.
?We established a readiness office to integrate our support functions with a focus on maintaining equipment readiness in the Fleet Marine Force versus just concentrating on supply,? he said.
In May 1974, Johnson became the commanding general of Marine Corps Supply Center Albany, Ga.
?There was, throughout the transfer, full cooperation between the two commands, a sense of belonging and security among those who moved from Philadelphia, and an open and generous, welcoming attitude on the part of the supply center personnel and the Albany and Dougherty County community,? Johnson said.
In addition to his assignment in Albany in 1974, Johnson also reassumed command of Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany July 6, 1977.
Maj. Gen. Paul M. Lee Jr., commander of Marine Corps Materiel Command here, was a captain during the supply consolidation.
?Some people suggested the reason we no longer functioned in Philadelphia was downsizing and money-saving,? said Lee -- the only service member still on active duty who made the transition. ?But I offer you that it?s a greater reason.
?We were brought here because it was right to be here,? the Elizabeth, Pa., native said. ?It [MCLB Albany - then Marine Corps Supply Center Albany] was the centerpiece for logistics.
?It was a place that had the support of the community like none that existed anywhere else in the Marine Corps and still exists today,? he said. ?It is a place that is favored by geography, a mild climate, and a transportation network.
?In spite of the fears of a clash in civilizations, just the opposite occurred.
?People knew there was a mission, and they had the right leadership in all the right places, who had prepared the way. When folks arrived, they got down to work,? said Lee.
?The major concern was whether the Fleet Marine Force was going to suffer during this transition,? Lee recalled. ?There was a fear that, the ?Force in Readiness,? when the nation was least ready, would not be that,? said Lee. ?But that never occurred. It never occurred because a whole community coalesced, cooperated and collaborated to make it happen. Readiness did not slip.
?It sustained itself and continued to sustain itself for the past 25 years,? Lee said of the supply transition.
After his encouraging words, Lee presented Kramlich with a historic image. The image included two photographs - one photograph of the 1908 building, called the Marine Corps Supply Activity Philadelphia, and one photograph of the headquarters building of Marine Corps Logistics Bases Albany, Ga.
The image will be displayed in Bldg. 3700 among other historic photos.