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Barstow city leadership tours MDMC

By 1st Lt. Kyle Thomas | | August 16, 2012

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City officials from Albany and Barstow, Calif., walked among a civilian workforce repairing empty vehicle hulls and 330 horsepower diesel engines. Drills, employees’ shouts and industrial fans created a wall of sounds, muffled only by ear plugs, as they toured a Marine Depot Maintenance Command crane way, Aug. 16.

These are the sounds and images of Production Plant Albany, supporting Marines at “the tip of the spear” in Afghanistan. Across the country, 2,124 miles away, Production Plant Barstow appears much the same, working to provide for   the needs of the war- fighter operating in areas away from home.

The tour included Joe Gomez, Barstow’s mayor;  Julie McIntyre, Barstow’s mayor pro tem; Curt Mitchell, Barstow’s city manager; and Chris Hardy, Albany Chamber of Commerce’s president and CEO.

“People here are working as hard as they are in Barstow,” Gomez said. “Our goal is to establish a close relationship with the command here as well as the city of Albany. We also want to gain a knowledge of what it is the civil servants and contractors do here.” 

“Both cities can only be successful if we both stand together, not apart,” McIntyre added.

The trip, which comes after uniting both depots under a single, colonel-level command, gave Marine Depot Maintenance Command, a subordinate command of Marine Corps Logistics Command, the opportunity to educate Barstow’s leadership on the consolidation process.

Bringing the leadership of both communities together offers the opportunity to discuss the progress thus far, review upcoming plans, and reaffirm future strategies for ensuring the long-term value of both production plants, according to MCLC officials.

Patrick Shimko, plant manager, PPB, led the tour. Shimko is currently located here at Albany for 18 weeks to compare, contrast and ultimately standardize the processes shared by both plants.

As the group walked, forklift drivers honked, announcing their movements to transport gear, and in the distance, sparks flew as Civilian-Marines and contractors welded parts to vehicles as the production lines hummed. There were few empty spaces in which a piece of equipment wasn’t being repaired or refurbished in some way by workers.

Above, American flags, draped from steel beams, waved in the breeze of the plant’s ventilation system. Next to the stars on one flag an epithet read, “What you do is important. Every day, a Marine’s life depends on it.” 

“We’re doing amazing things here,” Shimko said. “I get excited. I can lead this tour all day, showing all the great things we’re doing here and at Barstow.”

Hardy explained the Chamber of Commerce’s role.  

“Our first goal as a chamber of commerce is to be an advocate for those aspects of our community that have the greatest economic impact,” Hardy said. “Part of that is gaining more of an understating of what it is PPA Civilian-Marines and contractors do. With this understanding, we can show how important the base is, not only to Dougherty County, but to Southwest Georgia as a region.

“The second goal is to take that understanding to vendors who can help the base and merge those relationships,” he added. 

The group also took time during the visit to meet with MCLC officials as well as Albany’s civic leaders. These efforts not only bring two communities together, but also show how the consolidation works to benefit American taxpayers and Marines serving overseas, according to MCLC officials.

Echoing this sentiment, Maj. Gen. Charles L. Hudson, commanding general, Marine Corps Logistics Command, stated, “We are grateful for the enduring support we have received from both communities. Our strong partnership with Albany and Barstow benefits everyone and enables the Marine Corps, every day, to accomplish its mission as America’s expeditionary force in readiness.”

Shimko invited the group back for a future visit.

“This is your Production Plant,” Shimko said.


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