The nation’s premier bomb and warhead loading facility welcomed a new leader during a change of command ceremony held on the grounds adjacent to the McAlester Army Ammunition Plant’s headquarters.
Col. Joseph G. Dalessio assumed command of McAAP from Timothy D. Beckner during the June 25 traditional Army ceremony in front of about 200 invited guests, family members and civilian employees.
Dalessio arrived from the U.S. Army War College, Carlisle Barracks, Pa.
The ceremony was a farewell for Beckner, and his wife, Dede, who joined Team McAAP in July 2010. (Dede Beckner was named Teacher of the Year for McAlester Public Schools in February 2012.)
Col. Beckner was recognized for renovating and producing munitions, demilitarization operations, logistics management and safety.
“Tim, the message that I want to leave you this morning is that you addressed and tackled the challenges of command and you made a difference,” said Brig. Gen. Kevin G. O’Connell, commanding general, Joint Munitions and Lethality Life Cycle Management Command and Joint Munitions Command, and host for the ceremony.
Beckner in turn applauded McAAP’s civilian workforce. He cited the production of several munitions to meet urgent warfighter needs, including the BLU-129 — a 500-pound guided bomb with a composite warhead designed to destroy targets while minimizing fragmentation and collateral damage in war zones.
He acknowledged Depot Operations for its ability to ramp up and ship large amounts of munitions quickly. During an outload exercise in March 2011, Beckner said they loaded 434 military containers in 24 hours, surpassing the goal of 400.
He praised the Directorate of Engineering and Public Works’ maintenance of the infrastructure spread out across the installation’s 45,000 acres and its upgrade of the production lines as being “second to none.”
The Kentucky native also lauded the Modernization Enterprise for its transition from the Standard Depot System to the new Logistics Modernization Program business model, which he said “…was probably the biggest challenge we’ve faced in this plant’s nearly 70-year history.”
Finally, he commended the workforce for what he referred to as its business “calling card” — the Voluntary Protections Program Star status awarded by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration and international certifications for ISO 9001: 2004 and ISO 14001: 2004 — for quality and environmental management, respectively.
“This team of teams brings much to the fight for our joint warfighters deployed around the world,” Beckner said. “It’s truly amazing how much we’ve accomplished together.”
Beckner said he served in Oklahoma once before as a battalion commander at Fort Sill and that this family has special feelings for the state.
“Just as Oklahomans did before, you here in McAlester and the surrounding communities have made us feel welcome,” he said. “We’ve made great friendships here and you’ll always have a special place in our hearts.”
In his introduction, the general talked about Dalessio’s credentials – his education at the Joint and Combined Warfighting School, experience as a logistics planner and previous Army Materiel Command assignment, where he served as the commander of the Sierra Army Depot, Herlong, Calif.
“I have no doubt that McAlester Army Ammunition Plant continues in good hands,” O’Connell said.
During his brief remarks, Dalessio commended the MCAAP workforce for its accomplishments, and thanked Beckner for the “seamless transition” and his family for their continued support. He promised employees two-way communication.
“To the workforce, I sincerely hope that you will share with me your experiences, input and counsel,” he said. “What you can expect from me – know that I’m a good listener, care deeply about people and believe that my job is to facilitate our success.”
Dalessio became the plant’s 33rd commander and the 16th since it was transferred from the Navy to the Army under the Single Manager for Conventional Ammunition Act on Oct. 1, 1977.
Beckner was reassigned to Vicenza Italy, where he will be the director of logistics (G-4) for U.S. Army Africa and Southern European Task Force.
Standing in formation during the ceremony were troops from the Oklahoma Army National Guard’s 1245th Transportation Company based in McAlester, McAAP firefighters and security civilian employees who deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, and McAAP firefighters who comprised the color guard.
The 1245th Trans. Co. currently has more than 100 of its troops deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Dignitaries attending the ceremony included District 18 State Rep. Donnie Condit, D-McAlester, and District 17 State Rep. Dr. Brian Renegar, D-McAlester; McAlester Mayor Steve Harrison and Kiowa Mayor Janelle Beaver. Representatives for U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Muskogee, and U.S. Rep. Markwayne Mullin, R-Westville, were also in attendance.
McAAP is the Department of Defense’s premier bomb and warhead loading facility, and is one of 14 industrial facilities in the Joint Munitions Command. It is vital to ammunition stockpile management and delivery to the joint warfighter for training and combat operations.