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Letterkenny Munitions Center mobile maintenance teams support Greece, Turkey

Feb 28, 2011

By Darryl Howlett (JMC)

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Alexandropoulos, Greece is a long way from Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. So is the country of Turkey.

Those are destinations traveled by members of the Letterkenny Munitions Center mobile missile maintenance team.

Two LEMC employees, Nicholas Buhrman and Ronald McGee, deployed to Greece as part of the Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) Stockpile Reliability Program (SRP).

The team assessed the physical condition of their Foreign Military Sales assets, their infrastructure and environmental conditions, local procedures and equipment in use. The team also trained the host country on maintaining various missiles.

"We spent two weeks at each location," said Buhrmann.

Buhrman and McGee returned from Greece Nov. 15 before leaving again and spending two weeks in Turkey, returning in early December.

Buhrman and McGee are both electronics integrated systems mechanics with more than 30 years of government service each.

Other members of the mobile maintenance team are Ralph Peters, a logistics management specialist, and Lori Hepfer, a production controller, who joined the team in August 2010. Hepfer, although new to the team, has an important responsibility considering today's economic environment.

"It's my job to make sure the program stays within budget," she said. "That includes travel and addressing shipping issues for the testing equipment."

"LEMC is the only place that provides ATAACS-Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System maintenance to foreign countries," said Peters. "(Aviation and Missile Command) set up these two trips."

In fact, along with Buhrman and McGee, two members of the inspection team came from Redstone Arsenal, Ala.

So how was life in Greece and Turkey?

"In some ways it was like stepping back in time. They had little villages and little horse drawn buggies," said McGee.

Once on the ground, the team used its Missile Common Test Device. It has been affectionately described as a "computerized testing device in a suitcase."

The team performed maintenance on several missiles in Greece and Turkey. But how was the communication in the two countries?

"The younger people spoke English, so that made it better," said Buhrman. Buhrman and McGee kept in constant contact with team members at LEMC including weekly team meetings at first cell through phones but later satellite phones and continental Blackberry devices.

LEMC Director Ed Averill said the team plays a critical part of the command's overall mission.

"The mobile maintenance teams provide the Army a tremendous savings. To return ATACMS missiles from OCONUS costs an average of $4,000 each. A two-man team can easily conduct minor maintenance on 100 assets in theater for $10,000 to $12,000 total."

With support to Greece and Turkey now complete, team members are always on the ready to support other foreign allies and customers.

"We are up for more trips. We have missiles in both the U.K. and Japan," McGee said.

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