Germersheim Army Depot celebrates 70 years

U.S. Army Garrison Rheinland-Pfalz senior leaders gathered at Germersheim Army Depot Monday to not only celebrate the installation’s 70th anniversary, but also to recognize and recommit to the German-American partnership that keep goods moving throughout U.S. Army Europe and Africa.

U.S. Army Garrison Rheinland-Pfalz Deputy Director of Emergency Services Terry Dunlap thanks Germersheim city firefighters for their continued mutual support.

The depot’s operations manager Leonard Chanler hosted a cake cutting ceremony for command team members and leaders from garrison staff offices, the depot’s tenant units, local national workers and some of the German emergency services teams that all support the depot’s mission. The day finished with a bus tour of the installation.

The cake and conversation served as a reminder that a strong partnership is what keeps any relationship going for 70 years. Chanler can’t do it alone, despite ironically, being a one-man shop.

“This place would not exist the way it does without the cooperation of the cities, the local fire department, the contractors – it’s a partnership,” said Chanler.

From left, Germersheim Army Depot Site Manager Leonard Chanler and Deputy Garrison Manager Jae Kim prepare to cut the cake celebrating 70 years of Army operations at the installation.

The 24/7 depot sits on more than 430 acres of land and is about a 90-minute drive from any U.S. military base service. Of the depot’s approximately 850 employees, only about 165 are DOD ID holders so there is a heavy reliance on the local economy. Garrison employees include public works personnel, security staff, firefighters and postal workers.

Originally used after WWII as a U.S. Army storage site for equipment, it was officially established as an Army depot Oct. 18, 1951, and named Germersheim Ordnance Vehicle Park with a mission to store, receive, and issue equipment and supplies in support of U.S. Army in Europe. At the time, it was the only vehicle park in theater that could store 25,000 vehicles, to include trucks, jeeps, ambulances, armored cars, tractors and trailers.

The site was chosen by the Army due to its ideal location near river, rail, air, and ground transportation ports. GAD serves as a central receiving, storage, and distribution facility for various Department of Defense logistics organizations.

It’s a central logistics hub for the Defense Logistics Agency, the Defense Commissary Agency, and the Army and Air Force Exchange Services in support of missions in the European, Central Command, and Africa theaters of operation.

The trucks start rolling in from all over Europe in the morning for cargo destined for, but not limited to, commissaries, exchanges, shoppettes, class sixes, and school cafeterias.

A “70 Years” commemorative plaque and refurbished bell from the former chapel at GAD mark the entrance of the current site’s garrison headquarters.

While force protection and safety are top priorities, senior leaders learned during the bus tour that another challenge comes in the form of frogs. Yes, frogs.

A section of the depot’s land is home to an endangered species of insects and frogs. Before the grass can be mowed, landscapers must hand-carry the endangered frogs to another piece of land. It serves as a prime example of just how the depot maintains its strong partnership with the host nation.

“Taking care of endangered species and respecting the host nation’s laws shows that we care,” said Dr. Richard Calnon, director of garrison human resources. “That respect builds towards longterm goals and manages that relationship.”