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This is an article concerning a U.S. Army Installation. It is not an article about the town of Letterkenny in Ireland.

Letterkenny Army Depot (originally Letterkenny Ordnance Depot), the Center of Industrial and Technical Excellence (CITE) for Air Defense and Tactical Missile Systems, was established in 1942. The Depot is under the command structure of the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command (AMCOM). The facilities at Letterkenny are used to conduct maintenance, modification, storage, and demilitarization operations on tactical missiles and ammunition.

Located primarily in Letterkenny Township and extending into Greene Township and Hamilton Township, all in Franklin County, Pennsylvania, just northwest of the borough of Chambersburg, the Depot consists of nearly 18,000 acres (71 km²). It is the largest employer in Franklin County, Pennsylvania, and adds over one-quarter of a billion dollars annually to the region's economy.

Letterkenny has unique tactical missile repair capabilities repairing a variety of Department of Defense (DoD) missile systems, including the MIM-104 PATRIOT missile and its ground support and radar equipment. More recently, Letterkenny expanded its product line to include designation of the CITE for Power Generation for the Army, the overhaul of tactical wheeled vehicles (HMMWVs), material handling equipment (7.5-ton cranes), and Mobile Kitchen Trailers. In 2007, during the Iraq conflict, Letterkenny began building new Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) armored vehicles in partnership with BAE Systems, and in 2010 was designated the Joint Depot Source of Repair (JDSOR) for Route Clearance Vehicles for the DoD.



1940s − 1960sEdit

In 1941, Letterkenny was chosen by the U.S. Department of War to be one of twelve new ordnance depots. On December 18, 1941, the Secretary of War, Henry L. Stimson, issued the directive to acquire 21,000 acres (85 km²) at Letterkenny for a depot. The mission would be to reduce the surplus of forthcoming material and to store and ship ammunition, trucks, parts, and other supplies. In 1942, the government obtained the James Finley House for use as the Commanding Officer's Residence, making it one of the largest depots of its kind.[1][2]

The first shipment of ammunition arrived by train in late 1942, and more than three million tons of supplies were moved during World War II. After the war, an enormous amount of ammunition was returned from overseas, some of which was unserviceable and had to be destroyed. During the Korean War, with improved capabilities, Letterkenny took on the task and shifted to a wartime pace, increasing their workforce to 6,500 by adding as many as 50 new employees each day during their growth's peak. With new technologies in electronics and guided missile maintenance in the 1950s, the Depot saw a further increased workload. Newly trained employees began working on Project Nike missile components in 1953.[2]

On July 1, 1954, Letterkenny Ordnance Depot became a permanent military installation. It was renamed Letterkenny Army Depot in August 1962 under the U.S. Army Materiel Command (AMC), and with the war in Vietnam, Letterkenny's missions again increased with greater materiel being funneled through the Depot. Its maintenance division became one of the largest activities, with 1,400 workers reconditioning artillery, combat vehicles, and guided missiles. Automation was also introduced at this time along with the update of several facilities. Soon after, in 1964, the 28th Ordnance Detachment moved from Fort Meade, Maryland, to Letterkenny, adding to their capabilities the disposal of explosive ordnance items including bombs, shells, rockets, and guided missiles. They also assisted police in the disposal of explosives and war souvenirs.[2]

1970s − 1990sEdit

In the 1970s, command of Savanna Army Depot Activity, Illinois, fell under Letterkenny, and the U.S. Army Depot System Command (DESCOM) was established and headquartered there. DESCOM, a two-star command and major subordinate element of AMC, remained at the Depot until 1995. In 1974, Letterkenny's capabilities further expanded to include maintenance for the Air Tow Missile as well as long-term storage of war reserve stock packaged petroleum, oil and lubricants, and various chemicals and acids. By the late 1970s, the Depot was one of five installations in the United States to activate the Automated Multi-Media Exchange (AMME), leading to more effective communication service. Letterkenny was at that point the largest installation in Pennsylvania, with more than 5,400 workers.[2]

During the 1980s and early 1990s, the Depot further evolved with the construction of new facilities and the establishment of modernization projects. Its mission was then threefold: supply, maintenance, and ammunition. The Depot's efforts with the Paladin (M109 howitzer), PATRIOT, and HAWK led to Letterkenny's designation as a Center for Technical Excellence. Their capabilities were again expanded, this time to include the AIM-7 Sparrow and the improved AIM-9 Sidewinder.[2]

With the downsizing, reorganization, and realignments of the DoD and the consolidation of tactical missile, Letterkenny was selected in 1990 to serve as the sole processing and storage location for all weapons captured during that year's invasion of Panama in Operation Just Cause. Two years later, the Depot was selected to be the center of all Tactical Missile Systems in the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines. This involved support components from 21 new missile systems. Letterkenny's efforts for this mission gained it the reputation as "the well renowned depot for air defense and missile maintenance". That same year, the Depot's supply mission was relocated to New Cumberland, Pennsylvania under the Defense Logistics Agency; however, by 2001, a smaller Directorate of Supply and Transportation was reestablished at Letterkenny.[2]

In 1994, Letterkenny partnered with United Defense, Limited Partnership (UDLP) to produce the Paladin and completed 950 within five years. Following the Cold War, the U.S. government established the 1995 Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC), which relocated Letterkenny's artillery mission to Anniston Army Depot.[2] BRAC also ordered nearly 1,500 acres to be returned to the community. As of 2014, five of seven land transfer phases with seven-eighths of the acreage have been completed.[3]

In late 1999, the Depot transitioned from U.S. Army Industrial Operations Command (IOC) to U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command.[2]


In 2001, Letterkenny was recognized as the Center of Industrial and Technical Excellence (CITE) for Air Defense and Tactical Missile Ground Support Equipment, and the CITE for Mobile Electric Power Generation Equipment in 2005.[2]

Following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Letterkenny supported the Global War on Terrorism by retrofitting Ground Mobility Vehicles (GMVs), resetting AN/TWQ-1 Avengers and High-Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles (HMMWVs), and recapping PATRIOT Missiles."[2]

Using Lean manufacturing concepts, Letterkenny transformed its 318,000 sq.ft. vehicle building into a flexible manufacturing floor. Each work bay was fitted with identical capabilities in order to meet the challenges of chemical and biological threats. Soon after, the Depot began private sector partnerships to "collaboratively share advantageous skill sets and unique capabilities."[2]

In 2005, Letterkenny was recognized with the silver Shingo Prize for Excellence in Manufacturing for the PATRIOT Missile Launcher. This prize, which was the first for an Army depot, led to the first of eight Shingo awards the Depot would receive. Others were awarded based on work in areas including: "HMMWVs, Generators, Biological Integrated Detection Systems (BIDS), PATRIOT Systems, and Aviation Ground Power Units (AGPU)."[2] That same year, BRAC named Letterkenny as First in Military Value for Tactical Wheeled Vehicles.

Efforts during the 2000s focused largely on the following: cranes, generators, HMMWVs, the PATRIOT Recapitalization program, medium mine protected vehicles (MMPV), and mine resistant ambush protected (MRAP) systems.[2]


In 2010, Letterkenny was awarded the Combined Logistics Excellence Award "for superior performance of duty in Depot Maintenance Excellence resulting in improved combat readiness."[2]

The Theater Readiness Maintenance Directorate, in partnership with private industry, produced the first missile at the newly constructed Theater Readiness Maintenance Facility. Lockheed Martin and Precision Fires Rocket and Missile System (PFRMS) partnered with LEAD to enhance High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) production. This included the Special Test Equipment, Special Tooling, tools, training, testing and, ultimately, LEAD's demonstration of capabilities required to repair various M270A1 and HIMARS Fire Control System and HIMARS launcher components.

The production of Route Clearance Vehicles (RCV) emerged as a primary focus of the Depot's workload. LEAD, in 2010, was named the Joint Depot Source of Repair Decision on the RCV. The Services jointly agreed that Depot Maintenance will be accomplished organically for the RCV: Buffalo/MPCV, Vehicle Mounted Mine Detection System (VMMD) also known as the "Husky," RG-31 Medium Mine -Protected Vehicle (MMPV), Joint EOD Rapid Response Vehicle (JERRV) and Medium Mine-Protected Vehicle (MMPV) Panther at LEAD.

In December 2010, Letterkenny completed the last of over 20,000 recapped HMMWVs. With the program completed, LEAD converted its primary assembly line of HMMWVs to accommodate Reset of PATRIOT Prime Movers. This new workload employed 173 people, with a workload encompassing 150 major items including Launchers, 373 Trailers, Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Trucks (HEMTT's), 900 Series 5 Ton Trucks, Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles (FMTV) and 860 Trailers.

Safety and ensuring proper standards moved to the forefront as Depot leadership and employees pursued the goal of attaining Voluntary Protection Programs Certification.

In 2012 Letterkenny was recognized as a CITE for RCV and PATRIOT Missile Recertification.

The First Article Testing for the New Build AGPU was successfully completed in February 2012.

2012 celebrated the Depot's 70th Anniversary. As the largest employer in Franklin County, the Depot continues to be a mainstay to the local economy, fueling over a quarter of a billion dollars into the region annually. Letterkenny's state of the art facilities, combined with a highly skilled workforce, enable Letterkenny to provide superior products and services to soldiers.


On 19 July 2018 four servicemen were injured when an explosion occurred at the depot.[4][5]

Environmental contaminationEdit

In the 1960s, environmental hazards became a concern. Air pollution abatement began in 1969 and all coal burning heating systems had been converted to fuel oil by 1972.[2] In 1983, the groundwater beneath the Letterkenny Army Depot's southeast area was found to be contaminated with volatile organic compounds (VOC). In 1984, at least six major areas of VOC contamination and/or elevated levels of metals were found, particularly three industrial waste lagoons which had contributed to the contamination to the groundwater. The contaminated groundwater plume migrated off-site and discharged to springs up to two miles to the east and south downstream and to off-post water wells. The Army supplied residents with bottled water after residential well sampling showed the presence of VOC.

On October 15, 1984, the site was proposed to the National Priorities List of the most serious uncontrolled or abandoned hazardous waste sites requiring long term clean up, and it was added to the list on July 22, 1987. That year, 38 residences and businesses were connected to the local water supply, and in 1992 three additional residences were added.[6]

In 1989, following an agreement with the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, the Depot installed a "pump and treat" system which remains in use to treat contaminated groundwater in the installation's northeast industrial area.[2]

Much of the pollution is from degreasers stored or disposed of in landfills, trenches, burn pits, or spilled from storage during the 1950s and 1960s, including chlorinated organic solvents, blast media, paints, petroleum products, metals, and cleaning agents.[6]

The Depot was recognized by the Secretary of the Army for Environmental Restoration in 2002, Environmental Quality in 2006, and Environmental Sustainability in 2009.[2]

Environmental cleanup, for which the Army has spent about $30 million as of 2014, has slowed the return of the land ordered by BRAC in 1995. Letterkenny has a Restoration Advisory Board of government and community representatives which meets to discuss clean up and future property transfer.[3]


Global War on Terrorism


  1. ^ "National Historic Landmarks & National Register of Historic Places in Pennsylvania" (Searchable database). CRGIS: Cultural Resources Geographic Information System. Note: This includes Harvey Freedenberg (n.d.). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory Nomination Form: James Finley House" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-02-04.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q "History of Letterkenny". Letterkenny Army Depot. U.S. Army.
  3. ^ a b Hook, Jim (16 June 2014). "Environmental cleanup still delaying Letterkenny land transfer. Loose ends from 1995 BRAC persist amid renewed closings talks". Chambersburg Public Opinion. Archived from the original on 18 June 2014. Retrieved 18 June 2014.
  4. ^ CNN, Eliott C. McLaughlin and Amanda Watts,. "3 airlifted to hospitals after blast at Pennsylvania Army depot". CNN. Retrieved 2018-07-19.
  5. ^ "4 people injured as a result of explosion at Letterkenny Army Depot". Retrieved 2018-07-19.
  6. ^ a b "Letterkenny Army Depot, Southeast". EPA Region 3 Mid-Atlantic Superfund. 2014-01-07. Archived from the original on 12 September 2014. Retrieved 18 June 2014.
  7. ^ "Permanent Orders 222-03". United States Army Center of Military History. 13 August 2007. Retrieved June 25, 2010.

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