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  • Thursday, January 25, 2018

    Commander Nessler Visits Watervliet Arsenal, Commends 204 Years of Service

    Howitzer barrel

    As Legion leaders look on, assembler gets ready to stamp the Arsenal commander’s initials on a howitzer barrel. [See more photos on Facebook]

    Article and photos by John B. Snyder

    WATERVLIET ARSENAL, N.Y. — During a visit here Jan. 18, New York’s American Legion Department commander confirmed what the Arsenal workforce has known for more than 200 years — There is no other place in the world like the Watervliet Arsenal.

    Rena Nessler, who made history last July when she became the first woman commander of the New York American Legion, said she has long wanted to visit the Army’s historic manufacturing center in upstate New York.

    Commander Nessler checks motar barrel.

    Commander Rena Nessler checks out the weight of a 60mm mortar barrel.

    “I have often heard about the Watervliet Arsenal since I moved to New York in 1972,” Nessler said. “And so, for more than 40 years I have been intrigued not only by the Arsenal’s unique history that dates back to the War of 1812, but also by its continued value to our nation as the Army’s manufacture of cannons and mortars.”

    As with many distinguished visits here, Nessler began her visit by receiving a command overview briefing from Joseph Turcotte, the Arsenal’s deputy commander. But more important than the traditional slides that helped explain the Arsenal’s mission and production status, were Turcotte’s words.

    “For more than 200 years, every Arsenal commander has understood that a strong relationship with the community is critical to the long-term viability of the Arsenal,” Turcotte said. “And, for more than 90 years, the Arsenal has closely worked with the American Legion to better that relationship, thus making our communities stronger.”

    This was the fourth year in a row that the New York Legion Department Commander had visited the Arsenal, an engagement that began with former New York Department Commander Frank Peters in 2015. After his visit, Peters said that he thought so highly of his visit that he had to share the great work that Watervliet is doing for our nation with the Legion’s national leadership. And so, since 2015, the Arsenal has also hosted the American Legion’s National Commander or his vice commander each year.

    Nessler toured several production bays where she saw critical manufacturing operations being performed, such as a 155mm howitzer tube being bent several inches as it was pressed by hundreds of tons of pressure in an effort to straighten it … to the quality control inspection of a 120mm tube for an Abrams Tank.

    Before Nessler departed, she thanked the Arsenal workforce for their enduring service to the nation, community, and to Veterans. She also said that she would share the Arsenal’s unique story on her travels.

    The American Legion will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2019. The Arsenal’s documented relationship with the American Legion dates back to 1921, when the Arsenal provided an American Legion post in Kentucky with a six-inch naval gun.

    The Watervliet Arsenal is an Army-owned-and-operated manufacturing facility located in Watervliet, New York. The Arsenal is the oldest, continuously active arsenal in the United States, having begun operations during the War of 1812. The Arsenal is a subordinate command to the U.S. Army Tank-automotive and Armaments Command and the U.S. Army Materiel Command.