LETTERKENNY TOWNSHIP, FRANKLIN COUNTY, Pa. -- "I wonder what they do there?"
It may be what you've said or thought while passing one of several military facilities in Central Pennsylvania.
From detonating old and unneeded munitions, to troubleshooting, repairing and updating America`s most sophisticated guided missile and rocket systems- skilled hands do it all at the Letterkenny Army Depot.
"We are using local artisans to build international weapons and there is a huge impact on the U.S. and the world right here in Franklin County," Colonel Edward Maddox, Commander of Letterkenny Army Depot said.
If the U.S. Military uses it in time of war, it likely spent some time at the depot.
"The amazing thing is that a lot of the first shots fired in most wars come through Letterkenny munitions center," Colonel Maddox said.
There are more than 900 magazines on the depot property. Anything from 9mm bullets to million dollar Tomohawk cruise missiles can be found- $9 billion dollars worth of ammunition on total here. Much of it can be shipped out in a moment`s notice. It's quickly packed into 20 foot cargo containers and transported to one of several nearby east coast seaports and airfields.
"We can have missiles on a ramp where they need to be in about 4 hours," Lieutenant Colonel Trenton Conner said.
But not everything in the magazines goes to our troops. Some has to be safely destroyed. "We run a multi-million dollar program form the demil of munitions that have exceeded its life cycle or have been damages in some way," Lieutenant Colonel Conner said.
That includes disposing of rocket motors that are burned each day. But soon that process will take place in this new facility that will contain and clean harmful chemicals from the rocket propellant.
"It's a $33 million project that's going to provide a environmentally friendly way to dispose of a pretty harmful chemical," Colonel Maddox said.
They plan to cut the ribbon on the new facility in the spring, and some will be able to burn a whole lot more unneeded or old rocket motors.
Colonel Edward Maddox is the Letterkenny depot commander. He oversees the entire facility that not only deals with munitions, but maintains and provides a whole host of items our soldiers use daily around the world.
"We work on the Patriot Missile System. We work on route clearance vehicles. We work on force provider which is a system of containers that deployed troops live in. They live out of, they cook and bathe and work out of," Colonel Maddox said.
The Letterkenny Army Depot covers some 1,800 acres of land. In total about 3 thousand people work there. The installation is a top economic driver in Franklin County.
"It represents about 8% of employment here in the county," Mike Ross, president of the Franklin County Development Corporation said.
It`s a highly skilled work force that maintains, upgrades and delivers sophisticated weapons systems and other necessary materials to the military.
"We stand and salute Letterkenny everyday for what these folks are doing for us collectively and it makes us all proud to be Americans," Ross said.
In the coming weeks we`ll also take an inside look at Fort Indiantown Gap, along with the Army War College, the Navy Depot in Mechanicsburg and New Cumberland Distribution Facility.