WINCHESTER, Va. -- The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers held a ceremony to officially close its Deployment Center today.
Since 2005, the USACE Deployment Center has been the first stop for thousands of deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. Managed by and housed at the Middle East District headquarters in Winchester, thousands of USACE civilians, Soldiers and contractors, along with thousands of members from other federal agencies, have spent their first week away from their home stations at the Deployment Center being trained and equipped for their new mission.
Throughout the years, the Deployment Center has processed more than 12,000 deployees headed to combat zones in Iraq and Afghanistan. The majority were USACE civilians, although there were thousands from Army Materiel Command and several other Department of Defense agencies, contractors and military. The UDC also prepared volunteers for recovery operations in Haiti, Pakistan flood relief, National Training Center exercises, and exercises in the Republic of Korea.
The UDC will process the final two groups during the next two weeks. Beginning Sept. 30, the transition of the USACE deployment center mission to the Continental United States Replacement Center, or CRC, at Fort Bliss, Texas, will be complete. All USACE civilians will deploy from Fort Bliss instead of Winchester.
Today’s ceremony, hosted by Transatlantic Division Commander Maj. Gen. Michael Eyre, included remarks by USACE Deputy Commanding General for Military and International Operations Maj. Gen. Kendall Cox, USACE Director of Contingency Operations and Office of Homeland Security Karen Durham-Aguilera, the Middle East District Commander Col. Jon Christensen, and USACE Deployment Center Manager Keith Frye.
“The closing of the UDC is bittersweet,” said Christensen. “Although we hate to see it go, it also means that the (Afghanistan) mission is winding down. Fewer civilians and military personnel are going to be deployed into harm’s way. And that is a good thing after so many years of persistent conflict.” He thanked the UDC team and said, “Your legacy will live on – you have clearly made a difference.”
Several Deployment Center employees were recognized with awards, starting with Frye, who was presented with a Meritorious Civilian Service Award for leading the Deployment Center from July 2009 to September 2013.
Superior Civilian Service awards for their roles include Dr. Franklin Brosgol, Kathy Kingsley and Terry Metz. Others received the Commander’s Award for Civilian Service for their contributions including Belinda Hobbes, Bobbie Ledgerton, Kristi Morris, Ann Reagan, Jason Rich, Cora Swain, and Ronald Wagner. Dr. Cheryl Kenney received the Achievement Medal for Civilian Service.
The ceremony concluded with the traditional singing of the Engineer and Army Songs.