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Letterkenny Army Depot, the Center of Industrial and Technical Excellence 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, Letterkenny Depot consists of over 17,500 acres (71 km²). Letterkenny is one of the top three employers in Franklin County, PA, and propels over one-quarter of a billion dollars annually into the region's economy.
Letterkenny has unique tactical missile repair capabilities repairing a variety of Defense Department missile systems, including the MIM-104 PATRIOT missile and its ground support and radar equipment. Most recently, Letterkenny has expanded its product line to include to overhaul of tactical wheeled vehicles (HMMWVs), material handling equipment (7.5-ton cranes), and Mobile Kitchen Trailers.
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. Letterkenny’s 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.
The first shipment of ammunition arrived by train on September 23, 1942. More than 3 million tons of supplies were moved during World War II. Letterkenny was one of the largest depots of its kind and was called the Springboard of Invasion in 1944.
After World War II, an enormous amount of ammunition was being returned from overseas, some of which was unserviceable and had to be destroyed. At the time of the Korean War, July 1950, Letterkenny Ordnance Depot was in much better condition to meet the emergency than back in World War II. The 1950s were a time of growth, as new technologies in electronics and guided missile maintenance increased the depot's workload. Employees were trained in these fields and began working on Project Nike missile components in 1953. Letterkenny became a pilot depot for the implementation of the Depot Command Management System and SPEEDEX (System-wide Project for Electronic Equipment at Depots Extended). In 1955, Major Item Supply Management Agency (MISMA), which provided control functions on a worldwide basis, became a tenant of Letterkenny. It evolved into the U.S. Army Depot System Command, Letterkenny’s immediate higher headquarters.
Letterkenny became a permanent military installation on July 1, 1954. The ordnance depot was renamed Letterkenny Army Depot in August 1962, and command and control of the depot fell under the U.S. Army Materiel Command. In the 1960s, with the war in Vietnam, Letterkenny’s missions increased.
In the 1970s, command of Savanna Army Depot Activity, Illinois, fell under Letterkenny. An ammunition washout facility was built and the Northeast Area Flight Detachment moved to Letterkenny. The U.S. Army Depot System Command was established in 1976 and headquartered at Letterkenny. This 2-star command remained at Letterkenny until 1995, when it became the Industrial Operations Command at Rock Island, Illinois--today’s Operations System Command.
The 1980s and early 1990s saw the depot evolving into its present form. New facilities and modernization projects, such as the Automatic Storage and Retrieval System-Plus, were constructed. Paladin (M109 howitzer), PATRIOT, and HAWK work made Letterkenny a Center for Technical Excellence.