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Letterkenny Army 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, Letterkenny Depot consists of nearly 18,000 acres (71 km²). Letterkenny is the largest employer in Franklin County, PA, 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 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 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 Department of Defense.
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 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 met the emergency. 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.
On July 1, 1954 Letterkenny became a permanent military installation. The ordnance depot was renamed 'Letterkenny Army Depot' in August 1962 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.
During the 1980s and early 1990s the depot evolved into its present[when?] 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'.
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 added to the list on July 22, 1987.
In 2002, Letterkenny celebrated 60 years of supporting soldiers and the U.S. Army.
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 VOC contamination to the groundwater. The VOC contaminated groundwater plume migrated off-site and discharged to springs up to 2 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. By 1987, 38 residences and businesses were connected to the local water supply and in 1992, three additional residences were added.
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.
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.