The New Cumberland military installation and
mission has changed over the years as the defense needs of the
nation have dictated. The mission has always been to support our men
in women in uniform. DLA Distribution Susquehanna, Pennsylvania performs its mission as a modern military distribution complex
responsible for providing Department of Defense (DoD) owned
commodities to all branches of the armed forces and other agencies
of the federal government throughout the world. DLA Distribution
Susquehanna, Pennsylvania is the largest DoD distribution center under the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) and
within DLA Distribution.
To provide integrated distribution solutions
in support of America's Armed Forces around the clock, around the world
through effective receipt, storage, control and shipment of materiel.
An ever-improving organization that is the
distribution services provider of choice and the employer of choice.
DLA Distribution Susquehanna, Pennsylvania lives and works by these values.
-- RESPECT FOR PEOPLE
-- CUSTOMER FOCUS
-- CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT
The New Cumberland military installation has changed over the years
as the defense needs of the nation have dictated.
Prior to World War I, the
Army's depot structure was primarily designed to support the defense
of the U.S. mainland instead of overseas deployment.
The Army needed to create depots overnight near the Atlantic
coast to support a WWI build-up.
Three reserve depots were established beginning with New
Cumberland, Pennsylvania to store supplies for all the Army bureaus
for deployment overseas to troops in Europe. As cargo moved
primarily by rail systems, New Cumberland was selected in 1917 due
to the bordering Pennsylvania Railroad and one of the largest
classification rail yards located nearby in Enola.
On February 22, 1918, President Wilson approved an expenditure of
$250 thousand dollars from the appropriation for National Defense of
$100 million dollars to cover purchase of land for two reserve
depots, one of them located near Harrisburg P.A. and the other near
Schenectady, N.Y. The federal government purchased 832 acres,
from seven deeds held by farm owners, for $160,167.
On May 14, 1918, there was a flag raising ceremony in front of the
Reserve Quartermaster Warehouses. The New Cumberland Band
furnished the music and the Blue Devils of France, a light infantry
group of the French Army trained for warfare in the Alps, were
guests at the ceremony.
Construction began on the new supply depot under the supervision of
the US Army Corps of Engineers. Building the depot cost $5 million,
with as many as 3,380 people employed during construction.
Laborers were said to have earned $2.80 a day while saddle horses
earned $3.00 per day. Eight warehouses and two open sheds were
constructed. Other buildings included a medical infirmary, fire
station, bakery and pump house, barracks, lavatories, mess halls,
officer's quarters, PX and guardhouse.
Over ten miles of permanent railroad track was laid, connecting with
the Northern Central Branch of the Pennsylvania Railroad Company,
the main line from Baltimore through Harrisburg to central New York.
A little more than four miles of road were constructed. A highway
was graded along the west boundary for public use in lieu of the
previously used Cherry Lane. Another existing public road, Marsh Run
Road, leading along a portion of the southern boundary, was not
discontinued for public use.
A considerable portion of the land was planted in wheat and hay and
harvested by a local farmer. By this arrangement, the government
acquired one hundred tons of baled hay and straw and over a thousand
bushels of wheat, all transferred to Camp Meade, Maryland. The
wheat was sold for $2500, impressing the Utilities Officer to write
to Washington stating that 450 acres could be cultivated without
interfering with operations. He was informed that the Chief of
Storage declined to authorize farming operations.
A stone quarry opened at the northwest corner of the reservation and
two stone crushers installed produced 90 cubic yards of crushed
stone per week. Water was supplied by pipe from a small reservoir of
the Riverton Consolidated Water Company when some of the springs and
wells on the property were analyzed and condemned due to impurities.
The Army was still expanding
their system of depots when an Armistice was suddenly announced on
November 11, 1918 and the hostilities stopped.
Following the Armistice, the installation was used as a receiving
point for supplies returning from overseas. Anywhere from 100
to 300 boxcars of war material were on sidings at all times waiting
to be unloaded. More than 2,000 such boxcars were unloaded in
1919, and material-handling equipment of the time consisted of
two-wheel hand trucks and four-wheel trailers.
After WWI, the Army depots
consisted of three types stateside: Reserve, Intermediate, and Area.
This installation was designated an Army Reserve Depot until
1927, then a General Depot until 1942 for the storage of
quartermaster, signal, ordnance, engineering, and chemical wear
Originally called the Marsh Run Storage Depot by the locals - the
official title being the U.S Quartermaster Interior Storage Depot,
the site served as a receiving point for supplies returning from
November 20, 1934, the Secretary of War transferred to the control
and jurisdiction of the Secretary of Agriculture, 0.9 acres, more or
less, as a right of way for a highway across the reservation.
Revocable lease to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania dated June 1936
of approximately 72 acres, for airport, for a period of one year, at
an annual rental of $515.00. Revocable permit to the
Department of Agriculture, dated February 1937 - to use and occupy
approximately 89,600 square feet of space at the New Cumberland
General Depot for a period of five years for the use of its Plant
Quarantine and Control Administrations. Revocable permit to the
Works Progress Administration dated October 1936 - to use and occupy
approximately 68,890 square feet of storage space, for the period
ending June 30, 1937.
From 1918, the name of the depot changed several times from
Quartermaster to Army Reserve Depot, then to General Reserve Depot,
until the name returned to Quartermaster Depot in 1941.
Much of the WWI vintage arms and equipment in
storage required maintenance.
After two decades of peace they were becoming obsolete and
the Army functioned with much of the same depot and arsenal system.
Finally in the summer of 1940, Congress provided appropriation for
depot expansion and modernization after the fall of France to Nazi
This depot increased to 843 acres before the war
to provide use of facilities at the adjacent State Airport. Storage
facilities at New Cumberland more than doubled during 1941,
providing 3.2 million square feet of covered space and 943,000
square feet of open storage. A railroad classification yard and a
chemical warfare clothing impregnation plant were also constructed.
The receiving and shipping operations of the depot were among the
most active in the supply system with the primary mission that of a
filler depot to several points of embarkation for overseas shipment.
By 1940, most of the original farm buildings were demolished except
for a German bank barn used to stock animals that was renovated into
the Officer's Club in May of 1942 and is currently named the
Susquehanna Club, which is used for social functions by the
installation and local community.
During WWII, the Supply departments were
reorganized and placed under the Army Service Forces (ASF),
established in 1942 to centralize all logistical operations,
including the management of depots. At the outbreak of WWII, this
depot was redesignated an Army Quartermaster Depot and renamed as
Army Service Forces Depot from 1943-46.
It held the name of New Cumberland General Depot from 1946 to
The depot also served as a WWII reception center
for newly inducted soldiers with more than 90 percent (some 500,000)
of central Pennsylvania inductees processed through the New
Cumberland site. Sets of post cards printed at that time depict
their activities, which soldiers mailed home to their families.
These post cards can still be found at antique shops in the
Immediately after World War II, operations involved receiving and
disposing of excess supplies and equipment, with the Quartermaster
Supply Section as regional supply point.
A prisoner of war camp of German and Italian
prisoners was established here from November 1944 to January of
1946, with as many as 1,500 prisoners at one time. After hostilities
ended, the camp became a Branch U.S. Disciplinary Barracks in June
of 1945 and functioned as such until it was deactivated in 1959.
In addition, in 1946, a War Reserves Branch (WRB) was established to
store supplies and equipment.
Named the Army Service Forces Depot in 1943, the installation name
changed to the New Cumberland General Depot in 1946. The nine-hole
Riverview golf course still operating was also developed in April
In 1948, the depot became a separate installation under the
Quartermaster General. During the Korean Conflict (1950-1953),
activity increased and so did construction. Four additional
warehouses brought the total amount of covered storage space to
4,200,000 square feet. These four buildings were known as the
"Golden Mile" as they stretched a
mile-long from end to end.
The Ordinance Supply Section was busy with the
return of stocks from Europe for reclassification and issue. In May
1951, the aviation logistical support mission transferred from the
Air Force to the Army Transportation Corps over the late 50's. Four
depots were selected to provide depot supply and maintenance support
for Army aircraft and equipment, including New Cumberland.
In addition to Army aircraft
maintenance, missions on depot included a Signal Field Maintenance
Shop servicing electronic components and the Machine Accounting
Service Division processing data utilizing conventional electric
accounting machines. A transceiver was installed linking the depot
with inventory control points for the receipt of shipping
instructions. Many support procedures were being mechanized..
During the 1960's many improvements were made to
the facilities, the major project being the conversion of nearly 1
million square feet of warehouse space to controlled-humidity
storage and the demolition of more than 70 buildings once used as
disciplinary barracks. A million-dollar air maintenance hangar and
shops were constructed and connected directly to the Harrisburg-York
State Airport to support aircraft maintenance.
By this time the depot employed some 1,600 persons with an annual
payroll in excess of $10 million, nearly 85,000 tons of supplies
were received and more than 103,000 tons were shipped. Within
the 894 acres, there were 24 miles of railroad track with a railroad
siding capacity of 700 cars and a 250-car capacity classification
Army depots were placed under
the control of the U.S. Army Materiel Command (AMC) in August 1962,
with control over all wholesale materiel operations pertaining to
development, testing, production, and supply including operations of
The depot underwent another name change in 1967, from the New
Cumberland General Depot to the New Cumberland Army Depot (NCAD),
and it became a field installation of the U.S. Army Supply and
Maintenance Command under AMC.
Marking the depot's 50th birthday in
1968, an extensive wildlife preservation program was initiated in
the marsh areas of the depot.
In 1967 the depot undertook a new mission known as
the SEA-VAN containerization program handling the receiving and
shipping of less than carload amounts of supplies and equipment from
supply depot to the soldiers in Europe.
It was redesignated the Consolidation and Containerization
Division in 1970.
Modernization began in 1970's to include computers
and automated systems. The Control Data Corporation CDC 3300, a 3rd
generation computer, was installed allowing NCAD to become the third
AMC depot to implement the Systemwide Project for Electronic
Equipment at Depots (SPEED).
A dual processor CDC 3300 became operational in 1975,
providing the same capability as three previous computers. A storage
modernization system was installed in the "Golden Mile" that
included an automated material handling system and a prototype
automated bin retrieval system with storage banks and computer
A Rotor Blade Inspection and Minor Repair Program
to process all blades in the Army system was established in 1970
including a $2.2 million rotor blade overhaul facility and whirl
tower. During the Vietnam War, the New Cumberland Army Depot
primarily focused on overhaul/repair of the CH-47 Chinook
helicopter, especially the rotor blades. The first Air Force C-5A
"Galaxy" arrived at Olmstead State Airport in 1971 to test-load and
air lift the CH-47 Helicopters.
On June 21, 1972, central Pennsylvania was hit by what has been
called the most devastating disaster in central Pennsylvania
history, Hurricane Agnes. Although the depot suffered no major
damage, surrounding floodwaters made it inaccessible by road and the
depot was shut down for five days. Depot flight-crews
evacuated 3,500 people and delivered 150,000 pounds of emergency
supplies while logging 179 missions. Two years later, in
September 1974, Tropical Storm Eloise again led to flooding in many
areas. Depot flight crews answered the call once more, logging
32 hours while flying 23 missions in support of flood victims.
The depot's mission was modified to include the Aviation Support
Command. In 1974, AMC selected NCAD as the East Coast secondary item
stockade and issue point as part of a revised distribution plan for
secondary items. In 1976, the Defense Supply Agency designated NCAD
as the principal distribution depot supporting U.S. Army units in
Europe and the eastern continental United States under the Direct
Support System. The primary mission during this period was supply
and maintenance operations, especially the overhaul and modification
of Chinook helicopters and helicopter components.
The Air Delivery mission was transferred to NCAD
in 1973 to collocate the Air Delivery mission with the Aircraft
Maintenance mission at New Cumberland Army Depot. The Air Line of
Communications (ALOC) or air shipment for Class IX repair parts was
initiated in the beginning of 1977. The Unit Material Fielding Point
was also added to the depot mission by 1982.
The Army announced in the mid 70s the possible
realignment of the Aircraft Depot Maintenance workload to Corpus
Christi, Texas. The phase-out of air maintenance and the rotor blade
program at New Cumberland was completed by October 1, 1985. At which
time, the WWI era Warehouses 7 & 8 and Sheds 9 & 10 were demolished
along with the air maintenance hangar and shops to make way for a
new landmark on the installation.
During the 1980's, NCAD's mission was modified to function solely as
a supply depot. Several structures on the western portion of NCAD
were demolished to make room for the construction of a major
state-of-the-art storage and distribution center.
Ground was broken in May 14, 1985 for the Eastern Distribution
Center (EDC), sixty-eight years from day of the installation's first
groundbreaking. Among those joining Depot Commander Col. William A.
Henry, USA, in turning the first shovel of dirt were Governor Dick
Thornburgh, US Senator John Heinz, US Representatives Bill Goodling
and George Gekas. After 49 years, 19.7 acres of state owned land
adjacent to NCAD were returned to federal ownership in July 1985 as
Governor Dick Thornburgh turned over a parcel at Capital City
Airport to the depot for its EDC project. The state received
$11,600, the same amount it had paid when it originally purchased
the land from Uncle Sam in 1936.
Construction of the Eastern
Distribution Center began in November, 1986 after many months of
preliminary site preparation work including installing water lines,
building a chlorination plant and several access roads. By 1988, the
building was under roof and the in house towlines, conveyors, and
automatic guided vehicle systems, as well as the computer mainframes
were being installed.
Construction of the EDC was completed on July 21, 1989 with a Ribbon
Cutting Ceremony. In February 1991, the
buttons were pushed to begin the material handling systems of the
The completion of the EDC was none too soon; in December 1989, depot
workers provided support for "Operation Just Cause" in Panama. The
depot went into overdrive as it supported "Operation Desert Shield,"
and the extra effort continued through "Operation Desert Storm."
The Air Line of Communication
Outloading operation was the first supply function to move into the
EDC before it was fully operational.
The move came in October 1990 as a result of Desert Storm and
1,892 air pallets were built in that first month.
In April 1990 the Department of Defense directed
that all the distribution depots of the military services and the
Defense Logistics Agency be consolidated into a single, unified
materiel distribution system to reduce overhead and costs and
designated DLA to manage it. The consolidation began in October 1990
and was completed in 1992. The Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC)
process, instituted in 1993, significantly affected the way the
agency organized for its contract administration and supply
Officials merged, realigned, or closed several DLA primary-level
NCAD was deactivated in April of 1991 and assigned to the Defense
Logistics Agency as Defense Distribution Region East (DDRE), a
regional headquarters responsible for the management of eight depot
operations in eastern United States. At the time of deactivation,
NCAD had the distinction of being the oldest, continuously operated
depot in the US Army.
On April 17, 1991, the Defense Depot Mechanicsburg, a DLA agency
tenant located at the Naval Support Activities in Mechanicsburg, PA.
and the New Cumberland Army Depot, located at New Cumberland, PA.
were consolidated to form a single united, joint DLA command named
Defense Distribution Depot Susquehanna, Pennsylvania (DDSP). With
its two sites, DDSP became the biggest and busiest distribution
depot in the Department of Defense.
In May 1997, the Defense Logistics Agency began
taking steps to consolidate distribution management even further by
eliminating multiple regional commands. After DLA performed an
extensive analysis of potential site locations for one consolidated
Headquarters, an announcement was made on September 16, 1997
selecting New Cumberland, Pa. as the site for the new Defense
Distribution Center (DDC).
DDSP became the largest of the existing depots under the DDC
2000 to present
Plans were set in place to reconfigure operations
at DDSP for an internal shift in workload from the west to east site
starting October 1999 and targeted for completion by September 2005.
The New Cumberland site was to be the hub of the mission's activity,
focusing on the receipt, storage, and distribution of high-demand
supply items, with the Mechanicsburg site to primarily store
low-demand and inactive items, as well as the large construction
This initiative was the result of a projected
decrease in workload of up to 40 percent from 1998 to 2005. Workload
was projected to reduce considerably, and over 300 positions were
eliminated just prior to the terrorist attacks of September 11,
2001. As a result of Operation Noble Eagle and Enduring Freedom, and
Operation Iraqi Freedom, the receipt and shipment of material
destined for overseas increased quickly.
The workforce worked mandatory overtime, and on holidays for
over a year to keep up the pace as hiring eventually was increased.
Whereas, an average of 610 463L air pallets had been built in
a month before 9/11, this number increased to an average of
2000-3000 air pallets a month in the years following. The
Consolidation and Containerization Point operation, the
transshipment of overseas material, increased to over 25% of the
The future planned military construction projects
allowed for the reconfiguration of operations, as special services
were transferred from the east site and stock was consolidated. The
Rack Expansion of the EDC began in 1998 and opened for storage in
mid 2000, while materiel continued to be in loaded from
Mechanicsburg. In 2001, a WWI era warehouse was demolished to make
way for a humidity controlled facility to consolidate and extend the
shelf life of Air Drop Equipment. In 2002, ground was broken for a
new warehouse to consolidate the medical mission into one building
at New Cumberland. The second largest building at New Cumberland,
completed in 2007, contains material handling equipment used to
consolidate and process fast moving clothing and textiles products
under one roof. This new
general purpose, bulk warehouse is a key building block in DDSP's
depot modernization program. The program will replace six World War
I era warehouses with three state-of-the-art facilities.
On November 1, 2007 the Installation Services'
functions transferred in their entirety from DDSP to the DLA
Enterprise Support (DES) Activity currently located on the New
Cumberland installation. DES was established to centralize support
functions under one umbrella within DLA and to take the burden of
the installation support functions away from the mission commanders.
Under the 2005 Defense Base Closure and
Realignment or BRAC -
Defense Logistics was mandated to reorganize its infrastructure to
more efficiently and effectively supports its forces, increase
operational readiness and facilitate new ways of doing business. As
a result, two BRAC Warehouses are projected to be operational in
2011 to provide a combination of 584 thousand square feet of floor
space enlarging the total covered storage space to 9.6 million sq
On June 30, 2010 DDSP was renamed DLA Distribution
Susquehanna, Pa as part of the agency's unified "We are DLA"
campaign. The Defense Distribution Center was renamed DLA
Distribution and DES was renamed DLA Installation Support at
Susquehanna. The New Cumberland installation's official name is the
Defense Distribution Center Susquehanna with the DLA Distribution
Susquehanna, Pa as the host command.
DLA Distribution's mission is to manage material
distribution functions for Department of Defense customers, except
those for fuels and munitions. It runs as a business on capital
provided by direct appropriation.
Simply put, the DLA Distribution and its depots in the US and
around the world are responsible for the receipt, storage, and issue
The success we've come to enjoy, and that our
customers have come to expect, is based on a combination of
factors.... employee expertise and dedication, dependability, trust
and a spirit of cooperation. These, coupled with our facilities and
modern technologies, have enabled DLA Distribution Susquehanna, Pa.
to provide first class support for many, many years. But the most
important factor has to be our team members, the men and women who
give their all, all the time. When the end result is support of our
military forces, no less than a total effort can be acceptable.