Army Lt. Col. Wendell S. Moore has assumed command of the Anniston Munitions Center at Anniston Army Depot — a transition that represents a homecoming, at least back to Calhoun County.
Twenty-four years earlier, Moore had gone through basic training at Fort McClellan to become a military policeman. During Thursday’s change of command ceremony at the depot, the Ohio native joked that the Alabama heat and humidity were difficult to deal with back then.
“When I left, this place was not on the top of my list of places to go back to,” Moore said.
The ANMC has been a tenant at the depot since 1998, although the center’s command structure originates with Bluegrass Army Depot in Kentucky. The ANMC handles all aspects of transporting and processing of conventional ammunition and missiles; before 1998, the same operations were conducted under the installation commander in the depot's Directorate of Ammunition.
Family, friends and depot employees escaped the heat for the transition ceremony, staying cool in the depot’s physical fitness center as they watched Lt. Col. David L. Schmitt relinquish command to Moore.
During his farewell speech, Schmitt said the traditional ceremony meant a lot to him.
“It goes to show that those colors and the organization are going to keep going regardless of who is in command,” he said.
Schmitt has held the role since July 2012. He said the depot employees have accomplished things in the past two years that made him proud to be their commander. Even in difficult situations like the government furlough in 2013 that threatened to slow their missions, Schmitt said they succeeded.
“There’s nothing that they can’t do,” Schmitt said. “Give them a task and they’re going to get it done even if it’s in the ‘too hard to do’ box. They are great folks and they really care about what they do. They are truly ammunition professionals.”
Schmitt and his family will move to Fort Carson, Colo., where he will assume duties as the deputy commander of the 71st Ordnance Group, Explosive Ordnance Disposal.
The Massachusetts native said he and his family will miss most the outdoor activities this area has to offer. As for the Alabama climate, that’s another story.
“I’m not going to lie to you,” Schmitt said. “I’m a northerner so the humidity is not my friend, but the outdoor activities can’t be beat out here. We will miss the area and all the friendly people, as well.”
Moore said he and his family are already enjoying the Southern hospitality they’ve found here.
“It’s easy to talk to everybody,” he said. “Everyone wants to know where you’re from and what you’re about. The people here are genuinely friendly. It’s going to be a great place for me and my family.”
If Schmitt were to give Moore just one piece of advice for his new position, it would be to jump right into things.
“About the time you get to know what you’re doing it’s time to go so I would say try to learn as much as you can as fast as you can,” he said.
Staff Writer Laura Monroe: 256-235-3548. On Twitter @lmonroe_Star.