— Lt. Col. Willie J. Flucker, outgoing military commander of Anniston Chemical Activity (ANCA).
Lt. Col. Flucker is right: The safe storage, transportation and destruction of Anniston’s cache of Cold War-era chemical weapons is forever cemented as one of this area’s important events. The positive effects are too numerous to list.
In some ways, it’s all about the military and the technology. Aging, leaking Army munitions had to be cared for and monitored, transported from one site to another, and then meticulously fed into a high-tech machine that removed the agent and incinerated what remained.
The science of the process is hard to fathom.
Nevertheless, Flucker exemplifies what Anniston’s chemical-weapons feat is truly about — the people who made it possible. Without them, the igloos at Anniston Army Depot would still house their deadly collection of aging weapons.
The last of those weapons were incinerated last September, and leaving the ANCA work force with a quickly reduced role. Flucker’s employees, about 60 in number according to an article in last Friday’s Star, have been cleaning the empty igloos. Those jobs will eventually end, as well.
Thus, Flucker is ANCA’s last military commander. His command-change ceremony was held last week, and he’s expected to accept a position at the Pentagon. In his place is long-time depot employee Jesse E. Brown, a civilian whose expertise will shepherd the ANCA through its final days.
Join us in wishing Lt. Col. Flucker well in his Washington assignment.
Join us, as well, in remembering that this entire episode of storing and destroying chemical weapons has not been for the weak of heart. Even with specialized training and high-tech equipment, it takes a special type of person to handle deadly munitions on a day-to-day basis. There is an entire roster of Alabamians who deserve credit alongside Flucker for seeing this process toward its end. Some are military, some are civilian.
From our vantage point, it seems all did their assigned jobs with skill and dedication.
Brown’s job will not be easy. Work remains for his staff, and he has the vital task of working with those who are trying to help these soon-to-be-unemployed workers find their next paychecks. That’s not an insignificant task.
We expect those jobs will be handled with the same skill and dedication as all the rest.