Although Col. Roger McCreery didn’t know much about Tooele Army Depot when he went to a week of briefings for his new command of the base, he soon realized he was going into a well-oiled machine.
He recapped one particular briefing during which incoming commanders quickly learned the status of the base they were about to lead.
“Every single person would go around the room, because you’ve got all the commanders that are coming in, and you’d have, ‘Oh, hey, Crane [Army Ammunition Depot in Crane, Ind.], you’ve got a couple of things,’ and then they’d go on to the next guy and go, ‘Hey, you’ve got some things,’”said McCreery. “They’d come to me and go, ‘Tooele. You’re good.’ And they’d move on.”
His orientation trip in May and time at TEAD since taking the helm on July 10 have only confirmed his suspicions about the dedication and capability of the workers there, he said.
“Their reputation precedes them, which gets me even more excited — the quality of work is so well-known and the workforce, they’re so much appreciated by our higher headquarters,” he said. “You’re excited about it, anyway, but you kind of get a proud feeling, and you’re not even a person yet in the organization. You’ve not even joined that team yet, but you get pretty proud when you’re coming in.”
McCreery, 52, has a story for every occasion, including for why he can often be found smiling. In summary, it’s to make people feel more comfortable about approaching him with concerns or just conversation. When he visited TEAD in May to get a feel for the place, he forewent many of the supervisors’ prepared briefs to talk to rank-and-file employees instead, to get a better idea of the overall feeling of the workers.
“I met a welder who’s been here for 42 years, and he was welding some containers that were going for a mission for the defense logistics agency, that’s all. That wasn’t consequential; he wanted to show me his welding,” said McCreery “This is a man who’s worked here for 42 years. That tells you a lot about an organization — how proud they are of the work that they do.”
Mere hours after McCreery took the helm, the depot underwent a kind of change in the form of absorbing Deseret Chemical Depot. McCreery said he believes the new arrangement will be beneficial to TEAD and the area.
“I take command on the 10 and [the depot] is 24,000 acres, and on the 11th, we get 20,000 more, 19,000 more acres. We double in size in one day,” he said. “Tooele South, I think, is going to give us a lot of opportunities for the army depot. We have a section that in the south, but we’re all Tooele Army Depot. Its facilities will allow us to pursue some opportunities to partner with either other Department of Defense entities or commercial entities, and we’re starting to look into those things already.”
One of those opportunities with DoD is the storage of rocket motors, which have been kept in some of the repurposed igloos since last August. McCreery said other military branches have also expressed interest in storing their rocket motors at TEAD.
McCreery also said for picking up almost twice the acreage, the transition with DCD has been smooth, which he credits to his predecessor, Col. Chris Mohan, and DCD’s last commander, Col. Mark Pomeroy.
“As the Department of Defense becomes more efficient and begins to consolidate and close sites, DCD being one of them, the bottom line is it comes down to the people, just like the mission at Tooele is done so well,” he said. “Not because they have state-of-the-art cutting equipment or ammunition-handling equipment — it’s the people.
“When you close an organization, then you have an obligation to take care of the people,” he added, “and DCD did a phenomenal job with the workforce that was there, whether folks took advantage of relocating to Dugway or Tooele, some folks took advantage of retirement, and maybe an early retirement, but the majority of the workforce was taken care of at DCD, which is kudos again to Col. Pomeroy and Col. Mohan.”
In addition to building upon what his predecessors have left on-base, McCreery said he wants to continue to foster and build relations to the surrounding community. And as he, his wife, Tammy, and their three sons, ages 4, 7 and 10, have moved in, he said, they have found the community welcoming on a personal level. The wide range of outdoor activities available nearby has also made the move from his last post in Virginia a relatively easy one.
“I tell you, I couldn’t be more excited about coming here. My family, myself professionally, us personally as a family — we have three little boys, and they’re going to have a blast growing up,” he said. “I couldn’t be more excited, and I couldn’t be more honored or humbled to take command of the organization. It’s got a great reputation, and I hope my efforts only build on that.”