What. A. Year.

It was an indelible moment I suspect the Rocket/Garrison Public Affairs staff will remember for a long time. As we sat in our weekly meeting March 10, suddenly a phone alert popped up. AUSA Global Force Symposium was canceled. From there, the dominoes of events began to fall.

COVID-19 had arrived in Huntsville.

It is easy to focus on what didn’t happen in 2020: JROTC Day … Armed Forces Celebration Week … Oktoberfest … Soldier for Life/Retiree Appreciation Days … Veterans and Heroes Week. The list goes on. But the mission didn’t stop. Although the majority of Team Redstone transitioned into a telework platform that will last into next year, they still found new and innovative ways to get the job done. And the Rocket was there to tell the story.

Here are the top stories of 2020.

Housing invests in future

improvements, Jan. 15

By KARI HAWKINS, Army Materiel Command

Public Affairs

Nearly a year after assuming responsibility for all Army housing, Army Materiel Command will host a comprehensive review of the sweeping reforms and improvements made across the enterprise to ensure Soldiers and families have access to high quality on-post housing.

During a Housing Summit this week at AMC headquarters, representatives of the Army’s seven privatized housing companies and Army leaders from 60 installations will review strategies and programs to provide the best options for Soldiers, civilians and their families.

“We are absolutely committed to provide safe and secure housing on every installation, and making every installation an installation of choice for our Soldiers and families,” Gen. Gus Perna, then-commander of Army Materiel Command, said. “The summit is another step in our commitment to hold ourselves and privatized housing companies accountable to provide a high-quality standard of living and to earn back the trust of our housing residents.”

(Editor’s note: Perna has since assumed leadership of Operation Warp Speed, the United States’ effort to vaccinate its population against the COVID-19 virus.)

Senior commander updates steps to combat virus spread, April 1

By WENDY REEVES, Staff writer

About 35% of Redstone Arsenal’s workforce continues mission critical tasks while the remaining 45,000 are working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic – which has affected 13 personnel.

Redstone Arsenal will not close, Lt. Gen. Ed Daly, then-senior commander of Redstone Arsenal, said Friday as he participated with other local and state leaders in a joint COVID-19 press conference at Huntsville City Hall.

(Editor’s note: Daly has since assumed command of Army Materiel Command.)

“On behalf of the leaders at Redstone Arsenal, for the second consecutive week, I’d like to provide you with an update on the status of all of the actions we are taking to mitigate and combat COVID-19,” Daly said, noting that Redstone leaders continue working in close collaboration with city, county, state and national officials in response to the coronavirus pandemic. “It’s great to be part of this team where we’re taking what I believe are active and really proactive measures to reduce spread of virus and reduce the risk to the population of the Tennessee Valley.”

Marshall boosts historic test flight of SpaceX, June 10

By NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center

For the first time in history, NASA astronauts have launched from American soil in a commercially built and operated American crew spacecraft. The launch was the first of astronauts from U.S. soil since the retirement of the space shuttle in 2011.

The SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft carrying NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley lifted off at 2:22 p.m. May 30, on SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. The astronauts docked to the International Space Station approximately 19 hours later at 9:16 a.m. May 31.

“I thank and congratulate Bob Behnken, Doug Hurley and the SpaceX and NASA teams for this significant achievement for the United States,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said. “The launch of this commercial space system designed for humans is a phenomenal demonstration of American excellence and is an important step on our path to expand human exploration to the Moon and Mars.”

Sergeant major of the Army gets to know Redstone, Aug. 12

By ALYSSA CROCKETT, Army Materiel Command Public Affairs

Sgt. Maj. of the Army Michael Grinston, the chief of staff of the Army’s personal adviser on matters affecting the enlisted force, visited Redstone Arsenal, Aug. 5 to discuss quality of life initiatives – including child care, housing and permanent change of station moves – that enable readiness.

Grinston toured one of Redstone’s child development centers and met with the senior leaders from the Garrison, Army Materiel Command and other tenant units. Throughout the visit, he emphasized one of his priorities: ensuring the health and safety of Soldiers’ living conditions.

“We are constantly trying to do better.” Grinston said. “We have to keep up with these things and fix them so that we can get ahead of the curve.”

Mellor brings his team approach to Garrison, Sept. 2

In a time-honored ritual, students graduate and someone, usually from their extended family, ask them what they plan to do with their life.

Col. Glenn Mellor, the Garrison’s new commander, was no different.

Mellor graduated and was working at the University of Wyoming. He was at a cookout, and it was his uncle, a lieutenant colonel in the National Guard, who wanted to know.

“I remember that conversation very well,” Mellor said. “He kind of looked at me and said, ‘what’s next … What are you going to do with your life?’

“I was a military brat, and raised into a mindset of selfless service and serving your country. My father and uncle were very big on those values. Much to my father’s dismay (he was retired Air Force), my uncle was a better salesman, and he and I agreed with a lot of what he was saying.

“So, about a week later, my wife and I had a conversation, and I joined the Wyoming National Guard.”

Army rapid prototyping office unveils headquarters, Sept. 9

By NANCY JONES-BONBREST, Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office

The Army officially opened the new headquarters of the Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office at Redstone Arsenal on Sept. 2 with a ribbon cutting and rededication ceremony.

The move consolidates the RCCTO’s headquarters at Redstone, marking a new chapter for the organization that is responsible for executing rapid experimental prototypes and delivering residual combat capabilities to Soldiers in the areas of hypersonics, directed energy, Counter-small Unmanned Aircraft Systems and other disruptive technologies.

With a backdrop of social distancing and other safety restrictions in place due to COVID-19, the ribbon cutting included a rededication of the renovated building, originally named for the late Master Sgt. Robert Hannaway. The building served as the schoolhouse for the Hawk missile system, part of the Ordnance Missile and Munitions Center and School, where Hannaway worked as both a military and civilian instructor. The building, originally dedicated in 1988, is the first on the Arsenal to be named after an enlisted Soldier.

“Today marks an important step for the future of this organization, while also remembering and honoring the tremendous history of Redstone Arsenal and this building,” Lt. Gen. L. Neil Thurgood, director of hypersonics, directed energy, space and rapid acquisition, which includes the RCCTO, said. “From this new headquarters, we will continue executing our rapid prototyping efforts in support of Army modernization priorities.”

Light turns green for automated gate entry process, Sept. 30

By JONATHAN STINSON, Assistant editor

Starting Thursday, select motorists entering Redstone Arsenal will use the new Radio Frequency Identification lanes.

Organizational security managers are responsible for issuing the RFID cards to Defense Department civilians and active duty personnel – the only two groups currently eligible to receive RFID cards.

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