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By Denise Jones
DCMA Lockheed Martin Marietta
A group of Defense Contract Management Agency Lockheed Martin Marietta and Lockheed Martin employees gathered Oct. 20 to retire the Air Force’s 60-ton railroad switch engine 1248.
Using the plant clearance process, a program to expedite and increase the reutilization and disposal of excess government material, Leonard Rishell, DCMA plant clearance officer, researched multiple agencies and potential train recipients, and then leveraged his knowledge of property disposition by identifying and locating the ideal recipient — Kirby Family Farm.
With the help of Tammy Ellis, DCMA Lockheed Martin Marietta’s administrative contracting officer, Rishell was able to coordinate with Kirby Family Farms before the plant clearance deadline. The farm is an educational facility that provides educational, historical, recreational, agricultural, and community enrichment programs for at-risk and special needs children located near Williston, Florida.
People who attended the event included Air Force Col. Sheri Bennington, DCMA Lockheed Martin Marietta commander, along with Jim Johnson, LMM Air Mobility Missions chief engineer, Daryl Kirby from Kirby Family Farm, Rishell, Ellis and other DCMA employees.
The history of these switch engine locomotives began with the builder, Baldwin Company founder Matthias W. Baldwin, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, who was a famous jeweler and whitesmith. He built a series of small stationary engines and later began to design what would become the industry standard in steam and electrical locomotives.
The Air Force switch engine 1248 was estimated to have been built around 1953 and was the last of the different engines stored at the plant. According to Rishell, no one knew when the engine arrived at the facility, but DCMA employees spoke with the last conductors, Ed Graves and Tommy King, who retired from LMM in April 2014 after 30 years on the train.
Graves said, “It was a privilege to serve on the locomotive for most of my career.”
While engine 1248 served many missions during its time, the train was primarily used to pull rail cars carrying C-5 Galaxy and C-130 Super Hercules empennage parts, which were brought in for years in support of the Lockheed Martin Air Force Plant 6 production lines. Several rail cars delivered large autoclaves for the B-1 Bomber from B-91 Chem-mil and Trico, and even an Abrams M-1 tank was transported for the Georgia Tech research facility.
“This engine, in its way, made a significant contribution to the safety and security of our nation,” said Johnson. “It was used to move a lot of C-130 assemblies. Now it will inspire generations of children to dream, build and design great works for humankind.”
The ceremony ended with the transfer via the Department of Defense Form 1149, which is the requisition and invoice/shipping document, and passing of the red starter key from Rishell to Kirby. Kirby said engine 1248 will have a positive impact on the children who visit the farm.
After the ceremony, a larger CSX locomotive pulled the engine to a nearby rail yard to ensure mechanical readiness for the final leg of its journey to Florida.
“This transfer of ownership marked the end of an era and indeed was a historical event,” said Ellis.
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