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NEWS | Sept. 10, 2020

Leader devotes extensive career to shaping Army readiness

By Ms. Jacqueline Boucher

Team Tobyhanna salutes a man whose latest claim to fame is 55 years federal service influencing Army readiness. George Bellas, Systems Integration and Support Directorate deputy director, started his depot career in January 1966 as an electronics test equipment repairer helper. The official file shows that Bellas began his federal service in Sept. 10, 1965.

A little-known fact about Bellas is he served with the Kingston Army National Guard unit as a radio mechanic for six years, which included six months on active duty.

Bellas was born in Wilkes-Barre a few decades ago. After graduating high school, he completed a two-year program in electronics television instrumentation and control at DeVry Institute in Chicago. He learned about leading organizational change, and leading and managing people while at The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania.

It was a smooth rise through the electronics ranks to a senior journeyman, leader and supervisor. He assumed his first supervisory role in 1977. Bellas led three directorates between 1995 and 2014. In 2015, during a supervisory rotation, he moved to his current position.

Bellas has spent over 43 years of his depot career as a supervisor, with 25 years as a member of the senior leadership team. As the depot’s project officer for non-tactical communications support during the Inauguration of President George H.W. Bush, he worked with the presidential and armed forces inaugural committees and the U.S. Army 7th Signal Command to supply 1,400 handheld radios and 50 base station units for the inauguration.

He played a large role in earning a Shingo Bronze Medallion for the AN/TYQ-23 Tactical Air Operations Module Repair Process, which was also selected as the depot’s first Lean Model Cell. He again played a major role in the AIM-9M Sidewinder Missile program receiving a Shingo Bronze Medallion. Bellas is a strong proponent of Lean, 6S and Six Sigma values and principles.

Bellas has been recognized throughout his career for his dedication to supporting military actions, including Operation Island Breeze in Grenada, operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm in Southwest Asia, and efforts in support of operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Senior leaders claim he is an outstanding ambassador for the depot, representing the depot at community events throughout the region. The consummate team player has conducted a significant number of depot tours for high level visitors from public officials to generals.

Bellas enjoys boating, snow skiing, photography and rollerblading. A writer who interviewed him years ago remembered him saying “think of life with a smile on your face and have fun in everything you do.”

A quick trip through the Tobyhanna Army Depot archives uncovered the following noteworthy facts about the year Bellas joined the team. Since day one, Team Tobyhanna has served as inspiration for the man who would spend a lifetime supporting the warfighter.

Workforce demographics that year revealed more than 2,600 employees on the payroll -- 320 were women, or about 12 percent. Little did he know at the time, but Tobyhanna’s workforce would top 4,000 in 1967 during the Vietnam War when workload doubled.

Bellas has helped Tobyhanna Army Depot cut costs and streamline processes throughout his career. His arrival coincided with the depot’s first anniversary of Zero Defects, which was a program aimed at perfection.

Other continuous process improvement initiatives of the time included three of the largest suggestion awards [as of May 1966] presented to members of the depot workforce. They were for $890, $760 and $435.

There were several firsts for the depot that year. During a solemn ceremony, then depot commander Col. Edward C. Holland presented the Purple Heart Medal posthumously to the parents of a 23-year-old Soldier. It was the first Purple Heart Medal ever presented on the installation.

Soldiers and civilians here teamed up in July 1966 to post the largest blood donation in depot history. A total of 742 pints were collected during the Red Cross Bloodmobile visit.

Six months after arriving at the depot, Bellas joined Team Tobyhanna in welcoming more than 4,000 visitors during the open house. In addition, Andrea Bohenek was selected Tobyhanna Army Depot’s Armed Forces Week Queen that year.

News from around the world in 1966 announced the debut of Batman on ABC, Miami beat St. Petersburg in 29 innings, the longest uninterrupted game in organized baseball, Buzz Aldrin took the first ‘space selfie’ during the Gemini 12 mission, and the United States and former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics signed a treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons in outer space. In addition, Lyndon Johnson was president.

As a member of the depot workforce Bellas has served the nation for generations, keeping pace with the growing needs of the warfighter. Today we recognize him for his service to Tobyhanna, the Army, the armed forces and the nation.