Gunnels assumes senior role

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Story by Jennifer Bacchus on 10/12/2017
ANNISTON ARMY DEPOT, Ala. -- This week, Anniston Army Depot installed a new deputy to the commander.

Chuck Gunnels, the former director of Production Management, was selected as the DCO in July. Since August, he has been shadowing Michael Burke to learn the roles and responsibilities of the office.

Gunnels looks forwarding to the opportunities he will face as DCO and knows the depot is ready to rise to any challenge.

"Our workforce is always willing to do whatever it takes to do whatever needs to be done to support the war fighters," he said. "Very few people get the opportunity to work in an area that affects the life of someone else. We get to do that every day."

Gunnels began his career at the depot in 1985 as a temporary machine tool operator.

He was a second-generation depot employee. His father and mother both worked at the installation -- his father as a welder and his mother as a contract specialist.

"I knew it was a great place to work and I had visited the depot many times with my dad at Christmas and on Armed Forces Day," he said. "Growing up, I was really amazed at the work the depot did."

He recalls being told the first day he came to work that he would be working overtime -- 12-hour days, seven days a week.

After three months as a temporary employee, he was selected for a permanent position.

Gunnels was selected for a WG-9 position his first year on depot. Then, an opportunity came to move to the depot's general schedule workforce.

A material engineering lab was created at the depot in 1986 and Gunnels was selected to work in the lab as a materials engineering technician.

"I really enjoyed working in the lab," said Gunnels. "On failure analysis, it was a little like CSI in terms of investigating the causes of material failures."

He worked in the lab until 2000, when he was selected for a role in special projects with the General Manager of Production Operations.

"I worked on a lot of Base Realignment and Closure information," he said.

In 2002, he served for a year as a process improvement specialist in the Directorate of Engineering and Quality before deploying to Kuwait for six months.

"Overseas, I was able to see some wonderful things related to what the depot does for the war fighters," said Gunnels.

Upon his return to the installation, Gunnels was again assigned to GMPO to assist with the 2005 BRAC.

"Working with BRAC was a good way to learn about the depot as a whole, not just the production side of things," he said.

Following that assignment, he returned to the Directorate of Production as a process optimization manager -- first for the Turbine Engine Value Stream, then the Combat Vehicle Value Stream.

In 2010, he was selected as the deputy for Production Management. He served in that role until 2016 when he was chosen as the director.

Gunnels said he is amazed to have the opportunity to serve as ANAD's deputy to the commander and is awed to follow in Burke's footsteps.

"For the last 16 or 17 years, I've either directly or indirectly worked for Michael," said Gunnels. "He's always been part of my career as a mentor and a coach."

Burke, who has served as the depot's DCO since January 2012, will be in an advisory role to Gunnels until his retirement.

Throughout the nearly six years he has served as deputy, he has enjoyed being part of building the depot's future, particularly through its partnerships with private industry.

"Our public-private partnerships are long-lasting and have brought the depot work over the years," he said.

Burke has also felt privileged to see the end result of the depot's work -- handing off the final product to the Soldiers.

An Auburn University graduate who received his electrical engineering degree in 1983, Burke has worked at the depot since 1984.

At the time, the directorates of engineering and quality were separate entities and Burke worked for the Directorate of Engineering in an area devoted to bringing new processes to the installation.

In 2003, he became the director of engineering shortly before the creation of a new Directorate of Engineering and Quality.

Burke served as the General Manager for Production Operations from 2006 to 2012, taking the organization through an increase in employees -- from 200 to more than 3,000 -- and through a reorganization in 2010, which was the result of the Army's Logistics Modernization Program.

That reorganization created the directorates of Material Management and Production Management.

He said retirement will be a big change for him, but he's looking forward to time spent relaxing with family and he knows Gunnels is ready for the job ahead.

"I know I'm leaving the depot in good hands. Chuck will do great things as the deputy," said Burke.

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