Hawthorne man honored as longest serving defense employee
December 13, 2006
A 94-year-old Hawthorne man will be honored today by the president, a four-star general and all his colleagues at a small Army depot in the middle of the Nevada desert.
Department of Defense officials are calling Louie Dellamonica the oldest and longest continuously serving department employee on active service since the department’s creation in 1947.
All of this has made the pending retiree a little awestruck. He’s been out of the office for about a year after he broke his leg.
“My work for the Navy was the most enjoyable part of my career,” Dellamonica said from his Hawthorne home, in a quiet, slow-paced voice. “I did most of my electrical engineering work under the Navy.”
Before becoming the Hawthorne Army Depot, it was controlled by the U.S. Navy from 1930 to 1977.
His co-workers call him a sharp-minded man who has helped change his community and the country he’s served.
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One friend said if it wasn’t for Dellamonica, the town would not have cable television. Up until he was in his 80s, Dellamonica was climbing up Corey Peak to maintain the translators.
His career started in Hawthorne on Dec. 13, 1941. Sixty-five years later, Dellamonica will be honored by an array of Army officials and presented with 12 awards, numerous certificates and three flags that have flown over the nation’s Capitol.
“It’s a historic milestone because he came to work right after Pearl Harbor,” said Jody Gonzales, administrative officer for the office of the commander.
She’s in charge of the historical aspect of Dellamonica’s party, which includes a 20-minute legacy PowerPoint presentation accompanied by music. She’ll distribute copies of a 111-page interview a historian conducted with Dellamonica in 2002.
“Louie is one unique engineer,” said Herman Millsap, acting civilian executive, deputy to the commander. “Without his contribution to the depot over a 65-year career, we probably wouldn’t be here today.”
Dellamonica designed a building to disarm ammunition. He was instrumental in developing fuel air cluster bomb units 55s and 72s, which were only produced in Hawthorne. During the Cold War, Dellamonica contributed to the design of missile guidance and control sections that paved the way for breakthrough technologies in cruise missiles and remotely piloted vehicles, according to depot officials.
In the six months Lt. Col. Hardee Green has been in command, he’s visited Dellamonica at home several times.
“Not only is he sought after by the commander but by my other engineers because of his vast knowledge of the depot,” he said. “When we can’t solve a problem, we go to Louie.”
A long chain of command will honor Dellamonica today for lunch at the El Capitan Resort-Casino, located in the small town that bills itself as America’s patriotic home.
“Just to put it in perspective, I’m the 36th commander that he has served under,” Green said. “He’s served under 32 of the 36 commanders.”
His daughter, Antonia Dellamonica of Hawthorne, said the family can’t fully express their feelings.
“We’re proud and we appreciate the recognition,” she said.
After the party, Dellamonica isn’t sure what he’s going to do next.
“I don’t know. I guess just take it easy, I hope,” he said.
• Contact reporter Becky Bosshart at email@example.com or 881-1212.
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