Rock Island Arsenal Celebrates 150 Years

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Jogging through the Joint Manufacturing and Technology Center, their flags showed separation, but the soldiers holding them showed solidarity.

On Friday, July 6th, the Rock Island Arsenal held the “Run Through The Factory,” kicking off a weekend of festivities to mark its 150th anniversary.

“This run helps us connect with the soldier, who is our ultimate customer,” says Commander of the JMTC, Colonel James Fly.

JMTC takes up 1.5 million square feet on the Island, making it the heartbeat of the Arsenal since 1862.

“If you look around the base, you’ll see melted down cannonballs and pieces from the Civil War,” says Col. Fly. “If you go to the museum, you’ll see rifles that were used in the Indian War that were re-manufactured from the Civil War to support that fight here at the Arsenal, so there’s such a parallel in history here.”

The sesquicentennial celebration continues on Saturday, July 7th when all the commands on the Arsenal parade down Rodman Avenue at 10am. An opening ceremony will follow at 11am before the United Service Organizations (USO) hosts a carnival for both military and community members until 4:30pm. Closing ceremonies start at 5pm.

“[This is] significant regardless of where you’re located,” says Commanding General of the First Army, Lieutenant General Mick Bednarek. “It brings though the tradition, the history of the Arsenal, what we have meant to our nation back in the Civil War days and the present modern soldier.”

The Rock Island Arsenal is the Quad City’s biggest employer, with 8,000 military and civilian employees. Leaders say they’re proud of what the Arsenal has accomplished in 150 years and are looking forward to what the next 150 years bring.

“I can’t tell you where we will be in the next 150 years, but I know we’ll be good,” says Retired Command Sergeant Major Stephen Blake. “We’ll grow together as an Arsenal, as an Army, as a family, and as our nation and this is a big part of it.”

In honor of the Arsenal’s anniversary, the Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce has launched, Hooah! Quad Cities, an ongoing military appreciation and community goodwill campaign created to support the military and their families, veterans, and the Rock Island Arsenal. To learn more, visit

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