Mike Plummer, who helped revive Fort Drum, dies at age 83

Published: Jan. 11, 2022 at 2:08 PM EST
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - Michael Plummer, the retired Army colonel who played a key role in reviving the fortunes of Fort Drum, died in Alabama Tuesday morning.

He was 83.

“The Plummers very much are in love with the north country, and I am very grateful for how the north country embraced my father,” Plummer’s son, Robert, told 7 News.

He said his father died of cardiac arrest, surrounded by family.

Before his death, he was able to speak to each of his six grandchildren by phone, Robert said.

Plummer, a 30 year resident of the north country, moved to Alabama in April of 2021.

“When I look at Fort Drum and look at Adopt-a-Platoon and some of the other things that this partnership with the community allowed to be created, I feel very good. I can look my mother up there in the eye and say, ‘I think we made a difference,’” Plummer told 7 News reporter Keir Chapman last year.

In 1984, Plummer pushed for Fort Drum as the home of the then newly-reactivated 10th Mountain Division.

Plummer recalled the north country’s harsh winters sold him on Fort Drum.

“When you put new soldiers that are still trying to figure the difference between a sergeant and a lieutenant out in a minus 40 degree snow cave, they have to rely on that sergeant fire team leader for survival,” he said.

That act by Plummer and others - getting the 10th Mountain Division to Fort Drum - transformed not only Drum but the rest of the north country as well.

“When the 10th Mountain came, I can remember my son saying to me just how different it was for him,” said Mary Corriveau, of the Fort Drum Regional Liaison Organization, in 2021, as she recalled Plummer’s role in bringing the 10th here.

“He was in school at the time, to have the opportunity to talk and go to school with kids who had traveled all over the world. So, it opened this community up to a world they had never known before.”

“There’s a saying at Fort Drum, that Fort Drum was conceived and built by a surgeon, a carpenter, and a “plummer.” And that is General Cerjan, General Carpenter, and Colonel Mike Plummer,” said Judy Genter, retired deputy to Fort Drum’s garrison commander, in a 2021 interview.

Plummer is also credited with starting an ‘Adopt-A-Platoon’ program in 1992, in which community members would write letters and send packages to deployed soldiers and have a pizza party when they returned.

It was started here and is now used at other military installations - a credit to Plummer.

“It’s his baby and his baby alone. He ran it, he inspired it,” said Gil Pearsall, a retired lieutenant colonel and friend of Plummer, in 2021.

In a statement Tuesday, Joseph Butler Jr., Civilian Aide to the Secretary of The Army, noted Plummer’s “legacy and the impact he had on our lives will remain for decades to come.”

“Mike’s contributions to our community and nation is a comparison few can make. While we mourn the loss of a great soldier, great citizen and great family man we can also cherish our precious time with him and continue his legacy of good will to all,” Butler wrote.

A statement from the Fort Drum Regional Liaison Organization - also known as Advocate Drum - called Plummer a “wonderful community leader.”

“While much of his work directly supported Soldiers and their families, Mike also quietly assisted non-profit organizations within the community. He helped countless community organizations including Advocate Drum.

“Mike’s motivation came from a true desire to make Watertown and the North Country a better place for all. Mike did so much for so many and he did it quietly without seeking headlines.

Funeral arrangements in Alabama were incomplete Tuesday.

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