Raytheon Celebration

Special guests from throughout the country were in Forest Friday as employees from Raytheon celebrated the delivery of the company's 7000th, Enhanced Position Location Reporting System, also known as EPLR.

"Through this contract and others like it we've been able to vamp up our work force in the past three to four years from about 250 to close to 700 fulltime and contract employees," said site manager Luis Izquierdo.

EPLR radios are used by all branches of the military. However, they are only manufactured at one plant -- the one in Forest. Although the radios have been good for creating jobs, company officials said they are also essential in combat.

"Data from this radio can basically show where our guy are on the battlefield and what they are equipped with. The good thing is if needed, it can also show us the enemies and what they are using," said Raytheon manager Larry Murdie.

"7,000 EPLRs, that technology that's used in Afghanistan could be used in Iraq. This technology not only improves national security but also saves our men and women," said Third District candidate Congressman Chip Pickering.

In the early 1990s the Raytheon plant in Forest began first manufacturing the radios. One of the men given much of the credit for getting the contract is retired Congressman G.V. "Sonny" Montgomery.

"I worked through our Congressional delegation to do it. Plus, I know people on the Armed Services committees and appropriation committees for both houses and I'd go ask. As long as we do good work and take pride in this area, we'll get more jobs,” Montgomery said.