Best of the Best
Rick Turner, at left, holds the trophy he received March 10 as the local AUSA’s candidate for Department of the Army Civilian of the Year. Turner, executive director of the AMCOM’s Test Management Diagnostic Equipment Activity, was first announced as the winner in the management/executive category before receiving the top award. Erich Erker, chief of the Aviation Maintenance Branch for the Aviation Technical Test Center, was named the winner in the professional/technical category, and Carolyn Caudle, executive assistant to the commanding general of AMCOM, was the winner in the support staff category.

Emotions ran high for Rick Turner during the Department of the Army Civilian of the Year Award Dinner hosted by the Redstone-Huntsville Chapter of the Association of the U.S. Army on March 10 at the Von Braun Center.

Turner, the executive director of the Aviation and Missile Command's Test Measurement and Diagnostic Equipment Activity, first got emotional when his name was announced as a nominee for the top civilian award presented by the local AUSA chapter. But those emotions were even stronger when he was announced as the chapter's 2009 winner of the highly coveted award.

"I get choked up when I think about Soldiers in harm's way and how critical it is for us to support them," Turner said.

Ask anyone who knows him, and they'll say it's not surprising that Turner would think about Soldiers at a time when he is accepting an award that will make him a candidate for AUSA's regional top DA civilian award. Supporting Soldiers and the team he works with every day is what motivates Turner as the leader of USATA/TMDE.

"It's easy to come to work every day because I have a great team," he said following the award's ceremony. "It's energizing when you are focused on the right thing all the time and you are doing what's right for the Soldier. The best job in the world is supporting Soldiers."

Turner, who said the "sun never sets on USATA," oversees a work force of more than 600 employees responsible for the Army's test measurement and diagnostic equipment calibration, metrology and repair mission at 58 sites worldwide. USATA performs 73 percent of all calibration actions in the Army and provides calibration support to other military services; supports every Army weapon system; supports more then 15,000 customers and 500,000 items; and ensures calibrated TMDE compliance with national, international and intrinsic standards. The organization, which is part of the Aviation and Missile Command and headquartered at Redstone Arsenal, has an annual budget of more than $82 million.

It is the team at USATA and the environment at Redstone Arsenal that has made the organization successful in its mission, Turner said.

"We have the best AUSA chapter right here," he said. "We have a good contractor base, great military organizations and tremendous civilian support here. There is great support from our chain of command. They let us do our job and give us top cover to be successful."

As the Redstone-Huntsville AUSA chapter's top DA civilian, Turner will go on to compete for the top DA civilian award at AUSA's Third Region (Southeast) competition this summer. The region's winner will be recognized at the AUSA annual meeting in Washington, D.C. in October.

Turner was among 19 DA civilians, the largest group ever, who were nominated for the local chapter's civilian of the year award in three different categories. Before receiving the top honor, Turner was announced as the winner in the management/executive category. Erich Erker, chief of the Aviation Maintenance Branch for the Aviation Technical Test Center, was named the winner in the professional/technical category, and Carolyn Caudle, executive assistant to the commanding general of AMCOM, was the lone nominee and winner in the support staff category.

The following civilians were also nominated for the Management/Executive Award:
Aca,!Ac William "Bill" Andrews Jr., deputy executive director, Integrated Materiel Management Center, Aviation and Missile Command;
Aca,!Ac Joe Davis, director of Public Works, Garrison;
Aca,!Ac Janet Fletcher, business chief, CH-47F Product Office, Program Executive Office for Aviation;
Aca,!Ac Todd Hutto, supervisory strategic planning specialist, Garrison;
Aca,!Ac Randall Kline, chief, Enterprise Data Management Office, Logistics Support Activity;
Aca,!Ac Timothy McRae, deputy project manager, Ground Systems, Ground-Based Midcourse Defense, Missile Defense Agency;
Aca,!Ac Barry Pike, chief of staff, Program Executive Office for Missiles and Space;
Aca,!Ac Stan Sherrod, deputy project manager, Lower Tier Project Office, Program Executive Office for Missiles and Space; and
Aca,!Ac John J. Wachs, chief, Directed Energy Division, Technology Directorate, Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command.

The following civilians were also nominated for the Professional/Technical Award:
Aca,!Ac Barbara Baugh, secretary of the general staff, Command Management Support and Protocol, Aviation and Missile Command;
Aca,!Ac Barbara Cantrell, engineering technician, Space and Missile Defense Technical Center, Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command;
Aca,!Ac Deborah Chinea, chief, Plans and Operations Office, Security Assistance Management Directorate, Aviation and Missile Command;
Aca,!Ac Carol Kaminer, chief, Human Resources, Fox Army Health Center;
Aca,!Ac Penny Koger-Thomas, career development program specialist, Test Measurement and Diagnostic Equipment Activity, Aviation and Missile Command;
Aca,!Ac George "Mike" Nadler, military analyst, Future Warfare Center, Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command; and
Aca,!Ac Dr. Kenneth Whigham, electronics engineer, Redstone Technical Test Center.

"This group of folks is amazing. AUSA is recognizing our entire civilian work force by choosing these folks," Turner said.

"It's a huge responsibility, but more of an honor, to represent Redstone Arsenal's civilian work force at AUSA."

Turner told the AUSA audience that he is proud of the great Americans he works with at USATA and within the many military organizations that USATA comes into contact with in executing its mission.

"I accept this award for all the folks at USATA," he said. "Thank you very much and God bless."

Jerry Hamilton, the event's organizer and the evening's master of ceremonies, joked with the audience that Turner's awards speech was 4.375 minutes long, hinting at the exactness of the work of USATA employees.

AMCOM commander Maj. Gen. Jim Myles was the evening's guest speaker, and he took full advantage of the event to let his audience know how "valuable and precious" DA civilians are to the Army.

"I talk a lot about Soldiers because I love Soldiers. It's an affair of the heart," Myles said. "Our Soldiers are in harm's way defending our country and our way of life.

"But they could not do that without Army civilians ... The center of gravity to support our Soldiers are our Department of the Army civilians ... Our Department of the Army civilians are the continuity that help us accomplish our mission."

He said the DA civilians' role in the Army's success on the battlefield is most evident at Redstone Arsenal, where their mission is essential in keeping Soldiers supplied with missile and aviation systems.

"The Department of the Army civilians at Redstone Arsenal get it. They're Soldiers, too. They understand that it's not about them, but about others ... and that our Soldiers are relying on them," he said.

"When a Soldier pulls a trigger, he wants something to happen. He wants a missile launched. He wants a bullet sent downrange. He wants a helicopter to take off. Or, he wants to talk to somebody (through communications) ... to sense it, report it and identify it. I have full faith and confidence in all you do to make this happen."

In trips to Iraq and Afghanistan, Myles accepts the thanks of Soldiers using systems developed at Redstone Arsenal. "That 'thanks' is not for me. It's for our civilians, our whole team at Redstone Arsenal," he said.

Referring to the evening's 19 nominees, Myles said they are the "best of the best" and congratulated managers and supervisors in their chains of command for nominating them. He mentioned several nominees by name and commented on their unique values, such as Barry Pike for his selflessness, Stan Sherrod for his way of handling adversity, Joe Davis whose longevity of work has made him an "incredible treasure" to the Arsenal, Rick Turner for his ability to lead employees known for their "surgical precision" and unusual ways to defeat the enemy, Barbara Baugh for her "flawless support in the protocol office," Carolyn Caudle as "one of those wonderful administrative assistants here that go above and beyond," and Erich Ercher and Deborah Chinea.

"For these individuals, it's about giving for others. They don't do their jobs for the money. They do it for others," Myles said. "My intent is real simple - it's about supporting Soldiers. And I know no one who has ever it done it better than these nominees."

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16