Awards for Excellence
Retired Maj. Gen. James Snider, center, the associate director for aviation technology at the Aviation and Missile Research Development and Engineering Center, holds the prestigious Medaris Award following the presentation at the annual awards dinner for the Tennessee Valley Chapter of the National Defense Industrial Association. With him are the government winners of the Leadership Excellence Award – Patricia Martin of AMRDEC and Air Force Lt. Col. Kenneth Reiman of the Missile Defense Agency. The Medaris Award is named in honor of the late Maj. Gen. John Medaris, commander of the Army Ordnance Missile Command during the early years of space exploration. It is presented by the local NDIA chapter to a leader in the nation’s space and missile defense community who has demonstrated technical excellence in promoting the nation’s defense preparedness.

It was an evening for Army aviation at the annual awards dinner April 20 hosted by the Tennessee Valley Chapter of the National Defense Industrial Association.

The local NDIA chapter presented its more prestigious award - the Medaris Award - to a retired major general who brought the Army's Program Executive Office for Aviation to Redstone Arsenal in 1997 and who continues his work as a civilian leader in the Army's aviation field.

Described as a man of integrity, a Soldier warrior, an excellent boss and mentor, a scholar and an intellectual, and a friend, retired Maj. Gen. James Snider was presented with the 2009 Medaris Award by longtime friend and Redstone Arsenal executive Gary Nenninger. The Medaris Award is named in honor of the late Maj. Gen. John Medaris, commander of the Army Ordnance Missile Command during the early years of space exploration. It is presented to individuals who have demonstrated technical excellence in promoting the nation's defense preparedness.

As the Medaris Award recipient, Snider follows in the footsteps of 25 previous awardees, six of whom were present at the awards dinner at the Huntsville Marriott. Those awardees present included retired Lt. Gen. Jim Link, a commander of the former Missile Command at Redstone Arsenal; Dr. Julian Davidson, an early pioneer of the nation's space, missiles and missile defense programs; George Williams, a former program executive officer for the Army's Tactical Missile Programs, retired Brig. Gen. Bob Drolet, a former program executive officer for the Army's Air and Missile Defense; Dr. Bill McCorkle, longtime director of the Aviation and Missile Research Development and Engineering Center; and Dr. Rankin Clinton, a member of the Military Intelligence Hall of Fame.

"You've joined a very unique and special group," said NDIA president Ed Stone, directing his comments to Snider during his remarks.

In accepting the award, Snider said he has enjoyed the challenges of nearly four decades in Army aviation. A West Point graduate, Snider's work with the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment and with the Cobra, Apache and Comanche helicopter programs in his early years led to promotions that brought him to Redstone Arsenal in 1997 as the program executive officer for aviation. In 2002, he retired from the Army. Although he is employed with the University of Alabama-Huntsville as an associate vice president and director with its mechanical and aerospace engineering department, Snider is currently on leave from UAH and serving as the associate director for aviation technology at the Aviation and Missile Research Development and Engineering Center.

Telling the audience that the night belonged to aviation, Snider's comments focused not on his own accomplishments, but on the evolution and successes of the Army's aviation programs.

Snider said the Army's combat aviation brigades "are one of the premier force multipliers on the battlefield." In May, when the 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade of Fort Bragg, N.C., is deployed to Afghanistan there will be a total of six Army aviation brigades serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Army aviation's key role on the battlefield has evolved since Vietnam based on two concepts - Air Assault and Air Maneuver. Vietnam was the first war where Army "helicopters were moving Soldiers quickly to the battlefield ... Helicopters were bringing the war fighter as close as possible to the conflict," he said.

Large air maneuver helicopters, such as the Chinook, carried Soldiers to the battlefield. But to be successful in their mission, they needed protection from enemy ground fire. And that's where air assault came into the battlefield picture with the Huey, Cobra and Kiowa helicopters.

"They were aerodynamically faster. They became the attack helicopter," Snider said. "Air assault was used so effectively in Vietnam that aviation became a true member of the war team."

Then, in the 1970s, the Army introduced the Apache helicopter.

"The Apache really changed everything for Army aviation," Snider said. "All of a sudden we had an aircraft where the missile went where the pilot was looking. The Apache fired the first shots of Desert Storm and it went deep in maneuver operations to take out the Iraqi radar network."

Today, Army aviation continues to team with infantry to be a formidable force in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Together, they are "one of the true force multipliers in both arenas," Snider said.

"The Army relies on technology so our Soldiers are at an advantage over our adversary. We are working to make our aircraft more survivable, affordable and capable."

Looking 10 to 20 years into the future, Snider said technology will improve on vertical lift system capabilities and will make Army aviation systems "hard to see, hard to hear. We need to protect against invisible attacks. We want to make our systems invisible. We know that Army aviation will continue to be in great demand."

Bringing PEO-Aviation to Redstone Arsenal 12 years ago was a good move, Snider said, because of the synergy created between PEO-Aviation, Fort Rucker, the Aviation Technical Test Center and the Redstone Technical Test Center due to close proximity. That synergy will become even more beneficial with the move of ATTC to Redstone Arsenal.

"What does that mean for us' It will mean a new airfield and a lot more helicopters in the air," Snider said. "It will be a little bit loud. But that's the sound of freedom ... as we work to keep our Soldiers strong and keep our Soldiers safe."

Although Snider took the top award at the NDIA awards dinner, other Redstone Arsenal government employees and industry contractors were also recognized for their contributions.

"All those nominated for NDIA awards exhibit teamwork, hard work, dedication and service to their respected organizations as well as to the nation," said Dr. Steven Messervy, deputy to the commander for research, development and acquisition, Space and Missile Defense Command/Armed Forces Strategic Command.

"Most prefer not to be singled out for an award. But the NDIA awards are a meaningful and excellent means of recognizing individual achievement. This is such an excellent forum for recognition."

The government awardees of NDIA's Leadership Excellence Award were Air Force Lt. Col. Reiman of the Missile Defense Agency and Patricia Martin of AMRDEC.

Reiman is a widely recognized leader in U.S. space and missile operations with experience spanning both materiel acquisition and technology base development that includes testing, launch operations, technology development, acquisition and missile defense. Most of his 23-year career has been in either direct or indirect support of the Missile Defense Agency. He has most recently supported MDA's Ballistic Missile Defense System testing program.

Martin has served as director of the AMRDEC Engineering Directorate since July 2006, providing leadership for the 800-employee organization. She is the co-chairperson for the Team Redstone Industrial Base Enterprise and serves as a senior executive for the Army Materiel Command transition to the Logistics Modernization Program at Redstone Arsenal. During her tenure, the engineering directorate's Prototype Integration Facility has provided more than 200 products to support Soldiers in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. She also leads AMRDEC efforts for Condition-Based Maintenance, the AMC Quality Forum and the standards executive for AMCOM and PEO-Aviation.

The industry contractor awardees for Leadership Excellence were retired Col. John Burke, program manager for the Lakota Light Utility Helicopter, and Wallace Kirkpatrick, chief executive officer and chairman of DESE Research.

Other nominees for the Leadership Excellence Award were: Government - David Furtwengler, MDA; Richard Fisher, UAH PO; Ronald Newby, NASA; Ray Sellers, PEO-Aviation; and Julia Williams, SMDC; and Industry - Richard MacNealy, S3.

Winners of the Management Award were: Government -- Jennifer Koury, MDA, and Ivan Romero, SMDC; and Industry -- Raymond Joe Maier, BAE and Richard Sorell, S3. Other nominees were: Government - Richard Fisher, UAH PO, Charles Hall, NASA, Marty Martin, SAMD, and Brandy Wiseman-Goff, SAMD; and Industry - Stephen Cayson, SMDC, David Hemingway, DESE, and Nancy Shumate, SAMD.

Winners of the Technology Award were: Government -- John London, SMDC, and James Richard, NASA; and Industry -- Brian Patrick, NeXolve, and Bruce Tully, DESE. Other nominees were: Government - Gary Mayes, SMDC, and Jason Williams, MDA.

In addition, NDIA awarded several college scholarships for students in science and engineering fields.

In closing the awards dinner, president Stone urged members of the Tennessee Valley Chapter of NDIA chapter to publicize the efforts of the military and industrial partners to keep the nation's defenses strong. The local chapter, which has been a model chapter since 2001, actively supports the national defense and national space industry in North Alabama, southern Tennessee and Mississippi.

"The Tennessee Valley region has developed into one of the most strategic assets of our nation ... in maintaining the peace and restoring the peace," Stone said. "Tell our story. Tell your family. Tell your friends. Tell you neighbors. Tell them how and why what you do is important to America, our allies and our future security. They won't know if you don't tell them."

Page last updated Thu April 30th, 2009 at 19:12