Army senior research scientist retires
December 11, 2012
REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. -- Much of the details of Jay Loomis' career are secretive, as a matter of national security, but what is not a secret is that his 40-year career as a radar frequency sensors expert has made a lasting impact on the Army's aviation and missile efforts.
Loomis is retiring this month after a long Army career, the last two decades of which were spent as a Senior Research Scientist at the Army Aviation and Missile Research Development and Engineering Center. A retirement ceremony in his honor was held Nov. 30.
"The work that I've done - with people that I have led and our team - has made a lot of contributions to the air defense products of the Army and the nation," Loomis said. "I really feel like I've had an opportunity to work on important problems with a lot of dedicated people."
A self-described Army brat, Loomis was born in Oklahoma, and his formative years were spent following the military career of his father, Col. Jester M. Loomis Jr. He believes his Army career was somewhat pre-ordained because of to the heritage passed on to him from his father, and later his father-in-law, Maj. Gen. John G. Zierdt, who was the commanding general of the Army Missile Command at Redstone Arsenal from 1960 to 1967.
Loomis studied electrical engineering at Auburn University, earning bachelors, masters and doctoral degrees, and upon graduation was given a direct commission into the Army through the university's Reserve Officer Training Corps program.
He served in the Army for two years and then began his civilian career with the Army Missile Laboratory at Redstone, in the Radar Technology Branch.
After a decade of roles in research and development, Loomis earned a master's degree in management from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Upon his return he became the Radar Branch Chief and served as Supervisory Electronics Engineer; leading some of the Army's best radar engineers.
Loomis was selected in 1992 into the second class of senior research scientists, or STs.
"What that means, to be an ST," explained AMRDEC Director Eric Edwards, "is you're basically a national and international expert in a certain field. So in this case with Jay it's radio frequency sensors.
"I can't tell you all the things that Jay has done because a lot of it is at a level we can't talk about here, but I can tell you that for systems that you know and hear about all the time -- the Patriot, both the missile and the radar, JLENS, the Sentinel, the fire-control radars that are on Apache -- Jay's got his fingerprints on those weapon systems that are advancing Soldiers today."
Edwards went on to describe Loomis' work in radio frequency sensors as game-changing and state-of-the-art.
"Jay has always been a leader and mentor to the next generation of scientists and engineers," Edwards said during the retirement event. "Before the ceremony I heard at least two people say, 'Thank you for your mentorship over the years.' I don't know what better thing you'd want for somebody to say to you as you're walking out the door than 'thank you for your mentorship.' "
Carol Tucker, chief engineer for the Missile and Space Program Executive Office, described Loomis as "the E.F. Hutton of radar."
"When he speaks about radars, 'everyone listens,'" Tucker said. "PEO M&S is proud that Dr. Loomis is a part the Redstone Community, but is well known throughout DoD, industry and academia. We value his technical expertise, and he is our go-to man for all things related to radars. We appreciate the time that he has personally dedicated to this PEO and the entire sensor community. The legacy that Dr. Loomis established will endure for generations."
In his retirement speech, Loomis reminisced about the people and programs that shaped his career path, thanking many, including Vicki, his wife of more than 40 years and a retired civil servant.
"I've really never worked a day in my life," Loomis said. "It's not work when you love what you do, and I love what I've been doing because it's challenging, it's important, and most of all because of the support and assistance that I've gotten from so many of you."
A few weeks prior to his official retirement date, Loomis said he was counting down the days until his retirement but not in the traditional sense. There are still a lot of undone things, he said.
"When people think about counting the days 'til your retirement, I'm counting them in a very different way. I've only got 10 days more to get done what I want to get done and have things handed over. I'm not really strongly looking forward to retirement. I'm looking to perhaps stay engaged in one capacity or another a little bit of the time, and I'm certain I'm going to miss it a lot. Too many fun things to do and too many good people to work with."