By HEATHER R. SMITH, AMRDEC Public AffairsFebruary 5, 2014
On the very stage where five years ago he was inducted into the Senior Executive Service, Eric Edwards, director of the Aviation and Missile Research Development and Engineering Center, bid farewell to his colleagues at a Jan. 21 ceremony. After 31 years of civilian service, the last four of which spent leading AMRDEC, Edwards is stepping down to pursue opportunities in the private sector.
Ronnie Chronister, deputy commander of the Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command, provided opening remarks.
He credited Edwards with leading AMRDEC through several challenges, and positioning the organization for the future. He noted in Edwards a number of the key attributes sought in today?'s leaders, including a diverse work background, the ability to adapt, dynamic teaming, and a deep commitment to public service.
?"We have a person here who has been a great example, for me and others here, of what true leadership is," Chronister said.
Edwards entered civilian service as a co-op student at age 19, while in his second year studying aerospace engineering at the University of Alabama.
Reflecting back on that first day, 31 years ago, Edwards said he was excited but nervous about what the future held.
?"I had no idea that I was going to get to work at the great places I?'ve worked, with the great people I?'ve worked, with the organizations and all the friends that I?'ve made," Edwards said.
Highlights of his career include lead engineer on the UH-60M Black Hawk, product manager for the UH-60A/L, project manager for the Lower Tier Air and Missile Defense Project Office, executive director of AMCOM?'s Integrated Materiel Management Center, and director of AMRDEC.
Presentations were made during the ceremony by Lt. Gen. Patricia McQuistion, Redstone senior commander and deputy commander of the Army Materiel Command, and Maj. Gen. Lynn Collyar, commander of the Aviation and Missile Command.
?"He has been a passionate promoter of AMRDEC," McQuistion said, ?"and my engagements with him have always been about educating folks on what AMRDEC does and fighting valiantly for the resources in some very challenging times and always ensuring that the best value possible was provided to war fighters."
Collyar echoed this sentiment, calling Edwards ?"a truly great leader."
He also recognized the entire AMRDEC workforce, and the teamwork shared with AMCOM.
?"Without this team and the work that AMRDEC does, led by Eric, we wouldn?'t be successful at AMCOM. So Eric I thank you for leading that team and doing the things that you?'ve done, but also I thank all the employees that you have and all the supportive leaders that you have or have put in place," Collyar said.
?"We change commands and we change out leaders periodically, but we don?'t get to have that same type of ceremony and recognition for all the employees at AMRDEC that have transitioned out and come in since Eric has been in charge there. This represents you and the great things that you all have done."
For his exceptional service to the aviation community Edwards was also presented the Honorable Order of St. Michael, Silver Award, by Gary Nenninger, president of the Tennessee Valley Chapter of the Army Aviation Association of America, and Col. Bob Marion, assistant deputy for acquisition and systems management, Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army, (Acquisition, Logistics and Technology).
In his farewell speech, Edwards spoke about family, acknowledging his parents and in-laws, two brothers and a sister, his wife of 23 years and their two sons. He recognized a number of the mentors and co-workers that influenced his career. And he said the dynamic today of being in the Army as a civil servant is quite different than it was when he came in three decades ago, yet he encouraged his colleagues to keep at it.
?"The one thing that has remained the same in that 31 years," Edwards said, ?"is the Army values: loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage. If you follow those Army values in whatever you do, I think everything will work out pretty well."
AMRDEC is part of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command or RDECOM, which has the mission to develop technology and engineering solutions for America's Soldiers.
RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command. AMC is the Army's premier provider of materiel readiness--technology, acquisition support, materiel development, logistics power projection and sustainment--to the total force, across the spectrum of joint military operations. If a Soldier shoots it, drives it, flies it, wears it, eats it or communicates with it, AMC delivers it.