NATICK, Mass. (May 29, 2014) -- Three employees from the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center were individually honored at this year's Greater Boston Federal Executive Board Excellence in Government awards ceremony May 7 at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston.

Dale Tabor and Christine Charette, both from the Airdrop and Aerial Delivery Directorate, received the Outstanding Workplace Innovation (Initiative) Award and the Outstanding Workplace Innovation (SAVE) Award, respectively, while Melynda Perry of the Textile Evaluation and Materials Team received the Specialty Employee of the Year Award.

The GBFEB EIG awards are held annually to recognize and publicly praise New England federal employees' achievements. Nominees must be civilian, military or postal employees of the federal government, National Guard or active-duty military assigned to the New England region.

"These recognitions are extremely well deserved and are the culmination of a tremendous amount of hard work and dedication on the part of these employees," said Dr. Laurel Allender, acting NSRDEC technical director.

Tabor was recognized for his development of the Enhanced Speed Bag System, or ESBS, a hands-free rope brake assembly that controls the rate of descent and orientation of a cargo package dropped from a helicopter to ground units that need to be resupplied. Often, these small units operate in austere environments where terrain and enemy contact prevent typical resupply methods.

To get around this, aircrews employ an ad-hoc technique known as Speed Ball by using rucksacks, aviator kit bags, and body bags as containers to free-drop supplies from helicopters to dismounted Soldiers. This method results in only a 60 percent survivability rate for the equipment and supplies being dropped, which could prove devastating to Soldiers in urgent need of ammunition, food or water.

In contrast, the ESBS is designed to land with its base down, allowing the energy-dissipation material to absorb the impact for packages up to 250 pounds each. Testing showed the ESBS improved the survivability of ammunition up to 98 percent.

"We believe it is a game changer for ground forces and their commanders," Tabor said. "If we can get them this technology, it will reduce the risk to Soldiers that have to retrieve these packages and the logistical burden of losing those supplies."

Charette, a textile technologist, was recognized for her work in developing a methodology to validate the service life of legacy military personnel parachutes and substantiate the service life extensions for recently fielded personnel parachutes.

In her research, Charette found that the service life of a personnel parachute system was based on the number of years it has been in service, instead of the number of uses.

Since the 1970s, the standard service life of personnel parachutes has been 12 years.

"If a parachute is used five times or 500 times, is it still good for 12 years?" Charette asked. "We need to be fiscally responsible in how we evaluate the serviceability of these systems. Being data driven is the only way to go."

Charette then planned a data collection approach that provides a measure of how the parachutes' design safety margin will change throughout its life cycle with usage and environmental exposure. Her research has influenced the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Marine Corps to initiate their own studies and it is projected to save the government millions of dollars.

Perry, a chemist, was recognized for her exceptional technical ability and research efforts in the insect repellant area to ensure warfighters are fully protected from vector-borne diseases.

Perry is developing a new test method to measure the permethrin content on textiles used in uniforms. Permethrin is a commonly used insecticide.

The method would ensure it meets both the performance level standards and the Environmental Protection Agency regulatory safety requirements.

"I'm looking at permethrin treating fabric and generating toxicity data during the cut and sew trial to see if it is a viable option to move forward," Perry said.

Currently, permethrin treatment is added to the garments as the last process in uniform development. When a treated garment does not meet performance requirements, a huge economic investment has already been made and the government loses money.

"If we were to treat a fabric prior, we would eliminate an entire manufacturing process if the material doesn't meet requirements ahead of time," she said.

Perry's research on treating the fabric prior to manufacturing is expected to save the government millions of dollars and increase the quality of life for service members in the field.

All three award recipients said that they were humbled by the personal recognition, but accepted it on behalf of their teams and the work that goes on at NSRDEC.

"It validates what we all do here," Perry said.


The Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center is part of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, 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 provides it.