TOBYHANNA ARMY DEPOT, Pa. -- A Tobyhanna Army Depot maintenance professional continues one man's legacy of service to the Army Ordnance Corps -- nearly 400 years later.

Rodney Thomas, who has deployed to the combat zone 13 times, received the Ordnance Order of Samuel Sharpe Award during a ceremony at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md. Thomas is the chief of the Field Logistics Support Directorate's West Division and a retired warrant officer with 28 years of federal service.

The award is the culmination of Thomas' long career that most recently included a tour in Afghanistan serving as Tobyhanna's theater supervisor and deputy product manager Counter Remote Controlled IED Electronic Warfare System (Forward), or CREW. There he supported a number of Army systems, including a large portion of the Program Executive Officer for Intelligence, Electronic Warfare and Sensors (PEO IEW&S) portfolio.

"Certainly joining such a distinguished society as the 2,097th inductee is a highlight of my life," Thomas said after receiving the Sharpe award. "More amazing was the opportunity to shake hands with triple-digit award winners of this time honored society."

The Sharpe award recognizes those individuals who have served the U.S. Army Ordnance Corps with demonstrated integrity, moral character and professional competence over a sustained period of time. Dr. Richard Wittstruck, deputy PEO IEW&S, presented the award.

The history behind the Sharpe award comes from its namesake, who according to the U.S. Army Ordnance Corps Association, "was appointed to many positions in government during the very early years of this country. As the first settlers were arriving at the New World, many things would change about the government and life in general. The government of the Massachusetts Bay colonies was resided over by a governor, deputy governor, and a council consisting of 13 freemen. Sharpe served as one of these freemen.

In 1628 he was also charged with the care of the "five pieces of ordnance that belonged to the colony."

Thomas continues the long tradition of service set by Sharpe to the Ordnance Corps and greater Army serving as a longtime maintenance professional. A combination of experience and expertise afforded Thomas the opportunity to lead a team focused on sustaining many of the Army's critical life-saving systems operating in Southwest Asia.

"Thomas managed the day to day execution and oversight of Department of the Army assets in excess of $1 billion," said Edwin Henry, former director of PEO IEW&S Forward in Afghanistan. "He led more than 150 Army civilians in the sustainment of over 50,000 force protection electronic devices and systems [meant to protect the warfighter from improvised explosive devices] at nearly 100 forward operating bases in Afghanistan."

Thomas and his team supported CREW, the Base Expeditionary Targeting Surveillance System-Combined, counter fire radars and Rapid Aerostat Initial Deployment.

"Under Thomas' leadership the work force was able to retain an overall system operational readiness rating in excess of 90 percent for assigned systems," Henry noted. "He also implemented several responsible retrograde plans, resulting in a 50 percent manning reduction. His knowledge of logistics and the Army culture was truly a force multiplier for the PEO IEW&S team."

Tobyhanna Army Depot is a recognized leader in providing world-class logistics support for Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) Systems across the Department of Defense. Tobyhanna's Corporate Philosophy, dedicated work force and electronics expertise ensure the depot is the Joint C4ISR provider of choice for all branches of the Armed Forces and industry partners.

Tobyhanna's unparalleled capabilities include full-spectrum support for sustainment, overhaul and repair, fabrication and manufacturing, engineering design and development, systems integration, technology insertion, modification, and global field support to warfighters.

About 3,300 personnel are employed at Tobyhanna, which is located in the Pocono Mountains of northeastern Pennsylvania. Tobyhanna Army Depot is part of the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command. Headquartered at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., the command's mission is to research, develop, acquire, field and sustain communications, command, control computer, intelligence, electronic warfare and sensors capabilities for the Armed Forces.