By Mr. Johnathon Orrell (SDDC)February 28, 2018
This edition of the Surface Warrior Spotlight heads to Virginia to shine on Larry Lawrence from the Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command (SDDC)'s 597th Transportation Brigade.
As a senior marine cargo specialist, Larry performs vessel stow planning and port opening functions for ships carrying Department of Defense sponsored cargo through and to military and commercial ports.
He has been with SDDC since 2002, and in his position he serves as an advisor to the chain of command and terminal personnel on all aspects of exercise and wartime contingency cargo movements.
Now it's time to bring Larry into the Spotlight.
Q: Before SDDC, what was the most unusual or interesting job you've ever had?
A: I was the owner and CEO of Phoenix Communication Co. I started the company after retiring from the Military in 1995 and operated it for about seven years. The company mainly installed fiber optic networks into large commercial buildings and schools. We partnered with Siemens Communications based out of Europe.
Q: What do you like most about SDDC?
A: The People. I enjoy working with total professionals that care about what they do and are always ready to assist the units with moving their cargo.
Q: What has been your favorite project at SDDC?
A: Deploying with the 597th to Kuwait when I was still assigned to the G3 directorate. We assisted and trained the inbound reserve units on vessel loading and port operations.
Q: What have you gained from working at SDDC?
A: I have gained a better working knowledge of how the military and commercial industry work together.
Q: What is the best vacation you've been on?
A: We went to a family reunion in the Colorado Mountains. The camp we stayed at didn't have TV, Internet and only one phone. The days were filled with horseback riding, throwing horseshoes and a lot of family time.
Q: How would you describe your personality?
A: A+ + + (at least that's what my wife says).
Q: If you could do another job for just one day, what would it be?
A: I guess I am pretty much tapped out on thinking about doing another job. I have had the opportunity to do an array of jobs throughout my life. But if I had to choose, it would something to do with training young Soldiers and civilians to take over when it's time for us gray beards to step aside.
Q: If you were an animal what would you be?
A: I would like to think an eagle. I enjoy flying remote controlled airplanes and I have often wondered what it would be like to fly.
Q: If you were stuck on an island what three things would you bring?
A: A magnifying glass to start fires. A water purification unit for clean drinking water. A genie in a bottle to grant me one wish to get off the island.
Q: What are your top three life highlights?
A: My marriage to Deborah, my wife of 38 years. The birth of my children and grandchildren. And I am still waiting on number three.
Q: What have you always wanted to try and never did?
A: I have always wanted to try hang gliding. I think I would like the experience of gliding thru the air. I have not tried it yet because I'm not ready to die.
Q: What has been the most important innovation you have witnessed in your lifetime?
A: The personal computer. It makes things faster, easier and more accurate.
Q: What is an ability you wish you had?
A: I think I would like to have the ability to read people's minds…then maybe I wouldn't get in trouble with my wife.
Q: What three things are on your bucket list?
A: Fly a jet. Take a 30 day cruise with my wife. Complete my Masters Degree.
Q: What is the first concert you attended?
A: I like country and R&B music, and my first concert was headlined by Conway Twitty, Bill Anderson, Merle Haggard and George Jones. Whoa, that's a flash from the past!
Q: What is the greatest challenge you have had to overcome in your life thus far?
A: I began Army basic training four days after I turned 17 years old. At that time I weighed 115 pounds. The rifle and backpack were bigger than I was!
Q: What is the weirdest thing you've ever eaten?
A: I don't know if I would call it weird, but my wife calls 50 percent of what I eat weird. I like to cook and create different dishes that I make up. Most turn out pretty good, but you could say I have created some pretty weird dishes…and still ate them.
Q: What is the worst thing you did as a kid?
A: With my father having been in WWII and a platoon sergeant in the Korean War our household was a little strict and discipline was dealt swiftly and not so painlessly. So I would have to say the worst thing I did as a kid was use a four letter word in front of my mother. And that's all I will admit to.
Q: What is your hidden talent?
A: I like working on complex problems to ensure a satisfactory solution…and cooking.
Q: What is your personal philosophy?
A: Try to do two thinks every day. First, learn something you did not know yesterday. And second, teach or convey to someone something you know or know how to do each day. This was instilled in me by one of my first platoon sergeants. He would say to us, 'it will make you all better at your jobs and better people in society.' It helped me in my military and civilian career, so I felt I should past it on.
Q: What kinds of hobbies and interests do you have outside of work?
A: When I'm not fixing something around the house, I like to fly remote controlled airplanes, cooking and hanging out in the family pool with the grandkids.
Q: What TV show/movie are you ashamed to admit you love?
A: That would be the TV show Vikings, and the movie National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation.
Q: What would you do (for a career) if you weren't doing this?
A: Most likely reopen a fiber optic cable company.
Q: What life lesson would you like to go back in time and tell 13-year-old you?
A: Stay in school and finish your education before you start your career.
Q: When was the last time you laughed so hard you cried, and what made you laugh?
A: This happens almost every day. I am blessed to live close to my grandchildren and the things they say when they are around are sometimes hysterical.
Q: Which one would you want most -- flying cars, robot housekeepers, or moon cities?
A: Flying cars. As you have seen in some of my previous answers I can have a tendency to be obsessed with flying.
SDDC's "Surface Warrior Spotlight" program highlights different members of the SDDC workforce every few weeks through a series of interview-style questions that focus on his or her unique background, personal stories and experiences.
Take a look at Lawrence's Surface Warrior Spotlight video on YouTube at https://youtu.be/Dplx-wMV0UQ.