Contracting Soldiers play silent role behind solemn event

By Daniel. P. Elkins, Mission and Installation Contracting Command Public Affairs OfficeApril 25, 2019

Contracting Soldiers play silent role behind solemn event
Lt. Gen. Laura Richardson presents the Distinguished Service Cross to Staff Sgt. Stevon Booker's mother, Freddie Jackson, April 5, at the Soldiers and Sailor's Memorial Hall in Pittsburg, as Booker's sister Kim Talley-Armstead and retired Gen. David ... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas (April 25, 2019) -- The Army secretary decision to posthumously award the Distinguished Service Cross to a Soldier who sacrificed all in the famed Thunder Run to capture Baghdad called for the responsive skills of two Soldiers from Fort Stewart, Georgia, to execute contracts in support of the solemn event.

Family members accepted the award on behalf of Staff Sgt. Stevon Booker at the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall in Pittsburgh April 5, 16 years to the day he was killed in Iraq in 2003 as a member of the 64th Armored Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division.

Approval of the use of emergency and extraordinary expenses under U.S. Code to fund social and ceremonial events came March 29, leaving only days for Staff Sgts. Armando Dominguez Jr. and Melinda Nixon from the 904th Contracting Battalion's 611th Contracting Team to secure three contracts valued at almost $14,000. Nixon, who awarded the contracts, said the short timeline proved very challenging.

"It became a 'hurry-up and wait game,'" Nixon said, adding that she and Dominguez developed a plan to provide the requested contract support in the short time. "However, we could not officially establish an agreement with contractors without the assurance of adequate funds, which was received approximately six days before showtime. This could have become problematic as one of the caterers needed at least four days advanced notice to submit their food request."

Dominguez said the tight deadline and necessary lead time required by the vendors and caterers necessitated continuous reassurance that funding would be coming.

"As we know, it is poor business practice to bind or commit the government when you have no proof or assurance that you have enough or any funding to support the requirement," he added.

Maj. Joseph Plotino, the 611th CT leader, said both Dominguez and Nixon relentlessly coordinated with vendors to ensure they were capable of supporting the requested events, were registered in the System for Award Management, and would be willing to hold reservations regardless of the government not having formal funding at the time. The two Soldiers also synchronized efforts internally with 3rd ID resource management, current operations and legal representatives to ensure events would be a success. The 3rd ID served as host for both the social and award ceremony.

"When you have customers that are unaware of the contracting process, they tend to make their plans and coordination directly within their organization and desired vendors," Dominguez said. "Once we were brought on board and briefed on what was required, we educated the customer on what is supposed to happen from a contracting perspective, and they were all on board. Constant communication helped guide the acquisition in the right direction to ensure the customer would still receive what was requested while also staying within the (Federal Acquisition Regulation)."

Nixon said contingencies plans were also made in case contractors would not be able to support events due to short notice or taking on another booking.

Both contracting NCOs possess a wealth of deployment experience and fully understand the associated dangers. Nixon most recently returned from a nine-month deployment to Army Contracting Command-Afghanistan in March 2018. She has also deployed to Liberia in support of Operation United Assistance and Cameroon for Cameroon Base Operation Support Integrator. Dominguez deployed twice to Iraq as a small arms repair and armament NCO and once to Kosovo as a contracting officer in support of Operation Joint Guardian.

Although there was no difference in contract administration procedures for the social and awards ceremony, they concede that their personal deployment experience and the dangers associated with deployment helped shape their approach to ensure a successful outcome.

"I tend to empathize with all my customers because I am here to support their efforts, but especially … events like this. If it means that I can help make the event successful for the families, Soldiers and organization as a whole, I push through all obstacles and give maximum effort," Dominguez said, adding that all three local small businesses also went above and beyond to support the events given the nature.

Contracts were awarded to the Sheraton Hotel at Station Square in Pittsburgh to host the social for members of the family, 3rd ID and veterans of Thunder Run; the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall and Museum as the award ceremony venue; and The Chef and I Catering Company of Pittsburgh for lunch following the ceremony.

About the MICC:

Headquartered at JBSA-Fort Sam Houston, Texas, the Mission and Installation Contracting Command consists of about 1,500 military and civilian members who are responsible for contracting goods and services in support of Soldiers as well as readying trained contracting units for the operating force and contingency environment when called upon. MICC contracts are vital in feeding more than 200,000 Soldiers every day, providing many daily base operations support services at installations, facilitate training in the preparation of more than 100,000 conventional force members annually, training more than 500,000 students each year, and maintaining more than 14.4 million acres of land and 170,000 structures.

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