By Jon Micheal Connor, ASC Public AffairsMay 23, 2019
ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Ill. -- Grace has touched the Army's legendary PS Magazine two years in a row.
Its managing editor, David Cotton, who goes by his middle name, Bruce, was selected for the Secretary of the Army's Editor of the Year Award, Command Publication category, for 2018. The year before, PS Magazine's supervisory editor, Jonathan Pierce, also won the same award and the magazine was also selected as the Army's Most Improved Publication of the Year. Pierce retired last year and was replaced by Dr. Robert Hill.
This year's ceremony was held May 3 at the Pentagon. The period of consideration was July 2017 through June 2018 when PS Magazine was still part of the Logistics Support Activity (now the Logistics Data Analysis Center). PS Magazine is now assigned to the U.S. Army Sustainment Command, Redstone Arsenal Detachment, Alabama.
PS Magazine was first published in June 1951 and served as a monthly magazine with cartoon art with characters such as Master Sgt. Half-Mast and others over the decades to illustrate correct preventative maintenance procedures on Army equipment. The "PS" stands for "post script" as it functioned as this purpose to technical manuals and other maintenance material.
In June 2017, the last printed issue was released as it then became an online product. The 800th edition will be available in July.
Individual awards like this do not come often. Cotton, who was promoted into the managing editor position in 2012, said the last time he received a semi-comparable award was back in the 1980s when he was named to the Army's Ordnance Magazine's Society of the Crimson Pen on two occasions working as a civilian public affairs specialist.
Learning of this year's prestigious award completely surprised him, Cotton said.
"I was actually home at the time. I received a text from Dr. (Robert) Hill congratulating me on being selected," Cotton recalled.
"I just sat there for several minutes in shocked disbelief. I must have read the text a dozen times before it finally sank in. Then I replied to Dr. Hill's text and started notifying my family," he explained of events on his day off. "We didn't have a lot of time to get everything set up."
The text came on April 26 and the ceremony was the following Friday, May 3.
"My immediate reaction was sheer joy," said Hill. "I felt strongly that Bruce deserved it but wondered if the magazine's win the year prior might mean someone else would get the nod this year. Reading the announcement was validation that taking the time to put the packet together was well worth it."
Cotton credited the magazine's staff for his recent recognition.
"As far as why I won, I think most of the credit goes to the staff of PS Magazine. I've been here for a long time -- 20-plus years as a writer and another seven as managing editor. In that time, I've worked with a group of consummate professionals at every level -- writing, research, interviewing, and production."
While Cotton has many duties as managing editor, he also is responsible for the magazine's Reader Service Program.
He explained that the magazine receives up to 1,400 emails annually from Soldiers seeking help on specific maintenance or supply issues who ask for an immediate response. Most of the time the questions can be answered quickly based on the archive of previous questions. When not able to answer, the magazine has a listing of subject matter experts throughout the Army who can.
"The managing editor of any publication is truly the 'heartbeat' of that publication. He or she is most responsible for the magazine's daily operation and ensuring its quality and continuity," Hill explained. "Few execute these responsibilities better than Bruce. I was also aware of his intent to retire at the end of this year and I felt achieving this recognition would be a very fitting 'cap' to his nearly 37 years as an Army civilian, most of those in service to PS Magazine."
This was Cotton's second visit to the Pentagon. The first visit was for a conference three decades ago as a Public Affairs intern. He said he doesn't remember much of that time and so this recent visit really was like the first time.
Cotton's wife, Cindy, went with him; one of his sons, Clarke, and his girlfriend, Cara Recker, also attended the ceremony.
"They drove all the way to DC from the Cincinnati area after work. They didn't arrive until almost 2 a.m., just six hours before we were supposed to be at the Pentagon. I was really taken aback that he would do something like that for me," Cotton said of his son and his girlfriend.
Cotton said his youngest son, Alex, and his wife, Sydney, were unable to attend due to work responsibilities.
"Our escort was a young military officer. Unfortunately, I can't remember his name, but he was an excellent guide, telling us all about the Pentagon," Cotton said. "The most fascinating thing to all of us was how the Pentagon is like a small city. In addition to all the work that goes on there, we saw shops, restaurants, a veterinary clinic, medical offices and much more."
Unfortunately, Secretary of the Army, Dr. Mark Esper, could not host the ceremony. Still, meeting the Army's No. 2 civilian -- Under Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy -- was a thrill, Cotton said.
"It was a genuine honor. He was asked to do the presentations almost last minute when Secretary Esper was called away," Cotton explained. "Though he didn't have much time to prepare, he handled it all flawlessly and with a great sense of humor. I was also surprised when he presented each of us with an Under Secretary of the Army coin."
Other publication awards presented were to Kathryn Stone and Patrick Zoch. Stone, an attorney adviser assigned to the Office of the Judge Advocate General, Pentagon, received the Army Editor of the Year Award in the Departmental category for her work in Army Regulation 27-26, Rules of Professional Conduct for Lawyers. Zoch, chief of Policy, Office of the Vice Provost for Learning Systems, The Army University, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, received the SA's Most Improved Publication of the Year for his work in Training and Doctrine Command Regulation 350-70, Army Learning Policy and Systems.
Cotton said he also received a letter of congratulations from Maj. Gen. Duane Gamble, commanding general, ASC, and a letter of congratulations from the U.S. Army Materiel Command's G-3 (Operations) signed by Brig. Gen. Christopher Mohan, Command Sgt. Maj. Petra Casarez and Deputy Chief of Staff Nathan Godwin.
"I'll just reiterate that supervisors should actively seek out opportunities to spotlight their people and submit them for recognition such as this. It definitely takes time to put a packet like this together and, especially, get it endorsed through the chain of command, but it's well worth it," Hill said.
"It's always great to be recognized for what you love to do. But I also enjoyed the chance to visit our nation's capital. There's so much history and beautiful architecture to see there," Cotton said. "We stayed over for the weekend to see as much as we could. By the time we left, I was surprised to see we'd walked almost 26 miles in just a few days."
Cotton confirmed that he plans to retire in early January of next year. His government career started September 1983.
He said he hopes to spend his time traveling and writing more fantasy novels. To date, he has had four such books published.
"When it comes to work, they say do what you love. I've been lucky enough to do that for the majority of my life. So I suppose it's only natural that I'd want to do the same when away from work," Cotton said. "I'm currently working on the fifth novel, "Magician's War", and hope to have it published by the end of this year."
Cotton said he and his wife also plan to do some traveling while they're still relatively young enough to enjoy themselves. The trip to Washington, he said, made him realize how much they'll love traveling.
Editor's note: The Secretary of the Army Awards for Publications Improvement (Departmental or Command) recognizes those individuals who develop, manage, or support a program or effort that improves the activity's publishing system, process, or program; or improves efficiency or achieves a savings. The program or effort can be Armywide, for a Headquarters Department of the Army agency, or for an Army command, corps, division, or installation. A group award may be made in this category, but wherever possible, the name of a single individual who was primarily
responsible for the initiative or accomplishment is preferred.
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