REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. - A U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command logistics management specialist working on a Program Executive Office Aviation project team to modernize the UH-60L Black Hawk earned recognition as one of Army Materiel Command's top third-quarter employees for fiscal year 2019.
The recapitalization project aims to design and implement upgrades to the L-model's decades-old analogue gauges and other operating systems. The upgraded helicopter, designated as UH-60V, will feature a digital, open-architecture integrated glass cockpit, computational system, visual display system and control display units, replicating the UH-60M pilot-vehicle interface and provide interoperability.
Clayton Usery's most notable contribution to the team was supervising the development of Milestone C logistics documentation, which facilitated key-leader approval for low-rate initial production of the UH-60V.
"Milestone C is a huge package of supporting documentation that shows key decision makers not only how the new design will work, but also how we will support the upgraded UH-60V helicopter to keep it flying," Usery said.
Usery led the coordination of all UH-60V logistics milestone documentation to include the Life Cycle Sustainment Plan, Business Case Analysis and Core Depot Assessment. He served as a subject-matter-expert during the creation, staffing and authorization of all milestone documents. Additionally, he led the effort to develop training for active-duty Army and Reserve units receiving the UH-60V.
Usery's leadership on the UH-60V recapitalization project "will increase readiness and capability across the Army," Jeremy Bolton, acquisition logistics chief, Division B, noted in his nomination of Usery for AMC's Top Employee of the Quarter award.
About 10 years ago, Usery wouldn't have pictured himself standing in front of key decision makers answering their questions about the potential benefits, affordability and sustainability of recapitalizing a major piece of military equipment like a helicopter.
He thought he'd leave his family's commercial farm near Elkmont, Alabama, upon graduating from Auburn University in 2009 with a degree in supply chain management.
"I was telling myself that I wanted to get as far away from here as possible and see the world," said Usery. "But in 2009, the economy was in the middle of a recession and job opportunities were scarce."
As fortune would have it, he stayed in North Alabama, accepting an internship with the AMCOM Logistics Center at Redstone Arsenal, about an hour's drive from the family farm.
At first he thought he'd have a difficult time transitioning from growing crops and raising chickens to an indoor work among dozens of office cubicles, "but there's a nice mix of working at a desk and getting out with the project managers and teams to see the equipment and systems we're supporting," he said. "And, who knew that I would have such a great career opportunity and be able to work on such meaningful projects less than an hour from home?"
While assigned to ALC throughout his Army civilian career, he has primarily supported PEO Aviation project teams in matrixed positions. Since 2009, he has worked in several PEO Aviation project offices. Usery's work focused on provisioning and cataloguing to ensure parts were readily available for Soldiers maintaining OH-58 Kiowa and AH-64 Apache helicopters. He threw himself into learning all he could about Army aviation.
"I'm a guy who likes equipment, aircraft and a lot of mechanical things like that," he said. And the teams he supported provided opportunities to see aircraft, sit in cockpits, observe maintenance activities, and talk with pilots and crews, helping him better understand the needs of workers turning the wrenches and engineers developing new items for fabrication or acquisition. Studying technical manuals and learning about what Soldiers need to keep the helicopters mission-ready, further sparked Usery's interest in aircraft and eventually led him to private pilot school at a nearby airport.
In November 2019, after working on the UH-60V modernization project, Usery moved back to supporting PEO Aviation's AH-64 office, this time as a supervisor. While being a supervisor likely means more indoor work behind a desk, Usery is not concerned.
"If being indoors so much ever starts making me stir-crazy, I can always visit my family's farm and hop on a tractor to do a little outside farm work," he said.
The Army Materiel Command's Top Employee of the Quarter program recognizes AMC employees worldwide who go above and beyond to make sacrifices, meet deadlines and exceed expectations. Moreover, they directly induce money-saving programs and perform lifesaving tasks for the Army, its warfighters and their families. Each quarter, all major subordinate commands within AMC are prompted to recognize premier employees.
The AMC Top Employee of the Quarter program serves as the platform for supervisors to acknowledge "the best of the best" in their employee line-up. Selected employees are recognized with an honorary award signed by AMC Commander Gen. Gus Perna, along with a four-star note. Photos of selectees are also on display at AMC headquarters with a list of each employee's achievements.
Today, the work to upgrade the UH-60L Black Hawks with new digital cockpits and software is being conducted at the Corpus Christi Army Depot in Texas. Read more information about the UH-60V recapitalization program at https://www.army.mil/article/227655.