FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. – U.S. Army Installation Management Command recognized four of Fort Campbell’s civilian employees with top Armywide awards Jan. 28 during a semi-virtual ceremony.
Recipients included John Watson, chief of Fort Campbell’s Training Division; Patrick Appelman, director of the Directorate of Public Works; Ted Reece, chief of Housing Division, DPW; and Regina Matthews, chief of Human Resources, DPW.
Lieutenant General Douglas Gabram, commanding general of IMCOM, said the award winners demonstrate an ongoing commitment to Soldiers and Families that exemplifies both service culture, and the Army’s “People First” initiative.
“We couldn’t be prouder, and just sitting here listening to the accomplishments and the narratives of these great leaders and Americans, I’m thinking, ‘IMCOM, there’s nothing you can throw at us that we can’t handle,’” he said. “So, 2021, we’re going to tackle it in stride. The talent we have on this team is incredible.”
The recipients’ accomplishments spanned several areas, from tackling the Army’s housing crisis to pushing forward new training programs.
William C. Gribble DPW
Executive of the Year
During the ceremony, Appelman was presented the William C. Gribble DPW Executive of the Year award. He was recognized for shepherding in a DPW culture change that played a large role in its successes.
“I’ve always loved working for IMCOM and I’ve always been very proud to work for IMCOM, and so to be recognized by them is a great honor for me,” he said.
When Appelman started as Director of DPW in 2017, he was faced with what he described as a “catastrophic failure.” Multiple barracks lacked working air conditioning, and there were not enough mobile backup units to keep systems running.
After looking at the number, Appelman determined barely any preventative maintenance was being completed on the installation. In 2017, less than 100 preventative maintenance orders were completed, he said. In that same year, about 11,500 repair orders were completed.
“That might sound like a lot, but it wasn’t,” he said. “We really weren’t as productive as we needed to be … to a lot of people, when you mentioned DPW they had no faith in us whatsoever.”
Appelman started taking ride-arounds with technicians to figure out the problem, and he discovered workers were having to bring tools from home and lacked formal training.
“We got them trained, we set up a better maintenance program, we got the tools they needed,” he said.
In fiscal year 2020, more than 14,500 preventative maintenance orders and 44,000 repair orders were completed, he said.
If you add those two numbers together, that’s a 500% increase in productivity over those three years,” Appelman said.
Those results tie directly into the Army’s new “People First” strategy and could not have been achieved without support from public works employees, he said.
“We’re serving people better than we were. This winter we had no whole building outages in heat,” he said. “This last summer we had no whole building outages in air conditioning. What times we did have issues, we got guys out there and fixed it right away. That’s taken place in each shop: plumbing, electrical, roads and grounds, carpentry shop, you name it. Across the board, we’ve gotten better.”
Executive of the Year
Other areas of DPW, like the Fort Campbell Housing Office, also made strides forward in service. Reece was named DPW Housing Executive of the Year for creating a culture that exemplifies IMCOM service values.
“It was quite a surprise to receive this award when one considers the many professional housing managers within IMCOM,” Reece said. “This award is truly an acknowledgement of the collective Housing and Garrison team efforts to provide safe and quality homes to our Soldiers, Families and civilians who live on Fort Campbell and in the surrounding community.”
For many Soldiers and Families, Fort Campbell’s Housing Office is their first impression of the installation. That means Reece and his team have a chance to leave a lasting impact on each person that comes through the door.
“Our Housing team works with Soldiers and their Families at one of the most emotional periods of their military careers – when they are in the process of finding a place to call home while assigned to Fort Campbell,” he said. “Caring for people is so crucial. It is part of our culture as we strive to create value for our customers through consistent and easily accessible services.”
Housing staff are responsible for working with people living in the barracks, privatized housing and even outside Fort Campbell’s gates. Reece ensures each customer receives the same standard of service regardless of their living situation.
One of the major obstacles along that path was the Army’s housing crisis, which drew national attention in 2019. Fort Campbell addressed the problem locally by starting a process to replace aged buildings and streamlining DPW’s hiring efforts.
DPW Garrison Support
Executive of the Year
Matthews played a key role in improving DPW’s hiring efforts. For implementing plans that decreased the time it takes Fort Campbell to fill job vacancies and spearheading multiple hiring events, she was named DPW Garrison Support Executive of the Year.
Matthews has worked in civil service for about 38 years.
“This is the first IMCOM-wide recognition that I have received,” she said. “It’s an honor … this was all a surprise to me.”
Making sure vacancies are filled quickly and efficiently is an important part of supporting Soldiers and Families daily, Matthews said.
“We need to do that in order to meet the tasks and demands we have in keeping Fort Campbell running,” she said. “One of the things we did, we received authority for direct hires and we also did job fairs here on the installation.”
Matthews also partnered with Montgomery County’s Veterans Affairs office on hiring events outside the installation.
“We had to do a rapid turnaround and hire people to get in to do these inspections,” she said, noting that addressing the housing crisis was a top priority. “We had a limited amount of time to do the hiring, and we were able to take resumes which normally go through the Civilian Personnel Advisory Center. They were sent directly to me.”
More than 100 resumes came through for those inspection jobs, and Matthews said she was able to finish the hiring process in four weeks.
“You need a group of people to get things advertised and get things through for approval, and without that it wouldn’t be possible,” she said. “The team played a major role in helping to process things, and understanding what we had to go through meeting the timeline. Without them, it wouldn’t have been a success – nor would I be getting that award, I don’t think.”
Watson received a Stalwart Award during the ceremony. This is the fourth consecutive year a Fort Campbell civilian employee has received the award. He was one of 15 individuals selected from across the support formation for this recognition.
Watson was nominated for securing $1.7 in funding for Fort Campbell’s new subterranean training fixture and spearheading an update to IMCOM’s Common Level of Support, or CLS, standards.
“I think it’s a validation of the Directorate of Plans, Training and Mobilization’s work here at Fort Campbell in support of our warfighter and the Army’s readiness objectives,” he said. “I think it validates all that we have done to increase the readiness of all the tenant units on Fort Campbell.”
The installation has two subterranean-focused units, and the project is expected to boost their mission readiness by giving Soldiers safe and practical experience in a confined space.
Watson also led a cross-functional team from 12 installations to update CLS standards for three Training Support Services: Range Operations, Training Support Center Operations and Training Integration. He said the goal was to directly impact senior commanders’ readiness requirements across the board.
Brenda Lee McCullough, IMCOM-Readiness director, said Watson has been a key figure in preparing Soldiers for deployment and congratulated him on winning the Stalwart Award.
“John Watson is an amazing thinker when it comes to (determining) what is the next thing that we need to do in order to ensure our training is as realistic as possible based on current real-world missions,” she said.