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REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. (Sept. 21, 2021) - Senior research scientists, as much as the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Aviation & Missile Center would like to hold on to them and call them their own, in reality belong to the Army – and to an even greater scientific world.

As such, DEVCOM AvMC will say farewell to its Senior Technologist for Optical Sciences, Dr. Henry Everitt, who is headed to a new post at the Army Research Lab in September. For the Huntsville native, it will be a bittersweet goodbye.

“I could have never dreamed of this career on my own,” he said, recalling his time at AvMC. “The Army has given STs like me the freedom to explore new ideas, recognizing that one of our jobs is to see what is coming and serve as a sentinel for the Army – it has been very satisfying to explore these new areas and have leadership who values that perspective.”

Everitt’s goodbye is tempered by excitement to continue his life’s work at his new home at Rice University in Texas, one of the top research universities in the U.S. Many STs enjoy an active and robust relationship with the Army’s university partners, and a large part of Everitt’s job over the past 16 years has been mentoring the next generation of scientists. He said that he is excited to be able to continue that at a university, furthering research that supports the current Army modernization priorities while also looking beyond towards its future technology needs.

“Dr. Everitt really is a national asset to our Army and our nation,” said AvMC Director Jeff Langhout. “But even more important than his expertise in optical sciences is his tremendous passion for the technical integrity of the AvMC workforce. Henry dedicated countless hours to growing the next generation of subject matter experts. His dedication to the future workforce is unmatched.

“Dr. Everitt leaves a legacy as a problem solver and most importantly, a senior technical expert who grew a generation of tremendous technical leaders, and for that, the AvMC family will be eternally grateful.”

Much more than just a name has changed since Everitt came to AvMC from the Army Research Office in 2005.

“When I was first hired by the Army in 1991, every center had cradle-to-grave lifecycle technology development,” Everitt said. “It went all the way from the most basic early research to decommissioning technology after it has been deployed and used for life. At that time there was just the missile organization in Huntsville, and the aviation center was still headquartered in St. Louis.

“Over the past 30 years – and especially the last 16 years here – I have seen the missions narrow and the organizations get more specialized ‘to stay in their lane.’ But we have also become more interdependent, and that has been an interesting dynamic to watch unfold because we tend to stovepipe. That interdependency requires us to be more intentional about making those connections, something STs help with since we serve the whole Army.”

Everitt has begun the task of packing up his lab – which isn’t as simple as renting a U-Haul when you have to transport state-of-the-art equipment across the country. Boxes in his office are filling up with mementos – each with its own memory. Everitt remembers when the tree line outside his office window was much smaller and he could see the plumes from the testing range nearby.

“Hurricane Katrina and I showed up in Huntsville at the same time,” Everitt looked back with a laugh. “It was funny because the HR chief who managed transfers at the time, Linda Brown – I was bugging her constantly about what needed to be done, and she gave me the nickname of ‘Hurricane Henry.’”

While he was eligible for retirement with 30 years of total civilian service, Everitt felt that he still had contributions to make and that he wasn’t quite done yet with what he wanted to do. The Army agreed.

For Everitt, his career with the Army was a natural fit – melding scientific curiosity with the higher purpose of serving those in uniform. And having the opportunity to guide the next generation of scientists has been a joy, he said, and one that he looks forward to continuing in his new home.

“I could talk about my accomplishments, but the truth is, if you want to call it a legacy, it is not any of the things that I do but the people I have mentored and helped along the way. I take a greater pride in their successes than my own. To see someone who is bursting with talent, wanting to go and conquer the world and just needing someone to give them encouragement, an ‘attaboy,’ and then see them flourish and blossom -- I can leave confident that they don’t need me anymore. They have taken off and I am looking forward to seeing them do great things. They are my greatest source of pride.”

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The DEVCOM Aviation & Missile Center, headquartered at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, is the Army’s research and development focal point for advanced technology in aviation and missile systems. It is part of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (DEVCOM), a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Futures Command. AvMC is responsible for delivering collaborative and innovative aviation and missile capabilities for responsive and cost-effective research, development and life cycle engineering solutions, as required by the Army’s strategic priorities and support to its Cross-Functional Teams.