RED RIVER ARMY DEPOT, Texas – After 44 years of federal service, Patton Tidwell, deputy commander for Red River Army Depot, is hanging up his tie for retirement.
Tidwell was recently honored during a retirement ceremony where he received the Superior Civilian Service Medal for his “extraordinary knowledge and experience to mentor and obtain optimum performance from the Red River team.” Tidwell also received a note from Gen. Ed Daly, commanding general, U.S. Army Materiel Command, as well as flags that were flown over the U.S. Capitol and the Texas State Capitol.
Tidwell, who spent his entire career as a part of the Red River team, started as a GS-01 summer hire in 1974 in the depot’s budget office. He also worked as a summer hire the next two consecutive years before being accepted into the Maintenance Management Intern Program in July 1978.
In June 1979 Tidwell was hired by Robert Mountz, Director for Maintenance.
“Mr. Mountz was the intern coordinator and a depot icon in maintenance and was a wonderful mentor,” Tidwell said.
Tidwell’s career was just beginning as he begin to work his way around Red River and climb the ranks to various positions. Before reaching Deputy Commander in January 2010, Tidwell served as Director for Maintenance Logistics, Director for Contracting and Deputy Director for Maintenance Operations.
“Every position presented its own challenges whether in depot maintenance, systems analysis office, business office, contracting or logistics,” he said. “The greatest challenge is to continue to receive workload during budget cuts and peace time to maintain our civilian workforce.”
The nearly five decade employee says there are many memorable events for him but some stand out more than others.
“The most memorable personal moment for me is meeting my wife Paula in 2007 at a conference in Lexington, Kentucky,” he said. “For depot events, my most memorable time is working the 2005 BRAC (Base Realignment and Closure). The commander and deputy assembled a team of analysts to prepare a strategy to help the depot work with BRAC commissioners to tell the depot story. I was lucky enough to be a team member and help prepare for the depot visits and even presented briefings to commissioners and Congressional members in D.C. to lobby for our removal from the closure list.”
Tidwell said he is thankful Congress and the commissioners listened and Red River was realigned rather than closed.
“It was sad to see the ammo and Patriot missile work go elsewhere, but the depot remained and is still viable today including celebrating our 80th anniversary in August 2021,” he said.
Since 1978, Tidwell has worked under 21 commanders. He says he has enjoyed working with each of them, but of course has worked more closely with last six since becoming deputy commander.
“Col. Jim Dwyer and Col. Mike Cervone were excellent commanders and pushed us to get better,” he said. “My six commanders as the deputy were all awesome to work for each and every day. Seeing Maj. Gen. Dan Mitchell promoted was a great accomplishment for him and proved depot commanders can be outstanding general officers as well. But Dan Mitchell, Col. Doyle Lassitter, Col. Brandon Grubbs, Col. Jason Carrico, Col. Stephen York and Col. Jack Kredo were all my daily battle buddies as the deputy commander. We worked well together.”
When it comes down to what Tidwell will miss, it’s all centered on people.
“The depot has a very patriotic work ethic and come to work each day with the motto Our Best, Nothing Less,” he said. “I am leaving the depot in good hands with Col. Kredo, Sgt. Maj. Washington, and Mike Lockard as the new deputy. We have an outstanding Command and Staff team of directors, deputy directors and office chiefs that are very good at their mission and work well together. There is no doubt the depot will continue to thrive.”
Tidwell is married to wife Paula who is a retiree of the Army Contracting Command at Red River. They have four children and 10 grandchildren.
As his life-long career at Red River comes to a close, he leaves a few parting words.
“Continue to excel at what you do in order to see future anniversaries of 85, 90, 95 and 100 years,” Tidwell said. “There is always the opportunity to get better however large or small. Just do your best every day and never forget who we support. As our slogan says, their lives depend on it.”