Henry Hemphill III has been with the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command for less than a year and is already making quite the impression.
Recruited at the virtual 2021 Be Everything You Are Conference and hired shortly after, Hemphill now works for the AMCOM Logistics Center Acquisition Directorate in the Publication Services Division.
But how he got there is the story.
“I’ve supported the federal government ever since 2016,” said Hemphill, who is an AMCOM logistics management specialist. “But, in all actuality, it’s been the majority of my adult life since I served in the Army, as well.”
Hemphill followed in the footsteps of his father, grandfather and great-grandfather when he decided to join the Army. His father also did a brief stint in the Navy before switching to the Army. The skills Hemphill learned as a UH-60 helicopter repairer would later serve him well later in his civilian career.
After serving 17 years in the Army, the Los Angeles native retired in 2015 under the Temporary Retirement Authority. TERA was a discretionary program that allowed service members with at least 15 years of active-duty service to retire under special circumstances.
“I had a great chain of command that allowed me to bow out gracefully,” he said.
Then his career took another unpredictable route.
After retiring from Fort Carson, Colorado, Hemphill applied for and was accepted into the U.S. Senate intern program. He moved from Colorado to the Washington, D.C., area the following spring and started school at Mount Saint Mary’s University in Emmitsburg, Maryland, to work on his bachelor’s degree while doing the internship. He ultimately earned a Bachelor of Science in business management with a minor in business law.
“I started off as an intern in the Senate in [Washington,] D.C., before I got accepted into the Warriors to Workforce Program at the end of my internship,” Hemphill said. W2W offers veterans a chance to apply military skills to employment opportunities in the federal workforce.
His first government civilian position was working as a General Services Administration Vehicle and Fleet Services contract specialist. He remained in that position for three years before exploring other possibilities.
“I interned with the GSA during the summers and was able [to complete Federal Acquisition Certification in Contracting] Level I in the process before an opportunity opened up for me to return to the [Department of Defense] as a civilian contractor in the Utility Helicopter Project Office here at Redstone Arsenal [in 2019],” he said.
While working in the UHPO, Hemphill saw an email about BEYA – formerly known as Black Engineer of the Year Award – that piqued his interest. BEYA recognizes leaders developing innovation in science, technology, engineering and math.
Mainly, Hemphill wanted to know how in the world a conference of that magnitude was going to happen in the middle of a global pandemic.
“As you know, we were all teleworking from home or doing a combination of a day or two in the office, but the majority of our time working was virtually and we were all getting used to our new normal,” he said. “Well, the BEYA conference was no exception to this either.”
Though he had been around the Army his whole life, Hemphill said he only really knew the aviation side. He was curious about all the other entities that operate in the Sparkman Center – where his office was located.
During the breakout sessions, the Army veteran got a chance to interact with representatives from various departments and gain invaluable insight.
“I applied for a logistics management position with the AMCOM Acquisition Logistics Directorate [within ALC] due to the vast array of programs they had – all of them seemed interesting to me,” he said. “To say this was the best decision that I’ve made would be an understatement.”
And the rest, as the saying goes, is history. After about two years as a contractor, Hemphill was hired as an Army civilian.
Only a month in his new position, Hemphill decided to step up as the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense team lead as an additional duty.
“I was able to leverage my wealth of acquisition knowledge and experience with the team to allow them to teach me and lead me since I was new to missile programs, in general,” he said. “This trade-off allowed them to focus all of their attention on releasing technical manuals to the Soldiers while I handled all the administrative tasks … for this program to get back on track.”
The technical writer and lead logistician who previously led the release process for the THAAD Interactive Electronic Technical Manual effort departed their positions, leaving a critical gap that Hemphill was happy to fill.
“Within 45 days of joining the branch, Mr. Hemphill initiated an integrated product team,” said former Writing Branch III Chief Delicia Battle, who has since left AMCOM. “These IPTs have been instrumental in aligning the tasks and processes needed to provide seamless support as the publication integrator for this system. Using [Hemphill’s] vast knowledge of acquisition, contracts, program management and publications, the IPT has been integral in the coordination with personnel in the Publications Services Division, Logistics Data Analysis Center and [Missile Defense
Agency] missile customers. This collaborative effort resulted in the timely release of manuals and an approval of a waiver for future releases, which directly effects the readiness of the system.”
Hemphill said the work he and his team do is integral because it provides Soldiers the most up-to-date information necessary to keep their equipment running in a training and/or combat environments worldwide.
Apart from being a positive role model for his three adult sons, Hemphill said what drives him is the pursuit of continuous learning.
“The always-learning part has really been a great benefit for me because I’m never afraid to be taught something new,” said Hemphill, who – speaking of being unafraid to learn new things – owned a CrossFit gym for a few years and has a love of Olympic weightlifting.
Professionally, Hemphill plans to continue to put his best foot forward in Writing Branch III and do all he can to support Soldiers while “looking for opportunities within AMCOM to challenge my skillset as my knowledge base grows.”
Personally, the self-proclaimed weightlifting and motorcycle enthusiast said he once qualified for the PanAmerican Masters and the International Weightlifting Federation World Masters championships. He wants to do it again.
“My goal is to qualify for both of them again next year or at least place high in the rankings,” he said.
Maybe when he’s mastered that, he will salvage a bike or hop on a motorcycle – more of his hobbies – to take “a long ride to all parts unknown for different food venues.”
Though his story began in Los Angeles and has taken him all over, Hemphill said he’s in Alabama to stay.
“You will have to drag me away from the slow pace of Huntsville,” he said. “This is home now!”