REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. -- You can take the leader out of his team, but you can never take the team out of his heart.
Thomas E. Webber, director of the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command Technical Center, retired after more than 30 years of combined federal service during a ceremony Thursday at USASMDC headquarters.
Gen. James H. Dickinson, commander of U.S. Space Command, and former USASMDC commander, served as host for the event.
“I’m not really sure what the best part of retirement is since I’ve never done it before,” Webber said. “I do expect one of the best things will be spending more time with family. I hope to travel and spend some time utilizing our RV. I will not completely retire since I believe I still have much to offer. So, I will continue to support in some capacity in the space and missile defense community.”
Webber mentioned some of the highlights of his career and of working at USASMDC. These included building the National Hover Test Facility out of an old Saturn V engine test hangar and helping design and fly the first Kinetic Kill Vehicle to prove the concept of hitting a bullet with a bullet; leading the Command Safety Office at the Reagan Test Site on Kwajalein Atoll where he executed more than 30 tests critical to the nation’s strategic and missile defense capabilities including multiple first ever tests; serving as flight test director for the Missile Defense Agency’s Near-Field Infrared Experiment; serving as assistant flight test director on the first ever successful hypersonic test; and finally culminating with his role as the director of the Technical Center.
Webber's advice for someone beginning their career as an Army civilian is to "embrace the opportunity."
“There can be so many wonderful opportunities if you work hard and are willing to challenge yourself. Keep things in perspective that you have raised your right hand and taken an oath. This means a higher calling to serve our great nation and to help ensure we protect the freedoms we have in this country," Webber said. “Don’t sweat the small stuff and you will do fine. There is an amazing reward at the end of a government career with an amazing retirement program.”
He said what will miss the most about USASMDC and the Technical Center are the people.
“We have an amazing and important mission and I have absolutely loved every minute of my job but it’s because of the people. They have made my job easy," Webber said. "The technical work being done in the Tech Center is state of the art and delivering capabilities that have never existed in our Army. It’s truly amazing when you think about it.”
When talking about his Technical Center family, Webber said words alone cannot express his appreciation, gratitude and respect for the men and women.
“They are an amazing group of professionals that are the absolute best at what they do,” he said. “I am honored and humbled to have had the opportunity to lead this talented team. The Tech Center has been the pinnacle of my career and it is the people that I will miss.
“You can all be proud of the tremendous accomplishments and the significance of what you have done,” Webber added. “You are and have always been the Tech Center’s most valuable resource. I am proud of what we have done together during my time and will be watching to see the even greater things you will accomplish in the future.”
He also spoke about his USASMDC team members and thanked them for what they do for the Army and nation each and every day.
“Your professionalism sets the standard for all others to follow,” Webber said. “You have been gracious, courteous and supportive of me and the Tech Center. For that, I thank you from the bottom of my heart and continue to believe in your important mission.
“I never could have imagined a career that would have afforded me so many opportunities,” he added. “I am truly grateful to all the men and women I have served with over the years. I can look back on my career with fond memories and the knowledge that I have made a difference for our warfighters and our nation.”