Brig. Gen. Rob Barrie, program executive officer for aviation, presents the Aviation Turbine Engines project office charter to Regina Bublitz during a change of charter ceremony June 23 at Bob Jones Auditorium. Bublitz assumed responsibility from Col. Roger Kuykendall who retired following the ceremony with 28 years of service.
Brig. Gen. Rob Barrie, program executive officer for aviation, presents the Aviation Turbine Engines project office charter to Regina Bublitz during a change of charter ceremony June 23 at Bob Jones Auditorium. Bublitz assumed responsibility from Col. Roger Kuykendall who retired following the ceremony with 28 years of service. (Photo Credit: Michelle Miller) VIEW ORIGINAL

Col. Roger Kuykendall’s career covered almost three decades of service to the nation culminating with his retirement from the Army on June 23.

Lt. Gen. Thomas Todd, deputy commander for acquisition and systems and chief innovation officer at Army Futures Command, presided over the retirement ceremony at Bob Jones Auditorium and recounted his initial working experiences with Kuykendall while at the Program Executive Office for Aviation.

Todd recalled Kuykendall’s competitive personality and how that trait served him well in starting the Improved Turbine Engine Program and the challenges he encountered in leading a new office. “All you would have to do was dare Roger,” Todd said. “He would look at a dare as a challenge because he’s so damn competitive.”

That competitive spirit, combined with Kuykendall’s unique perspective as an infantryman leading an aviation acquisition program, Todd said, was needed as the program faced an uphill battle to prove its relevance.

Kuykendall’s successful leadership of the ITE Program from pre-Milestone A included the writing of the analysis of alternatives.

“During the early days of the Milestone A decision to start the program, Roger came and joined the team, leading the new office which included ITEP,” Todd said. “He didn’t disrupt it, he kept it going and made it better. To this day, Kuykendall’s analysis of alternatives for ITEP is held up as the example amongst leadership in the Army. I have the example of good analysis, and it’s thanks to you (Roger).”

In his final official act before retiring, Kuykendall relinquished responsibility as ATE Project Manager to Regina Bublitz in a change of charter ceremony led by Program Executive Officer for Aviation Brig. Gen. Rob Barrie.

Bublitz most recently served as the Army’s Aircraft Survivability Equipment product manager for missile warning. A graduate of the Army’s Senior Service College Fellowship program, she also served as product director for the Light Helicopter Product Office, responsible for life-cycle management of the UH-72A Lakota as well as divestment of the OH-58 A/C, OH-58-D and TH-67 aircraft.

Barrie spoke of Kuykendall’s many contributions and achievements in the program, stating he filled the unique challenge of building relationships and teams across the organization and the Army in order to drive mission success. He achieved this by balancing industry, their resources and their technical challenges along with the integration requirements of a platform.

“Roger is going to come up here and say this is a great team and they were the ones that allowed us to execute this mission and I agree with him, he does have a great team,” Barrie said. “But the reason teams are good is because they have excellent leaders.”

During the ceremony, Kuykendall was recognized with several awards, including the Legion of Merit, the Order of St. Michael aviation award and the Order of St. Maurice infantry award. He also received certificates of appreciation and letters from the president of the United States, the governor of Alabama, Alabama senators and congressman and Huntsville’s mayor. Other mementos included a PEO Aviation project offices’ coins plaque, a star note from Barrie, the “Army Aviation Foundations of the Modern Fleet” book and a senior executive note from Patrick Mason, deputy PEO.

Col. Roger Kuykendall, right, accepts his certificate of retirement from Lt. Gen. Thomas Todd, deputy commander or acquisition and systems and chief innovation officer at Army Futures Command. Prior to his retirement, Kuykendall relinquished responsibility as the project manager for Program Executive Office for Aviation’s Aviation Turbine Engines project office.
Col. Roger Kuykendall, right, accepts his certificate of retirement from Lt. Gen. Thomas Todd, deputy commander or acquisition and systems and chief innovation officer at Army Futures Command. Prior to his retirement, Kuykendall relinquished responsibility as the project manager for Program Executive Office for Aviation’s Aviation Turbine Engines project office. (Photo Credit: Cindy Mitchell) VIEW ORIGINAL

Melissa Kuykendall was also recognized with a certificate of appreciation signed by Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville, the Army Aviation Association of America’s Lady of Loreto award and the Army Infantry’s Shield of Sparta.

Upon his retirement, Kuykendall plans to “take a breather” before entering the civilian/industry workforce and beginning his next chapter in life.

“I did not get here by myself,” Kuykendall said. “I was always surrounded by great teammates, great people, great Soldiers and friends. But all this has to sit on a foundation. That foundation has been my family, my wife and kids.”

He said Melissa has been the bedrock of his military career, and that the ceremony isn’t just for him, it’s as much about her. Kuykendall closed with “Army Strong. Roger Out.”