Aviation, Missile Center principal deputy retires after 35 years of civil service

By Katie Davis Skelley, DEVCOM Aviation & Missile Center Public AffairsDecember 13, 2023

DEVCOM AvMC Systems Readiness Directorate Principal Deputy Carol Holcomb is retiring after 35 years of federal service.
DEVCOM AvMC Systems Readiness Directorate Principal Deputy Carol Holcomb is retiring after 35 years of federal service. (Photo Credit: Army photo) VIEW ORIGINAL

REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. (Dateline) – In true Carol Holcomb fashion, her final address to the Systems Readiness Directorate was not about herself, but about her team.

Holcomb, SRD principal deputy, is retiring this month after 35 years of federal service, a majority of that with the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Aviation & Missile Center. And while Holcomb’s humility – and humor – is part of what makes her a beloved leader, SRD Director Keith Darrow did not downplay Holcomb’s contributions to the Center and the mission.

“Almost every good thing that has happened in the Systems Readiness Directorate in the last three and a half years has Carol Holcomb’s fingerprints on it,” Darrow said. “Her impact is that strong.”

Holcomb started her career as a co-op at the Redstone Test and Evaluation Center but her path as a second-generation engineer was set much earlier when as a child, when she would accompany her father to his work on Redstone Arsenal. Holcomb received her bachelor’s in electrical engineering from the University of Alabama in Huntsville and her master’s in management from the Florida Institute of Technology.

“I’ve had an amazing 35-year career,” she shared. “I will tell you, it is cliché, but if you find something you love, you will never work a day in your life.”

Over those three and a half decades, Holcomb grew through multiple roles at the Center, to become a distinguished technical expert in planning, developing, managing and executing aviation and missile life cycle management command programs. For the latter half of 2023, she was matrixed to the Software, Simulation, Systems Engineering and Integration Directorate, serving as interim principal deputy.

Holcomb’s goodbye address to SRD included Holcomb’s usual wit – as she noted that her career was older than some of the team members in the room.

“I’ve had the career that dreams are made of – and some nightmares – but mostly dreams,” she said.

Always shepherding and mentoring, even as she looked ahead to retirement, Holcomb had a few last words of advice for the people whom she said were more than co-workers, they were family.

“Remember every encounter is an opportunity – an opportunity to learn something new, meet a new person, build a new relationship. Always be respectful because you don’t know what someone is going through and everybody is going through something. Never be afraid to ask a question because that is how you learn, that is how you grow and that is you meet someone new.

“I can honestly say I’ve never worked a day in my life.”


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.