Describing his organization's employees as people who do a "kick tail job," the recipient of the local 2008 Department of the Army Civilian of the Year Award said he represents the work of an excellent group of Army civilians.

Timothy Owings, deputy project manager for Unmanned Aircraft Systems, Program Executive Office for Aviation, accepted the honor as this year's DA Civilian of the Year from members of the Redstone-Huntsville Chapter of the Association of the U.S. Army at a dinner ceremony April 2 at the Von Braun Center North Hall. He will go on to represent Redstone Arsenal at AUSA's Third Region competition for DA Civilian of the Year.

Owings told the dinner audience of about 290 Army civilians, corporate and community leaders, and Soldiers that he is "truly blessed" and "absolutely honored to lead an organization that is second to none," and which includes civilians from PEO Aviation, AMRDEC and IMMC as well as contractors.

"In a lot of cases I simply represent what a lot of other people do ... I'm simply honored to receive this award on behalf of an organization of employees who do just a kick tail job," he said.

The mission of Unmanned Aircraft Systems is to manage the Army's unmanned aircraft system program, including development, acquisition, testing, systems integration, product improvements, production, fielding and logistical support. The organization provides tactical commanders near-real time, highly accurate reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition with the use of unmanned aircraft, and is expanding its mission into the areas of weaponization, communications relay, specialty payloads, small unmanned aircraft systems, and the linkage to manned aircraft.

"The Soldiers are the reason we do what we do, and we absolutely believe what we do saves lives," Owings said.

Recognizing an Army top civilian every year is important because of the essential role civilians play in today's Army.

"Many of us who have served (as Soldiers), who are serving and who have children who are serving understand the importance of the DA civilian to the Army's mission," said Jerry Hamilton, chairman of the DA Civilian of the Year Award Committee and emcee for the dinner's program.

Redstone commander Maj. Gen. Jim Myles described DA civilians along with contractors as being a "special group of people" who are essential to the Army's mission.

"Our Army is a small army," he said. "There are a half million Soldiers on active duty. So, we're not a large army.

"The heavy lifting in the Army is done by the Department of the Army civilian. We're in a global war at an uptempo pace that we've never done before. And we've been in it for over six years. And we are succeeding as flawlessly as we can because of the DA civilian."

Mentioning the civilians at AMRDEC, SMDC, MDA, AMCOM and other Army organizations, Myles said "these are great Americans doing unbelievable things here to shape our future. There's phenomenal work going on in the command ... Team Redstone is not just developing systems. It's also conducting combat operations for Soldiers who need our help."

The 10 nominees for the DA Civilian award "happen to represent a lot of great work going on at Team Redstone," Myles said.

Myles thanked the families of Army civilians, saying they make sacrifices just like military families.

"These civilians didn't get nominated because they go to work at 8 and go home at 4," he said. "We can't pay them enough money for the hours they put in. They just want to do their job to support the Soldiers.

"And, as family members, you are the ones who have had separations and had to endure long hours of separation. Thank you for your service."

At the awards dinner, AUSA traditionally recognizes the best nominees in three categories -- management/executive, professional/technical and supportive categories --with one civilian chosen as the overall winner. This year, Hamilton said, the 10 nominees crossed all of the categories.

"We had excellent nominees," he said. "The evaluation committee had a really, really tough job of going through these nomination packets.

"From each of these organizations, these are the best, and we are recognizing the complete dedication and professionalism of each of these individuals."

Owings was nominated in the management/executive award category. He began his career as an Army civilian about 20 years ago, working with the development of AMCOM's aerial systems, TOW missiles and Arrow simulation efforts, according to an AUSA press release. Those assignments led to his work with Unmanned Aircraft Systems, including the development of the Outrider Unmanned Aerial System under a joint Army/Navy/Marine Corps program in the 1990s and the development of the Shadow Unmanned Aerial Vehicle from testing to full-rate production.

In 2004, Owings was promoted to Unmanned Aircraft System deputy project manager, taking the UAS program from start to full-rate production in a record 12 months, a process that normally takes years to complete. In 2007, he helped save the Army $29 million per Shadow system by significantly reducing turnaround time for restoring used unmanned aerial systems. In the past year, Owings was instrumental in doubling the fielding of unmanned aerial systems to the point where every platoon, company, battalion, brigade, division and corps in theater has its own system.

"He helped to give us systems in record time," Myles said. "Unmanned aerial systems are flying over Baghdad, over convoys and next to manned systems in the Global War on Terrorism. It's another frontier that Tim Owings has taken to the next level."

Other nominees for DA Civilian of the Year were:

Aca,!Ac Robert Branin, logistics management specialist, Test, Measurement and Diagnostic Equipment Activity, AMCOM (professional/technical award);

Aca,!Ac Linda Cosgray, executive assistant to the PEO, Program Executive Office for Aviation (supporting staff award);

Aca,!Ac Theresa Falcetano, organizational resources management specialist, Directorate of Human Resources-Garrison (professional/technical award);

Aca,!Ac James Kelton, program integrator for Air Traffic Control Product, Aviation Systems Project Office (professional/technical award);

Aca,!Ac Michael Krause, chief, Subsystems Test and Analysis Branch, Redstone Technical Test Center (management/executive award);

Aca,!Ac Richard Lewis, manager, Test Facility, Business Management, Redstone Technical Test Center (professional/technical award);

Aca,!Ac Ronnie McDaniel, adjutant general, Military Personnel Office, Directorate of Human Resources-Garrison (professional/technical award);

Aca,!Ac Michael Ragoza, director for Logistics and Operations Support, Ground-Based Midcourse Defense Joint Program Office, Missile Defense Agency; and

Aca,!Ac Barry Pike, chief of staff, Program Executive Office for Missiles and Space, (management/executive award).

Although Owings received an award that has been presented by the local chapter of AUSA for several years, this year's DA Civilian award was extra special because it was the first time for it to be known as the George G. Williams DA Civilian of the Year Award.

"I'm honored to receive the first trophy bearing your name," Owings said, speaking directly to Williams at the awards dinner. "You have been a tremendous mentor and adviser to me."

Williams served in various Army civilian positions during his career, including deputy executive program officer and program officer for Fire Support at the Missile Command (now AMCOM), and program executive officer for Tactical Missiles. He retired from civil service in 1996 and became president of COLSA Corp. He has earned numerous awards, including the Department of Defense Value Engineering PEO of the Year Award, and was the namesake and recipient of the Department of the Army George Williams Excellence in Acquisition Management Civil Service Meritorious Service Medal.

AUSA chapter president Mike Howell said the organization decided to name the DA Civilian of the Year Award after a local professional who has strong ties with AUSA and the Department of the Army.

"We wanted to make the connection between AUSA and the DA civilian stronger," he said. "So, we named our award after a special person. George Williams is a paradigm of technical, problematic and management experience."

Corporate sponsors for this year's DA Civilian of the Year Awards Dinner included ManTech SRS Technologies, AAR Brown International, Teledyne Brown Engineering, Westar Aerospace & Defense, Analytical Services Inc., The Whiteford Group, First American Bank, Raytheon, Aviation Technical Test Center, Northrop Grumman, The Huntsville Times, USATA, Aerojet, SAIC, MEI Technologies, Lockheed Martin, DESE Research Inc., UAS PMO, Intergraph Corp., Avion, Inc., BAE Systems, ITT-CAS, COLSA Inc., Enfinger Steele Development, System Studies & Simulations, Redstone Recognitions Inc., CohesionForce Inc., ServisFirst Bank, ICF International, Westwind Technologies, Woody Anderson Ford, Sigmatech Inc., Quanti Tech, Qualis Corp., InfroPro Corp., Lioce Group and Kratos Defense and Security Solutions.