Jun 15, 2012
About 150 co-workers, shipmates, friends and members of the community gathered June 14 at the Paradise Café at Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake to bid farewell to Rear Adm. Mat Winter, Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division commander, as he heads to Patuxent River, Md. to take the helm of the Program Executive Office for Unmanned Aviation and Strike Weapons.
“My two years and two months here have been the most impressionable of my 28-year naval career,” Winter said. “These last two years, I have learned an incredible amount because of you and the people you represent. I’m truly humbled by you being here tonight.”
During his time at NAWCWD, Winter often said that one of his favorite parts of the job is being able to recognize the workforce. In one of his last acts as commander, Winter presented seven awards at the celebration.
Winter presented Des Jones, speechwriter, with a Navy Meritorious Civilian Service Award. “Des has an innate ability to become like a chameleon and understand exactly how you think and talk, and articulate that into the written word,” he said.
Merrie Giles, NAWCWD comptroller, received a Navy Meritorious Civilian Service Award from Winter. “The hydraulic fluid of acquisition is our money,” Winter said. “Merrie leads a team of more than 100 professionals and makes sure that the $1.3 billion of new money that comes in every year, the $5-7 billion that are being executed at any one time, and the $10 billion of capital assets are being utilized within the statutes and regulations.”
Winter presented Mark Storch, NAWCWD chief of staff, a Flag Letter of Commendation. “As the commander when I got here, Mark was my sponsor, my friend, my shipmate and made my transition here absolutely seamless,” Winter said.
Winter presented Christina Crowley, chief of staff for Test and Evaluation (AIR-5.0), with a Navy Meritorious Civilian Service Award in recognition of her leadership. “She has an incredible ability to bring together disparate groups across competencies for the greater good of the T&E mission,” Winter said.
Winter recognized Capt. Harry Dunbrack, NAWCWD vice commander, with a Meritorious Service Medal for specific actions in executing the WD strategic plan for intellectual property and patents. “His ability to get the job done, tactically and strategically, is second to none,” Winter said.
Winter presented Scott O’Neil, NAWCWD executive director, a Navy Superior Civilian Service Award. “Scott’s been my right-hand man, a peer, an incredible advisor and counselor, and has given me great guidance,” Winter said. “He is a rocket scientist and our senior civilian here, and I could not have asked for a better executive director,” Winter said. “What he has done is in the hands of our warfighters today and they are using it. He continues to mentor, to lead, and provide the technical guidance for the systems that will be in our warfighters hands tomorrow.”
Winter also recognized Gary Kessler, his deputy for AIR-5.0, who could not attend the celebration. “Gary’s a phenomenal gentleman and an incredible tactician. He swims in the strategic ‘strategery’ everyday and has made my job easier.”
Congressman Kevin McCarthy did not attend the celebration but sent a letter to Winter recognizing his leadership at the command and throughout the high-desert community. “It is individuals like you that truly make this country great,” read McCarthy’s letter. “Thank you for your service. You will be greatly missed.”
O’Neil presented Winter with the L.T.E. Thompson Award to honor his strategic leadership and efforts in setting the course for the future of NAWCWD.
“Not only has Admiral Winter provided us the direction and guidance with his People, Organization and Mission principles, he’s helped us take the first steps,” O’Neil said. “We’ve made a lot of progress on all of our strategic thrusts and it’s because of his day-to-day leadership, guidance and dedication.”
Several leaders and representatives from NAWCWD, Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, the community, and elected officials spoke during the celebration.
First up was Capt. Dennis Lazar, NAWS commanding officer. “Thank you for your leadership here,” he said. “Your spirit, your energy, your passion, the way you engage and motivate people is absolutely awesome. We’re going to miss you. Good luck in the next chapter.”
Giles joked, “You know, it’s very intimidating to work for a person who can give a state of the union address at a moment’s notice.”
Representing the Naval Test Wing Pacific, Capt. Paul Sohl praised Winter for his personal involvement with Sailor and Marines. “For the times that you have been part of our frockings, handed out coins, recognized our SAR crew, thank you very much.”
Terry Clark, director of NAVAIR Ranges, said he is a better person for serving under Winter’s tutelage. “Thanks personally for your leadership, stewardship and mentorship.”
During her presentation, Karen Haden, head of NAWCWD Contracts, gave Winter the opportunity to experience the “indescribable thrill of exercising the unfettered authority of a contracting officer” by designating him an honorary contracting officer. “Thank you for your leadership and engagement and enjoy your new assignment,” she said.
Winter closed the celebration and expressed his thanks to all in attendance.
“Each and every one of you is a valued member of this command and AIR-5.0,” he said. “It has been an honor and a pleasure to lead this team, to be your shipmate, and to be your friend. I appreciate everything you do for our great country every day.”
NAWCWD Public Affairs