Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division employees and families gather at the Kerr McGee Center in Ridgecrest, California, for NAWCWD’s annual Honorary Awards ceremony on July 13. (U.S. Navy photo by Ryan Smith)

NAWCWD recognizes nearly 200 teammates with Honorary Awards

Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division honored 34 individuals and seven teams – a total of nearly 200 teammates – for excellence in warfighter support during the annual NAWCWD Honorary Awards ceremonies held July 13 in China Lake and July 15 in Point Mugu, California.

Rear Adm. Scott Dillon, NAWCWD commander, noted that the work being recognized is a “big deal” and represents high-quality solutions to difficult challenges.

“[Easy problems] are not the sort of problems that land on your desks. It’s not the business we’re in,” he said. “Those aren’t the type of problems you’re asked to solve. Solving the hard problems requires a special skillset, a special sort of dedication to the mission. That dedication and those accomplishments are really what these awards recognize.”

The Michelson Laboratory Award recognizes individuals for technical excellence based on outstanding performance of their individual duties. Recipients demonstrate significant achievements in management and leadership, which further the mission of NAWCWD or important achievements in resolving specific technical problems in ordnance development, test and evaluation. This year’s honorees are Jason Abshire, John Carter, Erin Duchow, Eric Frisbee, Michael Lutfi, Mark Niezgoda, Rory O’Neil, Stephen Stange, and Nhan Tran.

The Captain Kenneth A. Walden Memorial Award, which honors Walden’s personal involvement in providing motivation and leadership to others to achieve technical and operational objectives, recognizes those who have made significant strides in personal development, career advancement or have contributed to mission success in NAWCWD’s technical and operational goals within the last three years. Awardees for 2021 are Michael Delaney, Barry Miller, Marcos Romero, Brian Rushing, Timothy Sommer, and Herold (Suni) Williams II.

Recipients of the Dr. Twain C. Lockhart Memorial Award were Eric Laskey and Charles Travers. This award honors Lockhart’s innovative spirit and approach in shaping the targets organization into what it is today. Recipients have made significant leadership contributions to the development of target systems to meet the developmental and operational testing requirements of weapons systems.

The Commander Clifton Evans Jr. Award is reserved for those civilian or military employees who have made significant contributions in information warfare and electronic warfare in one or more of the following areas: organizational design, systems engineering, hardware/software engineering, modeling and simulation testing, and/or employment techniques that enhance combat effectiveness, survivability, and lower costs. Recipients for 2021 are Richard Busse, Douglas Davis, and Mark Ramirez.

Donald Christison and Daniel Warren each received the Dr. L.T.E. Thompson Memorial Award, which is NAWCWD’s highest recognition for outstanding individual achievement. China Lake’s success in the field of ordnance was due in great part to Thompson’s initial guidance and to his skill in integrating military and civilian personnel into an enthusiastic, effective group. Candidates are selected based on their outstanding contribution to the advancement of ordnance toward the fulfillment of the NAWCWD mission and must have already received a Michelson Laboratory Award.

The Dr. William B. McLean Memorial Award pays tribute to McLean, technical director at China Lake from 1954 to 1967. By his leadership, vision, and tremendous personal contributions, McLean brought lasting recognition and distinguished the reputation of China Lake while serving in this position. This award recognizes outstanding creativity among employees in furthering NAWCWD’s mission as evidenced by significant inventions. This year’s sole recipient is Matthew Davis.

Matthew Walker received the Dr. Charles C. Lauritsen Memorial Award. This award recognizes outstanding individual achievement in the advancement of technology in energetic materials, ordnance, propulsion, and fusing or career achievement in the field of energetics, and honors Lauritsen’s successful development and utilization of rockets and missiles, and the establishment of the civilian-military team concept in the Navy lab structure.

The Gwendolyn Elliot Hunt Memorial Award recognizes those who have made significant strides in personal development, academic achievement, career advancement and/or mission accomplishment. Hunt was a leader and technical professional who rose to each challenge in her professional and personal life and is said to have made improvements to the efficiency and quality of life at NAWCWD. This year’s honoree is Rachel Fortney.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Award recognizes employees who have made outstanding contributions to NAWCWD’s EEO program through excellence in leadership, imagination and perseverance. Nancy Ball and Patricia Gresham took home this year’s honors.

The Business Management Excellence Awards recognize excellence in business management or those involved in any of the various business or business-related fields in support of NAWCWD’s mission success. These fields include financial, total force management, human resources, contracts and acquisition, information technology, security and legal. Individual award winners were Antonette Ayers, Henry Frohlich, Jessica Thatcher, and Katy White.

Three teams earned Business Management Excellence Team Awards.

The Advanced Weapons Laboratory Planning and Estimating Tool Team developed a tool that provides complete and accurate data to the program management activity, technical project office, and chief financial officer, streamlining several financial processes into one cohesive product. The tool is an immediate, single source of information for business financial managers to accept and allocate funds; provides many planning, budgeting, and financial reports; and describes contracts and agreements as well as manpower data and demands. Team members are Christina Davis, Kristine Hoggatt, Gavin MacGregor, Edith Moreno, and Robert Tomlinson.

The BME Cyber Training Team led and managed an effort to increase certification compliance of the 600-member cybersecurity workforce, including introducing and implementing improved workforce training at all levels. The team’s efforts contributed to NAWCWD achieving an overall compliance rate of 80%, and the cybersecurity workforce certification has improved by 55% since fiscal year 2019. Team members are Erica Ashley, Karla Pedraza, Kimberly Veazey, and Kyla Vigneault.

The Employee Development Team navigated COVID-19 restrictions that precluded in-person learning events and provided a multitude of online platforms to allow training to move forward. The team negotiated details with the vendors, rescheduled courses, learned the tools being used, and assisted the Weapons Division workforce with getting into the virtual environment and becoming successful end-users. The 16-person team not only provided critical workforce development, but also saved the command’s $2 million training investment. 

Three individuals earned the Sustainment Excellence Award, which recognizes NAWCWD employees, civilian or military, for specific efforts that enhance sustainment professionalism and contribute to the corporate success of Sustainment and Industrial Operations through outstanding innovative sustainment program management and enhanced quality of service. Individual honorees are Randy Brenneman, David Levine, and Jerri Stratton.

The Sustainment Excellence Team Award went to the Environmental Safety & Occupational Health Team, consisting of Cynthia Webber and Ross Shingledecker. The team provided risk management products for multiple programs, including AARGM-ER, Small Diameter Bomb II, and Fire Scout and for the Tomahawk Phase III Gulf of Alaska Navy Environmental Impact Statement. By finding environmentally acceptable maintenance materials, the team positively impacted the Navy’s ability to provide flexible sustainment solutions to support the Warfighter.

Three teams received the Warfighter Support Award, which recognizes NAWCWD employees, civilian or military, for specific efforts that provide in-service support for weapon systems and/or improve warfighter operational capabilities/readiness. Recipients demonstrated outstanding fleet support that enhance or greatly improve the operational capabilities and readiness of warfighters. Nominees must receive official recognition from an operational activity identifying the value and improvement provided to the warfighter.

The first team was 66-person Digital Precision Strike Suite Team, which developed and deployed multiple complex products in support of key Naval Special Warfare and Tri-Service operators. They provided reach-back services and training assistance at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska; Naval Aviation Warfare Development Command, Nevada; and Fort Sill, Oklahoma; as well as to Navy SEAL Teams 5 and 7 and Naval Special Warfare operators. They also trained approximately 500 Marine Corps infantrymen in California, North Carolina, Hawaii, and Japan. 

The Griffin Missile System Team, consisting of Brice Ambrecht, Kelly Boss, Nelson David Jr., Katherine Hileman, and John McNamara, earned the honor for ensuring the successful, urgent GMS upgrade. They developed and executed the plan for testing the upgrade, planned and executed the logistics effort, and coordinated missile shipments to and from outside the contiguous United States to ensure the entire missile inventory was upgraded, and that the fleet both had Authority to Operate and was trained on the operation of the upgraded system.

The third team recognized was the 54-person Systems Technology Office, which provided new and unmatched capabilities to the fleet while surmounting many difficult technical and execution challenges, including unique system validation requirements, technology limitations, test constraints, and key personnel loss. Where capabilities did not exist, the team stepped in to create solutions critical for future fleet integration and operations. 

In the end, NAWCWD Executive Director Dan Carreño said, everything we do is about the mission.

“Hopefully this ceremony gives us all a reminder that no matter where we sit in the organization, we have a piece of that mission, everybody is critically important in what we do at Weapons Division. You should all be proud of the efforts that you support and execute every day for our warfighters and our Navy.”

 

 

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