Simodejka awards recognize efforts to advance capability, increase readiness
The 22nd Annual Michael G. Simodejka Awards recognized sustainment, logistics and industrial operations team members from the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD) at a hybrid event hosted by NAWCAD Lakehurst Aug. 23.
The award ceremony honors Simodejka, the first civilian director of logistics for NAWCAD, and one of seven employees killed when their flight from Lakehurst to Patuxent River, Maryland crashed in August 2000.
“The world is changing. Battlespaces continue to evolve, and our Sailors and Marines – or for many, our sons and daughters – need integrated warfighting capability that is advanced, available and ready,” NAWCAD Executive Director Stephen Cricchi said in his opening remarks. “The work that each of you do – as exemplified by today’s honorees – brings all of this together. Your efforts enable our warfighters to go into harm’s way with the greatest possible advantage and return home safely.”
The winners of this year’s awards came from a pool of 13 nominees from all NAWCAD sites.
The Support Equipment Management System (SEMS) Training Team from NAWCAD Lakehurst won the Outstanding Sustainment/Logistics Team of the Year award for their work developing three training courses for different roles within the SEMS. Their work allowed more comprehensive training of 130 people from the Naval Air Warfare Center, Fleet Readiness Center and Naval Supply sites.
“The team’s efforts to develop and provide training courses to improve the knowledge and capability of the workforce aligns directly with the Naval Air Systems Command Intent to develop the workforce and improve availability,” said NAWCAD Lakehurst Officer in Charge Cmdr. Walter Reynolds during the awards presentation.
Reynolds noted the importance of proper data entry as part of support equipment requirements, and that because of the team, the accuracy of information entered into the SEMS increased to 98%.
Melissa Gardner, System Acquisition Group at Patuxent River, received the Outstanding Sustainment/Logistics Manager/Specialist of the Year Award for her work as Interim Product Support Manager for the Airborne Electronic Attack Systems Program Office.
Gardner led the ACAT IC Next Generation Mid-Band and ACAT IC Next Generation Jammer Low Band teams through two Defense Acquisition System milestones. The work included solving issues with sustainment, logistics, readiness and developing a model Sustainment Program Baseline.
“Utilizing her model-based product and digital environment experience, Gardner created driver trees for all levels of maintenance that graphically illustrate the important connection between product support activities and operational performance,” Reynolds said.
NAWCAD Commander Rear Adm. John E. Dougherty IV, NAWCAD Lakehurst Executive Director Kathleen P. Donnelly, Simodejka’s widow Pat Simodejka and his daughter Dawn Jacobus participated in the ceremony.
Simodejka expressed her thanks for being invited to the ceremony every year and for the command’s effort to keep her husband’s memory alive.
She said one of the most important lessons she has learned since that fateful day is being brave like her husband, the former Army Ranger. She also learned the importance of enjoying life, which she said can change instantly.
“I guess knowing, really knowing at a gut level how fragile life is, I’ve learned not to waste time. I’ve learned not to waste time being angry, or unforgiving, or holding onto disappointments or hurts that simply rob you of time in this very fragile life,” Simodejka said. “I suppose Mike’s mantra, which was ‘life is good,’ sort of sums it all up in this very fragile life. Don’t waste time. Be brave and make memories. Tell your story.”