The Commander’s Award for Civilian Service was presented to an Aviation and Missile Research Development and Engineering Center employee June 4 at the Aviation Engineering Directorate’s All Hands Meeting.
Thomas Dodd, an electronics engineer of the Maintenance Engineering Division, received the honor for his service as the AMRDEC liaison engineer during Operation United Assistance in Liberia from November 2014 until March 2015. During this time, Dodd provided support to Delta Company, 2-501st Task Force Iron Knights from Fort Bliss, Texas.
The Commander’s Award for Civilian Service is an honorary award presented by the Department of the Army to recognize civilian employees for commendable service or achievement. The voluntary deployment to Liberia was the third tour he has completed following two civilian deployments to Afghanistan.
Dodd viewed this as an opportunity to directly impact the war fighter.
“I fully support the guys that don’t have a choice. I used to be one of ones without a choice. When I was presented with the chance, anything I could do to help them, I wanted to do,” said Dodd, who served as a Marine.
Operation United Assistance was implemented to protect international stability and security during the outbreak of Ebola through West Africa.
According to Department of Defense reports, DoD delivered critical lifesaving resources, built Ebola treatment units, trained hundreds of local and international health care workers and provided logistical support to humanitarian and public health workers who provided care throughout West Africa.
“The United States sent more than 10,000 civilian responders on the ground in Ebola-affected areas providing direct and indirect health care support and other functions handled by the military Operation United Assistance in Liberia,” Pentagon press secretary Navy Rear Adm. John Kirky stated earlier this year.
Dodd was one of those responders.
He directly managed the condition and maintenance of 14 aircraft including six UH-60L Black Hawks, four CH-47F Chinooks, and four HH-60M MEDEVAC helicopters that were assigned to Delta Company, 2-501st Task Force Iron Knight. Because of the remote, dense jungle locations and the expeditionary conditions, the Iron Knights used these helicopters to assist in the resupply and construction of 14 Ebola treatment facilities.
As the liaison engineer for the region, Dodd provided Maintenance Engineering Call authorizations to the Aviation and Missile Command logistics assistance representatives. He also returned the Iron Knights aircraft from Non Mission Capable condition back to Fully Mission Capable status swiftly without compromising the safety of the aircraft and the crewmembers.
Ultimately, Dodd said the change of environment and meeting people working toward the same mission was the best part of his experience.
“We spent a lot of time around the aircraft which rarely happens at my job as an electronics engineer. Occasionally I might get to see one, but in Liberia I could crawl inside them and underneath them to understand the engineering needs. In Africa, I got the opportunity to go flying and get to know the maintenance crew and LARs. When you work remotely, it is rare that you get to know the team you are working with. It was definitely an experience I’ll never forget.”