A Memphis District native recently redeployed from Afghanistan received one of the highest honors delivered by the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE).
Lawrence W. Thomas, known as “LT” served from October 6, 2016 through September 4, 2018 as a Senior Project Manager initially and was later promoted to Deputy Chief of Programs and Project Management Division (Deputy DPM for PPMD), and Chief of Data Management, Afghanistan District from April 30, 2017 to September 4, 2018.
He was presented with the Bronze Order of the de Fleury Medal signed by USACE Commander and Chief of Engineers Lt. Gen. Todd Semonite and presented by Afghanistan District Commander, Col. Jason E. Kelly.
His citation read in part, “The Army Engineer Association on behalf of the Engineer Regiment is proud to award the Bronze order of the de Fleury Medal to Mr. Lawrence W. Thomas. In recognition of superior service to the United State Army Engineer Regiment as it supports the Army to assure mobility, enhance protection, enable expeditionary logistics, and build capacity in order to provide commanders with the freedom of action required for full spectrum operations in an era of persistent conflict. These efforts have significantly contributed to the overall readiness of the Army and reflect great credit upon the United States Army Corps of Engineers.”
“It is a very bitter sweet moment to me,” said LT as he humbly spoke to his colleagues he departed from, “because all of you have been great to me and more importantly, I can proudly say that I have also found friends in you.”
Deputy District Engineer, John Drake said, “LT’s” wealth of knowledge and experience was critical in pivoting the Afghanistan District into a tripling of awards for this Fiscal Year to respond and support the Resolute Support missions’ increased efforts as part of the military strategy.”
Thomas’s wealth of knowledge also earned him the Superior Civilian Service Award and NATO Medal for his exceptionally meritorious service as the Deputy Chief of Programs and Project Management Division while deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel.
His citations, signed by Andrew P. Poppos, MG, U. S. Army Commander U. S. National Support Element-Afghanistan read in part, “Mr. Thomas’ distinctive accomplishments are in keeping with the highest honors and traditions of Civilian Service and reflect great credit upon himself, the Transatlantic Afghanistan District, and the Department of the Army.
Thomas has been with USACE for 26 years and has a previous deployment in 2012 to 2013 with the then Transatlantic Afghanistan District-South (TAS). He says his highlight of his recent deployment is working with a diverse array of civilian and military personnel with a common goal and accomplishing those goals.
He expertly led all aspects of the District’s program and project management functions to ensure project schedules were on track, funding was available to award contracts, acquisition strategies were aligned with available tools, and data management produced quality products. “Thomas’ leadership and technical expertise postured Afghanistan District along with his stellar team of program and project managers, data managers, and resource analysts to execute 119 projects valued at more than $1.3 billion, which includes 28 contract awards ($79.4M) and 54 project turnovers ($288.7M),” said Jason Kelly, Afghanistan District Commander.
“Yes I will,” he said when asked if given the opportunity if he would deploy again? “I think this is a unique opportunity given to us and a privilege to be afforded the opportunity to serve and work alongside our deployed U. S. military, NATO partners and our Afghan colleagues.”
He reflected on a recent site visit he was privileged to make to work with potential bidders for the Presidential Air Wing project. “Most of my interaction with local Afghans was eye opening as I began to see that the vast majority just wanted to live in peace and have a safe place for their families.” LT was traveling extensively during his six months as a Project Manager and his interaction with the Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police personnel was frequent.
One of his “take-a ways” as he redeployed back to his District in Memphis was to never take life for granted and remember that every single day is precious. One man filling three positions at one time, stepping up and covering when necessary during a time when the DPM and the program and project managers were on Rest and Relaxation, seamlessly assuming and carrying out all duties.
“I’m also taking back additional knowledge of the Military Construction Program and serving as Deputy DPM for 16 months,” LT said. “I’ve gained a breadth of experience working in a fast-paced and high energy contingency district.”
Thomas is catching up on some overdue time with his family and when he returns he will work with his District leadership on “Doing Work for others”. He said, “Since being deployed I’ve realized that my District for years has been in this box to primarily do work within our area of responsibility, but the world is a big place and USACE is a premier engineering organization and has a huge presence around the world.”
According to Donny Davidson, Chief, Engineering and Construction Division, Memphis District the LT is getting restless and ready to continue his mission as the primary Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) Point of Contact for Mississippi Valley Memphis District (MVM) and their Work for Others Program.