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Posted 1/18/2017

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By Gwyn G. Neill
U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center, Public Affairs

As a participant in the Military Personnel Exchange Program, Brazilian Army Lt. Col. Nilber Teixeira da Cruz recently completed the program at the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center in Vicksburg, Mississippi.

The Military Personnel Exchange Program enables military personnel to be “exchanged” with personnel from other national armies to promote partnerships, interoperability and standardization among the armies. The U.S. Army and the Brazilian Army regularly participate in this year-long program.

Cruz is a native of Rio de Janiero, Brazil where he joined the Brazilian Army in 1992 prior to his graduation from high school. He completed combat engineering training at the Military Academy of Agulhas Negras in 1996. 

After holding various positions within the Brazilian Army, Cruz returned to the Military Institute of Engineering for his master’s. Cruz earned the title of Master in Transportation Engineering and was assigned to the Directorate of Engineering Projects in Brasilia, the capital. He served as director assessor until his designation to the Military Personal Exchange Program at the ERDC for 2016.

During his ERDC assignment, Cruz worked in the Airfield and Pavements Branch of the Geotechnical and Structures Laboratory, where he had contact with several researchers and learned constructive techniques useful for his country. 

Airfields and Pavements Branch Chief Dr. Timothy Rushing said, “Lt. Col. Cruz worked to understand the way we evaluate and maintain our pavements and he learned to use the PCASE and PAVER software programs to assist in his mission in Brazil.

“Lt. Col. Cruz taught us at ERDC how the Brazilian Army Engineers work as their country’s engineers and are responsible for many infrastructure projects with a primary civil works mission,” Rushing added.

Cruz and his family enjoyed living in Vicksburg and the Deep South and the friendly way they were welcomed at the ERDC. His year at ERDC was an opportunity for his family to hone their conversational English and to learn a new culture.

Cruz’s year at ERDC was highlighted by a visit from the Brazilian Army’s four-star Gen. Oswaldo de Jesus Ferreira, chief of the department of construction and engineering. Cruz and ERDC leadership welcomed Ferreira and several other high ranking officials.

After touring, Cruz proudly and masterfully briefed his country’s visitors and his ERDC colleagues in English and his native language, Portuguese. This led to an effective and exceptional dialog and meeting between the Brazilian general and ERDC leadership.

During his exchange year, Cruz was promoted to lieutenant colonel. His previous awards and decorations include the Silver Medal for more than 20 years of duty in the Brazilian Army, the Amazon Service Silver Medal for more than five years on duty in the Amazon Region and the Army Commendation Medal for meritorious service while serving as the Brazilian Army MPEP.

At his farewell ceremony in December, Cruz was presented an Army Commendation Medal by ERDC’s Commander Col. Bryan Green, for meritorious service while displaying exceptional leadership and technical excellence while working on numerous research projects at ERDC.

In his ARCOM recommendation, ERDC’s Deputy Commander Lt. Col. John Tucker said, “Lt. Col. Cruz was a model representative of the Brazilian Government and the Brazilian Army. He continually sought to share his knowledge of the Brazilian Army engineer structure and share his unique background. He attended numerous military events, developed numerous information briefs about the Brazilian Army and developed briefings utilizing his expertise in civil engineering.”

“I really want to thank everyone at the ERDC for making my family and me feel so welcomed from beginning to end. This has been an opportunity of a lifetime that I and my family will never forget,” Cruz said.

ERDC geotechnical and structures laboratory GSL USACE