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Posted 5/7/2014

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By Michelle Stewart, ERDC PAO


VICKSBURG, Miss. - The U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) Coastal and Hydraulics Laboratory (CHL) recently hosted a boat dedication ceremony in which a fleet of five new vessels were named in honor of five current and former employees April 11.  The vessel names were selected, by popular vote, by CHL employees.

ERDC Commander Col. Jeffrey Eckstein, CHL Director José Sánchez, CHL Deputy Director Dr. Kevin Barry, laboratory personnel, the honorees and their families were on hand for the event.

“It is truly an honor to be part of the CHL family,” said Sánchez.  “These occasions serve as a testament to this laboratory’s history and importance.”

According to Barry, the vessels provide an upgraded capability for fresh and salt water studies by the lab’s scientists and engineers.

The efforts of several CHL personnel were instrumental in the laboratory receiving the boats at no cost.  The acquisition was made possible due to fleet upgrades by the U.S. Coast Guard. 

RV T. Waller

Terry N. Waller is a research hydraulic engineer in the Field Data Collections and Analysis Branch.  He began his government career at the Corps’ Vicksburg District in 1983.  In 1986, he moved to the then Hydraulics Laboratory.   

Waller was cited for providing 30 years of government service to CHL. “His abilities combined unmatched dedication with a natural intuition for understating instrumental, riverine and oceanographic processes. His contributions have succeeded in elevating the quality of our data collection capabilities. CHL is proud to honor him by naming a survey vessel the RV T. Waller.  We could have never achieved so much without our “Flash.”

RV Garcia

Dr. Andrew (Andy) Garcia retired from ERDC after 39 years of service developing numerical models, studies of tsunamis, developing wind, wave and storm surge models, and researching the coastal effects of cyclones.  In 2008, he joined the Corps Action for Change team to help revise policies and procedures for adapting the effects of climate change.  He was the recipient on many awards, including the Department of the Army Civil Service Medal for Excellence, the U.S. National Weather Service Modernization Award and the American Society of Civil Engineers Life Member Award.  Garcia loved his work, was devoted to his family, lived life passionately and shared his father’s love of the sea.  He was concerned for the world’s future, never quit caring for others and has left a positive impact on the world.  He had boundless patience and generosity, yet displayed both with quiet modesty.

Garcia was cited for “advancing the science of coastal engineering through his study of waves and the coastal effects of cyclones.  Andy’s door was always open to anyone with a problem or a question.”

RV Martin

Dr. William Martin began his USACE service on Dec. 8, 1972, when he was commissioned a second lieutenant upon graduation from the University of Tennessee with a bachelor’s in civil engineering.  His civilian service began Jan. 1, 1973 as a GS-5 civil engineer trainee for the Corps’ Memphis District.  Martin rose to the position of CHL director in 2009.  He also spent time as a platoon leader for the U.S. Army, a staff engineer for the Directorate of Research and Development at USACE headquarters in Washington, D.C., and as a visiting professor in the Civil Engineering Department at the University of Memphis.

Martin was cited for being instrumental in modernizing and upgrading the laboratory’s facilities and capabilities.  He set high goals for himself and the laboratory.  Through his leadership, these goals have been met and the stage set for CHL to advance into the 21st century as a world leader in water resources engineering.  He supported the field data collection group by providing funding and guidance for the modernization of CHL’s facilities and capabilities.

RV Clara Jean

Clara Jean Coleman began her career at WES as an office assistant.  After several years, she was encouraged to pursue a civil engineering technician position.  In order to do this, she took a pay cut, but soon proved her invaluable worth to the organization and worked her way up to a civil engineering technician DE-4.

The only woman in the group of honorees, Coleman was nicknamed “Moma Clara” for the way she took care of every member of the field crew.  

Coleman was cited for “being an invaluable member of the field data crew for many years and because of her dedication to excellence, she aided the team in becoming the top-notch field team we are today.”

RV Curtis

Col. William W. Curtis, the eldest of the honorees, was born Sept. 23, 1921.  Curtis’ career began during the height of World War II when he joined the U.S. Coast Guard.  He was part of the D-Day invasion that led to the defeat of the Axis Powers and freed the European continent. Upon returning from the war, he returned to college and graduated with a degree in civil engineering in 1949 from Mississippi State University. Curtis’ federal career began in 1951 with the Corps and lasted 30 years.  During the same period, he served in the Army reserves, leaving the 412th Engineer Command with the rank of colonel. 

Curtis is cited as being the oldest D-Day survivor in Warren County, a retired Army colonel, a retired scout master and a retired Corps employee of 30 years.  His life and dedication to the service of his country set the example we should all hope to follow.

The honorees all had positive feelings for the event.

“I’m not sure how I feel yet,” said Waller. “Most of our boats have always been named after somebody that has retired.  But I’m honored.”

Martin offered thanks to all who made the event memorable.

“I have received many awards during my long career, usually presented by a general, colonel or SESer,” Martin said.  “But having the boat named after me is the best by far because it came from my CHL family.  I know the amount of work that goes into such events and I truly appreciate the efforts.  It was great to visit with you all and the other honorees on such a gorgeous day, eat delicious gumbo and ‘chew the fat’.”

Col. Curtis chatted with everyone as if he had never left.

“It was an honor to be here today and have a boat named in my honor,” Curtis said. 

Coleman found some humor in the day.

“I thought it was a joke.  That I would arrive to find a small toy boat,” Coleman said. “It was a surprising honor to me and very much appreciated.  All my hard work has paid off.”

After the event, the attendees feasted on a lunch of gumbo.

“Today’s activities were tremendously successful, and as you all well know, it is all due to the hard work and dedication of many people. Many thanks to all that worked so hard to arrange, coordinate, and execute this magnificent event. And to all of you, for being such graceful hosts to our honorees,” Sánchez said.

CHL