VICKSBURG, Miss. —The type of guy who eschews a lot of fanfare, Dr. Craig Fischenich, a senior research civil engineer with the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center, was hoping to end a 33-year career with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers by slipping out quietly.
But the ERDC’s Environmental Laboratory ⸺ Fischenich’s home since 1992 ⸺ his friends and former colleagues had other ideas. Instead, they honored him, after he retired in March 2019, and his prolific career with the prestigious Bronze de Fleury medal and other awards, June 6, 2019, in the ERDC Headquarters Building Atrium.
Dr. David Pittman, director of ERDC, Deputy Director Dr. Beth Fleming, Coastal and Hydraulics Laboratory Director Dr. Ty Wamsley, Environmental Laboratory Deputy Director Dr. Jack Davis, and ERDC Commander Col. Ivan Beckman all attended the event.
Fleming spoke first, saying that Fischenich had been a mentor to her when she was with the EL. She described how, whenever he was in a room filled with experts from different organizations, he spoke with such authority and experience about his subject that everyone would instantly get quiet and listen.
Col. Beckman described the history and meaning of the Bronze de Fleury Medal and presented it to Fischenich for his body of work. A recognized expert in the field of water resources and coastal ecology, Fischenich mainly focused on stream and riparian, or river, ecosystem restoration.
A Certificate of Appreciation from the Missouri River Recovery Program was presented next, for his leadership and expertise in the development of the Missouri River Recovery Management Plan and the Science and Adaptive Management Plan; he also received a letter from the director, Northwestern Division Office of Programs, for his leadership, technical knowledge and the ability to work with a diverse group of people. Fischenich successfully led three teams within the Missouri River Recovery Program.
Dr. Jen Seiter-Moser, chief of the Ecological Resources Branch, was on hand to congratulate him. “He is one of the strongest people I know; he is a mover and shaker--he was an excellent employee, and he was a mentor for me as well,” she later said.
Fischenich developed an extensive array of models, tools, guidance and techniques for aquatic ecosystem restoration, fish passage, environmental assessment, and geomorphic analyses that are currently implemented across the Corps and worldwide. He planned, designed or served as a senior team member on more than 400 ecosystem restoration, adaptive management, habitat enhancement, flood control, and river engineering projects throughout the U.S. and overseas. He also authored hundreds of scientific writings on many subjects connected to his fields of expertise.
Fischenich praised Fleming as the former director of EL. “She is what a good leader should be—she fights for the troops even if it’s not always popular to do so,” he said.
He recalled how, when he was seriously injured in a hunting accident 12 years ago, many people had been helpful and kind to him. He looked at Mike Channel, director, Installations Support Division, and said, “You with your support, Mike Channel, in particular—buddy, what you did is really amazing.”
He closed by describing how during the last 10 years he mostly worked independently supporting other programs. “I miss the teaming, those are the memories that I cherish.
“Jen (Seiter-Moser), Bobby (McComas), and Sarah (Miller), I can’t say enough about your support. This retirement means a lot to me.”