News: US Rep. Duncan Hunter Jr. tours Navy Lab, awards GWOT medals
Story by Chief Petty Officer Lesley Maceyak
SAN DIEGO - U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter, Jr. (R-Calif.) visited SPAWAR Systems Center Pacific (SSC Pacific) Sept. 5 to salute employees for their work on behalf of the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT), as well as receive briefs on SSC Pacific's support of war fighters, and to thank a group of wounded warriors working in the Robotics lab, for their service to country.
Commanding Officer, Capt. Joe Beel; Executive Officer, Capt. Bryan Lopez; and Acting Executive Director Brian Marsh were on hand to welcome Hunter, a former Marine Corps artillery officer and the first Marine combat veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan elected to Congress, to view laboratories at SSC Pacific.
Following the welcome, the congressman was escorted into the Enterprise, Engineering and Certification Lab where he received an overview of the Command, plus a briefing on areas of interest to the House Armed Services Committee member, including: SSC Pacific's cyber and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaisance (ISR) efforts, and in-service engineering and logistics support to the Navy and Marines.
Capt. Beel stressed the Space and Naval Warfare System Command's commitment to developing information dominance for Navy, joint, national, and coalition war fighters through research, development, delivery, and support of integrated capabilities and SSC Pacific's expertise as the Navy's command, control, communications, computers, ISR, technical authority.
Afterward, the congressman, who is also a member of the House's subcommittees on Seapower and Projection Forces, and Emerging Threats and Capabilities, toured the Command's ground-breaking Ballistic Missile Defense Lab.
Additionally, Hunter presented the Civilian Superior Service Award, GWOT Service Medal, and a North Atlantic Treaty Organization Medal to Dale Howell and Matt McMillan, both employees at SSC Pacific.
The GWOT medal recognizes the contributions and accomplishments of the civilian workforce of the Department of Defense in direct support of the armed forces, whose members are engaged in operations to combat terrorism in all forms throughout the world.
Both Howell and McMillan were deployed to Afghanistan as field managers and trainers for the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization Keyhole and Route Clearance Optical Suite (RCOS) systems. Each of these systems uses various optic devices to detect improvised explosive devices (IED's) and their position.
With Howell and McMillan's management and technical expertise, both the RCOS and Keyhole systems contributed to the overall reduction of fatality rates to American and allied forces in Afghanistan.
"I feel good about getting the award because I am doing this for our men and women over in theater who are doing the hard work," said Howell. "I worked a lot of long hours, but nothing like what they have to do."
"My job is to keep them intact and make sure they get the best counter IED equipment. That is my job, and I'm a bulldog about it," he said.
He also received an additional award, the Superior Civilian Service Award, for his deployed support of Operation Enduring Freedom and GWOT as the Civil Military Cooperation division in Joint Headquarters Afghanistan science and technology fielding manager.
Howell was especially thrilled that his representative was presenting the awards.
"It's nice to receive my award from a politician who has served and I am actually a constituent of his, because I live in El Cajon, Calif."
While touring SPAWAR's Robotics Repair Lab, the congressman was briefed on the Center's important efforts in the development of underwater unmanned vehicles and current robotics efforts. While there, Hunter was introduced to four wounded warriors who are currently participating in a SPAWAR-sponsored program to involve veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan in development of the next generation of unmanned ground systems.