WASHINGTON (Army News Service, March 25, 2014) – For assisting communities after devastating storms and leading vital civil works projects throughout 14 states in the Northeast, the Army recognized three U.S. Army Corps of Engineers civilians assigned to the New York District, North Atlantic Division, last Thursday, during a ceremony at the Pentagon.
Under Secretary of the Army Joseph W. Westphal presented the Meritorious Civilian Service Award to Joseph R. Vietri, chief of the planning and policy division; Joseph J. Seebode, deputy district engineer; and Thomas M. Creamer, chief of the operations division. The award is the second highest Department of the Army honorary award.
“These awards recognize the commitment of these individuals, and their entire team, as they expertly oversee a myriad of essential projects that range from advancing the Ports of New York and New Jersey, to providing hurricane and storm damage reduction and infrastructure repair,” Westphal said while presenting the awards.
Westphal pointed out the corps’ coastal and community rebuilding efforts in the Northeast region following major disasters, such as 9/11, the Joplin Tornadoes, Hurricane Sandy and Hurricane Irene.
“We must truly appreciate what a monumental task it is for the corps’ to assist victims and coordinate clean up efforts following disasters. Their expertise is unmatched and is essential to these communities and our nation,” said Westphal.
Lt. Gen. Thomas P. Bostick, chief of engineers and the commanding general of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, lauded the dedication of the awardees and the entire U.S. Army Corps of Engineers team.
“These are great leaders of our team and they represent the New York District, the North Atlantic Division and [U.S. Army Corps of Engineers employees] all over the United States and the world,” he said.
“One of the things we try to do is tell the story about the Corps of Engineers,” he said. “I think it’s a great story of America — the history of the Corps of Engineers is the history of America.”
Joseph R. Vietri was awarded the Department of the Army Meritorious Civilian Service Award for meritorious performance of duty as the chief, planning and policy division, New York District, North Atlantic Division, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, from January 1992 to February 2014.
“Behind any personal achievement, there is a huge team, in front of us and behind us. There are a whole bunch of hardworking, dedicated individuals that are working every single day in support of the corps, the Army, and the country,” said Vietri.
His award cites him as providing guidance, direction, and management toward setting the vision and strategic goals for rebuilding a resilient and sustainable coastline.
“Mr. Vietri was instrumental in setting the vision and strategic goals for rebuilding a resilient and sustainable coastline; serving as a catalyst for coastal planning and risk reduction,” his award citation reads.
After Hurricane Sandy, Mr. Vietri served as the primary spokesperson for the North Atlantic Division, and he has “expertly represented the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in numerous outreach efforts and media campaigns,” his award citation reads.
Joseph J. Seebode was awarded the Department of the Army Meritorious Civilian Service Award for meritorious performance of duty as the deputy district engineer, New York District, North Atlantic Division, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, from January 1999 to February 2014.
“Thank you sincerely for this award. We have a great team, great staff of scientists, engineers, administrators, secretaries, clerks — they are the backbone of this organization and they’ve allowed us to do some phenomenal things,” Seebode after accepting his award.
His award cites him as advancing the Ports of New York and New Jersey into a World Class Estuary.
“Mr. Seebode’s leadership was instrumental in the reuse of 100 percent of 54 million cubic yards of dredged material for environmental and economic purposes, including landfill sites and fish reef creation; advancing the Ports of New York and New Jersey into a World Class Estuary. His exceptional model of leadership resulted in a $1.6 billion dollar program that significantly improved navigation, the environment, port infrastructure and security while minimizing adverse effects on essential resources,” his award citation reads.
Thomas M. Creamer was awarded the Department of the Army Meritorious Civilian Service Award for meritorious performance of duty as the chief, operations division, New York District, North Atlantic Division, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, from January 1999 to February 2014.
Creamer was recognized for his key role in the oversight of all of the New York District’s missions, including the ongoing New York and New Jersey Harbor Deepening Program.
“Mr. Creamer developed and maintained strategic partnerships and consensus in all of his work, especially the New York and New Jersey Harbor Deepening Program. Additionally, Mr. Creamer led the Army-Navy Salvage team in the successful refloating and movement of the grounded USS Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum Aircraft Carrier in the Hudson River. Of note, he was a key leader and mentor for responders during the Joplin Tornadoes, Hurricane Irene and Hurricane Sandy,” his award citation reads.
Present to accept this award for Mr. Creamer was Col. Paul Owen, commander and district engineer, New York District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
“Mr. Creamer is a great example of the type of civilians that we have in our organization. He has been doing the job for more than 35 years and loves it,” Owen said.
“Every day he comes to work, he sees it as an adventure and makes incredible contributions to our organization,” Owen concluded as he accepted the award on behalf of Creamer.
THE U.S. ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS
The Army established the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers March 16, 1802, to provide vital public engineering services to strengthen security, energize the economy, and reduce risks from disasters. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers works with state and federal agencies to manage existing infrastructure, develop necessary projects, and coordinate effective responses to ecological crises such as oil spills, drought, and fire. Foreign governments also rely on the corps for their expertise and resources.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has approximately 37,000 civilians and Soldiers delivering engineering services to customers in more than 130 countries worldwide.
“The Corps of Engineers is one of our nation’s most treasured assets. The capability and ingenuity of the corps will always ensure our nation’s security and prosperity,” Westphal said as he concluded the ceremony.