The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Louisville District park rangers worked with the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Department to safely cordon off an area within Green River Lake for Kentucky National Guard Soldiers to parachute, Aug. 5, 2023, in Campbellsville, Kentucky.
“The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers along with Campbellsville Fire and Rescue and Kentucky Fish and Wildlife have been extremely accommodating in assisting us with ensuring the safety of our paratroopers,” said U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Raymond Lunger, 20th Special Forces Group Military Intelligence Company readiness NCO and jumpmaster. “Working with the Army Corps of Engineers has been great. They have been extremely helpful and go out of their way to ensure we are taken care of for the airborne operation.”
The Kentucky National Guard chose Green River Lake to conduct a deliberate water jump because the size of the water area that is available to parachute is sufficient to safely accommodate paratroopers and their parachutes. Additionally, the available space at boat ramp one was able to accommodate the types of boats required for the operation. With the exception of 2022, the Kentucky National Guard has been parachuting into Green River Lake since 2011.
“The National Guard training day at Green River Lake is an event where the Kentucky National Guard, Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, Campbellsville Fire-Rescue, Kentucky Department of Parks, and USACE come together to ensure safe and successful training occurs,” said Lori Brewster, Green River Lake park manager. “It turns into a community event because it is publicized and members from the local community come out, set up on the dam or the visitor center point to watch the guardsman drop into the lake.”
To ensure a safe event for everyone, USACE park rangers ensured the jump area was clear of obstacles, coordinated communication between participating agencies and provided traffic control on the dam. During the jumps, park rangers directed boaters outside of the ‘drop zone’ and assisted lake patrons and spectators.
“It’s just an enjoyable day and a joint cooperation between many agencies to make it happen,” Brewster said.
A lot of soldiers join the Army to impact real change and only some of those soldiers end their service making that dream a reality. For Staff Sgt. Andrew Hill, acquisition, logistics and technology contracting specialist assigned to the 1955th Contracting Support Detachment, 213th Regional Support Group, he was able to do just that.
This year’s Reserve Component Acquisition Summit in Fort Belvoir, Virginia, was a chance for over 200 contracting professionals across the Army National Guard and the U.S. Army Reserves to gather and improve their craft, network and discuss policies, procedures and more.
Representatives from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers were one such group in attendance. The USACE provides public engineering services in peace and war to strengthen national security, energize the economy and reduce risks from disasters.
In the USACE’s brief on Active Duty Operational Support opportunities for Army Acquisition Corps Noncommissioned Officers, presenters discussed job requirements and policies around the Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology (AL&T) Contracting Noncommissioned Officer role. And while talking about the minimum experience needed to apply, the presenter highlighted why the group was moving away from the regulations—and it’s all because of Staff Sgt. Hill’s work.
Hill is a member of the Pennsylvania Army National Guard Contracting Team and has singlehandedly made contracting professionals at the highest level in the Guard and Reserves reconsider the policy through his outstanding performance.
Hill applied to a job he wasn’t qualified for on paper, and through networking and perseverance, won the interviewers over so much so that they were willing to take a risk on hiring him. And since that day, Hill has knocked it out of the park.
“Contracting Team Leaders have a difficult task obtaining limited funding at the State level. SSG Hill took it upon himself to create his own path towards completing his contracting certification requirements,” said Capt. Darrin J. Weaver, operations officer for the 1955th Contracting Support Detachment, 213th Regional Support Group.
“His networking efforts with USACE – Pittsburgh District and his outstanding performance during his ADOS assignment have created new pathways forward for future 51C Officers and NCOs,” said Weaver. “USACE is now actively recruiting new graduates from the eight-week Army Acquisition Training Course with no previous contracting experience, thanks to his effort. SSG Hill has proven the AATC course provides the essential contracting knowledge USACE can leverage to achieve win-win-win outcomes for the agency, the Soldier, and the overall readiness of ARNG Contracting Teams.”
Staff Sgt. Hill acknowledges the value of the education he was provided with and credits the organization for his success.
“My performance and accomplishments are a testament to the quality education received from the Army Acquisition Center of Excellence,” Hill said. “The 12-month on-the-job training for the 51C MOS is a requirement for acquisition professionals."
Hill says that his experience serving the commonwealth through the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Reserve Component Broadening Program has been a very rewarding experience.
"We provide opportunities and jobs to the American people to ensure the security and wellbeing of our waterways, locks, dams and parks. It is a worthwhile undertaking, which I am honored and proud to be a part of,” said Hill.
Because of the outstanding work Staff Sgt. Hill has done, a memorandum from USACE, Pittsburgh will release across the USACE enterprise to recommend graduates of the AATC course who pass the certification exam for USACE Active Duty Operational Support opportunities. The recommendation includes waiving the 1-year minimum contracting experience.
“Modern armies project power by relying heavily on assistance from contractors,” said Lt. Col. Terry Fetterman, commander of the 1955th Contracting Support Detachment, 213th Regional Support Group. “SSG Hill is a member of one of the Contingency Contracting Teams that award and manage the contracts for supplies, services, and construction. The learning curve for this field requires navigating over 10,000 laws and regulations. That skill can only come through training and experience. Obtaining that experience is not easy for the CCT members. It is only through SSG Hill's tenacity that he managed to overcome the roadblocks thrown his way in getting the necessary experience. His superior efforts and accomplishments bring strong credit to his team and to the 213th Regional Support Group. We are very proud to have him as part of the Pennsylvania CCT team."
And through all of the praise and excitement, Staff Sgt. Hill has kept a level head and nose to the grindstone.
His advice for soldiers looking to make an impact? “The prospects for promotion in the military are high, especially in the acquisitions field, but the dream of making rank should not be the main driver for your efforts.”
Hill continued, “Do all you can to set yourself up for success, develop a passion for your craft, learning and making mistakes are a vital part of growth, and endeavor to excel.”