Category Archives: Feature

At 81 years-old Fort Worth’s Jimmy Baggett shares 60 years of service with USACE

Lt. Col. Clay Morgan, deputy commander, Fort Worth District recognizes Jimmy Baggett, assistant chief, Engineering and Construction Division on 60 years of service with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Lt. Col. Clay Morgan, deputy commander, Fort Worth District recognizes Jimmy Baggett, assistant chief, Engineering and Construction Division on 60 years of service with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Story by Edward Rivera

Fort Worth District Public Affairs Office

In 1942, along with his family, seven year-old Jimmy D. Baggett left his hometown, near Vernon, Texas with a population of about 50 to the City of Fort Worth that boasted a population of close to 200,000.

“My dad changed from being a gas station attendant for the 50 people in our township during early 1942 in order to work at the Bomber plant (in Fort Worth) which has been through several name changes to now being known as Lockheed Martin,” said Baggett, who was born on January 11, 1935.

According to the 81 year-old native Texan, the biggest change was going from foot transportation to public or automobile conveyance.

As a youngster architecture and engineering was far from his thoughts. Although a huge sports enthusiast he loved reading and with early guidance from his teachers his desire for learning was shaped. “I was extremely interested in sports activities and I enjoyed reading,” said Baggett. “In fact my first grade teacher emphasized reading, the writing and the arithmetic elements and those are things I enjoy doing still.”

After his high school graduation Baggett had not decided on what direction he would choose for a career but he knew he would attend college. With limited funds at his disposal, he chose a field and attended a state school. He would graduate with a degree in Architecture from Texas Technological College in Lubbock.

It would be at Texas Tech. where Baggett would make another life decision. He enrolled in the Reserve Officer training Program, ultimately selecting the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as his unit of assignment.

“I chose the Corps of Engineers because I liked the curriculum, I liked the activities. Said Baggett. “I liked the fact that it provided for the means whereby the Army could March and move.”

After graduation, the newly commissioned U.S. Army Reserve second lieutenant had to wait six months before his actual entry into the military. With architectural degree in hand, the recent graduate went to the Fort Worth District on June 12, 1956, to inquire about temporary positions due to his pending active duty commitment later that year in October.

“I came in on a Friday and asked if he had any positions of a temporary nature,” said Baggett. He was placed in a rotational architectural program that allowed for him to meet his military obligations and remain employed as a civilian as well.

As the current District Assistant Chief of Engineering and Construction Division, Baggett recalls his first position was in the Architectural Section of the Engineering Division within the District. His early projects included writing architectural specification and plans for several buildings on Camp Gary, a former Air Force base in San Marcos, Texas that was transferred to the Army and used as a training facility.

As Baggett settled into his position with the Corps in the Architectural Section and performing his rotations, he was approached by Charles Myron, Chief of Hydrology about a possible rotation with his section. He agreed to take the training and do a rotation with the Hydrology section. The choice would provide Baggett with his most memorable projects of his career.

“At the time I liked the hydrology and civil works aspects of what the Corps was doing, so I did the training and took a position with the section as a GS-11,” said Baggett. “I got to work on Canyon, Lewisville, Grapevine and Lavon dams. It was a busy time many of the multi-purpose lakes were under study. I thoroughly enjoyed building structures that would provide flood protection, water supply and recreation for their communities.”

With a career spanning from the mid-1950s to today Baggett has seen his share of technological changes. In today’s world of gee-whiz computing devices, electronic gadgets and work reducing applications Baggett recalls one of the biggest technological impacts to his career. It wasn’t the laptop, nor the internet, not even wireless technology…it was the calculator.

“One of the most impactful advances was in 1958 when we went from using the slide rule and adding machines to the (Marchant) calculator. It became the tool of the day,” said Baggett. “And as time went on we were able to computerize and today we can do things at multiple times the speed we did things in 1958.”

Looking back over six decades of service spent with one entity, the Fort Worth District’s sole octogenarian remembers each era having their own special significance and historic events with both personal and professional impacts.

There were many interesting events in almost every era. We had the loss of a president (John F. Kennedy) and the resignation of a president (Richard M. Nixon) both of which had impact on our country and Corps directly,” said Baggett.

Sixty years full of challenges and changes in technology, management and Corps operations have kept Baggett busy. But, beyond the dams, structures and vast number of projects he has had played roles in, it’s the people that he has encountered that have meant the most in his career. Many of the relationships he established throughout the years began with the Department of the Army Intern program.

After becoming a section chief he started getting DA Interns as part of their normal rotations. For the last 40 years he has supervised, taught and mentored more than 100 interns giving them insight about their roles and the importance of the Corps.

“I remember many of the interns I have helped, Brian Giacomozzi, who is now the chief of the Engineering and Construction Division and Terry Nolen who became the chief of the Design Branch and eventually went on to work at the Southwestern Division,” said Baggett.

Giacomozzi went through the DA Intern program in 1989 at Fort Hood, Texas, after completing the program he went to the Europe District but returned as the Area Engineer in San Antonio in 2003.

“Jimmy was our supervisor, he managed our rotations and provided mentorship for all of us,” said Giacomozzi. “When I returned to the District as an Area Engineer and needed help, I knew I could call on Jimmy for assistance. With Jimmy you get a mentor for life.”

Baggett has taken great pride in imparting his knowledge to all and believes the keys to a successful career with the Corps and beyond are timeliness and attention to detail.

“My advice to anyone would be, to be timely even to be early. Devote a full day of activity and concentrate on what you need to do and make certain that you do it thoroughly and complete every task to its finite requirement,” said Baggett.

He not only taught and mentored Corps employees, he spent a portion of his 30-year Army reserve career teaching soldiers attached to the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College and the Air War College.

The Father of two and grandfather of seven retired from the Army Reserve as a Colonel in 1986. But for Baggett managing family life with civilian and military careers at the same time came rather easy.

According to him, he focused on his corps job during the work day and on the nights, weekends and annual reserve training he concentrated on his duties. The rest of his time was completely dedicated to his family.

“When not working or on reserve duty, I focused on my family life. I was able to enjoy my family, engage in sports activities and pursue education. No matter work, military or family I was able to keep them separate and devote maximum effort to each in their time,” said Baggett.

On June 14, Baggett was recognized for his six decades of service during the District’s Engineer Day Awards ceremony. He was praised for his longevity and dedicated service to the District and the nation, but he is ever looking forward and plans to continue working as long as possible.

Baggett said he enjoys getting up about 4:30 in the morning, having breakfast putting things in order and going to the office and working 8 or more hours depending on the day’s requirements.

“I have been thoroughly satisfied with my work here and plan to continue to work and play golf,” said Baggett, who has also recently taken up oil painting. “At 81 years old you ought to start something new.”

(Writer’s Note: For more details on Jimmy Baggett’s account of what happened the day John F. Kennedy was assassinated follow the link to his 2013 recounting of that fateful day as part of the JFK50 remembrance in 2013. https://www.dvidshub.net/video/308225/jfk-assassination-remembered-57-year-fort-worth-district-team-member-jimmy-baggett)

 


Arkansas Regional Industry Days brings numerous businesses and agencies together

By: Jay Woods
Little Rock District

Some of the numerous contractors in attendance network during a break at the Arkansas Regional Industry Days.
Some of the numerous contractors in attendance network during a break at the Arkansas Regional Industry Days.

 

The Arkansas Regional Industry Days brought out 123 businesses and 177 business representatives to North Little Rock High School to learn about $1.7 billion in contracting opportunities available within the region during fiscal year 2016 and 2017.

“It is fantastic to be able to see how much this industry day has really grown in the last few years,” said Denver S. Heath, Regional Principal Assistant Responsible for Contracting. “I believe it is a model for other regions to follow.”

Col. Courtney Paul and Mr. Denver Heath hold a discussion during the Arkansas Regional Industry Days.
Col. Courtney Paul and Mr. Denver Heath hold a discussion during the Arkansas Regional Industry Days.

The two day, semi-annual event draws contractors from all over the country.  This year 14 government entities including the Corps’ Tulsa District, Memphis District, Engineer Research and Development Center and the Little Rock Air Force Base attended the two day event.

The industry forum has a two-fold mission.  It allows contractors the opportunity to see the work load that the agencies are presenting and it allows the contractor to learn how to conduct business with the government.  Secondly, for the government it is about understanding which contractors are available so the government can execute their mission and increase competition.

On the first day of the industry forum each agency gave an overview of their business lines.  Attendees were then able to compare each agency’s project list against their core competencies to ensure they made networking plans with the appropriate government representatives.

The second day of the forum included vendor capability briefings, district and agency open houses, focus groups on specific topics and training.  The information presented by attendees and garnered by the government representatives will be used by each federal agency and the Corps to better understand capabilities and resources for future contracting opportunities.

Training presented by the Small Business Administration on their agency programs and General Services Administration on their contract schedules wrapped up the second and final day of the forum.

Each government agency in attendance hoped this forum produced a group of competitive contractors that they can use in the future.

“By attending the Industry Day Forum, we hope to increase our vendor base and increase competition on our projects that will ultimately result in better pricing for our government,” said Maj. Jamey Hartsel, commander, 19th Contracting Squadron, Little Rock Air Force Base.