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Spotlight on USACE Galveston District’s Capt. Robert M. Burnham

Capt. Robert M. Burnham
Each Soldier in the U.S. Army plays a role in maintaining the nation’s security. For Army Capt. Robert M. Burnham, the economic strength of the nation remains secure, as he fulfills his role as an operations manager in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Galveston District’s Navigation Branch, managing dredging-related operations and maintenance projects along the Texas coast.

GALVESTON, Texas (Aug. 3, 2015) – Each Soldier in the U.S. Army plays a role in maintaining the nation’s security. For Army Capt. Robert M. Burnham, the economic strength of the nation remains secure, as he fulfills his role as an operations manager in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Galveston District’s Navigation Branch, managing dredging-related operations and maintenance projects along the Texas coast.

With nine years under his belt as an active duty Soldier, Burnham has spent the last year applying his expertise in engineering to help maintain more than 1,000 miles of channel, including 250 miles of deep draft and 750 miles of shallow draft, a task that allows vessels to carry critical commodities that contribute to the nation’s economic power. 

“I like working on projects that mean something and have a purpose. In the case of my navigation projects with the Corps, there are potential impacts to the local and national economies if we do not deliver,” said Burnham. “Knowing this keeps you on your game, and often times, thinking outside the box to keep projects moving forward for the benefit of the nation.” 

On any given day, Burnham can be seen working on a variety of dredging projects, including the Freeport Entrance Channel maintenance job and placement area containment dike raising, the channel to Victoria middle reach maintenance contract and Texas U.S. Coast Guard Stations maintenance project. He also works on rapid response contracts for hurricane season, ensuring the district is prepared to keep navigation channels open should a hurricane occur.

“I enjoy leading project delivery teams. As an Army officer, leadership has always been an inherent part of my duties,” said Burnham. “Planning, coordinating and executing is what I loved about commanding an engineer company, and it is no different leading teams in the Corps. There are always challenges, but pushing through them and seeing the fruits of your labor is a great feeling and just makes you want to do it again.”

Burnham says his most memorable moment with the USACE Galveston District was stepping on the government-owned hopper dredge Wheeler for the very first time. 

“Before then, I had never seen a hopper dredge in person,” said Burnham. “Having the opportunity to not only board the Wheeler, but to be a part of the planning to bring her to Freeport, Texas, was awesome.”

According to Burnham, working with the Corps as an engineer officer is considered a broadening assignment for his rank as an Army captain. 

“The idea is to have Army captains complete their key developmental assignments, which was company command for me, then send them to a part of the Army to broaden them and expand their knowledge base,” said Burnham. “In my case, I was incredibly lucky to be assigned to the USACE Galveston District. It has opened my eyes to the civilian component of the engineer regiment. Being able to manage civil works projects is an incredible learning experience that will carry with me as I move through my career.”

According to Burnham, he likes to be challenged. 

“Every single job I’ve ever had in the engineer branch has been tough and demanding, yet very rewarding,” he said.

Prior to joining the USACE Galveston District, Burnham spent a year in Korea as the chief of the Master Planning Branch for the Directorate of Public Works at Yongsan Garrison. He previously commanded the 362nd Multi Role Bridge Company in Fort Benning, Georgia.

Burnham earned a Bachelor of Science in business from The Citadel and a Master of Science in Engineering Management from Missouri Science & Technology. He’s earned multiple accolades throughout his Army career including, the Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal and two Army Commendation medals. 

In his spare time, Burnham enjoys to golf, fish and barbecue. He is married to his wife Raquel and has one daughter, Madelyn.


SWD welcomes Ollar as new deputy commander

Southwestern Division Deputy Commander Col. Donovan Ollar (Photo by Andre Mayeaux)
Southwestern Division Deputy Commander Col. Donovan Ollar (Photo by Andre Mayeaux)

by Martie Cenkci
Southwestern Division Public Affairs

Col. Donovan D. Ollar became the Deputy Commander of the Southwestern Division, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, on July 17, 2015. Prior to this assignment, he was Sidewinder 07, the Senior Engineer Trainer, National Training Center, Fort Irwin, Calif.

The Colorado Springs, Colo., native has served in a variety of command and staff positions, including Commander, Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 4th BCT, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kan. Prior to taking command, he served as the Battalion Executive Officer and Operations Officer for the 84th Engineer Battalion and Maneuver Planner with the 25th Infantry Division, both at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii. He also served as a Project Engineer with the Far East District, Korea; Engineer Captain’s Career Course Small Group Instructor and Aide de Camp to the Commanding General of the Maneuver Support Center, Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.

His overseas deployments have included Uphold Democracy in Haiti (1995-96); Operation Enduring Freedom in the Philippines in 2004; and in Afghanistan from 2004-2005 and again 2012-2013. He also deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2006-2007 and 2009–2010.

“Col. Ollar is an outstanding addition to our leadership team,” said Brig. Gen. David C. Hill, Southwestern Division commander. “He brings proven command and leadership experience, combined with engineering and professional expertise, all of which will help us as we work to deliver value to the region and to the Nation.”

Ollar is a 1993 graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering. He also holds a Master of Science degree in Engineering Management from the University of Missouri at Rolla and is a licensed Professional Engineer in the State of Missouri.

His military awards and decorations include four Bronze Star Medals, five Meritorious Service Medals, two Army Commendation Medals, the Joint Service Achievement Medal, three Army Achievement Medals, the National Defense Service Medal (with Bronze Star), the Iraqi Campaign Medal, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Korean Defense Service Medal, the United Nations Medal, the NATO Medal, and the Armed Forces Service Medal. He has also earned the Combat Action Badge, the Parachutists Badge and Air Assault Badge.