By Timothy Hale
FORT BRAGG, N.C. – Billy Thomas, the U.S. Army Reserve Command senior strategic planner, was named the Executive of the Year.
Thomas planned and executed the movement of the USARC headquarters from Fort McPherson, Ga. in Atlanta to Fort Bragg as part of the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure mandated by Congress.
“I was pleasantly surprised,” said Thomas, a native of Myrtle, Miss. “I’m deeply honored to have been nominated by the Army Reserve Command.”
Thomas, who has 45 years of military and civilian service, has spent 30 of those years associated with the Army Reserve. He said winning the award demonstrates the capabilities of Army Reserve Soldiers and civilians to the U.S. Army.
“I think it validates what we, the Army Reserve, have been involved with – certainly since 9/11,” he said. “I think we’ve become part of the Army and have been for a number of years; we’re not looked at any differently. Years ago we weren’t but I think we’ve earned our stripes. We’re certainly part of this community.”
Addison “Tad” Davis, IV, USARC command executive officer, said Thomas winning the award demonstrated the teamwork involved with the BRAC move.
“At the end of the day, there has to be a leader,” Davis said. “We couldn’t have picked a better person that knew the command, understood the mission, and could really bring it all together at the 11th hour to ensure success. So we were very blessed to have Billy lead this team of teams.”
While the award went to Thomas, he quickly praised those who worked with him to make the move from Atlanta to Fayetteville go as smoothly as possible.
“I had one key employee, Mark Koenitzer, helped me with that. Plus, the directors gave us key individual from each of their staff to participate and that’s what made our team successful.”
Koenitzer, who served as Thomas’ deputy during the BRAC move, echoed his sentiments about the award.
“To have us come and have such a smooth transition to the area, I think it proved that we are as professional as anyone else is, if not better, and Billy was a great part of that,” Koenitzer said.
Thomas said he and his team worked closely with planners from U.S. Army Forces Command, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and Fort Bragg officials through the entire BRAC process.
“There were times that I thought it was extremely hard, but it’s also been a lot of fun,” Thomas said. “But you could see progress on a daily basis.”
Laura Reed, who worked with the USARC BRAC advance team, saw first-hand how Thomas and the rest of the team made the move successful.
“It was one of those things when you just happen to get the right team together,” Reed said. “Everybody just pitched in and did what needed to be done.”
It appears coordinating the BRAC move is Thomas’ last great mission. He will retire again, this time from civilian service on Nov. 30, but will continue to have a fondness in his heart for the Army Reserve as he moves on to his lake home in Wedowee, Ala.
“I’ve enjoyed the Army Reserve. The Army has been good to me and my Family,” he said, adding the men and women serving in the Army Reserve “make this country strong. It’s not just one segment carrying the load. It ties the military back to the communities.”