FORT SNELLING, Minn. –
The Army Engineer Association recently recognized two of their finest. Retired Col. James Lewis and Lt. Col. Marc Jeter were awarded the Silver Order of the de Fleury medal, an award given to the best of the best within the Army’s Corps of Engineers, for their contributions to the field of engineering within the U.S. Army. The ceremony was fairly intimate, held during this year’s Army Reserve Mission Resilience and Sustainability, or ARMRS training at Fort Snelling Minnesota. Surrounded by family members, some fellow engineers, and a few past winners, the two men were recognized for their years of service and support to the world of Army engineering.
Col. Lewis retired from the 88th Readiness Division, heading the Directorate of Public Works and serving as the Division’s Regional Engineer. He served more than 37 years, with 27 of them on active duty in various assignments worldwide. “My favorite part of being an engineer was traveling to several countries along with all the people I met and worked with in foreign governments and militaries,” he said.
One of the highlights included helping the 88th consolidate their Soldiers and facilities during the Base Realignment and Closure, or BRAC, initiative in the mid-2000s. “I wrote thirteen engineer BRAC proposals for the 88th Region and twelve were signed into law by President Bush,” said Lewis.
He also reflected on his work overseas, where he served as the engineer for compound 5, within Camp Cropper, Iraq. “Compound 5 is where Saddam Hussein and his Baath Party members were detained, along with several Taliban Lieutenants.” Another memorable experience for Lewis was working alongside Maj. Gen. Douglas Stone. “Maj. Gen. Stone was a Marine General in Iraq responsible for the country’s infrastructure,” Said Lewis. “I traveled with MG Stone to various areas of Iraq to help design and build textile factories and Schools under the Theater Internment Facility Reintegration Concept.”
The de Fluery is awarded in four levels: gold, silver, bronze, and steel. Only one gold medal is awarded every year, and only a few of each other level. The Army Engineer Association considers it the highest award for achievement in the field. “Receiving the de Fleury makes me feel grateful and thankful to all the people I worked with throughout the years that have supported me to make it possible to receive such a prestigious award,” said Lewis, who adds the silver medal to his previously awarded bronze de Fleury.
“It is not something I worked for, it never crossed my mind,” he said. So, in giving advice for others to achieve such an honor, he says that may be the key: don’t do things for awards, do them because they’re the right things to do. “My advice is to Strive for excellence in your engineering work or related endeavors. Continuously enhance your knowledge, skills, and expertise through education, practical experience, and professional development opportunities. Remember, the de Fleury Award not only recognizes individual accomplishments - but also the impact you have on others and the broader engineering community. By promoting collaboration and mentorship, you can leave a lasting legacy and make a meaningful difference in the lives of fellow engineers.”
Lt. Col. Marc Jeter worked alongside Lewis during his final assignment, as the Chief of Energy, Engineering, & Plans in the 88th RD’s DPW from 2020 to 2022. He received his Silver de Fleury alongside Lewis, and unsurprisingly has a remarkably similar outlook on how his career and his experiences brought him to being awarded the de Fleury. “I am honored and humbled to have received the award,” said Jeter. “It was not and is not something that I explicitly strove for.”
Jeter says his career has been its own reward. “The most enjoyable aspect of having been an Engineer has simply been the variety of assignments and experiences inherent to the branch,” His advice for fellow Engineers is simple and straightforward; push yourself. “First, seek out a variety of assignments across the Engineer branch spectrum,” said Jeter. “And seek out the more challenging projects and missions.”
“I simply would add a thank-you again to the Directorate of Public Works (DPW) of the 88 RD for first thinking my contributions during my time with the organization warranted such recognition,” said Jeter. “And then to take the time and effort to submit my name for consideration.”
Still serving, Jeter has returned to the first Army Reserve unit he was assigned to, albeit a little higher up the ranks; he is currently the Operations Officer for the 372nd Engineer Brigade at Fort Snelling, Minnesota.