The week of October 14 was an impressive one for CNS as more than 572 employees from Pantex and Y-12 were recognized with a 2018 Defense Programs Award of Excellence.
At Y-12, Site Manager Bill Tindal, NPO Deputy Manager Teresa Robbins, and NNSA’s Dr. Mark Suriano, assistant deputy administrator for Stockpile Management, congratulated the winners at an October 15 event. At Pantex, Site Manager Todd Ailes, Deputy Manager for the NNSA Production Office at Pantex and Y-12 Bill Eckroade, NNSA Acting Assistant Deputy Administrator for Stockpile Management John Evans, and Manager of Stockpile Programs Colby Yeary honored the winners at an October 17 event.
Tindal said, “I want to thank each of you for all your hard work, your dedication, and your commitment to the mission. Our country is safer because of what you do.”
Evans said, “It’s really important that we get out and we see the work this complex can do. Here at Pantex it’s nothing short of amazing. That plaque on the wall that all roads come to Pantex that’s true. The important thing though is the capabilities that are embodied in you all allow for the weapons to go out of Pantex. Without your expertise and dedication and devotion to your jobs those weapons don’t go out of Pantex, they don’t go come back for repairs and they don’t leave in a way that they can be part of the deterrent.”
The DP Award of Excellence, established in 1982, recognizes individual and team accomplishments from across the nuclear weapons complex in support of NNSA’s nuclear weapons program.
Congratulations to the Pantex Fire Department Cook Team who took home bragging rights at two recent competitions.
They placed first in corporate brisket at this year’s Amarillo Chamber of Commerce Barbeque. The popular event took place in the streets of downtown Amarillo near the chamber building in September. CNS Chief Operating Officer and Chamber President Michelle Reichert and CNS Senior Director for Communications Jason Bohne also participated as barbeque judges. Among the other barbeque dishes the PFD created, they made pulled pork Frito pies that CNS volunteers handed out to the public when they visited the booth.
The team also won as overall grand champions of the Canyon Chamber Chowdown BBQ Cook-off on October 4. The team was comprised of barbeque masters and teammates, David Stewart, Kevin Payne, Kyle Butler, Scott Johnson, Matthew Ladd, Justin Baker, Brenda Graham and Jeremy Baker. They competed against 37 other teams and received 2nd place in brisket, 2nd place in pork, and 3rd place in ribs earning them the grand champion title.
CNS employees were recognized with awards from NNSA’s Office of Safety, Infrastructure, and Operations – or NA-50 – for the exceptional accomplishments made in support of NA-50 efforts to achieve the NNSA mission. At the September 10 Pantex event, Bill Eckroade, Pantex deputy manager for the NNSA Production Office, and NA-50 Associate Administrator Jim McConnell honored employees who worked on the projects. At Y-12 on the same day, NPO Manager Geoff Beausoleil, Y-12 Site Manager Bill Tindal, and Senior Director of Infrastructure Programs Steve Laggis handed out the awards.
“Each of our sites have old infrastructure, and that adds substantial challenges in the workforce and keeping our operations efficient, reliable, and safe,” Eckroade said. “As I’ve seen people trying to manage that infrastructure, you see workers using innovation persistence and sometimes sheer determination for making old infrastructure work to achieve the mission we’ve been assigned. But, the good news is that in recent years, we have seen enhanced allocations of resources to help us with our infrastructure.”
McConnell said Pantex is a good example of the forefront of what NA-50 does considering the combined safety implications of the site and the large amount aging infrastructure. “My job is to help you succeed, and your success is the thing that I then get to feed back into the system to allow people to bring us even more opportunities and more resources, so that the success you did in 2018 turns into the things you’re doing right now,” he said. “It was great seeing all the great work you do here.”
At Y-12, Laggis thanked team members for demonstrating excellence in “doing the right things to the right infrastructure in the right way.”
Tindal told the honorees, “Your insistence on excellence, your tenacity in doing the job right, and your understanding that teamwork is often the best solution on a project, has been recognized by NNSA as the best of the best across the enterprise in 2018.”
Beausoleil’s comments echoed those of McConnell in that CNS’s work has brought success. “Your work in revitalizing our infrastructure will help support missions for years to come. You have my sincere gratitude and congratulations,” he said.
Laggis ended the program by saying each of the winning teams were important ingredients in the success of CNS. “Without your great work,” he said, “we could not reach our goals and complete our mission.”
A combined CNS Enterprise Fire Department Team represented Pantex and Y-12 at the 2019 Hazardous Material (HAZMAT) Challenge held at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) recently.
The combined team did an outstanding job representing both sites and were voted by the other teams and operators in the competition as winners of the Sportsmanship Award. This award recognizes a team that embodies the values of working as a team, working with other teams, and being willing to step up wherever a need arises.
“The CNS Enterprise FD Team did an excellent job. It was rewarding to see how they came together the first day operating as one team in the events,” Doug Trout, CNS Senior Director, Enterprise Emergency Services said. “The planning beforehand and collaboration by the team was evident in all of the events. They have ideas for training to take back and are looking forward to next year. This was an excellent event.”
The HAZMAT Challenge has been hosted by the Emergency Management Division of LANL for the past 22 years, and HAZMAT teams network with one another, practice technical skills, and learn new HAZMAT techniques under realistic conditions in a safe environment.
During the Challenge, vehicles, trucks, tankers, and rail cars are used in some of the props to mimic real-life hazardous material situations. Past Challenge scenarios have included drug laboratory or chemical hazard identification, manipulation of complex valve configurations to stop leaks, confined space rescue, compressed gas leaks, a leaking rail car dome, pressurized drum opening, stinger operation responding to damaged tanker trailer, and damming/diking exercise from an overturned tanker.
Lyle Cary, Vice President of Safeguards, Security, and Emergency Services added, “The training value and relationships built during these events strengthens capability across the Nuclear Security Enterprise, and because of the number of teams from federal, state, and municipal departments, it strengthens the Nation”.
Representing Pantex were Firefighters John Sappington, Daniel Sholder, and Cody Steever, and Fire Captains Mark Campbell and Chad Zarbock.
Representing Y-12 were Firefighters Chris Altman, Scot Rose, and Craig Shaver, and Fire Captains Jeremy Maiden and Jim Arnold.
According to Merriam-Webster, patriotism is a love for or devotion to one's country.
For those who work at the Pantex Plant, patriotism is also tied to the day to day mission of the work we do.
As the nation approaches Patriot Day, the memories created by the attacks on September 11, 2001 will forever be engrained in the minds and hearts of Americans, and those events forever bound the nation together in Patriotism. The memories of that day will never be forgotten, and each year the anniversary of the September 11, tragedy brings Americans together to remember the bravery of both first responders and everyday heroes.
As lasting tribute to those first responders and everyday heroes, a memorial with a connection to the 9/11 tragedy was built right here at the Pantex Plant. That connection? A piece of steel from the World Trade Center.
This steel was incorporated as part of a permanent memorial monument to those lost on 9/11 and can be found outside of the Pantex Fire Department.
“It is extremely appropriate that we place this memorial in front of the building that houses our first responders, because it serves as a symbol of our gratitude for the service they provide to this Plant,” Mark Padilla, Assistant Manager for Programs and Projects with the NNSA Production Office (NPO), said at the monument’s dedication in 2013. “It also serves as a bridge between our first responders and the first responders who gave their lives on that fateful day.”
Plans to create the monument at Pantex began in 2009 with a letter to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey requesting a piece of the World Trade Center for a memorial monument. Once onsite, the steel was cut onsite in Pantex’s Machine Shop.
“It is important that we can visually see something tangible and realize that what we do at Pantex is important to our freedom and the American way of life,” said Donovan Morgan, retired Pantex Fire Department battalion chief, who spearheaded the memorial initiative.
Craft Supervisor and member of the Navy Reserve John Herrera oversaw work done on the steel in the Machine Shop. “I revere the World Trade Center steel just as I would a piece of steel from the USS Arizona,” he said. “On the USS Arizona, we had military personnel from the Navy and the Marines die on board when it sank. At the World Trade Center, we had civilians die from the deliberate attack.”
“During the attack at Pearl Harbor, the sleeping giant awoke,” said Herrera. “During the attack at WTC, it united all fellow Americans, both civilians and serviceman, as brothers and sisters. It changed the way we live and made us more aware of the existence of terrorism around the world. As I walk past the WTC memorial, I will remember the civilians that died on that day and the dark moments this nation has endured.”
In addition to the monument in front of the Pantex Fire Department, two other pieces of steel from the World Trade Center are on display at the NNSA Production Office onsite at the Pantex Plant and at the Pantex Visitor Center.
Each of these monuments and displays is a permanent reminder of the lives lost on September 11, 2001, and the patriotism of all Pantexans and the roles we play in national security.
Below are the reflections and remembrances on September 11, 2001, from some of Pantex’s first responders.
On September 11, 2001, my wife and I were on our way to the Chicago O’Hare International Airport returning home from vacation. On our way to the airport we heard the gut-wrenching news that the Towers had been struck and that the United States was under attack. After returning home and to work as a firefighter, I noticed that the relationship between the public and their local firefighters had grown in response to the 343 brave firefighters that lost their lives while trying to save others.
— Jamie Hall, Firefighter, Pantex Fire Department
On the day that the Twin Towers fell, I was eating breakfast with my pregnant wife and baby boy. As I looked into my son eyes, I couldn’t help but consider the many children waiting at the door for a parent who would never return. I watched as Fire, Police and EMS freely gave their lives in service to others. On that day, we were a nation that lost its innocent but renewed its allegiance. Out of the rubble a nation was forged, once again we became the “United” States of America.
— Joshua Brown, Captain, Pantex Fire Department
The Pantex Fire Department was completing daily readiness checks of apparatus, communication equipment, and personal protective equipment. I was in the department’s training room when a firefighter came and said an aircraft crashed into a New York skyscraper. It was a very hard and traumatic day for America. America and the world lost many precious lives that day, and continue to lose 1st responders and civilians today due to the contamination and exposures they encountered during the response and cleanup endeavor.
— Bill Ho Gland, Assistant Chief, Support, Pantex Fire Department
I think it hit the members of the firefighter brotherhood harder than most can imagine because when we watched those towers fall, we knew that there would be several firefighters killed and we felt the pain of loss personally. I have spent a lifetime caring about the well being of people I do not know, and that was what those 343 brave souls were doing that fateful day.
— Tony Dompe, Battalion Chief, Pantex Fire Department
How easily our lives can be taken from us. I will always remember that a lot of people died that day, and I will never forget that 343 firefighters died that day.
— Steve Lasher, Firefighter/Paramedic, Pantex Fire Department
In the aftermath, people from all aspects of life, regardless of race, religion, or political affiliation, reached out to support those in need with complete disregard for their own safety. It was truly a remarkable example of the spirit and devotion of all Americans.
— Jeremy Baker, Paramedic, Pantex Fire Department
What I most remember about that day is the feeling of helplessness. As a first responder, it is the hardest thing in the world not to help when help is needed. I guess we all helped in our own way by ensuring we fulfilled our firefighter responsibilities at home.
— Timothy Hunter, A Shift Battalion Chief, Pantex Fire Department