YONGSAN ARMY BASE, Korea –
Defense Logistics Agency Energy Pacific at Korea Inventory Management Specialist Kyu Sok Kwak was the 2017 United States Forces Korea Civilian Employee of the Year under the Administrator of the Year award category during a ceremony held at the Dragon Hill Lodge, Yongsan Army Base, Korea, Sept. 20.
Kwak was chosen from 50 nominees representing civilian employees in all commands as well as assigned, attached or tenant units of USFK and other Department of Defense activities in the Republic of Korea.
"I never expected to receive an award like this,” Kwak said. “I'm happy to represent DLA Energy and thankful to my leadership and coworkers for making this a great place to work."
Kwak, known as the elder statesman of DLA Energy, brings a quiet demeanor combined with a fierce knowledge of petroleum distribution to the Republic of Korea, his nominating supervisor said.
“He has earned the respect and admiration of U.S. and KN military and civilian employees, and I am so proud of him,” said DLA Energy Pacific at Korea Inventory Specialist Supervisor Marc Lamontagne. “Today, he received a well-deserved recognition as the 'best' among a workforce of 16,000 USFK civilians."
The application process was incredibly extensive, and Kwak’s supervisor invested considerable time writing the award justification, compiling numerous files and securing background checks that demonstrated to the selection panel the significance of Kwak's contributions to the warfighter, said DLA Energy Pacific at Korea Commander Army Lt. Col. Faith Chamberlain.
“Kwak is an exceptional performer in his own right,” she said.
With more than 15 years’ experience in DLA Energy and fuels, Kwak’s masterful planning skills proved invaluable, providing subject matter expertise in the award of a 14.7 million gallon fuel storage service contract valued at more than $13 million.
Kwak’s contributions were essential to ensuring petroleum inventory and resupply to 22 USFK Defense Fuel Support Points throughout the ROK. Moving fuel from one DFSP to another in Korea requires a nomination in the Enterprise Business System. Kwak placed nominations for 194 million gallons of JP8 by pipeline, 13 million by barge, 5 million by tank truck, 4.5 million by rail tank car and another 4.5 million by fuel-exchange program. 2016 was an extremely challenging year for fuel planning in Korea because the international agreement that provides support for distribution infrastructure is pending expiration.
Kwak’s efforts increased productivity, efficiency and cost savings/avoidance.
He flawlessly managed Korea’s Fuel Exchange Agreement/Replacement-In-Kind (FEA/RIK) program. He hosted quarterly reconciliation events for each of the foreign services and an annual event validated by Headquarters International Agreements and DLA Finance personnel. In total for the calendar year, the ROK and U.S. exchanged more than 13 million gallons of fuel, including 1.8 million gallons of fuel in support of Rim of the Pacific, the world’s largest maritime exercise. Specifically, Kwak verified each transaction and reconciled total amounts for either cash or RIK settlement with each service. Finally, Kwak devised a plan for reconciling an in-balance, in-fuel exchange with the Republic of Korea Air Force. His innovative proposal for a replacement-in-kind initiative will potentially save the U.S. more than 3 million dollars annually in petroleum distribution and transportation costs.
Kwak’s initiatives improved processes and resulted in honorable recognition by the ROK Air Force leadership.
Kwak streamlined reconciliation procedures for foreign fuel exchange, crafting an international agreement between U.S. and ROK alliances. The new agreement calls for reconciliation on a semi-annual vs. quarterly basis and brings the U.S./Korea agreement in alignment with standard practices. Additionally, he coordinated efforts for a Sustainment Re-modernization Maintenance project at Yechon DFSP. A crossover valve, with custody control provisions, installed at the joint-use Rail Tank Car off-loading headers now enables exchange of product between services.
For the cooperation between the U.S. and Korean services, Kwak was presented a coin and certificate of appreciation by General Song, Kyung Sun, commander, Aero Resource Management Wing, ROK Air Force.
In addition to Kwak’s support to the warfighter, he serves as mentor to KN employees.
“He is a true ambassador of Korean culture for the Americans who serve tours abroad,” his supervisor said. “Because Kwak is the epitome of a quiet professional, he very reluctantly accepts praise; he is however, as deserving as any other employee.”
For his efforts in 2016, Kwak was the unanimous choice to represent DLA Energy as a featured employee in DLA's Loglines magazine.
Kwak continues to hone his craft by attending conferences such as the 2016 Supply Planner summit at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. During the conference, Kwak was recognized by the lead supply planners for his responsiveness in providing collaboration and other data calls for the Korea sub-region. Additionally, Kwak was recognized by the ROK Air Force for his efforts in reconciling fuel exchange and providing creative logistics solutions to meet the operational and planning needs of the U.S. and ROK Air Forces.
“Kwak sets the example for service to his community in an extremely subtle and unassuming fashion,” his team said. “Though he never seeks credit, he is often the mastermind behind community events that form a friendship bond between the U.S. and Korean civilians.”
This year alone, Kwak coordinated numerous outings and events such as a mountain climbing venture for team-building day, a hail and farewell ceremony to recognize coworker accomplishments and a refinery tour to improve relationships with community partners as well as individual professional development.
“Selecting the winners from the many outstanding nominations was a difficult task,” said USFK Civilian Human Resources Program Director Bruce Skillin in a memorandum announcing the winners. “Commanders, managers and supervisors are to be commended on their selection of nominees and the efforts expended in preparing the nominations.”