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News | July 28, 2021

Employee Spotlight: William “Tom” Thomason

By DLA Aviation Public Affairs

Employee spotlight regularly features outstanding non-supervisory personnel from throughout the Defense Logistics Agency Aviation and other DLA employees on Defense Supply Center Richmond, Virginia. Organizational directors may submit names of employees they wish to feature in this column to DLA Aviation Public Affairs. For more information, call (804) 279-3139.

Name: William “Tom” Thomason”

Organization: DLA Aviation at Cherry Point, North Carolina

Years of Service: 39

What is your job title, and what do you do, specifically? I’m an inventory management/customer service specialist. I reduce unfilled orders (backorders) and try to maintain stock on the shelf to eliminate them. We are a customer facing organization and listen to what our customers issues are as far as to what their material inhibiters are that are adversely affecting production. We look for ways to alleviate these issues and plan for future induction. We will support the warfighter at all costs because the saying is “warfighter first.” I spent some time at Al Asad Air Base, Al Anbar, Iraq and saw firsthand our young warriors in action.

What do you like most about your job? When our customer approaches us with a material issue that seems to be unsolvable, and we turn the issue around. Then, the customer walks away satisfied that we resolved the issue.  That is a “feel good” moment.

What kind(s) of training and education helps your work performance in your current role? The training that we received when we were first brought under the wing of “Big” DLA [from Navy] helped my performance. It was a crash course with a lot of information presented in a short period of time. I had a difficult time adjusting to change [when positions transitioned from Navy to DLA] but came through it. I still come across some stuff I remember the instructors talking about and I think to myself, “I remember that”. Also, the length of time I’ve work in supply and the knowledge I have gained from 12 years in the school of hard knocks helps me with my work. I started out as GS-4 supply clerk in 1986 when this facility was known as theNaval Air Rework Facility, then I was promoted to a GS-5 which was the dead end in the supply world for NARF, soon to be Naval Aviation Depot. My supervisor worked a wrinkle in the system and after 10 years myself and several others went through the upward mobility program moving up from GS-5 to GS-7 to GS-9. Then two years later, I competed for a GS-11 and was selected.

What aspect(s) of your current job gives you the most personal satisfaction? Why? With the help of my coworker, we took this program from well over 520 unfilled orders to just over 80 UFOs and they are still dropping.

What was your first job? I’ll have to combine them. I was a paperboy delivering The Daily News house to house in Jacksonville, North Carolina, for about one year in a duplex apartment housing area in the Northwoods Area. The only reason I bring this up is that on one Friday evening I delivered my papers with intention to collect for the week the next morning. Most of these apartments were rented by Marine and Navy families, and nobody was home. The apartments were empty, they had all moved out overnight. I went home, asked my father if he knew what was going on. He said Camp Lejeune had mobilized and was headed to Florida and that the families packed up and moved home overnight. The Bay of Pigs/Cuban Missile Crisis near about bankrupted this paperboy. So, I quit that job and started mowing lawns, raking leaves and cleaning gutters in my neighborhood for 50 cents for mowing, $2aking a half-acre lot and $1.00 for cleaning out gutters. Times sure have changed.

Where do you see yourself five years from now? Retired, nothing else needs to be said about this, right?

What’s your biggest pet peeve? I guess my biggest pet peeve is some folks want – want – want. They can’t get promoted fast enough. DLA is not doing enough for them. I must bite my tongue. Most employees came in as a GS-5 and in a year, they pick up GS-7, a year or so later GS-9, achieving a GS-9 no less than 5 years from the time they started. Now it seems the entry level is GS-7. DLA seems to me to be very good to them. I look back – now I was a “fast” climber - and it took me 10 years to GS-9 and another two years to GS-11, and I only achieved this because of the upward mobility program.

What’s the most thrilling/adventurous thing you have ever done? In March 2005 while we were still Fleet & Industrial Supply Center, I had the opportunity to be the first to go represent the supply end of the detachment that went to Al Asad Air Base, Iraq, or as we referred to it as the ‘Naval Aviation Depot in the Sand’ (not to the colonel’s liking). Our job was to maintain our store - two connex [large metal cargo containers] storage containers full of material for the depot-level repair of CH-46 Sea Knight, and CH-53 Sea Stallion aircraft, which we brought with us and issued material to the artisans as they needed it for repairs.

When we got there, the things that were planned for were not there or not available such as berthing (housing), work areas for artisans and areas for my battle buddy and myself to store our free issue bins [material not stored in connex containers] and to store the two very large storage containers. There were no desks or chairs and no computers or hook-ups. There was a room off to the side of the hanger, but it was slam full of junk. Our liaison officer, a Marine first lieutenant, asked what that room was for and whose junk did that belong to. Nobody knew, and so he found the Seabee detachment and got them bring a dump truck over and we all grabbed something out of that room, threw it in the dump truck and established “NADEP in the Sand.”

 I stayed the full 180 days. Al Asad was a thrilling and adventurous time for me. It had its ups and downs but, overall, we were truly supporting the warfighter on the front line. I had the Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron coming to me requesting material. If I had it in my store, I got permission from the supervisor and issued it. If we did not have something, we had a direct pipeline to NADEP that the MALS did not have it, and we got the material in three days. We worked wrinkles [supply issues] on hot items – a lot of “feel good moments.”

What is your favorite military aircraft? Why? The C-130 Hercules is my favorite aircraft. Look at how long it has been around and is still flying. It came into service in 1956; I was only eight years old. As much as I liked my experience in Al Asad, there were only two aircraft that I wanted to fly out on, they were the C-5 Galaxy and the C-130. The C-5 was going to get me home a lot quicker, barring any mechanical difficulties, and they always had mechanical difficulties. The C-130 will bounce your eyeballs out, but that bird will stay in the air and it has a glide path. Yes, the C-130 is my favorite military aircraft, it got me almost all the way out of the desert and for that it is No.1 in my book.