After 38 years of federal service, Richard Ellis, Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support deputy commander, is taking off his tie and retiring.
Ellis, who spent 26 years in the Navy and the past 12 with DLA Troop Support, was honored during a retirement ceremony, May 6, where he received the DLA Exceptional Civilian Service Award, a certificate of retirement, various retirement mementos and an American flag flown over DLA headquarters in his honor.
Army Lt. Gen. Charles R. Hamilton, deputy chief of staff, G-4, and previous commander of Troop Support presided over the ceremony. He commended Ellis’ commitment to his job and the workforce.
“He is honest, he has unquestionable integrity, and he treats everybody with dignity and respect,” Hamilton said. “He has provided the workforce the resources to accomplish the mission and he’s always been the consummate cheerleader, getting folks to school and pushing for senior progression. He’s very mission-execution oriented.”
Hamilton continued saying Ellis’ successful career was largely because he knew how to put people first, a sentiment that Subsistence Customer Operations Director John Sheehan shared.
“Mr. Ellis was a big fan of the servant-leader leadership style and encouraged others to follow it as well,” Sheehan said. “He was all about empowering others and being an effective delegator. He’s committed to providing opportunities for others to step up and take charge and saw it as an an effective tool for succession planning, or ‘building the bench’.”
Ellis began his career at Troop Support in 2009 as the acquisition executive, where he was responsible for awarding over 1.7 million contracts valued at more than $13.3 billion annually. He stepped in as acting director from 2010 to 2011, before becoming the deputy director.
During his tenure as deputy director, Ellis oversaw the organization as sales increased from $19 billion to $21.4 billion annually. He managed the acquisition of approximately 2.8 billion COVID-19 test kits and other personal protection equipment items. He also played an intricate part of the realignment of the Industrial Hardware supply chain, which repositioned approximately 400 personnel and transferred more than 900,000 consumable hardware items from Troop Support to DLA Aviation, and DLA Land and Maritime.
“He was a calming presence, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, which was a challenging environment that had no roadmap to follow” said Tina Piotrowski, Process Compliance director. “It was comforting to have a seasoned senior leader to navigate the mission as well as balance the substantial remote work environment. As COVID-19 presented us uncertainty, he was able maintain communication with all levels of our organization and leverage his professional relationships so that the mission did not miss a beat.”
Beth McMaster, Medical supply chain deputy director said Ellis was a perfect mix of leader and thoughtful mentor and had the ability to put people at ease even as they were navigating through tough situations.
“He has a great sense of humor,” she said. “Even during the darkest times, he would find a way to relieve the tension and stress with an amusing and appropriate anecdote.”
McMaster said throughout his career at Troop Support, Ellis has been a steadfast leader during multiple changes inside the organization and out.
“Throughout the times, circumstances required Mr. Ellis to assume the duties of acting commander, his leadership style and disposition never changed,” she said. “He remained the foundation of the command group, seeking to minimize any turbulence that would negatively impact the Troop Support mission caused by the temporary change in command. Regardless of who was in charge and charting the course, Mr. Ellis remained the steady hand steering Troop Support through calm and troubled waters.”
Ellis, who has received Secretary of Defense Award for Excellence, two DLA Meritorious Civilian Awards, and three DLA Exceptional Civilian Service Awards, said he is honored and privileged to have been able to work in Troop Support.
“I am so profoundly proud of this incredible workforce,” he said. “They are some of the hardest working, most talented, patriotic and resilient people I’ve had the pleasure to work with.”
Ellis concluded by saying even though it is time for him to start a new chapter in his life, he knows the Troop Support workforce will continue to deliver top-quality support to the military services and other whole of government partners.
“I do not have to question how Troop Support will be faring after today, because I know the greatness of this organization and the greatness of the people,” he said. “Troop Support, continue to uphold the legacy of outstanding customer service and continue to lean forward in finding new and innovative methods of support. This nation is counting on you, and more importantly the warfighter is counting on you. Thank you for being a part of my journey and for allowing me to be a part of yours. God bless. Warfighter first, warfighter always.”