COLUMBUS, Ohio –
Milton Lewis, DLA Land and Maritime’s Acquisition Executive for the past nine years, retired Mar. 31 after completing more than 38 years of dedicated and decorated service to the Department of Defense.
Retiring as a member of the Senior Executive Service, Lewis held a variety of command and staff assignments during his military and civilian careers. His military responsibilities included conducting analysis and developing acquisition, logistics and supply chain managements solutions.
Land and Maritime Commander Navy Rear Admiral Michelle Skubic spoke on Lewis’ accomplishments and his meticulous direction of daily acquisition operations. She lauded his contributions to coordinating the sustained success of Land and Maritime’s warfighter support mission. “I haven’t known Milt as long as many of the Land and Maritime team, but I can tell you from the day I came aboard he’s been a source of sage counsel and one of the most accomplished logisticians I’ve worked with.”
His final military assignment was as the director of Land-based Weapons Systems Group with the Defense Supply Center Columbus. Skubic touched on the ceremony’s feeling of de je vu during her remarks and noted that it was only fitting that Lewis’ final civilian assignment was at DSCC, since he retired from the U.S. Army at DSCC 13 years earlier.
Dr. Cynthia Lewis, Milton Lewis’ daughter, shared her recollections of what it was like growing up in the Lewis household during her father’s military and civilian careers. Cynthia also paid homage to her mother, acknowledging her as the glue that held the family together during the many challenges military families grapple with as part of the sacrifice required in service to the nation.
“Dad instilled in us [his children] the importance of public service and the values of integrity, duty and personal courage,” Cynthia Lewis said. “From a young age, our father taught us to endure the short-term sacrifices to position ourselves to benefit from the long-term gains. One thing I remember is that our mom always encouraged our dad to smile more – he always seemed so serious.”
Several speakers reflected on Milton Lewis’ unwavering work ethic while noting his many career accomplishments. The underlying theme in their collective remarks focused on Lewis’ instinctive sense of selfless service, compassion, his focus on people and the critical aspect customer service plays in Land and Maritime’s mission success.
Skubic talked about Lewis’ sense of compassion as she recounted a story about his public demonstration of compassion for a mother grieving the loss of her son, a former Land and Maritime associate. Skubic’s description of the moment offered an enlightening view of the reserved image many within DLA associated with Milton Lewis.
As Lewis reflected on both his military and civilian careers, he thoughtfully went through his mental listing thanking those who were instrumental in his development and advancement.
“A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of swearing in my daughter into the U.S. Army Reserve. I’ve had many thrills in my life, but I have to say that was probably the greatest,” Lewis said with a broad smile.
James McClaugherty, DLA Land and Maritime deputy commander, shared his experiences working with Lewis in varying capacities for more than 20 years and incorporated one of Lewis’ favored sayings as he shared their decades plus experiences – “The juice in your journey has always been worth the squeeze my friend.”
Though expectedly a reflective moment, Skubic also provided some humor to the event by sharing the friendly ribbing Lewis took during management meetings about the woes of his favorite Atlanta Falcons during last year’s Super Bowl. “We always tried to get a rise out of him with our collective digs, but Milt was always rock solid and unflappable – his defenses were always formidable,” Skubic said.
While humor was part of Lewis’ retirement ceremony, a few new memories were also created on stage.
Wynueco Washington, a DLA Land and Maritime associate, surprised Lewis with a special instrumental performance of “Georgia of my Mind,” a tribute to Lewis’ hometown roots.
The musical surprise clearly touched Lewis as he spoke his final words to those in attendance. “When I was in the Army one of my assignments was as a forward controller calling in air strikes. When the strike was completed we’d do a mission assessment – and if we were satisfied I’d call in mission complete,” Lewis said.
“Thank you for the wonderful support and friendship you all have given me over the years – and I’m calling this – ‘mission complete’ – Lewis out.”
A receiving line concluded the ceremony allowing family, friends, co-workers and fellow Department of Defense officials to congratulate Lewis and his family and thank him for his many decades of federal service.