PaCE graduates honor fallen classmate, take next step as future leaders

By Kristin Molinaro DLA Land and Maritime Public Affairs

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As Defense Logistics Agency Land and Maritime’s Class of 2018 celebrated completing a rigorous two-year corporate internship program under the DLA Pathways to Career Excellence Program July 25, one seat in the standing-room only auditorium remained unfilled – that of PaCE graduate Robert Bruce.

Bruce, a 33-year veteran of the Army National Guard and retired sergeant major, died June 15 in a motorcycle accident in Ashland County northeast of Columbus five weeks shy of graduating the PaCE program as a DLA Land and Maritime contracting specialist. To honor his memory, his classmates held a moment of silence at the beginning of Wednesday’s ceremony.

Classmate Jamie DeLorme delivered an emotional, yet humorous speech about Bruce, recalling his friendly, easy-going presence and passion for the subject of surplus material.

“If you knew Bob, you probably met him at the smoke shack,” DeLorme said, drawing laughter from the crowd, before switching gears and speaking of her classmate’s venerable charm.

“We appreciate the friendship, patience and understanding that Bob brought to our group, and the laughter and stories that he brought to everyone he met,” she added.

Bruce’s wife Denise attended the ceremony and accepted Bruce’s graduation certificate and a memorial plaque in his honor.

Earlier in the ceremony, organizers celebrated the milestone achievements of the graduates.

The DLA PaCE program graduated more than 100 associates between its fall and spring classes across three organizations: DLA Land and Maritime, DLA Human Resources and DLA Information Operations. Under the guidance of DLA Training career program administrators, associates completed formal training and coursework in addition to on-the-job training and rotational assignments managed by their respective organizations. These professionals now transition from entry-level salaried training positions to being mid-level associates in career fields including contracting, supply, quality assurance and industrial specialist positions.

DLA Human Resources Career Management Division Chief Pam Latker, who oversees the PaCE program, gave opening remarks calling on the 2018 class to be transformational leaders.

“Have the passion to do the hard work needed to achieve your vision…step out of your comfort zone and take informed risks even though they may not lead to guaranteed success,” Latker said.

DLA Land and Maritime Acquisition Executive Mark Brown commended the graduates on their commitment to the program.
“You represent Land and Maritime’s future leadership,” Brown said, touching on the time and effort graduates invested into completing the course of instruction.

“In addition to the technical skills you’ve gained over the last two years, you’ve learned skills like cooperation, solution-based decision-making and inclusive problem-solving,” he added.

Since 2003, more than 1,000 DLA Land and Maritime associates have completed the program – representing nearly 40 percent of the organization’s workforce, Brown said, stressing the important of the training program to the Agency’s combat logistics mission.

Brown asked the 2018 class to take the knowledge they’ve gained and pay it forward to future “pacers.”

“Continue to do what you’ve done since day one: work hard, continue to learn, support one another and, most importantly, support our Warfighters,” he concluded.