News | Oct. 22, 2021

European American Heritage Month Spotlight: Shadeed Drakeford

By DLA Aviation Public Affairs Office

Defense Logistics Agency Aviation recognizes European American Heritage during the month of October. DLA Aviation’s theme is “Reflections of Culture, Pride, Diversity and the American Dream.” This observance is an opportunity for DLA Aviation to recognize and celebrate European American Heritage, to include German American Heritage, Italian American Heritage, and Polish American Heritage. Whether you are German American, Italian America, Polish American or not, it’s important to mark the culture of a people who helped shape our nation.

DLA Aviation is honored to highlight European Americans who work daily to provide logistics support to America’s warfighters and other federal customers.

My name is: Shadeed Drakeford

I am:  a chemical engineer in DLA Aviation’s Engineering Directorate’s Hazardous Information Programs Division in Richmond, Virginia.

How long have you worked for DLA? I have been working for DLA since February 2017

What does the 2021 European American Heritage Month mean to you? Germany is home to me, and the country has always had a good relationship with the United States for the past 30 years. Richmond, Virginia, as well as other parts of Virginia, is always appreciative when it comes to Oktoberfest so I'm grateful for that as well.

Tell us something unique about your heritage, country of origin or family traditions. My parents are military, but I was born in Birkenfeld, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany in a German hospital. Many years later, I had the opportunity to go back to the same hospital and thank the staff for looking out for me and my mother. It was a cool experience.

What misconception about your heritage or country of origin would you like to correct? Germans are actually very kind people. But they value their privacy and their personal space. As a result, they can come across as being standoffish, but that is not always the case at all. They will warm up to you once they know you and trust you.

In regards to this year’s EAHM observance theme, “Reflections of Culture, Pride, Diversity and the American Dream,” what do you consider the most important cultural value for you and for those close to you? One of the things that I learned early on in Germany was to be a trustworthy individual. In regard to that, it wasn't enough to be an authentic individual that always spoke the truth. That is often a given. Germans also care about the source of trust which involves three things: competence (the person knows what they are doing), integrity (the person does what they promise), and benevolence (the person is representing the other's interests). If you demonstrate those three things on a daily basis, you will earn the respect of your peers.

Tell us a little-known fact that most people do not know about you. I was born in Germany, traveled back to the States, and went back to Germany from the 5th grade to the 8th grade. I went to two Department of Defense Education Activity schools where we had the opportunity to travel to different parts of Germany, France, England and Poland on field trips to enhance our learning experiences.

How important is it to you that Defense Logistics Agency Aviation recognize this month? It's important because the headquarters for DLA Europe & Africa is located in Kaiserslautern, Germany, which is about 42 minutes away from my hometown, Baumholder, Germany. On top of that, DLA Disposition Services manages disposal of hazardous property for DoD activities. They are responsible for maximizing the use of each item and minimizing the environmental risks and the costs associated with its disposal.  My particular group [ in DLA Aviation’s Engineering Directorate] is the primary point of contact in assisting our counterparts in Germany when answering their inquiries on hazardous end items.

What do you want the DLA Aviation workforce to take away from celebrating this observance month? Germans enjoy spending time outdoors and enjoy their time off work. When they are off work, they are not thinking about work at all. It’s important to do something fun after work like visiting a museum, playing a sport or going hiking in the woods.