Ennis, past deputy, DLA Distribution San Joaquin, three-term mayor, named for Hall of Fame

By Dianne Ryder

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David Ennis’s career has been marked by notable success — as a leader, mentor, friend, outstanding citizen and mayor of his hometown, Escalon, California. Now he can add to his honors membership in the Defense Logistics Agency Hall of Fame.

Ennis reflected on his most memorable accomplishment as the former deputy commander of DLA’s second largest distribution center, DLA Distribution San Joaquin.

“We were able to bring the consolidation of the distribution depots into DLA — all the different services and different systems together and save approximately 25,000 positions,” he said. “It was something that I was able to benefit from — [as well as] the agency and the taxpayer, mostly from the improvements that we brought throughout the system.”

From 2004 to 2006, Ennis provided distribution services to over 44,000 customer organizations worldwide and sustained military readiness during a time of tremendous organizational change. But Ennis insists on sharing the credit for his many achievements and recognitions.

“I worked with a lot of people from the East Coast, and it was tremendous,” he said. “They helped; they weren’t selfish at all.” 

In 1984, Ennis was voted one of 10 Outstanding DLA Personnel, an honor he counted as the highest in his career.
 
“I’ve been very lucky; people have given me a lot of credit I probably didn’t deserve,” he said. “You kind of take it, grin and get on with the game.”

In his nomination package for induction to the DLA Hall of Fame, DLA Distribution Deputy Commander Twila Gonzales referred to Ennis as a “world-class leader.”

“As the deputy commander, Mr. Ennis brought the highest level of personal integrity, honesty and dedication to an organization challenged by continual change and uncertainty,” Gonzales wrote. “Mr. Ennis exemplifies all the best quality of our senior logisticians and is truly deserving of this recognition.”

Ennis said he is “extremely proud” to be chosen as a Hall of Fame inductee.

“To be honest, I knew that they had those type of awards, but I never dreamt in my fondest dreams that I’d be chosen for one,” he said. “I have been the beneficiary of a lot of other people’s hard work.”

As deputy commander, Ennis was responsible for the receipt, storage, issue, shipment, surveillance, care and preservation of over 752,000 line items of materiel valued at $5.1 billion, execution of $179 million annual operating budget and administration of 1,600 personnel. If those were the only elements of Ennis’s success, they would be stellar enough. But his leadership positions in city government have also been noteworthy.

“When we first met, he was introduced to me as the ‘Mayor of Escalon’ — an honorary title, I thought,” said retired Army Col. John Marx, who served as DDJC Commander from 1998 to 2001. “As time passed, I found out that he really was the mayor and that he played a significant role in providing leadership to the people of Escalon.”

In fact, Ennis served three terms as mayor of Escalon. He also served on the Escalon City Council and the San Joaquin County Council of Governors. In 1989, Ennis was named Outstanding Citizen in the Community, and he and his wife Rose still serve on the South San Joaquin County Library Task Force.

Retired Army Col. Edward Visker, DDJC commander from 2001 to 2004, also extolled Ennis’s leadership outside of his federal position.

“As a soldier who uprooted his family every two or three years, I had never planted roots. I often
envied the bonds that Dave had made with his community and his friends and neighbors,” Visker said. “Outside the office, Dave was completely immersed in service his community as a civic leader at the town, county and state levels. He was always volunteering to lead, support or help a cause that would improve someone else's life.”

Ennis said he was able to apply what he’d learned on the job as deputy commander to his City Council work.

“It was an operation where one benefited the other; it was synergistic,” he said. “California was having a heck of a time meeting its budget, and so we were able to take a lot of the lessons we learned at the installation and use it as part of a plan.”

From the time Ennis arrived at the Defense Depot Tracy, California, in 1967, he aspired to become the top civilian at the depot. He began his 39-year DLA career as a heavy-duty laborer and retired as the deputy commander of DLA Distribution San Joaquin.

“On the day I assumed command of DDJC, the Defense Distribution Center commanding general sat me down and told me, ‘You have the best deputy commander in DDC; pay attention to him,’” Visker said. “And the general was right. As the civilian deputy to rotating military commanders, Dave was absolutely the continuity of the distribution center.”