RIDGETOP, Tenn. (June 7, 2019) – Three Nashville District retirees received the Distinguished Civilian Employee Recognition Award today during the Engineer Day Picnic at Smiley Hollow, bringing the total of people recognized for distinguished careers to 99 since 1922.
Lt. Col. Cullen Jones, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District commander, recognized Michael Zoccola, Emily Carr and Charles Bryan, highlighting how the trio made significant contributions to the Corps of Engineers mission.
“You can see the scope and span of everything that they have gone through and provided, to not only to the district and region, but also the nation,” Jones said.
Cumulatively, Zoccola, Carr and Bryan served 108 years in federal service, and were nominated for the award for exceptionally accomplishing assigned duties, for managing and improving methods and procedures, and for producing extraordinary benefits for the Corps of Engineers.
Zoccola, who worked from 1976 to 2016, served predominantly within the Engineering and Construction Division as a geotechnical engineer. He worked on notable projects like the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway Project and Wolf Creek Dam Safety Rehabilitation Project, culminating his career as the Civil Design Branch chief.
The Corps of Engineers recognized him as the Engineer of the Year in 2014 for his leadership on the Wolf Creek project. He also received the 2006 Ronald J. Ruffennach USACE Communicator of the Year Award, which recognizes a member of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers outside of the Public Affairs career field for outstanding contributions in communicating USACE missions and programs. The award recognized him for conducting more than 50 media interviews and for being the primary spokesperson when the district held 14 public meetings announcing the Wolf Creek Dam rehabilitation and addressing dam safety concerns.
Zoccola accepted the award from the commander, lauding leadership and the team of supervisors, coworkers and subordinates that supported him for the success he enjoyed.
“I want to thank the district and committee for this selection,” Zoccola said. “I’m kind of a caretaker for this from all the great people that I worked with; a lot of them are still in this room today.”
Carr, who worked from 1983 to 2016, served extensively within the Engineering and Construction arena. Prior to joining the Nashville District, she also served a stint as a facilities engineer for the Veteran’s Administration, and five years as an office engineer for the Tennessee Valley Authority.
During her career, Carr supported notable projects such as flood mitigation on the upper Cumberland River in southeastern Kentucky, difficult road stabilization work for the National Park Service in the Big South Fork National Park, the Wolf Creek Dam and Center Hill Dam Safety Rehabilitation Projects.
Her design work on the flood projects required serving as not only a technical lead but also diligent engineering expertise to overcome many technical challenges associated with rock blasting, channel diversion, environmental considerations, and levee construction. Her efforts showcased the technical capabilities of the Nashville District to overcome geotechnical issues that at the time were not widely recognized across the USACE enterprise.
“I want to thank everyone for this honor. There are so many people that deserve recognition for what they do for the Corps. I’m very humbled by this,” Carr said when receiving the award. “I just wanted to say that you hear entertainers talk about their dream job of performing or acting, but I want to say that this was my dream job. And I am very grateful for my career.”
Bryan, who worked from 1981 to 2016, began his career in the former Nashville Repair Station as a temporary maintenance worker, working his way up to the position of lockmaster at Old Hickory Lock, managing all operations and maintenance at that project as well as providing maintenance oversight at Cheatham and Cordell Hull Locks.
He became qualified early in his career as a truck driver and crane operator, and became proficient at metal working, welding and performing equipment repairs. With an eagerness to learn these maintenance trades, he soon accepted a full-time position as a lock and dam equipment mechanic in the repair party, working extensively on the Cumberland and Tennessee waterways.
During this time, Bryan completed requirements to become a USACE diver. With a reputation of hard work and dedication, he eventually took a supervisory position as a repair party foreman. He became the lockmaster at Old Hickory Lock in 1989.
As a result of his superb people skills, effective leadership style, and knowledge of the district’s navigation mission, he became a “go-to” person for all things related to navigation and maintenance methods. With his extensive knowledge and experience, especially in dive operations, the Nashville District assigned him the duty of district dive coordinator in 2009. He retained those duties until retirement.
Jones noted that Bryan shined as a key component of the district’s former repair fleet, and as the lead in developing the dive team. Bryan continues to support the Nashville District as a retired annuitant on the Kentucky Lock Addition Project.
Nashville District civilian retirees with at least 20 years of service are eligible to be nominated for the Distinguished Civilian Employee Recognition Award. The recognition is reserved for exceptional retirees who have served honorably and contributed substantially to the reputation of the Corps of Engineers.
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