NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Oct. 6, 2021) – Two notable retirees received the Distinguished Civilian Employee Recognition Award today highlighting impactful careers and exceptional achievements with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District.
In making the award presentations, Lt. Col. Joseph Sahl, Nashville District commander, lauded Mike Wilson, former deputy district engineer for Project Management, and Mark Kuhlo, former chief of the Electrical and Mechanical Branch, for their service and combined 77 years of federal service.
“We just got done unveiling their names on a plaque downstairs on one of the hardest walls to get your name on,” Sahl said. “We talked about how much that meant and how much these gentlemen meant and what that recognition means to us in the Corps of Engineers.”
The commander highlighted their impactful careers and made the award presentations as the district’s workforce watched virtually from the headquarters and project sites across a seven-state area.
Kuhlo joined the Tennessee Valley Authority in 1981 where his responsibilities included mechanical designs for navigation, hydropower, fossil, and nuclear projects. During his time with TVA, he designed the hoist machinery for the upper lift gate at the Wilson Auxiliary Lock on the Tennessee River in Florence, Alabama.
He joined the Corps of Engineers as a senior engineer of the Mechanical Design Section in 1988 and became the chief of the Electrical and Mechanical Section in 1999. In this role he led complex designs for the Chickamauga Lock Replacement Project and Kentucky Lock Addition Project. Kuhlo also led the start of the Hydropower Section 212 Program and execution of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act projects. He culminated 35 years of federal service in 2016.
Kuhlo thanked the commander for making the presentation and the Nashville District for selecting him as a distinguished civilian employee.
“It was even more than an honor to have worked for the district for the period of time that I did, Kuhlo said. “Having stepped away from the district, and looking back, I realize that we’ve got such an important mission here – hydropower, navigation, flood control, recreation… and it’s just a very important job. And I realize this was something special.”
Wilson joined the Corps of Engineers as a student coop in 1975 and became the deputy district engineer for Project Management in 2005. As the district’s top civilian, he provided counsel for seven district engineers over a 12-year period. He culminated 42 years of federal service in 2017 and received the U.S. Army Superior Service Medal recognizing his lengthy accomplishments.
Wilson’s first project as a student coop involved the Bay Springs Lock (Since renamed Jamie L. Whitten Lock) Project in Dennis, Miss., during the construction of the Tennessee Tombigbee Waterway, a 234-mile man-made waterway. To this day it is still the largest earth-moving project in world history, excavating more dirt than even the Panama Canal project.
During his career, Wilson also served as the chief of the Structural Section, project manager for navigation projects, technical manager for flood control projects, and chief of the Design Branch for five years. His expertise as an engineer, project manager, planner, leader, and communicator produced exceptional results over the course of his career on projects like the Wolf Creek Dam Safety Rehabilitation Project, Center Hill Dam Safety Rehabilitation Project, Chickamauga Lock Replacement Project, Kentucky Lock Addition Project, and Section 212 Hydropower Rehabilitation Project.
Wilson called it an honor to receive the award alongside his friend Mark Kuhlo and to have served together. He also noted how so many others challenged him throughout his career to accept greater leadership roles. He specifically thanked Herman Gray and Euclid “Euc” Moore, who also received the same award, for their mentorship and leadership.
“Herman was my first branch chief as a young engineer and Euc was chief engineer. They kind of set the standard for what ‘right’ looked like. And the thing I appreciated most about them is they believed in me. They believed I could do things I didn’t think I could do,” Wilson said.
Wilson said he had a successful career, noting that having his name on a monolith drawing for Bay Springs Lock at the very beginning is still one of the proudest moments of his career.
Kuhlo’s wife Jeanne attended the ceremony, while Wilson’s wife Cady and son Michael joined him for the event.
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.
The Nashville District has now honored a total of 51 retirees with this award since the district’s inception in 1888. Every recipient has a nameplate added to a bronze plaque at the headquarters to honor the employee’s distinguished career.
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