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USACE Water Manager awarded second highest civilian honor

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Mobile District
Published Feb. 2, 2017

MOBILE, Ala. – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) South Atlantic Division Commander Brig. Gen. C. David Turner presented James E.Hathorn Jr., Mobile District Water Management Chief, with the U.S. Army Meritorious Civilian Service Award Jan. 30 in Mobile, Ala. The award is the second highest honor that a U.S. civilian is eligible to receive.

Hathorn received the award for his work to update the Master Water Control Manual for the Alabama-Coosa-Tallapoosa River Basin. The manual hadn’t been updated since it was first released in 1951, and Hathorn did an impressive job managing expectations and communicating with stakeholders throughout the process.

Upon receiving the award, Hathorn remained humble and credited his coworkers for much of his success.

“I’m very honored and it is a humbling experience,” said Hathorn. “I am just one of many who have led to my success. I just happen to be the front man. I’ve been very fortunate to work alongside some great people, and I wouldn’t have accomplished this without them.”

As a way to reward his fellow coworkers for their role in his success, Hathorn plans to display the award in a manner that reflects his entire team’s accomplishments.  

“I stand to represent the team as opposed to individual awards,” he said. “So when I display it, I am going to somehow add recognition for the team.”

But before Hathorn does that, he has plans to use the award to inspire a few individuals who are a little closer to home.

“The first thing I want to do is share it with my family,” he said. “One of the things I always strive for is to be an example for my kids and my grandchildren, and hopefully they can use this as motivation.”

The Meritorious Civilian Service Award recognizes those who perform in an exemplary manner, set a record of achievement, and inspire others. According to Kris Mullins, Chief of Staff for USACE Mobile, Hathorn exemplifies each of those qualities.

“James is most known for his positive attitude, ability to emphasize, his patience, and his sincere desire to understand others' points of view,” said Mullins. “(He) can always be counted on to rally the team, bring a willing spirit to achieve success, and to strive for a solution which truly has consensus.”

For Hathorn, this most recent recognition is just another accomplishment in a long and distinguished career of service to the nation. In fact, in 2008 he was named the Lt. Gen. John W. Morris Civilian of the Year, which recognizes the individual who has made the most significant contributions to the mission, reputation, and prestige for the USACE. With approximately 35,000 employees working for the USACE that is quite an impressive feat.

After 28 years of service, Hathorn shows no signs of slowing down and most recently finished updating the Master Water Control Manual for the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River Basin. While a Record of Decision has yet to be released for that manual, Hathorn may want to consider making room for another award in the very near future.