Wynne Area Office Area Engineer Loy Hamilton recently celebrated 35 years of federal service. To honor him, we take a look back at his time with us to recognize him for everything he's done, not just for the Memphis District, but also for our nation.
Hamilton was born in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1957, and later adopted by his parents at the young age of six months.
"I grew up here in Wynne, where the (USACE) Area Office is located (and now where he works)," he said. "And I graduated from Arkansas State University in 1982."
While Hamilton has worked for the government most of his career, he didn't start with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). He began by working for his dad and said he was inspired to join the field because of him as well. His father, Wilbur, was a World War II Navy Combat Engineer, Ship Fitter, and Boatswain Veteran.
"My dad owned his own construction business," Hamilton commented. "The way he built things and how I would watch him build stuff from start to finish used to inspire me. He was a true man's man, you know – like John Wayne and Robert Howard's mentor. He would always say, 'Never ask anyone to do something that you yourself would not at least try.'”
At his funeral, Hamilton said a man came up to him and had an anecdote about his dad.
"Seems he had done some work for him, and my dad didn't bill him," Hamilton explained. "The man said that he offered to pay my dad, but my dad answered him with this, 'You can pay me the next time you see me, with a smile and a kind word.' That is the kind of man I would like to be," Hamilton finished with a smile.
It seems his dad wasn't Hamilton's only hero, though; his mom also had a top spot in his life.
"I intended to say, but forgot...my dad and all those I had for mentors were truly a blessing from the Lord, but my real principal earthly mentor was my mom!" he exclaimed. "She could stand by my dad and me especially and be on our ears in a heartbeat!"
With inspiration from his dad and mother to thank, Hamilton came to work for the Memphis District in 1983. He started out as a GS-3 and worked his way up to an becoming an Administrative Contracting Officer (ACO). He’s been working as one for 22 years now!
"Loy has a high degree of integrity -- you can rely on him to enforce the contract!" Construction Branch Chief and Hamilton's Supervisor Jim Wolff exclaimed. "He serves his country proudly in many ways, one by deploying to Afghanistan. He's done so three times so far, and he's working on his next deployment coming up here later this year. He's one of our longest-serving, if not the longest, ACOs."
As the Wynne Area Engineer, Hamilton is responsible for roughly half of the southern Memphis District, which includes approximately 12,000 square miles. His primary duties include inspection and administration of construction contracts, supply contracts, and hired labor construction.
"He's also responsible for the operation and maintenance of government-operated projects, and the inspection of flood control projects maintained by local interest groups during high water emergencies," Wolff added.
Furthermore, Hamilton is assigned as an area commander during flood fights and assists in other emergency operations that may be needed during other natural disasters. Finally, he serves as the primary ACO on all other assigned projects.
To sum it up, Hamilton does a lot for this district, so it only makes sense for him to have some memorable projects he's worked on.
"One memorable project occurred at the Graham Burke Pumping Station in 2008, where the contractor just happened to be a Disabled Veteran and a Medal of Honor recipient," Hamilton recounted. "His name was Nick Bacon. Negotiating with him and signing my name alongside his was a truly unique experience."
Hamilton recalled another memorable project while being deployed to Afghanistan.
"The Commander called me one night at about 2300 (11 p.m.) to ask me to be the lead negotiator for a $30 million contract modification at Bagram Airfield," he recalled. "I was being asked to complete this task from conception to completion/signed modification, all in about six weeks."
With the great memories come essential people who've mentored Hamilton during his time with the Corps.
Within USACE, Hamilton lists the following as his mentors: Mr. Laverne Wilkerson, Mr. Leroy Wilkerson, Mr. Bobby Williams, Mr. David Dodd, Mr. Bobby Littlejohn, Mr. Gerald Davis, Mr. Tom Morgan, Mr. Dave Porter, Mr. Roger Vowell, Mr. Vick Davis, and many others.
When Hamilton isn't working, he is shooting competitively with vintage military rifles, specifically a 1903 Springfield and an M1 Garand. He also enjoys gardening and woodworking.
Of course, any time someone with this much service under their belt comes our way, we always ask, how do you do it? What's the number one characteristic you attribute to having such a great work ethic?
"Integrity would be number one, followed closely and supported by always being punctual and holding yourself to a higher standard," he answered. "Remain accountable and responsible for your actions, finish your work on time, be reliable, have good character, and keep your word even to the point of your own destruction."
Hamilton is married and lives in Wynne, Arkansas, with his wife and daughter. He is very grateful for his career thus far, but don't worry, he isn't done just yet.
"I am currently scheduled to deploy this October to fill the Chief of Construction position," he said. "This will make four times I've deployed."
Those who know Hamilton say he is a genuinely humble person who is just grateful for what he’s been given and for what he does. Writing this story proves it even more.
"I would like to thank the Good Lord above for blessing me with my Professional Engineer Stamp and other things beyond what I ever earned."
Hamilton isn't the only one to be thankful; the Memphis District is also very grateful for him and his contributions to the district, division, and nation. Congratulations on reaching this significant milestone, sir! Essayons!