For Mandy Waters, being an administrative officer with the Fort Worth District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) has turned out to be a dream come true… So much so, she longed to return to her team in the Real Estate Division while she was deployed as part of the Texas Air National Guard (TXANG) to Qatar.
Yes, not only does she manage the administrative responsibilities for one of the largest divisions in the district with over 150 personnel, the admin officer/Tech Sgt. recently returned from a six-month deployment to Al Udeid Air Base where she was part of the command support staff for the 379th Expeditionary Mission Support Group in support of Operation Inherent Resolve and Freedom’s Sentinel.
Born and raised in the small town of Wicksburg, Alabama, about 2 hours south of Montgomery, Mandy is the eldest of four siblings: with three younger brothers. Since she was a little girl, she had the desire to serve her country.
“My grandad served in the Army and my dad served in the Navy,” Mandy said. “I wanted to have that stability and discipline while traveling and meeting people from all over the world.”
Mandy fulfilled her zeal for patriotic duty and has been serving her country for nearly 20 years.
“I joined the Air Force Reserve in 2002 as a security forces member, which is basically like military police,” Mandy said. “I did that for 8 years and was stationed in Delaware, Italy and Florida. Then, the opportunity presented itself for me to be an air reserve technician, which is to be a full-time government civilian employee in a field that is correlated with my Air Force reservist career field. I cross-trained into administration in 2011 and took a job here in Fort Worth with the 301st Fighter Wing as an admin assistant and did that for three more years.”
Mandy is married with two children, ages 24 and 16; and two stepchildren. It was at this point in her career in 2015 Mandy felt the need to change her path, to chart a new course for her and her family. She transferred from the Air Force Reserve to the Texas Air National Guard. At the same time, accepted a position with the Fort Worth District.
“I felt it would be better in the long run for my family because there was not enough room for growth or advancement,” she said. “I wanted to do something more challenging; I wanted to work somewhere where I had room to spread my wings. I love helping people and I thrive on being busy and being there for my team.”
Her passion at work with the Real Estate division is obvious. Tammi Hasenpflug, Administrative Support Assistant with Real Estate Division’s Management and Disposal Branch, describes her as the “Energizer Bunny.”
“She has an amazing amount of energy and needs it for all the tasks required for her as the administrative officer for Real Estate,” Tammi said. “She takes care of 158 employees and is the mentor to six administrative assistants. She wears so many hats for us; it took three administrative assistants to cover for her while she was deployed!”
Mandy oversees all admin functions within the division. Her main function is to provide administrative support to the chief and deputy chief of Real Estate Division, but she also provides support to all the other branches within the division. This can include budgeting, coordinating meetings, training coordination, government credit card purchasing, ordering IT equipment, consumable inventory and purchasing, calendar management, and more. There is a lot of overlap between her job with the TXANG and USACE.
“In my role on deployment, I provided admin support directly to the commander, but also took on about 15 additional duties to include support for awards and decorations, officer and enlisted evaluations, anti-terrorism coordinator, the list goes on, all in support of the commander and the six units under us,” Mandy said.
Mandy wanted to deploy at least once in her career. As it turns out, this deployment was not at the top of her list.
“When they asked me this time if I wanted to deploy, I initially told them no because I felt it wasn’t good timing and I had too much going on with my family and work to leave,” she said. “But they didn’t have any other volunteers, so I did my duty.”
While deployed, Mandy cherished the support from her USACE family back at home.
“When I found out I was deploying, I was able to give the Corps enough notice and they understood and were really supportive,” Mandy Said. “We stayed in contact throughout my entire deployment; they even sent care packages. I talked to my supervisors at least once a week while I was deployed. They were really supportive the whole time and I feel I would have and a harder time if I didn’t have that; they were phenomenal.”
One of her supervisors, Lee Flannery, Deputy Chief of Real Estate Division, describes Mandy as “extremely professional, full of energy and drive, striving to ensure everyone is taken care of,” and someone who “simply gets things done.”
“Filling her shoes during the deployment was challenging to say the least,” Lee said. “Ms. Waters is always fond of saying little things like ‘Let’s get this done,’ or, ‘Come on, we’re burning daylight here,’ and a multitude of other things that demonstrate how she is able to get so much accomplished each day. She likes to be busy, but her no nonsense approach to working never overshadows the execution of those tasks while having fun doing it. I would venture to say she is one of the most dedicated employees you will come across in the Corps of Engineers.”
Lee also says Mandy even kept up with some of her USACE responsibilities while she was deployed.
“Ms. Waters was always very willing and helpful while deployed when we had issues or questions that needed to be addressed despite having a full plate of her own where she was serving,” Lee said. “She performed her deployment duties with rave reviews by her leadership there and she received multiple awards and honors making certain she represented USACE well.”
Apart from her duties with USACE and TXANG, which seemingly add up to 25 hours a day, Mandy loves to shop and says she is “obsessed with clothes.” She loves cats and reading books. She often jogs or walks around her neighborhood, and last but not least, she adores her family time.
“I can’t get enough time with my family,” she said. “One of our favorite things to do is explore new hole-in the-wall restaurants and support local businesses. I also love taking my kids to museums, water parks, hiking trails, Fort Worth Stockyards, and all the wonderful local attractions.”
At the end of the day, Mandy says she wakes up every day looking forward to going to work.
“I tell anybody who asks me this; I absolutely love my job at the Corps,” Mandy said. “When I was deployed, I liked what I was doing there, but I absolutely could not wait to get back to my job. It’s the sense of camaraderie and how it feels like a family; everyone looks out for each other and takes care of each other.”