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Posted 11/3/2018

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By Cheryl A. Moore, Afghanistan District

As the 2018 Federal Small Business Conference wrapped up in New Orleans November 2, John Solomon, who redeployed from the Transatlantic Afghanistan District, attended the conference after getting settled back in at the Seattle District as the Small Business Chief.

“ I think what you do in the Small Business will be fueled, fed, by the knowledge gained over here,” said Col. Jason Kelly, Afghanistan District Commander, “seeing this program, this is a program on steroids.”

While deployed in support of the Afghanistan District Solomon’s expertise in contracting resulted in the execution of a workload valued well over $220 million.

“John Solomon is an outstanding contracting professional,” said Sgt. 1st Class Derrick Wade. When I first arrived John was eager to assist me and help me learn Phase I & II construction in which I had zero experience. My knowledge has improved tremendously working with John. The knowledge and skill I learned from John I can take back to my unit and help improve our construction team,” he said.

Solomon was presented with the Commander’s Award for Civilian Service for his outstanding service as a Contracting Officer in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel and Resolute Support Mission from October 26, 2017 to October 2018.

His citation read in part, “Mr. Solomon’s adept capacity to cover the Operation and Maintenance Blanket Purchase Agreement program during personnel shortages in addition to his year-end workload, enabled the success of the Transatlantic Afghanistan District, and has ensured a brighter future for the people of Afghanistan. Mr. Solomon’s exceptional professionalism, dedication, and commitment to the mission reflect great credit upon himself, the Afghanistan District, the United States Army Corps of Engineers, and the Department of the Army.” Signed Jason E. Kelly, Colonel, EN, Commanding.

Solomon was also awarded the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) medal which read, “John Solomon has been awarded the Non-Article 5 NATO Medal for service with NATO in relation to the Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan during the period October 26, 2017 to October 2, 2018.” Signed Jens Stoltenberg, The Secretary General.

Fellow Seattle District employee deployed in support of overseas mission, Susan Murphy said John is a wonderful, private person.

He has left a lasting impression especially on Nikisha Cook who said, “What I find funny about John is the way he sticks to his routine. I figured this out quick, while my lunch buddies were on R & R, like clockwork he would stick his head in the door and say, “Kisha Chow?” I found it to be funny because I never heard anyone say “Chow” prior to me deploying, but I knew at this particular time of the day that he and another teammate would leave me if I wasn’t ready.

Another teammate said, “John and I both came from the Seattle District where his position as the District Small Business advocate had constant interaction with Contracting Division where I worked. By coincidence, we both volunteered to deploy at the same time, although my deployment clearance took much longer than his. John is a meticulous individual who is very knowledgeable and experienced in his profession.

At the same time, he listens to input from other professionals enabling him to meet the expectations of his team and customers. I was very impressed with his analytical skills, level of detail, and negotiation skills, as the Contracting Officer who successfully negotiated a complicated modification to the
District O & M Custodial contract.

Both being from Seattle, sometimes we passed the time reminiscing about which favorite hangouts and restaurants that we would go to first after we’ve redeployed,” said Okumura.

And like a lot of folks coming into Bagram, your first meeting of folks may take place at Ft. Bliss. Such was the case for Steve Daughtery, who not only met John there but ended up being roommates. And he stuck close to Steve and the other roommates for reasons not to be disclosed, but eventually they both made their way to Afghanistan.

The admiration for “John- John” continues.

“He is a true leader, he enjoys his work and teaching others,” said Teresa Kelly. John has a sincere nature of caring about others. He takes the time to explain things and ensures you understand process and procedures. He is easy to talk to and doesn’t judge. Kelly said, “He has a creative side and enjoys working out. He keeps to himself and doesn’t open up to everyone about his personal life and he is knowledgeable and educated, but doesn’t brag about it.

“I believe that John is going to do well no matter where he goes,” said Whitney Moore. And I know for sure he will be the life of the party when he breaks out in dance.”

Solomon said, “I’m not much of a talker. This was my second deployment and not a lot has changed from 2002. Remember it’s the mission first, but take care of each other. Look at us as a team effort.”

To wrap up Col Kelly had this to say. “I think that when folks volunteer to come overseas and be a part of the District, though it’s a little painful when they depart, they are better when they get back.”  

Afghanistan Contracting Officer NATO Northwestern Division Resolute Support Seattle District small business USACE