With over 22 years of service, I have completed two tours in Iraq and two peace-keeping missions—one in Bosnia-Herzegovina and the other in Kosovo. My home stations included Fort Hood, TX; Fort Campbell, KY; Darmstadt, Germany; Edgewood Arsenal, MD; Fort Bragg, NC; Schofield Barracks, HI; and Fort Lee, VA. I was an enlisted soldier from 1996 to 2003 and went from an E-2 to an E-6 (Staff Sergeant). During that time, I served as an avionics radar repairman. I was responsible for the maintenance and readiness of all rotary wing aircraft survivability equipment. Some of the equipment I maintained included infrared, heat-seeking countermeasures, night vision systems, navigation systems, and many other avionic systems.
While serving in Iraq in 2003, I was selected to become a Warrant Officer (WO). As an Electronic Systems Maintenance Warrant Officer (948B), my role and responsibilities expanded from avionics to all electronics and communication systems across the Army. As a WO, I was privileged to serve in the U.S. Army Special Operations Command (USASOC); Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Explosives (CBRNE) Command; and various Signal and Communications Commands.
My final assignment allowed me to serve as a Capability Developer (CAPDEV) in the Integrated Logistics Support Division at the Sustainment Center of Excellence at Fort Lee. As a CAPDEV, I worked closely with the acquisition community and materiel developers to ensure logistics supportability and logistics readiness for fielding Army combat systems. I assessed Joint Capabilities Integration Development System documents to identify requirements in training, force structure, and equipment supportability. I worked with program offices to develop life cycle support strategies and maintenance support plans and participated in numerous logistics demonstrations and technical manual verifications.
I retired from active duty on 31 March 2019 as a Chief Warrant Officer Four (CW4), with 22 years and 9 months of honorable service. During that time, I completed my bachelor’s in cybersecurity policies and master’s in cybersecurity technologies.
Army Active-Duty Service
Basic Training, Fort Jackson, SC
Advanced Individual Training, Fort Gordon, GA
March 1997–July 2000
1st Cavalry Division
Avionics Radar Repairman, Fort Hood, TX
September 1998─March 1999
Lead Technician, Rotary Wing Avionics
Bosnia-Herzegovina Stabilization Force North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) support
August 2000─June 2004
101st Airborne Division
Maintenance Supervisor for Rotary Wing Avionics, Fort Campbell, KY
May 2001─November 2001
Maintenance Supervisor for Rotary Wing Avionics
Kosovo NATO support
Operation Iraqi Freedom
WO Candidate School, Fort Rucker, AL
WO Basic Course, Red Stone, AL
WO Technical Training, Fort Gordon, GA
June 2004─July 2007
Battalion Electronic Systems Maintenance WO
32nd Signal Battalion, 22 Signal Brigade
Darmstadt, Germany, Kelly Barracks
October 2005–September 2006
Battalion Electronic System Maintenance WO
32nd Signal Battalion, 22 Signal Brigade
2nd Tour in Iraq
August 2007–December 2010
Senior Electronics Systems Maintenance WO
20th CBRNE Command, G-4
Edgewood Arsenal/Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD
January 2011–May 2013
Brigade Electronic Systems Maintenance WO
95th Civil Affairs Brigade, USASOC
Fort Bragg, NC
May 2013–June 2015
Division Electronic Systems Maintenance WO
25th Infantry Division, G-6
Scofield Barracks, HI
July 2015–December 2018
Senior Capabilities Developer
Combined Arms Support Command
Fort Lee, VA
Retired March 31, 2019
As a cybersecurity test and evaluator for Defensive Cyber Operations (DCO) at SURVICE’s Aberdeen Area Operation, Kelvin provides cybersecurity test and evaluation for programs in support of the U.S. Army Test and Evaluation Command Survivability Evaluation Directorate and conducts operational assessments to provide independent early assessment of the operational effectiveness and suitability of DCO systems.
Shawn Nelson began his Army career as a UH-60A Blackhawk helicopter repairer, Private First Class, and flew his first combat mission as a Crew Chief during Operation Just Cause, where he earned his first Air Medal. He supported operations in Central America, Germany, Cyprus, Savanna Georgia, Thailand, and Venezuela.
Upon completing flight school at Fort Rucker, AL, he piloted the TH-67, OH-58A/C, and UH-60L and deployed to support the Stabilization Force 11 in Bosnia, where he flew Blackhawk air assault operations as Pilot-in-Command.
Nelson’s most satisfying mission was with MEDEVAC, where he served in Iraq as an UH-60L Instructor Pilot (IP). As part of the 54th MEDEVAC Company, he transported over 360 soldiers, civilians, and prisoners, earning him another Air Medal and seven more combat patches.
Asked directly by U.S. Department of the Army headquarters, CW3 Nelson became one of seven MQ-1 Warrior-A UAS Warrant Officer IPs Army wide. As a standardization and maintenance pilot, he supported Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, providing reconnaissance, intelligence, surveillance, and target acquisition support to joint service/forces operations. He wrote the Army’s MQ-1 Aircrew Training Manual and retired as the Unmanned Aircraft Systems Training Battalion, Medium Altitude Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Standardization Officer.
Army Active-Duty Service
Fort Rucker, AL /Flight school
Fort Huachuca, AZ/Afghanistan OEF
Shawn is a program manager with SURVICE Engineering, where he has worked a maintenance modernization project for the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment. He is currently working on a counter-UAS program for the U.S. Special Operations Command.
Tim Farmer was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant (2LT) through ROTC at Lafayette College and began his Army career in the Field Artillery (FA) Corps. Upon completing the FA Officer Basic Course at Fort Sill, OK, he performed as a Fire Support Officer (FSO) at Fort Hood, TX, and credits some of his best training experiences as calling for 155-mm artillery fires from his mounted Fire Support Team Vehicle (M981 FISTV) and dismounted observation points to best support maneuver for Mechanized Infantry and Armor. This included putting his skills to practice at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, CA.
Upon his transition to the Ordnance Corps, First Lieutenant (1LT) Farmer received training at Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD, and returned to Fort Hood as a Platoon Leader and Company Executive Officer for a Forward Support Battalion. He oversaw logistics and supply distribution and implemented exciting transformational upgrades in situational awareness with vehicle integration of the Army’s Force XXI Battle Command Brigade and Below (FBCB2) digital communications tactical network for the 4th Infantry Division.
Farmer relished his next role as an Armor Battalion Motor Officer, managing maintenance troubleshooting and repair alongside tankers and his 99 mechanics to keep their fleet of M1A1D Abrams Tanks and over 200 vehicles operational. CPT Farmer then managed the maintenance for 48 different units and over 3,000 vehicles as the Division Support Operations Maintenance Officer.
Tim’s five years of active duty service culminated in deployment to Kuwait and Iraq to support Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003. As one of the first units to push north of Baghdad, he led both planned and emergency resupply missions, provided maintenance support and repair part acquisition, and established new logistics operations. He was awarded the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Army Commendation Medal, and the Bronze Star Medal for his meritorious achievements.
Army Active-Duty Service
Fort Sill, OK/Field Artillery Corps Officer Basic Course
Fort Hood, TX
Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD/Ordnance Corps Transition Course
Fort Hood, TX
Iraq/Operation Iraqi Freedom
Tim is the manager for our Aberdeen Research Operation at SURVICE Engineering, where he oversees various research and development, modeling and simulation, studies and analysis, and test and evaluation activities. As a certified project management professional, he manages personnel, contracts, procurement, marketing, and budget for a 60+ person operation. He is adept at forming partnerships with academia, industry, and U.S. Department of Defense and Department of Homeland Security entities to solve complex problems, particularly in survivability and vulnerability.
Tim holds a degree in mechanical engineering and an advanced degree in systems engineering. He has conducted studies and analyses for ground and air vehicles, personnel injury/incapacitation, emerging protection technologies, weapons system lethality, effectiveness testing, failure modes analysis, pre-shot predictions, and post-shot damage collection and assessment for various customers within the Army Futures Command, including the Army Research Laboratory and multiple DEVCOM Centers.
Heidi Elise Jensen began her 21-year military career after graduating from Washington University in St. Louis, where she received a scholarship in the Army ROTC program. She was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army Ordnance Corps in 1988 and then attended the Officers’ Basic course at Aberdeen Proving Ground (APG), MD. Her first assignment was as a Maintenance Officer in Stuttgart, Germany. In this position, she deployed to Desert Shield/Desert Storm and led a maintenance platoon of over 100 soldiers, providing maintenance support to units in combat.
Heidi returned to APG for the Officers’ Advanced Course, where she then became a Company Commander responsible for 450+ soldiers in several locations. She developed tracking procedures to improve timeliness for administrative requirements, used subject matter experts to enhance training events, and set up an incentive program to increase physical fitness scores. She was also a Staff Officer, where she improved tracking tools to organize staff functions and improve support to units and soldiers.
In 1995, she moved to Fort Hood, TX, and served as an Operations Research Systems Analyst at the Test and Evaluation Command. She provided technical expertise for command, communications, and control systems and developed analysis of mission-essential functions for new systems, such as the Enhanced Position Location Reporting System and the Replacement Satellite Configuration Control Element.
As a Logistics Instructor at the U.S. Air Force Institute of Technology, Wright Patterson Air Force Base, OH, she taught classes in logistics, acquisition, testing, and joint operations at the Air Force Institute of Technology to over 1,500 Department of Defense employees.
In 2000, MAJ Jensen attended the Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, KS, and was assigned to Fort Wainwright, AK, as a Battalion Executive Officer. She supervised a staff of 50+ soldiers and a budget of over $2.4M and provided logistics support for diverse and new equipment in the harsh Alaskan environment. She also served as a Brigade Supply Officer, where she coordinated the transformation of a brigade from a light infantry unit to a motorized Stryker Brigade Combat Team. She led the turn-in and transfer of over 17,000 pieces of military equipment.
In 2005, she returned to APG as an Inspector General, where she provided assistance, information, and inspections to the Commanding General of the Ordnance Centers and School. A year later, LTC Jensen’s career came back full circle as she became the Professor of Military Science/Department Chair at the University of Delaware.
Desert Shield Desert Storm
Army Active-Duty Service
Lieutenant and Maintenance Officer - U.S. Army Ordnance Corps
Company Commander, 143rd Ordnance Battalion - APG, MD
Brigade Supply Officer & Battalion Executive Officer - 172nd Support Battalion - Fairbanks, AK
Professor of Military Science - University of Delaware’s Army ROTC
Heidi supports the U.S. Army Research Laboratory as SURVICE’s new program manager for the ARL Scientific Engineering and Technical Assistance contract, which has over 50 employees supporting the Weapons and Materials Research Directorate.
She previously worked as a senior analyst and project lead for SURVICE on several programs, including survivability support of vehicle and armor systems at the Army Evaluation Center (AEC); work on Joint Test programs, such as a Joint Survivability Handbook, the Joint Biological/Radiological Mortuary Affairs Contaminated Remains Mitigation Quick Reaction Test, and the Joint Base Architecture for Secure Industrial Control Systems Joint Test; and the AEC Emerging Leaders Cohort program.
Rodney retired from the Army after serving 32 years and 11 months. His last assignment was at the Pentagon, where he served as the senior enlisted advisor to the U.S. Army Assistant Chief of Staff for Installation Management and directly supported the Assistant Secretary of the Army Installations, Energy and Environment.
Rodney served as Command Sergeant Major (CSM) of the 21st Theater Sustainment Command based in Kaiserslautern, Germany; CSM for the U.S. Army Mission and Installation Contracting Command at Joint Base, San Antonio, Texas; and CSM of U.S. Army Garrison, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, and U.S. Army Garrison, Picatinny Arsenal, New Jersey.
One of his most memorable assignments was serving as the CSM for the 115th Brigade Support Battalion, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Calvary Division, Fort Hood, Texas, where he deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom from October 2006 to February 2008.
Prior to his promotion to CSM, his assignments included First Sergeant, 89th Transportation Company (Medium Truck); CSM, 7th Transportation Group; First Sergeant, 558th Direct and General Marine Maintenance Company, 567th and 169th Transportation Companies; and Noncommissioned Officer Academy at Fort Eustis, Virginia. He served with the 143rd Transportation Command in Orlando, Florida, and Camp Doha, Kuwait. His tenure with the 24th Transportation Battalion included duty in Saudi Arabia and Mombasa, Kenya, as well as Fort Eustis. He served in Operations Desert Shield/Storm, Saudi Arabia; Restore Hope, Somalia; Desert Thunder, Kuwait; and Support Hope, Kenya. His first assignment was as an infantryman with the 1st Battalion of the 8th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colorado.
Rodney graduated from the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy at Fort Bliss, Texas, in 2005 (Class 55). He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in liberal arts from Excelsior College, Albany, New York. He is also a certified executive coach and graduate of the George Mason University, Leadership Coaching for Organizational Well-Being Coach Training Program.
In his Senior Business Development (BD) Associate role with SURVICE, Rodney supports the full spectrum of the BD life cycle, from opportunity prospecting/qualification to capture to proposal and event marketing support. Given his 32 years of service, Rodney’s primary focus is on U.S. Army BD.
My military service began when I enlisted the Pennsylvania Army National Guard in January 2001 as an infantryman. In March 2003, I deployed to Kosovo for 8 months in support of Operation Joint Guardian. Two years later, I was mobilized to Louisiana to provide humanitarian relief following the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. It was during this time I decided to begin a transition from the Army National Guard to active-duty Army, which was completed in the fall of 2006.
In November 2006, I reported to Fort Campbell, KY, where I was assigned to B. Company, 1st Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team (Rakkasans), 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault). The next 11 months were spent training for an upcoming deployment to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. My brigade deployed to Iraq in October 2007, where we conducted combat operations for the next 15 months.
Upon returning home from deployment, I tried out for a position in our Battalion Scout Platoon. After being selected from these tryouts, I was assigned as an assistant squad leader in a reconnaissance squad. Over the next year, our platoon trained in reconnaissance tactics, techniques, and procedures for our upcoming deployment to Afghanistan.
In February 2010, the Rakkasans once again deployed, this time to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Over the next year, the Scout Platoon and I were utilized as a battalion asset, which means we worked directly for our Battalion Commander and filled various mission roles in support of each line company. We returned from our deployment in February 2011 and began training for the next one. Over the next year, I helped train the new Scout Platoon. In March 2012, I ended my time in service as a Staff Sergeant in the U.S. Army.
Army Reserve Service
Enlisted in Pennsylvania Army National Guard
Operation Joint Guardian Kosovo (8 months)
Humanitarian relief following Hurricane Katrina
Army Active-Duty Service
Assigned to 101st Airborne Division
Operation Iraqi Freedom (15 months)
Operation Enduring Freedom (12 months)
End time of service
My SURVICE career began in October 2020. I was hired to fill a position as a Terminal Ballistics Research Engineer, where I study characteristics and behaviors of small-, medium-, and large-caliber penetrators. These studies are conducted through target reduction, slow motion videography, and radiographic imaging.
Background & Challenges
I joined SURVICE in 2019 and work as a Cybersecurity Test and Evaluator for the Defensive Cyber Operations (DCO) at Aberdeen, MD. I’m originally from Madison, MS, and I’m the youngest of nine siblings. I come from a military family where four family members served in the U.S. Army (an uncle, two sisters, and a brother), and they inspired me to serve. Growing up in Mississippi in the 1970s−90s, we faced some racism in school and in our community. However, our parents gave us courage and taught us to be resilient, which helped us achieve and overcome adversity. Their guidance also encouraged my sister Olivia to join the Army, where she was one of only five African American women in a basic training platoon of 60 women and one of only about 20 African Americans in a company of roughly 240 women. Serving in many locations in the country and abroad, she excelled in several positions, including Drill Sergeant, Army instructor, team leader, and supervisor of countless Soldiers.
I served 6 years as an enlisted Soldier, providing leadership and maintenance support on aircraft survivability equipment. During that time, I supervised and mentored over 60 Soldiers. I also served as the quality assurance/quality control manager for all electronic systems on over 120 rotary wing aircraft, such as the AH-64 Apache, OH-58 Kiowa Warrior, UH-60 Blackhawk, and CH-47 Chinook.
I was one of two African Americans in my Warrant Officer Basic class of nine and one of five African American Soldiers out of 30 Soldiers selected to become Warrant Officers during a 12-month period. I administered the Oath of Enlistment to countless Soldiers to allow them to re-enlist and continue to serve in the Army.
In 2003, I was selected to serve as an Electronics Systems Maintenance Warrant Officer, where I provided support for aircraft; command, control, communication, computers, cyber, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (C5ISR); chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear (CBRN); explosive ordnance disposal (EOD); and Special Operations.
While serving as a full-time Soldier, I completed an associate degree, a bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity policy, and a master’s degree in cybersecurity technology. My enlisted career was highlighted by two NATO peacekeeping missions to Bosnia and Kosovo and two tours in Iraq. My career culminated as a Chief Warrant Officer Four (CW4), with 22 years of service as a Capability Developer at the Army Sustainment Center of Excellence (SCoE) in Fort Lee, VA.
I feel that my military career afforded me many valuable opportunities and experiences ranging from leadership, mentoring, logistics planning, project management, and the military acquisition of future mission capabilities. My final military position as a Capability Developer at the SCoE and my degrees in cybersecurity provided me with the skills and experience I apply now at SURVICE. In my current position of Cybersecurity Test and Evaluator, I can support the military and the country by assessing and evaluating cybersecurity weapon systems that are used to defend our nation’s networks and other critical infrastructure. Most importantly, I feel that the military has strengthened my character and determination, which helped me realize I can achieve anything.
What Black History Month Means to Me
Black History Month is a time to reflect on all the success that people of color have achieved and the history they continue to make. I’m thankful for all who have inspired me and have given me hope of what can be achieved through determination, integrity, and leadership. Black History Month is about having courage, character, and living life with a purpose to create change and leave a legacy that makes hope rise.