Boeing Frontiers
November 2003
Volume 02, Issue 07
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Taking care of logistics

Deployed Reservist thankful for Boeing’s support


Taking care of logisticsU.S. Marine Colonel Andy Hutchison had enough to concentrate on: getting ammunition, fuel and equipment to Marines heading swiftly toward Baghdad. The last thing the logistics officer needed to worry about was whether his Boeing benefits were still providing coverage for his wife and two sons back in Seattle.

Hutchison, director of programs with Air Traffic Management, was one of several hundred Boeing employees called up by the military Reserves earlier this year to serve a tour of duty during Operation Iraqi Freedom. More than 200 Boeing employees with the Reserves currently are supporting coalition military operations in the Middle East.

"The Boeing Company, at all levels, has been tremendously supportive of the Reservists," Hutchison said. "The company backed up that support with policies such as offering pay differential and allowing health benefits to remain in effect for dependents."

Last January, Hutchison was deployed to the I Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters at Camp Pendleton, Calif., where he was assigned to handle deployment issues. "On my last day of work at Boeing, my boss put the word out and people came by to wish me well," he said. "I felt really good, given the uncertainty that I was facing."

On Mar. 1, Hutchison flew to Kuwait and was assigned to a forward Kuwaiti military base called Camp Commando where he worked as deputy for Logistics Operations for the 65,000-strong Marine and 20,000-strong British forces.

The Marines worked closely with Logistics personnel in the U.S. Army and Air Force. Trucks and aircraft loaded with supplies and fuel were sent daily from Kuwait up the highway north into Iraq where they would rendezvous with the quick-moving frontline troops.

The biggest concern was forward-moving troops having to delay their march toward Baghdad because they needed to wait for supplies. Fortunately, a "forced logistics pause" never occurred, Hutchison said. Two delays did occur—a sandstorm and a pause to reposition forces outside the Iraqi capital—and those pauses gave the logisticians some breathing room.

"We were very proud that we never had a logistics pause," he said. Following his tour of duty, Hutchison was awarded the Bronze Star for meritorious service in the war.

While Hutchison was away, his family had to weather both his absence and the uncertainty of the war. Although he had been on active duty for several years and in the Reserves since the early 1980s, this was the first time Hutchison had faced combat. His wife Susan works with a private foundation and volunteers at Children's Hospital in Seattle. The couple has two sons, John, 13, and Brian 11.

"I was very proud of them," Hutchison said. "It wasn't easy for anybody, but the kids rose to the occasion and they did great under the circumstances. And Susan did a great job keeping the family routines going."

During the initial phase of the war, Hutchison was unable to have any contact with his family, but as it progressed, restrictions on communications back home were eased. Monthly telephone calls and more frequent e-mails resumed.

For questions on work-related benefits and payroll, the Hutchisons were able to contact Julie Dickerson, a Shared Services military payroll representative in Seattle.

"Susan called Julie a number of times when things weren't clear," Hutchison said. "Julie was terrific. She took care of it all. She is definitely a hero to us as a person and as a representative of The Boeing Company."

Dickerson keeps in regular contact with Boeing employees stationed throughout the world as well as their stateside families.

"I am the lifeline to a lot of people out there, a connection, mostly for help and direction, but once in a while just someone to talk to, relate to, share things such as good news, or to be sad with," Dickerson said.

"They all thank me for helping, I have been recognized, awarded and acknowledged, and I thank each and every one of them," Dickerson said. "But they are the ones who should be thanked for putting their lives on hold and in danger."

Looking back on his time in Kuwait and Iraq, Hutchison said he has gained a tremendous education in crisis leadership and managing in critical situations. He also said he is personally grateful for the quality of Boeing products used during the war.

A U.S. Patriot missile, equipped with a Boeing-built PAC-3 guidance system, destroyed an incoming Iraqi missile headed toward Hutchison's headquarters at Kuwait Camp Commando.

"I watched this Boeing-equipped missile take down the Iraqi missile before it could reach us," he said. "It was a great feeling."


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