NSA Panama City Officer representing Navy in Federal Awards race

Naval Support Activity Panama City

NAVAL SUPPORT ACTIVITY PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — One sailor serving in Bay County is representing the Navy and in the running for a Federal Award.

On Monday, the Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) announced Lieutenant Commander Christopher McDowell was named the Navy’s Engineer of the Year.

He serves as the Public Works Officer at NSA Panama City and was recognized for his work following Hurricane Michael.

“That’s for the Navy as a whole, that’s for the federal government so Army, Air Force, Navy. They all participate and there are winners for each one of those branches as well as the civilian agencies,” McDowell said.

News 13 spoke with McDowell about the recognition on Friday. He says the title wouldn’t be his without the men and women working in the department.

“I have senior-level folks on my staff that have had their families displaced from their homes that come into work every single day and work 60 hours a week while still trying to rebuild their homes,” McDowell said.

While he’s not doing the heavy lifting, McDowell has overseen the entire rebuild process of the base.

“I’ve seen the recognition, it talks about all the man-hours that have been put in on the base and hundreds of thousands of man-hours have gone into fixing this base after the hurricane.”

There is one thing McDowell says he believes sets him apart.

“If there was anything specific of something I try hard to do very well is after the hurricane was trying to achieve the goal the CO had laid out for this base but doing it in a way that kept my people intact, gave them the ability to be home when they needed to be home, organize working parties to assist folks moving personal items. Developing a plan that allowed that to happen and allow the base to recover as fast as possible.”

He says it’s the close-knit environment that keeps him pushing to go further every day.

“I had on my team who in my opinion had it way worse than I did, they lost their entire home, most of their belongings, I had some damage to my home, my family wasn’t there for a couple of months, we were able to recover pretty quickly so my inspiration drew from them. If they’re willing to put in the time, then I’m going to put in even more time to make sure I can provide them a little bit of space to take care of their families.”

He will represent the Navy for the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE) Federal Engineer of the Year which will be announced in February 2020. 

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