Marine receives Gray award

Marine receives Gray award

Captain gets first award for systems contributions

By Bill Murray

GCN Staff

A former enlisted Marine who almost left the Corps 10 years ago has received the first annual award to recognize the service's top command and control systems officer.

Capt. Charles D. Walker received the award from Gen. James L. Jones, commandant of the Marine Corps, who praised Walker's 'boundless energy, technical knowledge and personal initiative,' in coordinating and planning communications support with the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force at Okinawa, Japan.

Gen. James L. Walker, right, presented the Command and Control Systems Officer of the Year Award to Capt. Charles D. Walker. The award is named after Gen. Alfred M. Gray, center.

The Gen. Alfred M. Gray Command and Control Systems Officer of the Year Award is funded through a $20,000 contribution from Sprint Corp. Brig. Gen. Robert M. Shea, the service's chief information officer, attended the black tie awards dinner.

'I'm so proud of this award to the Marine Corps that I can't see straight,' said Col. Michael B. Warlick, vice president of Marine Corps University at Quantico, Va. The Marine Corps University Foundation sponsors the award.

Gray is a former commandant who is considered an innovator in deploying command and control systems.

Nearly resigned

Walker admitted that he almost left the Corps 10 years ago. While serving as a network control specialist with the information resources management directorate at the Marine Corps Base in Albany, Ga., then-Sgt. Gray worked with IBM Corp. mainframes.

'I found myself at a crossroads,' he said. But his morale increased dramatically when he was accepted into an officer commission program in 1990, he said.

Walker got the Gray Award for showing exceptional knowledge of communications and data systems to support command and control, demonstrating unit loyalty and high morale, keeping high personal standards, and for showing to commanders, peers and subordinates that he's an outstanding command and control leader, Warlick said.

Walker competed with other Marine captains based on fiscal 1999 job performance.

Walker was an operations officer for the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force's 7th Communications Battalion in Okinawa from July 1997 until January 2000, when he became the force's plans officer for command, control, communications and computers.

While planning May's Cobra Gold 2000, a joint task force exercise in Thailand, Walker deployed the first tactical joint task force videoconferencing units in the Pacific Theater.

'We had interface problems with the equipment with the Defense Information Systems Network gateways and with DISN Pacific,' he said.

Using Cobra Gold 2000 exercise funds, the Marines purchased five Venue 2000 Model 50 Group videoconferencing systems and an eight-port Prism hub to control the sessions from PictureTel Corp. of Andover, Mass., for $100,000, Walker said.

The Marines and joint task force transmitted the sessions over a microwave system on one link and over satellite via three links, Walker said. They had a 128-Kbps link throughout the Thailand theater to the commander in chief for U.S. Pacific Forces hub and a distinct 128-Kbps link to the DISN hub.

Walker is attending the Marine's Command and Control Systems School at Quantico until May.

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