U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District employee Michael L. Carter received the prestigious military engineer award, the Steel de Fleury Medal, Dec. 19 for his significant contributions to the district over the course of his 32-year career with the Corps.
The award was presented to Carter at the St. Lucie Lock in Stuart, where he currently works as a lock leader.
“The de Fleury medal earned by Mr. Carter very clearly reflects his selfless service to the Engineer Regiment and demonstrates the vital role our employees have in the continued ability of this district to provide invaluable service to the Nation,” said Lt. Col. Thomas Greco, Jacksonville District deputy commander for South Florida, who presented the award to Carter.
“The engineer regiment adopted the de Fleury medal as an award because of the values demonstrated by the man for whom it was struck – values of special meaning to engineer Soldiers,” said Greco. “The de Fleury Medal was the first congressional medal struck. It recognizes both civilian and military personnel for outstanding contributions to the United States and to Army engineering.”
Steve Dunham, chief of the South Florida Operations Office in Clewiston, also participated in the presentation.
“Mike is the most experienced and accomplished lock and dam leader on the Okeechobee Waterway, said Dunham. “He has earned this distinguished award with his steady and committed work effort over 32 years. His loyalty to the Jacksonville District Corps of Engineers, and the U.S. Army, is superb and he has never wavered or failed in accomplishing his duties or mission."
Carter served three years in the Navy and began his career with the Corps in 1980 as a lock and dam maintenance worker in Old Hickory, Tenn. Over the course of his 32 years with the Corps, he has worked at four Corps navigation structures in three states -- the Old Hickory Dam in Tennessee, the Guntersville Dam in Alabama, and in Florida, the Port Mayaca Lock and Dam and St. Lucie Lock and Dam, where he served as lock leader for more than 23 years.
At the St. Lucie Lock and Dam, Carter and his crew maintain the $15 million facility, including adjacent lands. They also assist boaters and help them handle the lines required to secure their vessels during the locking process.
“You don’t want to get distracted. You are responsible for the operation of the lock and the safety of the public, and things can happen very quickly,” Carter said. “There’s a lot going on when boats are locking through, especially when they are in groups. You also have to protect manatees that are locking through along with the vessels.”
After receiving his award, Carter took the opportunity to recognize the contribution of his teammates to his success.“I have the best crew here at St. Lucie.” said Carter.
Park ranger Paula Bratschi has worked with Carter for several years and was present when Carter received his award.
“He’s a great leader,” Bratschi said. “He’s a great leader not only for the guys he supervises, but also for the rest of us who work at St. Lucie. Everyone feels like they work with him, not for him. It’s great to see Mike’s efforts appreciated and recognized in this way by our organization.”