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By Michael M. Novogradac, U.S. Army Operational Test Command Public Affairs
WEST FORT HOOD, Texas — Two Central Texas residents were honored as the latest inductees to the U.S. Army Operational Test Command’s Operational Testers’ Hall of Fame in ceremonies here Friday.
During the 24th annual event, Michael B. Nott of Harker Heights, Texas, became the 38th HOF inductee and Gayle S. Shull of Belton, Texas, entered the HOF as the program’s 39th inductee.
“We honor hall of famers who uphold our creed that we are the trusted agent of the Soldier,” said Brig. Gen. John C. Ulrich, OTC commander.
During a dinner honoring Nott and Shull Thursday evening, Ulrich said, “What a great time it is to recognize people who have made significant, lasting contributions that go toward ensuring our Soldiers have the best equipment they can have when they are called to go into harm’s way.”
Nott served his nation for more than 45 years, retiring in 1992 as an Army officer after 24 years, then serving another 21 years as a Department of the Army Civilian.
“I am humbled,” Nott said. “I consider sharing this day with Gayle Shull very, very special. She has been my friend for over 33 years, and she’s always had my back. I hope I’ve always had her back; and that’s the most wonderful gift. She’s talented and a very deserving lady.”
He began supporting operational tests while on active duty from the late-1970s to mid-1980s with assignments as a test officer for the Communications Electronics Test Board (CETD) at Fort Gordon, Georgia, and a test officer for the Battlefield Automation Test Directorate (BATD), TRADOC Combined Arms Test Activity (TCATA), Fort Hood, Texas.
Over a 15 year period, Nott worked his way from a test officer in 1992 to Deputy Director, Mission Command Test Directorate; and also served as the Director from 2008 to 2011. He remained the Deputy Director until his retirement on Dec. 14, 2012.
His career included working on systems such the Brigade Subscriber Node and Joint Network Node, which eventually led to the current Army communications backbone — the Warfighter Information Network — Tactical (WIN-T).
He was also instrumental in helping build the Army’s Network Integration Evaluation (NIE) in 2011, which just finished its 17th iteration in July.
Nott said he was fortunate to finish out his career working at OTC.
“OTC is more than testers. Much more,” he said. “You see, OTC really is the protector of our way of life, by protecting our Soldiers who preserve it, by not letting equipment from a shovel to a parachute to a tank, get into the inventory before it is prime time.
“OTC prevents the loss of many Soldiers,” added Nott. “So many that we will never know how many they are. But, the impact is great, and I really wanted to get that message back out there.”
Nott thanked OTC for the honor.
“The OTC family is an extremely important family,” he said.
“I am happy to have been a small part in such a great and notorious command. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for allowing me to remain a remembrance at OTC,” he said of a plaque dedicated to him in the Testers’ Hall of Fame.
Shull served in support of operational testing for more than 39 years, becoming an early leader and innovator in the areas of information technology and test technology.
Between 1975 to 1988, Shull progressed from GS-5 computer intern to the GS-15 Director of Information Systems for the Training and Doctrine Command’s new Test and Experimentation Command (TEXCOM).
It was during her time with TEXCOM when the Testers’ Hall of Fame was born during 1994.
“I’ve learned so much from the many people — leaders — that ended up in the hall of fame. I am absolutely grateful and proud to be joining such a strong group of people,” she said.
While working at OTC, she managed an annual technology budget of $20 million, and led an organization of 26 military and civil service engineers and simulation specialists augmented by more than 50 contractors.
During her time at OTC, Shull recalled how engineer and simulation experts found ways to work effectively with technology experts in a wide variety of organizations.
“You can’t be a technologist and just think about West Fort Hood and the test directorates here. It’s just not going to be very effective,” she said.
“It was beneficial when we could adopt technology tools from other organizations more cost effectively than buying or creating the needed items. Our very excellent integration capabilities made us a valuable partner to other organizations.”
Shull explained how former commanders and key leaders provided challenges.
“People are the ones who accept challenges through knowledge, willingness, long hours, and dogged determination to get the job done,” she said.
“I am convinced that it’s in tackling challenges that we find the extent of our ability.”
Shull gave credit to the many young women of the OTC organization during her early years.
“They were absolutely my life lines,” she said. “They would guide me when I was starting to step wrong, or just ask questions about anything because they were the ones I was most comfortable asking.”
She also said that as a young woman test directorate director, the going wasn’t always easy, but it was a time when she was able to learn most.
“I appreciate those who questioned my actions and who provided criticism,” she said. “I had to train myself to listen to the criticism with open ears and, hopefully, closed mouth. I wasn’t always successful, but the questions and the criticism helped me improve.”
She remained Director of OTC’s Test Technology Directorate until her retirement on June 1, 2014.
The Hall of Fame, which inducted its first class in October 1994, has served to honor Soldiers and Civilians for their commitment to putting the best possible equipment and systems into the hands of Soldiers in both training and combat conditions.
As the Army’s only independent operational tester, OTC tests and assesses Army, joint, and multi-service warfighting systems in realistic operational environments, using typical Soldiers to determine whether the systems are effective, suitable, and survivable. OTC is required by public law to test major systems before they are fielded to its ultimate customer — the American Soldier.
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