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NEWS | Jan. 14, 2021

Surface Warriors Recognize top Performers with Inaugural Parsons Award

By Captain Scott W. Larson, USN

The Surface Warfare Officer Acquisition Professional (SWO AP) cadre presented the inaugural Rear Admiral Deak Parsons Award for Excellence in Surface Warfare Acquisition Jan. 12. The presentation was made virtually and in conjunction with the Surface Navy Association (SNA) National Symposium.

The 2020 Deak Parsons Award was presented to Capt. Tom Dickinson, the Major Program Manager (MPM) for AEGIS Ballistic Missile Defense and Cmdr. Tyson Young, MPM for Zumwalt (DDG 1000) Class Integrated Combat Systems (PEO IWS 9.0).

The Parsons Award recognizes two Surface Warfare Acquisition Professionals annually who have distinguished themselves by virtue of the positive impact their work has made in direct support of the surface Fleet and their innovation in solving complex problems to deliver critical capability to the warfighter. These tenets pay tribute to the award's namesake, Rear Adm. Parsons.

"Essentially, Rear Admiral Parsons was the first SWO AP,” said Rear Adm. Tom Druggan, the senior SWO AP, currently serving as the Program Executive Officer for Sea-Based Weapons Systems and AEGIS Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD). “As a cadre, the SWO APs draw tremendous inspiration from the spirit of innovation that he embodied and the peerless commitment he demonstrated towards delivering warfighting capability into the hands of operators.”

Leading up to and throughout World War II, RADM Parsons was an ordnance expert and eventually became a central part of the Manhattan Project and is best known for being the weaponeer on the Enola Gay, the aircraft that delivered the atomic bomb on Hiroshima in 1945.

Dickinson joined the SWO AP cadre following his command tour onboard USS BARRY (DDG 52) from November 2012 to April 2014. He spent 2020 leading the accelerated delivery and fielding of critical hypersonic missile defense, in addition to engage-on-remote capability with Standard Missile 3 (SM-3) Block IIA to every Aegis Baseline 9 capable cruiser and destroyer. Additionally, he managed the complex Ballistic Missile Defense 6.0 software integration with the AN/SPY-6(V)1 radar for the Flight III Arleigh Burke destroyers starting with USS John Lucas (DDG 125).

Prior to his current assignment, Young previously served as an Assistant Program Manager (APM) for Aegis Fleet Readiness as part of PEO IWS 1.0. He joined the SWO AP cadre in 2019 following the completion of his command tour onboard USS CARNEY (DDG 64).

Young led an extensive effort to provide training to technicians at the Regional Maintenance Center (RMC) in Rota, Spain, instilling in-depth familiarization with Aegis Baseline 9 and ensuring these techs were capable of assisting forward-deployed crews with time-sensitive corrective repairs to their combat systems. Additionally, Young ensured ships in the maintenance phase received comprehensive Total Ship Readiness Assessments (TSRA’s), while also driving the completion of all Combat Systems-related work. Despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, his efforts helped ensure the forward-deployed surface Fleet maintained peak combat readiness. Most impressively, Young led the effort to restore USS SAMPSON’s (DDG 102) SPY-1 radar following a major casualty, returning the ship to the Fleet three months ahead of schedule and under budget.

Druggan extolled the work of both recipients and lauded their ability to apply innovative approaches to Navy Acquisition practices that drive greater lethality and combat capability to the Fleet.

"Both Tom and Tyson exemplify a tireless commitment to the warfighter,” he said. “In this era of Great Power Competition, they model the type of innovative approaches we need to maintain, and expand, our tactical advantage. Among a highly talented group of SWO AP's nominated, they stood out. I can't think of two more deserving officers to recognize with the inaugural Parsons Award."

Both recipients expressed gratification and humility upon notification.

“It is an absolute honor to be selected as the inaugural, Rear Admiral Deak Parsons award winner while serving as the Aegis Fleet Readiness APM,” Young said. “I accept this award on behalf of the entire Aegis Fleet Readiness team who persevered through 2020 to bring USS SAMPSON back to the Fleet early and under budget, worked with the TYCOM to accomplish Aegis readiness initiatives and sustained an unyielding presence on the waterfront; it is by their tireless efforts that the organization was and will continue to be successful.”

Dickinson said to be mentioned in the same sentence as Rear Admiral ‘Deak’ Parsons is an incredible honor. “As the Aegis BMD Weapon Systems Program Manager, I find great meaning in my responsibility to deliver capability to the hands of the warfighter, and am blessed to lead a team of dedicated professionals focused on doing just that. From delivering a combined AAW and BMD Aegis Baseline 5.4 to the Fleet, to successfully intercepting a representative ICBM target from an Aegis BL 9.C2 Destroyer during Flight Test Mission (FTM) 44, I'm extremely proud of my team's accomplishments in 2020. I see this award as a reflection of their competence and dedication to realizing a tactical advantage over our adversaries."

Druggan said the Parsons Award will continue to celebrate the accomplishments of the SWO AP Cadre.  

"The SWO AP Cadre brings a vital perspective to the Navy Acquisition community,” he said. “Our members have all held command, the majority at-sea, and possess a unique understanding of how to leverage the Department of Defense’s acquisition process to solve complex challenges and deliver much-needed capability in support of our ships and sailors. SWO APs are leading major programs, commanding naval warfare centers, and making an important impact across the Fleet every day. It's important we recognize that, and I'm honored to institute this award and to build on the rich legacy instilled by Rear Admiral Parsons."