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NEWS | Jan. 18, 2022

Surface Warfare Acquisition Professionals Present Annual Excellence Awards

By Naval Sea Systems Command Office of Corporate Communications

ARLINGTON, Virginia -- The Surface Warfare Officer Acquisition Professional (SWO AP) cadre presented the annual Rear Admiral Deak Parsons Award for Excellence in Surface Warfare Acquisition on January 12, in conjunction with the Surface Navy Association (SNA) National Symposium.

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 Adm. Parsons was the first SWO Acquisition Professional. 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," noted 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).

Leading up to and throughout World War II, Rear Adm. 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.

The 2021 Deak Parsons Award was presented to Capt. Khary Hembree-Bey and Capt. Matthew Lehmann.  Hembree-Bey currently has served as commanding officer, Naval Surface Warfare Center, Corona Division, since 2019. He joined the SWO AP cadre after a tour as commander, Provincial Reconstruction Team in Ghazni, Afghanistan.

Lehmann is the Principle Assistant Program Manager (PAPM) for the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) Strike Team, responsible for improving reliability and sustainability for the LCS class.  Lehmann joined the SWO AP cadre in 2020 following the completion of his command tour onboard USS GABRIELLE GIFFORDS (LCS 10) and a post-command tour as the Future Plans / Future Operations officer for Carrier Strike Group 5.

Among his many noteworthy accomplishments, Hembree-Bey spent 2021 transforming NSWC Corona into a regional innovation hub, standing up the newest of the 12 NAVAL X Tech Bridges, enhancing collaboration between the Navy, industry, academia, and other military branches. Additionally, he was responsible for leading the Navy’s data analytics enterprise, improving metric-driven decision analysis for Naval Sea Systems Command’s director for Surface Ship Maintenance, Modernization and Sustainment and Program Executive Office SHIPS based on the Navy’s most robust repair and maintenance database. He also spearheaded the Navy’s Live-Virtual-Constructive training efforts, directly supporting Fleet readiness.

During this year, Lehmann was fully engaged with the LCS Strike Team, charged with improving LCS reliability and fundamentally altering the sustainment strategy for the LCS class of ships to improve ship and sailor self-sufficiency. His leadership of the Strike Team Integrated Product Teams has resulted in data-driven identification and mitigation of more than 32 material deficiencies, supporting six LCS deployments. His work has allowed him to leverage his acquisition knowledge and experience in a way that directly improves the readiness of deploying fleet assets while setting the stage for lifecycle.

Commander, Naval Surface Force Atlantic, Rear Adm. Brendan McLane extolled the work of both recipients and lauded their ability to apply innovative approaches to Navy Acquisition practices that drive readiness, training, and ultimately to greater lethality and combat capability to the Fleet. "Both Khary and Matt exemplify a tireless commitment to the warfighter. 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 Adm. Deak Parsons award winner while serving as the LCS Strike Team PAPM,” said Lehmann upon being named an award recipient, “I accept this award on behalf of the entire PMS 505 team who persevered through 2021 and the challenges of COVID to get LCS’ materially ready and on deployment.”

“To be mentioned in the same sentence as Rear Admiral ‘Deak’ Parsons is an incredible honor, said Hembree-Bey. As the Commanding Officer of NSWC Corona, I find great meaning in my responsibility to deliver innovative, data-driven readiness solutions to the fleet, and am blessed to lead a team of dedicated professionals focused on doing just that. I'm extremely proud of my team's accomplishments in 2021. I see this award as a reflection of their competence and dedication to using data to develop insight and give our fleet an advantage over our adversaries."

The “Deak” Parsons Award will continue to celebrate the accomplishments of the SWO AP Cadre. As highlighted by Rear Adm. Druggan, "The SWO AP Cadre brings a vital perspective to the Navy Acquisition community. 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 Adm. Parsons."