Communications 'guardian angel' saves soldiers lives

Friday - 8/22/2014, 3:31pm EDT

Listen to an interview with Sammies finalist Patrick DeGroodtm deputy product manager at the Department of the Army, on In Depth with Francis Rose.

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The technical name for one of the Army's communications networks is Warfighter Information Network-Tactical Increment Two. But some soldiers prefer to call it their digital guardian angel. Another calls it the holy grail of communication.

Mary Woods, Army's deputy program executive officer for Command, Control and Communications-Tactical, says that the military's ability to communicate is it's most important capability. WIN-TIT is key to making that happen and Army engineer Patrick DeGroodt played a key role in its development.

"Patrick's superior program management skills directly contributed to the successful development, integration, testing and fielding of the first satellite and line-of-sight communication system that automatically tracks and maintains connectivity while combat vehicles are on the move, in all terrain and environments," Woods said. "It has helped keep our soldiers safe."

For his work on the development of the Army's key tactical communications system in Afghanistan, the Partnership for Public Service recently named DeGroodt as one of the finalists for the 2014 National Security and International Affairs Medal. The award honors a federal employee who a significant contribution in the areas of national security and international affairs. These areas include defense, military affairs, diplomacy, foreign assistance and trade.

Getting to know Patrick DeGroodt

Federal News Radio asked each of the Sammies finalists five questions about themselves. Here are DeGroodt's responses:

What three words best describe your leadership philosophy?
Lead by example.

What's the best piece of advice (or words of wisdom) you've ever received and who gave it to you?
My father taught me to visualize my goals and that has allowed me to achieve successes in many endeavors.

Who is your greatest role model and why?
I believe it would be Joshua Slocum, the first person to sail alone around the world in the late 1890s. He could not know what was ahead of him on the voyage, but he went anyway and overcame the challenges one at a time.

What's the last thing you read and what's next on your reading list? I just completed the "Divergent" trilogy by Veronica Roth. " Essentialism" by Greg McKeown, a business book is next on my list.

What would be the title of your autobiography and why?
"Life Passage" — Like Joshua Slocum, you can never know exactly what lies ahead of you in life, but if you overcome the challenges one at a time you will reach your goals.

The National Security and International Affairs Medal is just one of the Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medals (Sammies) presented annually by the Partnership for Public Service. View a photo gallery of all the Sammies nominees.