Eagle River man honored by Army Corps of Engineers

Wednesday, September 6, 2017 - 12:06
  • Lt. Gen. Todd T. Semonite, the 54th Chief of Engineers and Commanding General of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), and Command Sergeant Major Bradley Houston, the 13th Command Sgt. Maj. of USACE, stand on stage with awardees at the National Awards Ceremony in Washington, D.C., Aug. 2, 2017. The National Awards Ceremony is an annual event that recognizes employees for their achievements. (U.S. Army Photo by Leanne Bledsoe)

If there’s a big construction project on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, there’s a good chance Joel Spano had something to do with it.

As a lead quality assurance representative for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Spano “is responsible for providing mechanical support for military construction projects across Alaska,” according to a press release issued by the Corps’ Alaska District Office.

Spano recently traveled to Washington, D.C., where he was awarded the 2017 Hard Hat of the Year Award by U.S. Army Chief of Engineers and commanding general of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Lt. Gen. Todd Semonite and Command Sgt. Maj. Bradley Houston.

The prestigious award came as a huge honor to Spano, who lives in Eagle River with his wife, Christina, and their two children.

“This award is the highest point in my career,” Spano said in the release. “It is truly an honor to dedicate myself to directly supporting the Army and Air Force personnel and reach this pinnacle.”

Spano’s work includes “performing quality assuarance inspections and supporting the commissioning of electromechanical systems.” According to the press release, he volunteered to serve as project engineer on large projects totaling more than $35 million, including the recent Buckner Fitness Center expansion and work to the JBER Hospital dining facility.

Before joining the Alaska District’s Engineering, Construction and Operations Division in 2002, Spano spent 10 years as a heating, ventilation and air conditioning technician in the Air Force. In addition to being an award-winning construction professional, Spano is also an assistant coach for the Eagle River High School bowling team, which in February won the Anchorage Scholastic Bowling League championship.

“Joel is the epitome of what it means to be a public servant working for the Army,” said Alaska Area Office Office Engineer Michael Presley. “His expertise in mechanical systems while upholding the Corps and Army values makes my job as his supervisor easy.”

The Hard Hat of the Year Award is open to all Corps field employees worldwide.

Established in 1947, the Alaska District Office “provides a full range of quality engineering, construction support, science and technical servies in support of peacetime and contingency operations in Alaska, the Pacific Region and the world,” according to a Corps brochure, which notes the group — whose programs include military construction, civil projects, environmental clean-up/restoration, and interagency and international services — is the primary design and construction agent for both the Air Force and Army in Alaska.

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