Army Corps Leader Recognized for Career Achievement
Joseph J. Seebode, Deputy District Engineer and Chief of Programs at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers New York District is a finalist in the Career Achievement category for the 2017 Service to America Medal.
The medal honors excellence among federal employees and Seebode was nominated for his selfless service, outstanding leadership and management excellence during a 35-year career.
As the Deputy District Engineer, Seebode oversaw recovery efforts from the devastation of Hurricane Sandy in 2012, and provided leadership and management oversight of the recently completed $2.1 billion project to deepen the federal shipping channels leading into the Port of New York and New Jersey.
Earlier in his career he coordinated emergency response actions and infrastructure recovery with New York City following the 9/11 terror attacks on the World Trade Center, and led the Corps of Engineers execution of huge programs under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Stimulus Bill), Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC), and critical infrastructure construction in support of the Nation’s Global War on Terrorism.
Seebode’s actions to respond to the critical needs of the region demonstrate a passion and a commitment to help people and our country.
Within hours after Hurricane Sandy struck the region, Seebode was on the move identifying impacts to critical regional infrastructure.
A priority mission was assessing and developing a plan to restore key transportation infrastructure.
Early on it was clear that a large number of tunnels would need to be unwatered via pumps.
Seebode and the Corps of Engineers lead this mission for the region, ultimately pumping 500 million gallons of seawater from 16 tunnels allowing critically important repairs to subways, commuter rail lines, and automotive tunnels.
Seebode also led the teams that repaired critical coastal storm risk features, actions that included restoring beaches, dunes, jetties, groins and levees.
The recently completed $2.1 billion Harbor Deepening Project is one of the most important civil works projects related to modern day economics in the Northeast United States.
A 2016 ribbon cutting culminated over 25 years of work and investment by the public and private sector to ready the port for the new generation of mega container ships.
Over 50 million cubic yards of rock, sand, clay, till and mud were removed from the harbor.
Seebode and his team, along with partners from numerous other agencies and organizations, devised a plan that enabled all of the material to be utilized for a variety of environmental, economic and resiliency benefits.
Earlier in his career, Seebode was selected by the Corps to lead a response team after the 9/11 terrorist attack, working directly with the city of New York to help with the recovery.
Even though he had been in the World Trade Center the day of the attack and narrowly escaped after the second plane hit, he was back the next day to manage search and rescue teams, develop debris management strategies, and execute emergency dredging operations to support transportation of debris and mobilization of recovery equipment into lower Manhattan.
Seebode worked at the World Trade Center site for weeks following the attacks where he used his engineering expertise and experience, and knowledge of the harbor and port operations to identify real-time solutions to the innumerable challenges facing emergency responders and recovery workers.
He remains proud to have provided advice and recommendations as a member of the team that developed the strategic and logistical approach for removing over a million yards of debris in an expeditious manner, that at the same time enabled the proper forensics and investigations to proceed.
For his selfless service at that time in his career he was awarded the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Civilian of the Year Award and the Department of the Army Civilian Award for Humanitarian Service.
“To be nominated for a Service to America Medal, and to actually make it to the final four in the Career Achievement category is an incredible honor for me…but I know it’s really about the selfless service and dedication of a great team,” said Seebode.
“I am proud every day of the Corps of Engineers ability to find innovative and creative solutions to the nation’s toughest challenges, the unwavering commitment to grow great teams that use the diversity of talents to benefit the nation, and the Corps commitment to “getting it done.’ ”
“Mr. Seebode’s oversight and management-his steady hand-has been crucial to the success we have had with so many of our projects, and in our responses to emergency situations,” said Col. David Caldwell, the Corps’ New York District commander. “He doesn’t let people get too excited when things are not going perfectly. He keeps people focused on the right things, and he gets things done.”
“He is someone people trust and respect,” said Joseph Westphal, Undersecretary of the Army from 2009 to 2012. “To me, he is the epitome of what a public servant is. He is dedicated, committed, hardworking, and has no political agenda of any kind.”
The Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medals, also known as “the Sammies,” honors stars of the Federal government workforce, highlighting the work of employees making significant contributions to the governance of the United States.
The awards are considered “the Oscars” of American government service. Seebode was officially designated a finalist during a ceremony in early May in the Dirksen Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C.
The Partnership for Public Service will announce this year’s winners at a black-tie gala this fall.
Seebode is a resident of Clark, New Jersey and a proud Jasper who earned Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees from Manhattan College after graduating from Seton Hall Prep.
He has received numerous awards during his career including the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Civilian of the Year Award, the De Fleury Medal for Engineering Excellence, the Department of Army Civilian Award for Humanitarian Service, a Presidential Certificate of Merit for lifesaving while on official duty, the Department of Defense Environmental Engineer of the Year Award, and the State of New Jersey’s highest Heroism Award.
In 2014 he received the Department of the Army’s Meritorious Civilian Service Award from the Undersecretary of the Army for sustained leadership and excellence, and was inducted into the Seton Hall Prep Athletic Hall of Fame. He was most recently recognized with the 2015 Distinguished Executive Award by the New York City Federal Executive Board.
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