The Operational Test Command Hall of Fame welcomed two new inductees during a ceremony at the Command’s headquarters at West Fort Hood on Friday.
During the annual ceremony, Michael B. Nott of Harker Heights became the 38th inductee to the Hall of Fame and Gayle S. Shull of Belton became the 39th inductee.
“We honor hall of famers who uphold our creed that we are the trusted agent of the soldier,”said Brig. Gen. John Ulrich, the Operational Test Command commander. “For their devotion to duty and commitment to putting the best equipment and technology into the hands of our soldiers as quickly as possible.”
Ulrich said that while Test Command had gone through several name changes during the previous decades, the Hall of Fame still recognized the dedication and selfless service of the military and civilian members of the command.
Nott retired from the Army in 1992 as a lieutenant colonel after 24 years, then served another 21 years as a Department of the Army civilian. He worked his way from a test officer in 1992 to deputy director, Mission Command Test Directorate, until his retirement in 2012. His career included working on systems like the Brigade Subscriber Node and Joint Network Node, which eventually led to the current backbone of the Army’s communications system.
Nott was also instrumental in helping build the Army’s Network Integration Evaluation in 2011, which enables the Army to coordinate efforts from multiple organizations and to obtain insights, recommendations and strategies which provides better information to decision-makers.
Nott spoke about the importance of Test Command and that it was more than just people testing equipment.
“OTC really is the protector of our way of life by protecting our soldiers who preserve it,” Nott said. “By not letting equipment — from a shovel to a parachute, to a tank, to mission command equipment — get into the inventory before it is prime time.”
Nott thanked the gathering for allowing him to remain a part of the history of test command by having a plaque dedicated to him hung in the Testers’ Hall of Fame.
“I am happy to have been a small part in such a great and notorious command,” Nott said.
Shull served in support of operational testing for more than 39 years, becoming an early leader in the areas of information technology and test technology and eventually became the director of Test Technology Directorate until her retirement in 2014.
During her tenure with test command, she managed an annual technology budget of $20 million and led an organization of 26 military and civil service engineers and simulation specialists augmented by more than 50 contractors.
Shull’s work in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) and robotics programs at local schools contributed to a generation of local school children being encouraged to pursue STEM educations.
“I was a director with TexCom when the hall opened and I’ve learned so much from the many people, leaders that ended up in the Hall of Fame, the guidance they were giving, so I am absolutely grateful and proud to be joining such a strong group of people,” Shull said.
Shull said during her time as a young test director she learned a lot from those who questioned her actions or offered constructive criticism, even though it wasn’t easy to hear.
“I had to train myself to listen to the criticism with open ears and, hopefully, closed mouth,” Shull said. “I wasn’t always successful, but the questions and criticism helped me improve.”
The Hall of Fame honors soldiers and civilians for their commitment to putting the best possible equipment and systems into the hands of soldiers in both training and combat conditions.
Shull said she first learned she would be inducted into the Hall of Fame after receiving a letter in the mail and was thankful for the recognition.
“Retirement meant that I had finished some years, this was a recognition of what was done during those years and it’s very special,” Shull said.
For Shull though, it was always about the soldiers and making sure they had the best and safest equipment possible.
“I go back to the soldier — it’s so important for people to understand that the soldiers will make things work, but that doesn’t mean we can give them junk,” Shull said. “We have to test it well and make sure it’s going to be good and safe for the soldier.”
For many who may not understand exactly what the Operational Test Command does, Ulrich explained it simply as providing consumer reports on prospective equipment to be fielded by the Army.
“Think about consumer reports, if you’re going to go out there and buy a major appliance or a vehicle, you want to rely on somebody that’s independent, that’s actually testing it that doesn’t have ties to it,” Ulrich said. “We know at the end of the day soldiers are going to be using this stuff in combat and we want to make sure it’s proven, it works with an unbiased report of how well it does and how it can be improved.”