A former Naval Information Warfare Center (NIWC) Atlantic division head recently received the Air Traffic Control Association (ATCA) President’s Citation of Merit Award in Washington, D.C.
Philip Braswell, who recently retired from NIWC Atlantic as the ATC engineering division head, earned the award at the ATCA Annual Conference and Exposition Awards Luncheon for his dedication to the advancement of air traffic control and fostering a safe flying environment.
“I never expected to receive such a prestigious award,” said Braswell. “I’m honored.”
The ATCA Awards Program recognizes greatness in aviation, giving special recognition to individuals and organizations for outstanding achievements in the development, operation and maintenance of worldwide air traffic control systems. The President’s Citation of Merit is a discretionary award given to exceptionally unique individuals and organizations for extraordinary work.
“Phil’s been very supportive of the air traffic control community,” said ATCA President and CEO Peter Dumont. “He’s been a servant to the public and a good steward of decisions and funding for the Navy. He knows exactly what the Navy needs and has always found the best ways to provide support to fulfill those needs.”
Dumont lauded Braswell for his “we can get it done” attitude.
“In spite of any challenges, Phil was always very positive,” said Dumont. “He’d say, ‘What do we have to do? How do we get there? What partners do we have to bring in? Let’s find a way to get this done.’ And he always found a way to get it done.”
Tony Corpus, Shore ATC team, echoed Dumont’s sentiments about Braswell.
“Phil is a passionate, meticulous, hard worker,” said Corpus. “It was nice to see him recognized in front of his peers for all of his years of not only taking care of the Navy and Marine Corps, but also collaborating with other military branches and federal agencies to keep our airspace safe.”
Braswell thanked his NIWC Atlantic ATC division members; he said he could not have earned this achievement without their support.
“This award is the result of the dedication of a lot of folks that work in my division who have a passion for supporting the warfighter,” said Braswell. “It’s a testimony to these great people and their work.”
Bruce Carter, head of NIWC Atlantic’s shore command and control, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance and integration department, said Braswell’s achievements greatly enhanced the services of NIWC Atlantic.
“Phil is as an expert in his field and a great source of information, always going out of his way to be a helpful resource for the Navy and the ATC community,” said Carter. “He represents the finest qualities of an employee — determination, concern for others and a commitment to excellence in everything he does.”
Under Braswell’s lead, NIWC Atlantic’s ATC Engineering division has been instrumental in the modernization of air traffic control infrastructure for the Navy and Marine Corps, providing complete ATC and meteorology systems engineering, ATC operations, airfield management, electronics maintenance and meteorological forecasting and observation services.
The division provides aviation engineering services to support the National Science Foundation and its Polar research programs, and serves as the Navy Center of Engineering Excellence for shore-based ATC systems worldwide. In 2018, ATCA awarded the division the ATCA Annual Team Award for Outstanding Achievement.
“Everything we have achieved as a division would not have been possible if it had not been for the vision and fortitude of Phil Braswell,” said Rick DeForest, head of NIWC Atlantic’s ATC Engineering division. “He has always been a leader, helping to set the early trajectory of air traffic control.”
Braswell’s career began when he was a student of the University of South Carolina, interning for the ATC division of NIWC Atlantic, known then as Naval Electronics Systems Engineering Center Charleston. NAVELEX hired Braswell as a full-time employee in 1981.
“Back then, everything was done on old analog systems,” said Braswell. “The radar and processing systems could only process one radar. Technology has changed so rapidly, today we have the capability to process much more information. It’s hard to believe how much things have changed.”
Throughout his 38-year career, Braswell served in many leadership roles, including as program manager of the ATC systems and head of the Radar Air Traffic Control Facility engineering branch. For the last 17 years, Braswell provided support for the Navy and Marine Corps Air Traffic Control Support Symposium, a forum to recognize excellence in ATC and train air traffic controllers on policy changes, operation enhancements and the latest technological advances.
Reflecting on his career, Braswell said it’s the close-knit ATC community that he’ll miss the most in retirement.
“I will miss the people,” said Braswell. “From the top of management to the everyday employees, they’re fantastic professionals. It was a joy going to work alongside them every day.”
As a part of Naval Information Warfare Systems Command, NIWC Atlantic provides systems engineering and acquisition to deliver information warfare capabilities to the naval, joint and national warfighter through the acquisition, development, integration, production, test, deployment and sustainment of interoperable command, control, communications, computer, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, cyber and information technology capabilities.