BAGRAM AIRFIELD, AFGHANISTAN – Gordon Simmons, currently deployed to Afghanistan with USACE-Transatlantic Afghanistan District (TAA), has been awarded one of the highest honors bestowed within the Corps of Engineers. Simmons, chief of engineering, was presented with the Bronze Order of the de Fleury Medal Monday.
“I was humbled,” Simmons said. “To me, the de Fleury is a rare honor that requires recognition and endorsement from a commander indicating a level of confidence and appreciation for the work the individual has done toward support of the Engineer Regiment. I know it’s not handed out freely, but only presented to those who have significant, sustained accomplishments toward making life better for the American Soldier.”
Simmons joined the Savannah District in May 2002, and was named chief of the engineering division in November 2010. He deployed to Afghanistan in September 2014 as chief of engineering and construction. He has been responsible for more than 90 construction projects of strategic importance for the government and people of Afghanistan.
His commander in Afghanistan considers Simmons one of his “all-stars.”
“Gordy deployed on short notice to serve as the TAA chief of engineering and construction. He has excelled in a challenging and complex environment and built upon USACE's legacy of engineering excellence,” said Col. Pete Helmlinger, USACE-TAA commander. “He truly exemplifies all that the de Fleury Award represents.”
During his 31-year career with USACE, Simmons has taken on assignments in six countries for five separate districts. He considers his work a passion that has enabled him to improve the lives of others around the world.
“I love being an engineer, and I love being able to support this country and our soldiers with the skill sets the good Lord gave me,” he said. “I am again humbled as the opportunities and successes I've had in my career are by no means attributable to me alone, but rather a team of professionals in the Corps working together to accomplish the mission.”
The de Fleury Medal is named for a French engineer, Francois Louis Tesseidre de Fleury, who volunteered to serve with the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War.
At the Battle of Stony Point, New York, in 1779, De Fleury was in command of a battalion of the 1st Regiment of the Corps of Light Infantry. He led an American charge up a rocky slope to retake the outpost on the point. The first over the wall, de Fleury rushed to flag pole, cutting the British colors from their staff.
For his actions, the Continental Congress awarded a medal struck in de Fleury’s honor. It is believed that the de Fleury Medal was the first Congressional Medal produced.
There are four levels of the medal: steel, bronze, silver and gold. Only one gold medal is awarded each year by the U.S. Army chief of engineers.
“The de Fleury Medal is presented to individuals who have made significant and sustained contributions to the Engineer Regiment in a variety of positions and locations,” Helmlinger said. “It recognizes the very best of Army engineering.”
“I would never have received this recognition if I've not been blessed to work on some very interesting projects with other engineers, architects, technicians and support personnel who were equally dedicated to supporting the regiment,” Simmons said. “This will certainly be a highlight of my career and it gives me a certain pride in realizing that I'm doing a few things right.”