KANAGAWA, Japan - Tonya Y. Bazemore, an Architect in QA Section with the Japan District Kanagawa Resident Office, was presented with the Most Promising Engineer award during a ceremony at the 2013 Black Engineer of The Year Feb 7 in Washington, D.C.
Tonya proudly served in the military on active duty as an Army Engineer Officer. After the completion of the Engineer Officer Basic course in Fort Leonard Wood, MO, Tonya reported to the 84th Engineer Combat Battalion (Heavy) in Schofield Barracks Hawaii in October 2002. She was constantly rated as one of the top Officers in her unit. Shortly after being assigned to her first troop leader position - directly responsible for the leadership, training, safety, and welfare of 36 assigned soldiers - Tonya deployed her platoon and an attachment of Navy Seabees from Hawaii to Alaska in support of a major road-building mission. As part of the Joint Task Force Alaskan Road, Annette Island, Alaska mission, she managed the construction of a 14.5 mile road that would eventually connect the isolated Metlakatla Indian community to a ferry terminal in Alaska’s Annette Bay for easier access to vital supplies on the mainland. As a result of her outstanding leadership and management skills, her platoon drilled and blasted the largest section of new road of any active duty engineer unit in the task force.
Tonya’s second major deployment in January 2004 was to Operation Iraqi Freedom-2, in support of the Global War on Terrorism. As an engineer platoon leader in the combat environment of Iraq, she was praised by her company commander as “an outstanding, professional officer who ensures every mission is completed on time and to standard,” who “possesses outstanding project management skills”, and for her ability to “consistently manage(s) several projects daily.” Her battalion commander called her “one of the best platoon leaders in a battalion of 20 platoons”, who “has excelled in leading Soldiers and accomplishing missions.”
Tonya was then assigned as Assistant Civil Engineer of the 900 soldier Combat Heavy Engineer Battalion deployed to Iraq, and responsible for assisting in the planning, coordinating, and management of the battalion’s $4 million troop construction program involving more than 30 construction missions. Her performance evaluation included comments like: “intelligent, very well organized and absolutely dedicated; meticulous organizational skills; forward thinking; takes the abstract and makes it real for Soldiers; and unlimited potential.”
Upon redeployment to Schofield Barracks, Hawaii in January 2005, Tonya was assigned as Staff (G3) Training Officer for the 8th Theater Sustainment Command comprised of 1,400 soldiers, responsible for deployment training, planning, and coordination for several units in the command preparing to deploy to Iraq. Laudatory job performance evaluations continued including: “self-starter and requires no supervision when assigned difficult tasks,” “each of the units, completed…actions well ahead of schedule due in part to Tonya’s tenaciousness to accomplish the mission,” “she has the uncanny ability to make complex tasks seem simple and more importantly, achievable.” Tonya’s performance as a professional United States Army Engineer Officer was probably best characterized by the Deputy Commander of the 8th Theater Sustainment Command: “Tonya is clearly one of the army’s best-qualified company grade officers who is fully capable of performing in the toughest positions. This officer has all the tools to become an outstanding company commander. Send to Advance course now and follow with immediate command of a(n) engineer unit. Watch this officer succeed, her potential is unlimited.” In January 2005, Tonya had seventeen months remaining on her four year commitment to the U.S. Army and had to decide if she would remain on active duty or purse other options. Tonya made a critical career decision and decided to end her U.S. Army career as a soldier and started pursuing her other childhood dream of working the USACE as a civilian. Tonya applied for countless positions with the USACE and in March 2006, Tonya received a job offer from the Fort Stewart Resident Office, Savannah District. She accepted the position and relocated to Georgia June 2006 where she would work as Quality Assurance Representative (QAR) in the Fort Stewart Resident Office.
One year after working at Fort Stewart, Tonya relocated to Fort Bragg, NC Special Operations Resident Office as an Office Engineer where she also performed QAR and architect duties. When her office received notification that they were to relocate into an historical WWI Mule Barn, Tonya volunteered to design the project. As the Lead Architect she transformed the Mule Barn into a suitable office environment for the Special Operations Resident Office.
In 2008, Tonya expanded her service to the USACE and she accepted a position on Camp Zama in the Japan Engineer District as an Architect. Tonya worked as a Project Engineer and the Sagami General Depot team leader. She executed over $20 million MILCON projects to include the direct management of the Battle Command Training Center project valued over $15 million. Upon completion, this project will be used by U.S. Forces-Japan military units as a simulation training center for essential readiness training. Tonya also assisted in management of several multi-million dollars Government of Japan funded projects.
Tonya became the first LEED Accredited Professional (AP) in the Japan Engineer District Construction Branch and successfully completed the U.S. Army’s first project in Japan that incorporated the sustainable feature of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED).
Tonya wholeheartedly understands the importance of exposing young people to Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) career fields. Her volunteer efforts included participation in the Ground hog shadow day for local base middle school 6th graders and participation in the local base High School STEM conference. During the one day Shadow Program, students shadow professionals on their jobs to gain a better understanding of that particular field. The students that shadowed Tonya where exposed to architecture and engineering with the hopes of sparking an interest in the STEM field.