Chapter Nineteen - Anniston Army Depot
Test of a Manager
The test of a Manager is the fight that he makes
The grit that he daily shows.
The way he stands on his feet and takes
Fate's numerous bumps and blows.
A coward can smile when the risk is small,
When theres nothing his progress to quench.
But it takes a man to stand straight and tall,
And never give an inch.
It isn't the victory after all,
But the fight that a brother makes.
The manager who, driven against a wall,
Still stands erect and takes
The blows of fate with never a flinch,
Is the man who'll win in the by and by,
For he'll stand his ground what ere the fight
And never give an inch.
It's the bumps you get and the jolts you get
And the shocks that your courage stands.
The hours of sorrow and vain regret,
The prize that escapes your hands
That test your mettle and prove your worth.
For it isn't the hours of toil at the bench,
But the blows you take on the good old earth,
That show your stuff, so---
N E V E R G I V E A N I N C H ! !
We had one EAM operator with a lot of potential, but who did not
feel he was being recognized rapidly enough who transferred to Fort
McClellan. He knew he made a mistake and wanted to come back and was
permitted to do so. His name is Charles O. Stephens.
I set up six trainee programmer positions beginning at GS-5 and
leading automatically to GS-9, subject to satisfactory performance.
Charlie was selected for one of those positions and received class room
and on the job training. Charlie convinced Civilian Personnel that he
had some other qualifying experience. One GS-11 position came open and
was to be filled before the trainees had qualifying time. Charlie
convinced me and the people in Personnel that we should remove him from
the trainee program and consider him for the GS-11 job. I did it and he
was selected for the GS-11 position. When the trainee's finished and
qualified for GS-11 there were no openings at that time and Charlie was
the only trainee to be promoted. I looked back at it and knew he had
been given unfair advantage.
Charlie volunteered as a system programmer and there was no
doubt his job was the hardest programmer job we had. Charlie then came
in and demanded to be promoted to GS-12 or he would ask for reassignment
to a regular GS-11 programmer job and I could see if I had anyone else
who could do the job. I told him convincing Personnel his job had more
responsibility would be difficult as they separated responsibility from
hard jobs and were not about to promote because a job was harder to do.
He could not see that and began to write me long letters asking what I
had against him and what he had done to cause me to dislike him, etc. I
really had no say in the matter and had requested Personnel to survey
his job several times and they always said it was GS-11.
Charlie then concentrated on the Chief of Position and Pay
Management in Civilian Personnel and eventually she asked me if I could
do something so Charlie could be promoted. I reorganized again and
Charlie was promoted to GS-12. Charlie immediately started in for a
GS-13 and eventually I selected him as a GS-13 Division Chief by making
some ridiculous organizational changes to pyramid a division.
Charlie was ready for a GS-14 before he even got his GS-13. I
knew Charlie was already stabbing me in the back in an attempt to make
my bosses unhappy with me. Things were not going fast enough and the
Director for Management Information Systems job came open at New
Cumberland Army Depot and Charlie applied for it. I was called by John
Gilbert in AMC and John told me the commander at New Cumberland wanted
him to make the selection and he seemed to remember Charlie had a
drinking problem. Well, Charlie did have a drinking problem to the
extent of having the shakes all the time but I lied to John and Charlie
got the job and left the depot.
I thought everything was resolved and did not think about
Charlie again until I heard he had applied for Charlie Heard's old job -
Civilian Executive Assistant, GS-15. There was no way Charlie could get
this job as General Line, former depot commander at Anniston, had
required that the job be given to Nathan Hill, who had helped him set up
the Depot Systems Command.
Colonel Walker, Depot Commander, had Nathan Hill ask if I would
accept a job on his staff. I told Nathan I was already on his staff but
he said it was a special project. He did not want to talk grade so I
talked to Personnel and they said the job proposed for me would probably
be a GS-11, a reduction from my GS-14. I refused the job and Nathan
started on a reorganization that would remove most of my grade
supporting functions and place them in a new office under the
Comptroller. No one would tell me what was happening.
I went to the Equal Opportunity Office and signed a form stating
I perceived myself to be a Black Male. I then filed a discrimination
complaint based on age and race. A team was sent in from Washington to
investigate my complaint and I won. Colonel Walker was required to
apologize and to discontinue his reorganization plans.
Suddenly Charlie showed up at the depot and I thought he was on
a visit but learned the depot had hired him, using the application he
had submitted for CEA (GS-15) and just scratching through lines and
writing in different data. He was under the impression I would be
demoted by the time he got there and would be a GS-14. I did not
cooperate and they assigned him as GS-13 and to his old GS-13 job, which
was vacant at the time. They were just leaving him in headquarters and I
insisted that if he was on one of my division chief jobs he would jolly
well do the job. They finally forced him to come take the job but he was
very uncooperative and had his old pals in his office all the time
whispering to them.
A new effort began. The Commander felt a need for a Data
Processing Officer, reporting direct to him. They started writing a new
job description and all the words in it were taken from my job
description. I talked to Personnel and they said if they approved the
new job it would be a GS-14 and my job would be reduced to GS-12, which
meant all my programmers would be reduced to GS-9 and my division chiefs
would be reduced to GS-11.
I filed another complaint and it was taken up with the new
Commanding General of Depot Systems Command. He returned the depot
commander's request for organizational changes disapproved. The
disapproval had no more than arrived when a new approach was begun.
The problem for me was that Nathan and Charlie were friends and
drinking buddies and Nathan wanted my job for Charlie and Charlie would
never let him stop pushing until he got that job. I called Charlie in
and had a real heart to heart talk with him, pointing out that I had
four sons and had never done as much for any of them as I had for
Charlie and that I knew Charlie was just out to get my job regardless of
what he had to do. Charlie openly admitted it and claimed he felt bad
about it but that was the way it was.
I went home that night and thought about all of it and I did
something I had never done in my life before. I cried like a baby. I had
never cried in my life, not even when my Brother and Father died. I went
to the doctor the next day and had a long talk with him. He signed a
statement that I was too ill to perform my duties and recommended I be
put on sick leave until my sick leave ran out and then be retired.
I went to the depot and took the doctor's statement to the Depot
doctor and processed out that day. It was 1983 and I was sixty-one years
old and I was on sick leave pending regular retirement. I had enough
sick leave to last well into 1984.
Several months later Colonel Walker left the depot and Colonel
Pigas came in as the new commander. I decided I would see if the new
kid on the block could be more reasonable. I went back to my doctor and
told him I felt I had recovered and he agreed and signed a statement
saying I was ready to return to work. I went back to the depot and took
my statement to the depot doctor. He needed time to consider if I was
really able to come back to work (meaning he had to talk to Colonel
Pigas). I went back a couple days later and there was no decision so I
went and talked to Colonel Pigas. He was of the opinion I was not ready
to come back to work. I called my doctor and it developed he was a
general in the reserve and not without considerable influence. He
convinced Colonel Pigas that he should accept his diagnosis.
Colonel Pigas told me that he and I had no problems and he was
happy to get someone with my experience in the job and we should all put
the past behind us and move forward. I took him at his word, little
realizing he was not speaking the truth and the truth was not in him.
The truth was that his Director for Management Information Systems at
his former assignment was a close friend of Charlie and had already
given Colonel Pigas the story about me that Charlie wanted him to have
even before he came to Anniston.
Colonel Pigas was very sly in dealing with me, always saying he
was satisfied with my work but always saying otherwise behind my back.
He started yet another reorganization project. Dave Stanley, the
Director for Maintenance, came to me one day and said the most diabolic
plan ever conceived against a human was in process against me. He said
they knew I would appeal anything they did to me so every time the
command group contacted headquarters they led the conversation around to
data processing and then made a casual comment like, "Our DMIS is
senile, you know." He said when they made their move no one in
headquarters would take anything I said seriously as the idea I was
senile would be firmly embedded.
The final straw came when a friend called me from Fort Monroe,
Virginia. He said Colonel Pigas was there for a briefing and after he
briefed him he mentioned that he knew Tom Bowerman at Anniston Army
Depot. He said Colonel Pigas looked at him and said, "Don't mention
that guy's name to me. He has never done a damn thing for Anniston Army
Depot." It was unbelievable almost as Colonel Pigas and I had a
discussion the day before he went to Fort Monroe and he had told me he
was very pleased with the way I was running my operation.
I went to Colonel Pigas' office and confronted him with what
my friend had told me. He said the man was a liar and he had said no
such thing and if I wanted him to, he would call the man and tell him he
was a liar. I told him I wanted him to and he said he did not have his
phone number and I gave him the number. He tried to bluff my friend and
my friend would not back down so he told my friend to keep his mouth
shut and stay out of our depot business. He then admitted he may have
said it but was just kidding. I told him we now knew who the liar was.
I went back to my doctor and told him it did not work out and he
said he thought I ought to get away from the dummies at the depot and
gave me another statement. The next day I processed out again. When I
was finished I went to headquarters and Colonel Pigas was in the hall
talking to several people. I snapped my fingers and told him I wanted to
see him in his office immediately. He was ticked off as he had no idea I
no longer worked for him. We went to his office and I told him that I
was the type person who could not work for someone they did not respect
and I had searched my soul trying to find one tiny thing in him I could
respect and could find nothing, therefore I quit. I turned and left him
I then went to Nathan Hill's office and told Nathan that all I
had to say to him was that the depot had never had but one Civilian
Executive Assistant and it was not him and he would never be one, no
matter how long he might serve on the position.
I acted with great restraint as my original plan had been to
stand on top of Colonel Pigas' desk and take a full circle urination,
then go to Nathan's office and do the same. I guess the only thing that
made me change my mind was the realization that some poor janitor would
have to clean up the mess.
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