LaPlace native receives prestigious Stalwart Award

Published 4:21 pm Wednesday, June 14, 2023

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LAPLACE — Each year, the IMCOM Stalwart Award is presented to 15 military and civilian staff members for outstanding professional performance, recognizing strength of mind, body and spirit. LaPlace native John E. Fuselier Jr. received the prestigious award for his performance as the Air Traffic Control Facility Chief at Fort Polk.

Lt. Gen. Omar Jones presented the award to Fuselier during a recent ceremony in San Antonio.

“I don’t see it as a representation of myself. It’s a representation of my whole team,” Fuselier said. “The people underneath me and the leaders above me are the reason I got this award. Everybody deserves it just as much as I do. I was just the recipient.”

Fuselier and his team provide air traffic control services to the civilian and military population across Central Louisiana. His team also handles complex military operations for the Joint Readiness Training Center, preparing troops to venture overseas.

Fuselier served four years in the Air Force in Grand Forks, North Dakota. After he left the service, he was immediately hired back as a civilian for an additional two years. In June 2005, Fuselier transferred to Fort Polk Army Airfield to work as an air traffic controller. From there, he worked his way up to supervisor, radar chief, and finally to air traffic control chief in December 2020, where he manages more than 300,000 military and civilian aircraft annually.

“You never have the same day twice. Every day is something new. It’s fast-paced. You’re not going to get bored,” Fuselier said.

He credits his father, John Fuselier Sr., and his upbringing in St. John the Baptist Parish for shaping him into the person he is today.

“We don’t expect the job to get done. We do it ourselves,” he said. “Growing up through St. Joan of Arc and St. Charles, I think that was the mentality of everybody that mentored me. That’s the attitude you need to make your way up in life, and I think that’s what really resonated with me.”

Fuselier has gone above and beyond to support the Joint Readiness Training Center and Fort Polk. His colleagues said his outstanding dedication to his profession, mission and team are constantly on display.

Shortly after becoming the facility chief, Fuselier initiated an analysis of efficiency and customer service which identified room for improvement in unmanned aerial vehicle radar service. Fuselier worked with the customer to narrow down time windows where UAV support was essential. Fusilier also looked closely at manning levels for rated air traffic controllers and was able to expand capacity and capability through an aggressive training approach. In doing so, he reduced the need for overtime and saved the agency approximately $25,000 per quarter.

Seeing how the Fort Polk airspace could be confusing to pilots unfamiliar with its layout, Fuselier collaborated with the maintenance chief to quickly devise a training program. He has established positive working relationships with a number of stakeholders including regional airport partners in Alexandria and Lake Charles, as well as JRTC partners.

Fuselier and his team earned more than 30 individual and team awards in 2021 for superior safe performance throughout the year. This included the Army Civilian Service Achievement Medal, awarded for his work to retain fixed position approach radar to facilitate low level aircraft operation in changing weather conditions. He advocated for Fort Polk to receive one of a limited umber of instrument landing systems.

Fuselier’s team is also credited with saving at least five lives through aircraft saves.

In a letter nominating Fuselier for the IMCOM Stalwart Award, his colleagues stated:

“Mr. Fuselier is a highly valued member of the fort Polk Garrison and installation management command team who, through hard work, dedication to the mission and people, has earned the respect and admiration of subordinates, peers and superiors. He has the confidence of the command team to conduct airspace in air traffic operations in a sound and efficient manner in direct support of real world and joint training missions. Based upon his expert knowledge of his profession, he consistently delivers expert recommendations. His contributions and leadership have improved the quality of air traffic control service provided to our nation’s Warfighters and civil aviation.”

The letter also stated that Fuselier possesses high standards that epitomize Army and civilian values. He is described as “a leader with vision and strength who is committed to serving the aviation community and supporting the Army mission.”

According to his colleagues, he “exudes values of social service, commitment to excellence, respect for others, and integrity every day. He is a consummate example of professionalism and leadership.”