On December 26, 2021, the country and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers lost a great man. Ed Gibson, former Commander of the Army Engineer Center Brigade and for 20 years Chief of Military Personnel for the Corps of Engineers, passed away at the age of 95.
A true icon within the Engineer community, Ed was the 2004 recipient of the U.S. Army Engineer Association Gold de Fleury Medal. His legacy was recognized again in 2018 when the Society of American Military Engineers (SAME) Academy of Fellows honored him with their annual Golden Eagle Award. For more about this remarkable soldier’s life, including his combat service during World War II, Korea, and Vietnam, click herefor his family obituary.
Upon his retirement from federal service, Ed established himself as the oracle for service members and public service professionals transitioning to the civilian work force. For 30 years, he helped place hundreds of former service members into new careers and never asked for anything in return other than a promise to do their best and contribute to society.
Ed Gibson touched the lives of many D&A Senior Advisors. Here are two reflections that particularly showcase his legacy of mentorship and the high esteem in which Corps of Engineers senior leaders held this great leader.
Lt. Gen. (ret) Bob Flowers
Senior Advisor, Dawson & Associates
50th Chief of Engineers/Commanding General of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
"Ed and I became friends in 1976 and his excellent advice about 30 years ago changed the trajectory of my life. Following my brigade command tour, which included a life-changing event called Desert Storm, I was assigned to The Engineer School at Ft Leonard Wood, Missouri.
In 1992, the Army published its Brigadier General list and I was not on it. I thought it was best for me to retire and begin a second career. I contacted Ed for assistance and he flew to Ft Leonard Wood and convinced me to give the Army one more chance.
I followed his advice and in 1993 I was selected to Brigadier General. Ed was the first person I called. He intuitively knew my heart was with the Army and that leaving with something undone was going to bother me for the rest of my life.
Also important, Ed was an equal opportunity advisor. Many times, I saw him take special care to encourage greater diversity in the Corps, especially in the senior ranks. This frequently included direct mentoring of young African-American officers, both male and female.
Ed Gibson was a force of nature and my generation regarded him as our forever assignments officer. Any task he undertook turned into a mission to complete. He was tireless in support of the Corps of Engineers and those who served it, whether military or civilian."
Col. (ret) Joe Schmitt
Senior Advisor, Dawson & Associates
Former commander, Savannah District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
"I met Ed in the mid 1980s when I was assigned to HQ, USACE as a promotable Captain on my utilization tour after I completed my graduate studies in Civil Engineering. I was assigned as the Officer-in-Charge of the Civil Works Emergency Operations Center. Shortly after arrival to the HQ, I met Ed who was the Chief of Military Personnel, Office of the Chief of Engineers.
When the Army promoted me to Major, Ed took me under his wing and was a great mentor. After I served almost 2 years in Civil Works, Ed recommended that I move into the position as the Executive Officer to the Director of Military Programs. In that assignment, I was able to experience another important side of the Corps. I often visited Ed in his office, where he’d frequently chew on a cigar.
Ed learned that I enjoyed sailing and windsurfing, and as most know, Ed’s favorite pastime was taking his sail boat out on the Potomac. He was always looking for a crew to assist with the jib and during my 3 years at HQ, I always jumped on the chance to sail with Ed. His company was wonderful and his lovely wife Estelle would provide “the crew” with a great bagged lunch.
I stayed in touch with Ed especially during my time as the Engineer Assignments Officer at 1st PERSCOM, Germany and again as the Engineer Colonels Assignment Officer at HQ PERSCOM when I often sought Ed’s guidance.
Ed was the true professional and engineer soldier. All of us engineers owe him so much – a mentor, a leader, true friend and guiding light for hundreds if not thousands of engineer officers.
Finally, I have to note that when my son Captain Todd Schmitt decided to leave active duty after serving in the 27th Engineer Battalion at Fort Bragg and later the 10th Engineer Battalion at Fort Stewart, Ed helped Todd land his first job in the civilian world at Law Engineering. He touched not only individuals, but generations of Army engineers!"
Ed Gibson, be thou at peace.