(L-R) BG James Grant, USAF (Ret), LTG Patrick Hughes, USA (Ret), Mary E. Combs, Judy Wetzel
The Defense Intel Alumni Association William J. Wetzel Award
Ms. Mary Emmy Combs demonstrated exceptional dedication and exemplary effort in the continuation of her prior service to the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), in support of the Defense Intel Alumni Association (DIAA) missions and vision, for nearly 10 years.
In the Fall of 2005, Mr. William (Bill) Wetzel, recruited Ms. Combs to fill a vacant position on the DIAA Board of Directors (BOD). Ms. Combs was officially voted onto the Board at the 2005 DIAA annual fall luncheon and business meeting, and soon took on the demanding responsibilities of Board Secretary and Editor-in-Chief of the DIAA newsletter. She continued performing duties related to these functions until the Spring of 2014 when she left the BOD.
As the Association’s Secretary she produced the minutes for each monthly Board meeting. These documents (for record) were made readily available to members of the board, as required, to support Association programs and projects in support of DIA. Ms. Combs also developed and maintained a historical archive to preserve these important historical documents.
As Editor-in-Chief of the DIAALog (The Association’s Newsletter -- also called the “LOG”) Ms. Combs took the lead, writing articles of interest to the membership, summarizing upcoming and past DIAA events, and collating various items that were to be published in the next issue. She ensured that the newsletter was fully coordinated with the BOD and oversaw formatting, publishing and distribution of the LOG. Prior to Ms. Combs accepting the job of Editor-in-Chief, the newsletter had not been published for a year and a half. Once production was “up and running” again she sensed that the interests of the Association’s membership were not being fully met under the existing production scheme. To remedy this, she transitioned from publishing three lengthy issues annually, to a shorter, but monthly publication. Member feedback on this initiative was very positive with members noting that the monthly format provided current news as well as allowing more time to plan for upcoming events. Further demonstrating her dedication to mission, she often planned her personal travel to accommodate the stringent newsletter production cycle.
Ms. Combs also took it upon herself to attend and capture salient points of Keynote Speakers at DIAA’s bi-annual Spring and Fall Luncheons, the Annual Business meeting, and the Annual DIAA Homecoming where DIA opens its doors to the Alumni for a full day of briefings followed by a robust Q&A period. She would then draft articles for the newsletter, as well as for posting on the associations Web Page, covering these events for those members outside the National Capital Region who were unable to attend. She also participated in the association’s monthly Defense Intelligence Forums (Forums) and provided similar reporting services.
Ms. Combs tenure as an Association Officer was focused on keeping DIAA members informed, and was highlighted by her close relationship with a number of DIAA’s founding and earliest Board Members, as well as with the some of the associations newer leadership. Her superb effort to use her historical knowledge and her functional insight to explain, to clarify, to communicate, and to seek action, were the motivational spark to many DIAA achievements and reflected both her organizational acumen and her personal spirit of cooperation for the greater good. Her service was instrumental in helping to preserve the vision of the founding members, as well as to help DIAA innovate and move forward in a number of new and rewarding directions. This was her greatest contribution -- to be the bridge between the original leadership of DIAA and the new leaders who came after them.
Ms. Combs’ commitment to DIAA’s core values and her outstanding service to mission set the standard for our Alumni to emulate as the Association continues to evolve. Her service to DIAA reflects great credit on her and is highly deserving of this recognition.
The Defense Intel Alumni Association
William J. Wetzel Award
Description: The award, named for William J. Wetzel, is presented for outstanding support to the mission, vision and accomplishments of the Defense Intel Alumni Association. It celebrates Bill’s outstanding career of over 40 years in support of defense intelligence and US National Security requirements. Beginning as an Army Officer during the COLD WAR Bill served in a number of high profile assignments in Europe including Commander, Checkpoints Bravo and Charley in Berlin, Chief, Army Intelligence Production, Europe, and in the Defense Attaché Office in Helsinki, Finland. His final posting was with the Defense Intelligence Agency as Chief, Russia/Eurasia Forces Branch. He continued to serve after his retirement managing intelligence programs and operations for 16 years in the private sector. Bill’s contribution to DIAA is legendary. As a founding member of DIAA in 1998 he was instrumental in establishing its mission and vision and setting the direction for the new alumni association. Over the years Bill served in a number of leadership positions, including Vice President, and oversaw the planning and conduct of the bi-annual DIAA Luncheons and the election of new board of director members at the annual business meeting. Bill’s “Can Do” attitude and his ability to find “win-win” solutions to tough problems was an inspiration to all in the alumni association who came in contact with him. The William J. Wetzel Award is presented to individuals who have provided outstanding support to the Defense Intel Alumni Association.
Purpose: The William Wetzel Award recognizes professional excellence and exceptional dedication to duty in support of the DIAA mission and vision. The Award consists of a commemorative plaque engraved with the recipients’ name. This award will not necessarily be given annually but only on special occasions in recognition of exemplary and exceptional service.
Eligibility: This award may be presented to a current or former member, civilian or military, of the Defense Intel Alumni Association. DIA employees, members of the Intelligence Community, Academia and Industry who have made a significant contribution improving the DIA-DIAA relationship may also be considered for this award.
Nominations: The BOD will convene a committee to develop precise, objective metrics that unambiguously allow for a fair, honest and equitable assessment of an individuals contribution to the association. The name of the nominee, along with justification, will then be presented to the entire BOD for its endorsement at least 45 days before the Annual DIAA Spring Luncheon and General meeting.
Presentation: once approved by the BOD the President at the associations spring event will present the award to the recipient. In the Presidents absence the Chairperson of the Nomination Committee will make the presentation.
Defense Intel Alumni Association PO Box 354, Charlotte Court House, VA 23923