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Eric Holmes - Mission Always Accomplished
February 4, 2014

[image-51]Name: Eric M. Holmes
Title: Contracting Officer’s Representative for Center’s Facilities Operations and Maintenance contract and Facilities Operations Specialist
Organization: Code 227, Facilities Management Branch, Operations Management Division

From engaging in combat engineering missions in the Middle East, to operating and maintaining Goddard’s large campus, Facilities Operations Specialist Eric M. Holmes—Mr. Snow Desk—gets the mission accomplished.

What do you do and what is most interesting about your role here at Goddard that helps support our mission?

I help ensure that all facilities at Goddard, including every building and road, are operational and safe. My job becomes more involved when the weather gets bad, especially during summer or winter storms. We worry about power outages, floods, ice and snow. I am proud that we’re here at NASA, where some of the most cutting-edge technology in the world is being developed, and we’re making 50-year-old buildings capable of sustaining this technology.

Do you have any special training?

I trained as a combat engineer with the (U.S.) Air Force. I’m part of a unit called the Prime Base Emergency Essential Force, which can be called up anytime to be anywhere in the world within 72 hours. When Desert Storm first kicked, we were recalled to base where all of our equipment and gear were already staged. We flew to Saudi Arabia and then to Kuwait where we were told to build a med-evac hospital. So we did. We later built a field kitchen, a runway strip and housing.

My unit, including myself, also works with search and rescue dogs. When the big earthquake hit Haiti, we were deployed with six SAR dogs, all German shepherd dogs.

Why did you come to Goddard after you left active duty?

I started as a high-voltage electrician at Goddard because I felt that I could have an impact on the shuttle missions. When I first got here, we had satellites flying 24 hours a day, seven days a week, so we had to make sure that the power was never interrupted.

I worked the midnight shift for ten years. When I started working the day shift, many people thought that I was a new employee.

What do you do when a severe thunderstorm is predicted?

One of the big things about summer storms is a possible loss of power. We try to be as prepared as possible to deal with an outage when it occurs. Mother Nature doesn’t ask permission for an outage. When she wants to turn the power off, she turns the power off. We then have to figure out how to get the power back.

[image-78]How do you combat winter storms?

We consult our meteorologist for detailed specifics about conditions that will affect Goddard. If necessary, a crew of about 40 individuals, myself included, lives and sleeps on base for the duration of the storm. We determine all equipment, including plows and materials, such as salt, that we will need.

Everyone in the central hub of operations has code names. Mine is “Snow Desk.” All the information goes into and then out of our snow desk, the hub of the snow removal operation.

What aspect of weather events is the most challenging?

The unknowns. I was here for the blizzards of 1996 and 2010, when the region was shut down for over a week. For the blizzards, the unknowns were that we didn’t know when they would stop, how much snow we would get and how that snow would affect operations.

I was here for the earthquake of 2011 and the derecho of 2011. They were equally challenging because of the unknowns. I’ve been stationed in California, so I knew that we had had an earthquake, but I didn’t know how adverse its effect had been on these old buildings. We had to inspect every nook and cranny of every single building. We did the same inspections after the derecho.

I like knowing as much as possible about weather events. But when you go into the unknown and accomplish your mission, you have an even greater sense of pride.

How do you handle so much adversity?

I pride myself on being able to deal with any type of adversity, whether it involves weather, building conditions or anything else. I’m the guy who sees an accident on the highway and stops to help, all the time, no matter what. I just stopped to help with a bad accident yesterday. I got out and started directing traffic. My ten-year-old son who was with me said, “Oh, no, here we go again.” I’ll stop and help people change a tire too. Whatever I can do to help, I try to do.

Helping others gives me a sense of purpose. I’m very dedicated to service. Since I’m in the military, I’m very dedicated to serving the country and, as part of NASA, I’m also dedicated to serving all of NASA’s missions and goals as much as I can.

[image-92]What goes through your mind when conditions are dangerous?

In dangerous situations, such as when my military combat unit is deployed, I think about the nature of the mission and the best way to accomplish it because I want to come home safe. Each mission is always different.

What one thing would you advise somebody facing adversity? 

Trust in yourself and your abilities. No matter how much you think you can’t, everyone can, to some level of degree.

What do you do for fun?

I have three boys ages 22, 10 and 8. I’ve coached football and basketball for all three of my sons. I’ve also coached my oldest son in tennis. Basically, I’m coaching all year round.

Are you a mentor?

Yes. Having three sons, I realize the blessing that I have to be with my boys and that a lot of other kids don’t have the same blessing. I try to be a positive male role model for boys in my community including my church, my kids’ schools and the teams I coach. I’ll help any boy, anywhere, any time. I believe that it takes a village to raise a child. If I can help young boys become good young men, than it will be positive for my sons and me too.

What is your “six word memoir”? A six-word memoir describes something in just six words.

Adventurous determined humble caring mentor family.

Elizabeth M. Jarrell
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

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Eric Holmes after graduating from Special Skills training
Eric Holmes after his graduation from Special Skills Training.
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Courtesy of Eric Holmes
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Goddard gate during the blizzard of 2010.
Dealing with the blizzard of 2010.
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Courtesy of Eric Holmes
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Another snowy day at Goddard
At the guard gate dealing with the Blizzard of 2010.
Image Credit: 
Courtesy of Eric Holmes
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Page Last Updated: February 4th, 2014
Page Editor: Lynn Jenner