Jim Daffron, a 30-year Army veteran, traveled to Central America to help those hit by Hurricane Mitch and helped war-torn Iraq recover critical infrastructure. His passion for mechanical and environmental engineering has translated into a leadership position at EM’s Oak Ridge Site. He values his experiences in teamwork, problem-solving and mission accomplishments both in the military and at EM. Click here to see EM Update’s salute to other EM veterans around the complex.
What do you do at EM?
I am a senior project manager with DOE’s Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management (OREM), currently assigned as the deputy federal project director of the Outfall-200 Mercury Treatment Facility construction project at the Y-12 National Security Complex.
What branch did you serve in? When and what station?
I served in the U.S. Army as an engineer officer for 30 years. Much of that time was spent in the U.S. Army Reserves with assignments in Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi. During my career, I also had the opportunity for temporary duty assignments and deployments in seven countries. I retired in 2020 while assigned to the 412th Engineer Command in Vicksburg, Mississippi.
Most memorable event/moment during your service?
I have many great memories from my time in service. One of the most rewarding opportunities was a deployment to Central America as part of a humanitarian response to Hurricane Mitch. During my time there, I planned and oversaw engineering missions to build clinics and schools and repair roads in hard-hit areas. It was special to be part of the U.S. government’s effort to provide relief that was so greatly needed and appreciated by those impacted by the hurricane.
Another top experience was serving as a senior engineer planner in Baghdad, Iraq to help repair infrastructure and restore essential services, including electricity, water, sewer and waste disposal. I enjoyed working with Iraqi engineers and ministry officials in the newly formed government to assess conditions and develop solutions to complex technical, social and political challenges in order to improve living conditions for the citizens there.
How has your military service helped prepare you for the job you do in EM?
The military provided many opportunities to work with and lead diverse organizations tasked with solving complex problems, often in high-risk, stressful environments. The commitment to teamwork, problem-solving and completing missions — expected in the military — is an equally important part of the OREM culture. My previous experience helped prepare me to contribute with OREM as part of diverse teams as we work to successfully address unique, complex challenges associated with environmental remediation projects and addressing aging, contaminated Manhattan Project and Cold War era facilities.
When did you begin working for EM and what got you interested in the cleanup mission?
I joined OREM in 2015. Growing up in east Tennessee, I’ve long appreciated the importance of DOE’s missions in the area and to national security. EM allows me to pair my background in mechanical and environmental engineering with my experience in the energy management and environmental cleanup. The environmental cleanup happening in Oak Ridge is unique because it’s not only helping protect the community, it’s also helping advance DOE’s important research and national security missions and create new economic development opportunities. I’m proud to be part of an organization making such a meaningful impact to the community and the nation.
Click here to see EM Update’s salute to other EM veterans around the complex.
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