By Mr. Michael M. Novogradac, U.S. Army Operational Test Command Public Affairs
WEST FORT HOOD (Now designated Fort Cavazos), Texas — A Texas woman was honored here as the newest inductee into the Operational Testers’ Hall of Fame for her 40 years supporting the Army and equipment testing.
Ms. Myra L. Baugh of Frisco, Texas, became the 43rd Hall of Fame member during ceremonies Oct. 29.
“I appreciate this great honor today from my peers, and it has brought me back to where I felt like I always belonged — the OTC Family. And like they say, ‘There is no place like home,’” a teary-eyed Baugh said.
A native of Joplin, Missouri, she began her service to the Nation in 1972 as a secretary at the German/American Military Elementary School, Bad Kreuznach, Germany.
Baugh’s distinguished civil service career supporting operational testing began in 1975 when she served as a Budget Clerk/Budget Analyst in the Directorate of Industrial Operations at Fort Hood (Now designated Fort Cavazos).
Her first position with OTC was in 1981 as a Budget Analyst/Program Analyst.
At OTC she went on to become one of the first women Military Test Plans Analysts/Test Officers from 1992 to 2000.
During the ceremony, OTC Commander Brig. Gen. David W. Gardner called Baugh a “trailblazer.”
“Not only as one of the first women operational testers, but as one of the first Civilians who did not have military experience,” said Gardner. “Again; a trailblazer.
“Dedicated and innovative, she focused her early career on creating foundational budget and resourcing processes for operational testing,” he said.
He described how her efforts became the foundation for operational test budgeting today.
To prepare for his remarks, Gardner turned to Baugh’s former colleagues.
“One described her as an expert with a ‘can do attitude’ that ‘inspired and motivated others’ beyond what they thought capable,” he said.
“Others mentioned her creativity and attention to detail; two qualities that made her capable of solving any and every problem presented to her.”
Many offered the same recollections of their time working with Baugh.
“The value each and every person highlighted without fail was her integrity,” Gardner said.
“She threw herself at the most difficult problems the organization had, and solved them with both efficiency and ethics in mind.”
When it came time for Baugh to speak, she reflected on two mottos which drove her over the years.
She said, “I first want to start by telling you that my motto adopted early in life was written by John Greenleaf Whittier, and it says, ‘Of all sad words of tongue or pen, The saddest are these, ‘It might have been.’
“In plain English: ‘If you don’t try you will never know,’” she explained.
“This phrase made me realize challenges can become opportunities and motivated me during my lifetime,” she said.
After being notified of the honor as an inductee to OTC’s Hall of Fame, she told how she came upon another phrase that rang true.
“It said, ‘Don’t look back unless it’s to see how far you have come,’” she said.
“So if you will bear with me for just a little while, I am going to do exactly that.”
Then, she told of how her “trip through life” and career began as a military wife.
“My career — none of it planned — took twists and turns and when I look back, I realized how each job qualified me for the next one,” she said.
“My experiences will show no matter who you are, if you take a risk along with hard work, due diligence, perseverance, gaining knowledge and leadership skills, building relations with the support of leaders and mentors, you will never know what you might be or have done when you retire from your career.”
She went on to tell how all each of her jobs (even as a volunteer teacher aid) qualified her for the next position, and then the next, which got her started in her civil service career.
“As you can see, you never know,” she said after listing all her jobs and skills gained over almost 30 years.
She also talked about women leaders, how they became her role models, and how becoming an equipment test officer became her passion while working as a budget analyst for OTC.
“In the beginning, working for and with combat-hardened men was very different,” she said, “because I had all these women bosses before.
“Many of them had just come out of Vietnam. This is when I discovered that very few men had worked with a civil servant; much less a female civil servant.”
To audience laughter, she said, “Many of them mistook the three budget analysts as secretaries, until they learned we had signature authority for their operations and test money.”
During those days, Baugh recalled, “This is when I learned to be very direct, supported the test officers to the best of my ability, and received their respect.
“I also watched, listened, and learned from these men and gained their support. I learned from the very best over the years.”
Baugh’s adult daughter Medina; her brother Tom and his wife Sharion and many friends and loved ones traveled across the country to witness the honor.
Also joining the ceremony were three former Operational Testers Hall of Fame inductees: Mr. Wayland Smith, inducted in 2010; Ms. Gayle Shull, inducted in 2017; Mr. Bill Fesler, inducted in 2019; and Dr. Richard Kass, inducted in 2020.
From 2000 to 2004, Baugh was a Plans Officer and Deputy for the Experimentation Department, Joint Experimentation, U.S. Joint Forces Command, Norfolk, Virginia, where she coordinated joint experimentation planning and execution.
From 2004 until her retirement in 2013, she served as A Senior Analyst (Support Contractor) with Headquarters, Department of the Army at the Pentagon.
The Hall of Fame, which inducted its first class in October 1994, has served to honor Soldiers and Civilians for their commitment to putting the best possible equipment and systems into the hands of Soldiers in both training and combat conditions.