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NCIS agent garners top award Agent of the Year award

By Marti Gatlin | | May 3, 2012

A Naval Criminal Investigative Service special agent here won the 2011 NCIS Special Agent of the Year for Criminal Investigations award during a recent ceremony at the NCIS headquarters in the Russell Knox building, Quantico, Va.

Because of Rick Dunwoodie’s investigative efforts during a counternarcotics operation here, he not only garnered the prestigious award, but also earned a Department of the Navy Meritorious Civilian Service Award and a Commendation for Meritorious Civilian Service.

Col. Terry V. Williams, commanding officer, MCLB Albany, who presented Dunwoodie with the commendation recently, portrayed the special agent’s performance as exemplary and worthy of note.

“Special Agent Dunwoodie is an outstanding representative of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service,” Williams said. “Most of all, the results of his efforts serve as a reminder to all who work, live or recreate aboard this installation that we (will not tolerate) illegal drug use, possession and distribution. It may take a while for us to get you, but Special Agent Dunwoodie’s outstanding work demonstrates that we will eventually get you.”

Dunwoodie, a special agent for almost nine years who has served at Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany for three and a half years, described the counternarcotics operation, known as Operation Cracked Ice.

“We began receiving some information there was prevalent drug use and distribution going on within the maintenance center (now known as Production Plant Albany and part of Marine Depot Maintenance Command),” he said. “Thereafter, we developed some investigative strategies to tackle that problem and worked alongside with the leadership (there), Marine Corps Logistics Command and the installation and partnered with several local, state and federal agencies.

“The goal was to send the message that drug use and distribution on the installation and specifically in that dangerous environment of (Production Plant Albany) would not be tolerated,” Dunwoodie added.

Trent Blalock, deputy commander for business operations, MDMC, characterized Dunwoodie as “a highly professional and very competent NCIS agent. His leadership and aggressive initiative was critical in past lengthy investigations and he remains vigilant in everything he touches. We are extremely fortunate to have someone of his talent supporting us.”

Dunwoodie said he didn’t expect the kind of work that led to the receipt of the award. “In federal law enforcement, your job as a federal agent is to go out and find out about crime that is going on that no one is aware of,” he said. “We call it being proactive. Once we established the relationships with the command and local, state and federal authorities, we were able to identify opportunities to get out and do some proactive work, and that is kind of how Operation Cracked Ice came about.”

Agents were nominated for the awards in whatever discipline they worked in - counterintelligence, counterterrorism and criminal investigative work, which is what Dunwoodie’s award fell under.

“We have approximately 1,200 agents within the agency working worldwide, so there are a lot of great things we do as an organization annually so just to be nominated and to be considered for the award (was amazing),” he said.

A lot of different things are factored in to win the award such as a problem that needs to be solved and dedicating the time and resources to resolve it, Dunwoodie said. “This wasn’t something (I) did by (myself),” he said. “It was something done in coordination with a lot of different agencies and in support of the command. (It was) ultimately me taking ownership of it, taking the initiative to do it and giving it the time and attention and resources this problem deserved. (The award) says that when you do work hard and go above and beyond your regular daily duties people do notice and do recognize you accordingly.”

Dunwoodie noted that PPA employees gave positive feedback and really appreciated the efforts from Operation Cracked Ice because they have a safer place to come to work every day.

He emphasized that the partnership between NCIS, local, state and federal agencies as well as the base and tenant commands’ leaders was very instrumental in achieving the results of the operation.

Representatives from those organizations attended the awards ceremony and were thanked publicly by NCIS, Dunwoodie added.

Dunwoodie and his fellow agents belong to the NCIS Southeast field office in Mayport, Fla., and Nick Mancha, supervisory special agent, Naval Criminal Investigative Service Resident Agency Kings Bay, Ga., oversees the MCLB Albany NCIS operations.

Mancha praised Dunwoodie’s achievements in receiving the award.

“Although these type of operations often times entail a substantial group effort, it’s fulfilling to see a special agent highlighted for (his or her) individual actions and efforts over the course of an investigation such as the one that took place in Albany, Georgia,” Mancha said. “In this instance, Special Agent Rick Dunwoodie led a close-knit group of law enforcement officers and special agents to positively impact the MCLB Albany community through the reduction of narcotics activity.

“The significance of this recognition is the example it provides to other NCIS special agents on the application of back to basics hard work and investment of time,” he said. “As Rick’s supervisory special agent, it’s immensely satisfying to see him get this kind of recognition for his work.”

Along with his plaque, Dunwoodie received a CD with a personal message from the cast of the TV show, “NCIS Los Angeles.”