Incoming Pantex Field Office Manager Jason Armstrong has a lot on his plate but also every confidence in the men and women alongside whom he serves
Among the hundreds of names representing all the new faces at Pantex in recent months, one stands out. What makes this name unique isn’t the name itself but rather the title that comes with it: NNSA Pantex Field Office manager.
“Pantex has always been highly capable, efficient, and has been doing great work,” said Jason Armstrong, reflecting on the job before him.
Armstrong’s dress is a touch on the informal side. Indeed, little about the man points to his recent leadership of a workforce of some 4,000 people or the billion-plus annual budget he oversaw as the Savannah River Field Office Manager at Aiken, South Carolina.
Instead, Armstrong reflects, in many ways, the people he has come to both direct and serve. His office door is open wide. He proudly extolls his Hispanic mother’s Latin American heritage. Oh, and is that a smattering of ink peeking out from his rolled-up sleeves? At home, a Harley-Davidson waits for Armstrong to fire it up for a relaxing cruise.
“I have no doubt Pantex will be successful again,” Armstrong mulled. “People here know how to get things done. You’ve always found ways to get to ‘yes.’ So, when the opportunity came [to return to Pantex], I said, ‘yes, sign me up!’”
Armstrong’s personal synergy with the Texas Panhandle is no accident, according to NNSA Production Office Manager Teresa Robbins.
“I am so excited Jason has joined our team at Pantex,” she reflected. “When the administrator asked me if there was anyone I knew in NNSA who could do the job, I immediately thought of Jason. He is an experienced leader in DOE and NNSA. He is personable and likes to engage with people to ensure they have what they need to get the job done. He is passionate about our mission and quick to recognize successes and accomplishments. I am confident Jason is the right leader to guide Pantex and to continue the Pantex legacy of sustaining our nuclear deterrent through on-time delivery and high-quality products.”
Every day, thousands of Pantex employees go about their work day. Not many pause to consider the people on call 24 hours a day to make humble, yet vital, facets of daily life like temperature control and operating toilets—not to mention, many more vital mission operations—properly function.
“The Boiler House … We take care of creature comforts, heating the buildings. But, we also work processes for the labs and the humidity controls,” explained Pantex employee Johnny H. “We take care of most everything in Infrastructure that has anything to do with a utility.”
As it turns out, that’s quite a lot. And, according to one of Heredia’s colleagues, Russell L., the less visible the Utilities team is to the average Pantexan, the better it means their team is performing.
“Your average person comes to Pantex,” he began, “and does not know anything about the utilities because they can drink the water, they can go to the restroom, they can be comfortable. If they can’t, they’re calling Infrastructure Utilities. So, no news is good news for us.”
While Utilities employees may prefer to perform their work behind the scenes, the service they provide is crucial. In a very literal sense, their work makes our deterrent mission possible by creating the environmental conditions necessary for proper operations.
Johnny said having knowledgeable people who work well together increase solutions to common challenges.
“Most of the challenges we face are natural occurrences. When it’s summertime and running 110 degrees and above, systems are struggling to maintain temperatures and flows for the H20 system,” he said. “But we adapt. The team that I have, we have tons of experience, and they really take care of us.”
Pantexan Kayla Mendez has been recognized by the Amarillo Chamber of Commerce as a 2023 Top 20 Under 40 Award winner.
The award is given annually to area early career professionals who demonstrate professional excellence and bring value to the Amarillo business community.
An Amarillo native, Mendez has worked at Pantex since 2015. She has been part of teams that have earned Defense Programs Awards of Excellence in 2019 and 2020.
In addition to her efforts at Pantex, Mendez is very active in giving back to her community.
She participates in a wide range of Pantex volunteer efforts and serves as a board member for the Amarillo Independent School District.
“I’ve always liked to try and give back,” she said. “Learning the other side of how a district runs and how the legislative part of things runs – the background and budgets – are eye opening. I have a deep appreciation for teachers, and this gives me even more appreciation.”
To be eligible for the Amarillo Chamber of Commerce Top 20 under 40 Award, the candidates must be employed in the area for at least three years and in the same field during that time, though not necessarily at the same businesses. Winners were selected by judges who reviewed nominations and picked the top 20 award winners as up‑and‑coming Amarillo professionals who are standouts in their professions.
“It’s humbling,” Mendez said of the award she has earned. “I love helping and love being around the kids and giving something back to the community. For my work, I want do a good job with the utmost quality and to the best of my ability and to be successful so that Pantex is successful. It’s humbling, and I’m honored to be recognized.”
For nearly 40 years, Pantex employee Wade B. has been among those forming the protective line that protects the plant 24 hours per day, and he has not lost focus on the importance of what he does each day.
Wade grew up on a farm near Stratford, Texas, and when he was considering his career path as a younger man, a family member suggested Pantex as an option. His job duties vary widely, but they all come down to protecting the plant and everything within it. The highly trained force is dedicated to providing the highest level of protection possible.
Most of them are members of the Pantex Guards Union, which was established July 2, 1953, and thus is celebrating its seventieth anniversary. The PGU acts as the exclusive collective bargaining agent for all safeguards and security division protective force personnel below the rank of lieutenant employed at Pantex. It represents all its members in negotiations, agreements, and grievances, and it protects and promotes the interests of its members.
“Although I wasn’t here 70 years ago, I felt a leading to continue the legacy prior union representatives had started,” Wade said. “I have always had an opinion on most issues but never believed in complaining in the background. I have always been willing to support, defend, and promote my opinion and therefore believe you shouldn’t just complain about issues but bring forward solutions.”
In pursuit of that belief, Wade has served the union in a variety of roles, up to and including business agent and as a lead negotiator for three collective bargaining agreement negotiations. He is currently a steward, senior trustee, and negotiating committee member.
What daily task (specific meeting, report, etc.) lets you know you’re helping achieve the CNS mission? How/why does that task let you know you’re working toward the mission?
Every day I work security, and knowing that unauthorized personnel and controlled articles have not entered the plant and therefore plant operations can proceed safely and securely lets me know I’m helping the mission. And I know any emergency is responded to quickly and adjudicated properly.
How does patriotism factor into your life? Did your level of patriotism change after working at Pantex?
I have always been patriotic, even at a young age. I believe in the success of our great nation and want to protect our constitution and God-given liberty. After working here and realizing the strategic importance and one-of-a-kind mission we have, my patriotism even expanded and my yearning to protect our country became increasingly important.
As an employee, what do you want to be remembered for?
Serving and educating others to help them succeed.
What’s your favorite outside-of-work activity and why?
Elk hunting in the Rocky Mountains, because whether or not I punch my tag, I get my batteries recharged (mind decompressed and refocused – putting life in proper perspective) just being in the splendor and beauty of God’s creation.
Take five minutes to learn about Production Planning & Controls’ Ed D. “I Am Mission Success” profiles share how each employee feels tied to the Pantex and/or Y-12 mission. All views and opinions are the employees’ own and do not necessarily reflect those of CNS.
People are the heart of CNS: Everything that happens at Pantex rests with the mindset, attitudes, and actions of the people who work here. Those committed to personal and professional excellence not only succeed in their own careers—they encourage and inspire others to do so as well.
Longtime Pantexan Ed D. is such a person.
Ed connects problems with solutions in his characteristic calm joviality. He enjoys turning daunting challenges into mutually beneficial resolutions.
“Problem solving, along with a unique ability to work together with dignity and respect are my strengths,” he said. “They are extremely important to me. I strive to bring professionalism, patience, and good communication skills to work every day.”
Ed described finding great fulfillment in making the connections that alleviate potential conflict between individuals or teams.
“Interfacing with many departments and assisting with resolving issues on a daily basis is an accomplishing feeling and provides [me] a duty-oriented satisfaction,” he said.
Nowhere is this trait more on display than during a daily problem-solving, escalation and tracking meeting Ed facilitates. Team after team reports their successes and challenges to their Pantex colleagues. Ed manages the issues, demonstrating a keen instinct for when to remain in the background and let individuals talk through their projects’ needs and when someone might need a gentle word of appreciation.
“Facilitating the [meeting] allows me the opportunity to address, help solve and mitigate challenges on a daily basis,” he said.
Day after day, Ed addresses those challenges head-on and, day after day, he rewards his colleagues’ diligence with the same words of encouragement: “Thank you so much for the privilege of your time, and have a blessed day.”
What advice or encouragement would you give a new employee or someone considering applying for a career here?
“Pantex provides unlimited paths to learn and grow life’s strategies for success.”
In what way are you mission success?
“I strive to be vigilant, cognizant, and responsive to the expectations of the company.”
What would your coworkers be most surprised to learn about you?
“Most coworkers don’t know that I am the organist at the church I attend every Sunday.”
What’s your top bucket list item, and why?
“My bucket list item is to go on a cruise next year.”
What’s your favorite outside-of-work activity, and why?
“My favorite outside activities include working with my church and spending time with my siblings, children, and grandchildren.”