Some mention legacy, some say legendary, but how would one properly sum up an esteemed 44-year career?
Linda Murphy, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Louisville District Deputy District Engineer, is retiring Oct. 8, 2022, after more than four decades of hard work and selfless service—during which time she has contributed substantially to the mission, prestige and reputation of the Corps of Engineers.
Murphy began her government career in 1978 as a civil engineer student trainee after graduating from Purdue University with a civil engineering degree and has spent most of her career in the Louisville District. Murphy held several different positions from serving as a civil engineer, section chief, branch chief and division chief before being selected to fill the dual-hatted role of Chief of Planning, Programs and Project Management and Deputy District Engineer in March 2015 which is the highest civilian position in the district.
Before being selected to serve as DDE, Murphy deployed to Afghanistan in 2012 for 21 months and served as the Chief of Water and Infrastructure Branch and Afghan National Security Forces Program Manager for the Transatlantic South District and the Transatlantic Afghanistan District.
In addition, Murphy has also filled key critical positions in a temporary capacity including the Deputy Commander for the Louisville District, the Chief of the Civil Works Integration Division for the Great Lakes and Ohio River Division, served as the first DDE for the district office in Puerto Rico for the critical power restoration mission, and served as acting Programs Director at North Atlantic Division.
Murphy has worked a variety of highly visible, critical projects and programs and met every challenge through leadership and diligence. She has routinely overseen the successful execution of a more than $1 billion program annually. Murphy has contributed immeasurably to the sustained success of the district, region and enterprise.
Q: You have devoted 44 years to this organization. Why?
Murphy: Because I love it. I love the people. I love what we do here at the Corps of Engineers and enterprise in general. I love being able to say that we have made a difference in people’s lives, both with the public and military organizations that we serve. I am just very proud of everything we have done at the Corps of Engineers and Louisville District.
Q: What has changed the most in the district in the last four decades?
I would say the technology. When I first started, we did not have computers at all on the desks. When I first started, there wasn’t even a Project Management office at all. It had not formed in the Corps of Engineers until the late 80s. Projects were either managed in Engineering or Construction or Planning if it was in the pre-design phase. We would have meetings and review the programs with overhead projectors and transparencies, so there were no computers to do PowerPoint or excel spreadsheets. In Engineering, there were no CAD computers, so we did the plan sheets on drafting tables, and you would actually ink the drawings. I think the culture is the one thing I think has not changed. Everybody that I have ever known that has worked here has been fully dedicated to the mission, and to each other, and the comradery has always been here – from the very start until now.
Q: What project(s) holds a special place in your heart?
This is a hard one. I feel like I have worked on a lot of projects and especially with Civil Works – you know it takes forever to build civil works projects. Obviously, Olmsted (Locks and Dam) – finally completing Olmsted. When I first started, I worked on the feasibility study in Engineering and did some of that work. But probably the project I had the most effort on myself and was actually kind of the project manager on, was the South Frankfort Floodwall. That probably means the most to me just because we had to build a floodwall underneath a school, the school was right on the riverbank. Once we completed that project, we went down for the dedication and the school had all the kids sign it, and they had this huge sign that said, ‘We love our wall.’ And so, I think that’s the one that meant the most to me knowing what we did for that community there and seeing the kids out there being able to play on their playground without a threat of flooding coming from the river.
Q: What is your favorite thing about working for USACE?
I would say, it’s what we do to help others. And I think everybody has it in them – that they want to be an important part of a team, or a group, to solve challenges or to solve problems and to know you have made a difference in other people’s lives. And I can’t say it enough that I think we are a welcoming organization, and I think everybody can find a place here within the organization no matter what your background is, no matter what their education is. I think everyone feels a part of something bigger - for everything we accomplish here for the men and women of our military and our local communities.
Q: What will you miss most?
The people. Obviously, the people. When you spend this much time here, you are almost with the people here more than some of your family members. It’s been really hard for me during COVID because I really thrive off the energy I get from other people and seeing other people work closely together and come up with solutions.
Q: If you could sum up your entire career in 3 words, what would they be?
Love, proud and thankful
Q: Any final thoughts or items you would like to share?
I just can’t imagine working anywhere else. I, again, think this is the best Corps of Engineers district. We have got the best people, the best programs, and I just cannot imagine not working here over my entire career.
Murphy has undoubtedly left her mark on the Louisville District through her passion and unwavering dedication to USACE. Under her supervision and leadership, the Louisville District has continued, and will continue, to play vital roles in delivering engineering solutions, reducing disaster risk, strengthening the economy and supporting national security.