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Productive career launched from 'Harvard of the West'

August 29, 2011
by Tom Clarkson

Meet Anthony J. Hofmann, a 1999 CSU Masters of Science graduate in Construction Management and one very busy man.

Col. Anthony Hofmann (right) and Rex Goodnight check river maps prior to a flood overflight mission along the Missouri River. A frenzied norm

He calls it “The Harvard of the West,” and he’s talking about CSU – where he, as an active duty Army engineer and in interaction with civilian counterparts, gleaned technical expertise that he effectively incorporated in Iraq and through three tours of duty with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE).

Meet Anthony J. Hofmann, a 1999 CSU Masters of Science graduate in Construction Management and one very busy man. And if the near frenzied norm is not enough, recently he and those of his command - the USACE Kansas City District - have faced double duty disasters.

In late May, a Category EF-4 tornado ravaged two Missouri communities in a 6-mile swath of devastation. A few days later, the largest flood in the history of the Missouri River roiled downstream, inundating farmland and threatening communities.

“From the moment we learned of the tornado, we knew we had a professional and personal obligation to do everything in our power to assist in rebuilding these communities as expeditiously as possible,” he says.

From the Missouri River to Afghanistan

Among its many activities, the Kansas City District constructed eight temporary facilities as schools for those damaged or destroyed, two fire stations and 346 housing units.

The flood, caused by record-breaking plains and mountain snowpack melt, coincided with rainfalls that exceeded projections by 300 to 600 percent. More than 1,100 miles of levees along the Missouri River required their attention. Beyond that, there were sand boils to find, evaluate and – around many – build ring dykes. Scores of other tasks included monitoring and reinforcing freeboard (the height between the flood water and levee) and installing seepage blankets.

But more lay on the District’s plate – such as the Afghanistan Engineer District North reach-back mission to coordinate, contract, and execute construction projects some 10 time zones away. A Kansas City District original idea, this came about following one of its team member’s return from Afghanistan, where he noted that the Corps’ in-country assets were faced with “too much work and too few people.” As a result, Hofmann’s district initiated an effort to assist in time critical events.

At the core, we’re engineers

Back home on a normal day, Col. Hofmann must be sensitive to the sometimes dramatically divergent dictates of eight different congressionally mandated Corps directives regarding the Missouri River. These include flood control, irrigation, water supply, navigation, recreational, hydropower, and water quality as well as fish and wildlife.  Each of these has its own requirements and rules that, sometimes, place them in conflict.

Twice before he has been assigned to U.S. Army Corps of Engineer – once with the New Orleans District as a project engineer, project manager and Chief of Safety, Security and Occupational Health and, from 2006 to 2008, as the commander of the Walla Walla District encompassing parts of six states.

First and foremost

Col. Hofmann is a soldier and no stranger to combat, having been an active participant in Operation Iraqi Freedom while with the 3rd Infantry and 1st Armored Divisions. He was actively involved with Intrinsic Action in Kuwait with the 3rd Brigade, 4th Infantry Division and was also deployed to Kuwait in support of Task Force 3-77 Armor, 3rd Infantry Division.

Rising from his desk to check levees, he says, “But at the core of it all, first and foremost, we’re engineers here!”