Jerry Glodek, Cultural Resource Manager for Fort Meade Directorate of Public Works, participates in an Earth Day Archaeological booth. As a cultural resource manager, Glodek ensures the historical integrity of the oldest buildings, some of which date back to World War I, remains compliant with the National Historic Preservation Act. He also manages Fort Meade's 19 cemeteries and conducts archeological digs. (Courtesy Photo)
Written by Jasmyne Ferber, USAG Fort Meade Public Affairs
With more than 64,000 employees representing the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard and Space Force, Fort Meade is the Army’s second largest installation by population. Home to over 120 tenant organizations, including the National Security Agency, U.S. Cyber Command, and Defense Information Systems Agency/Joint Forces Headquarters for the Department of Defense Information Network, and Defense Media Activity, Fort Meade’s workforce is a diverse and collaborative community that works together to protect and safeguard our nation’s interests.
#WorkforceWednesday highlights the dynamic and talented people who work on Fort Meade. This week, meet Jerry Glodek, Cultural Resource Manager for the Fort Meade Directorate of Public Works.
Q: Tell us about yourself. What is your position? How long have you been working with your current organization?
A: I acquired this position in 2010 and I was previously the superintendent of the water treatment plant on Mapes Road. My background in college was archeology and anthropology. I applied for the cultural resource management position when it became open at that time. And that's what I've been doing ever since. It's actually the love of my life. Many people ask me why I haven't retired yet. Well, it's because I love what I do.
I was also in the Army here at Fort Meade during the Vietnam War. I was an 88M – heavy truck driver. I was at the University of Maryland at the time. I was pulled out of school and entered the Army. I was lucky enough to get assigned after a year at Fort Dix to the United State Army Field Band, which I’m very, very proud that I served with that unit. One of the finest in all of the service bands.
I’ve loved the people I’ve worked with. You come to realize that you spend more time with your coworkers through the year than your actual family. The water treatment plant was one of those places where that happened because sometimes you’d have to pull a 16-hour shift. So, my wife Debbie, who worked six years at NSA…was the hero in my family and she and my two sons were the reason I kept on working at Fort Meade….and able to go to school.
Q: Tell me about some of the roles and duties that you have as a cultural resource manager.
A: As Cultural Resource Manager, it varies on what my work entails. I…manage the family cemeteries, which were here prior to 1917. We relocated Mary and John Downs from the Old Downs Cemetery, which was in the middle of the [old] golf course, and we reburied them over in the Bethel Cemetery where their other family members are. Many of those individuals, I grew up with their grandkids because I came from a tobacco and peach orchard in southern Maryland, right behind Fort Meade.
Whenever there is an archeological dig that has to be performed for a new building or something that’s recently discovered, I get involved with that. Oftentimes contracting the Corps of Engineers to help with the dig.
I also do historic building preservation. We’re sitting in one of the really good ones that we recently did, Kuhn Hall. Another aspect, whenever there’s a new project, I must notify the 15 Native American tribes that claim ancestral relations with Fort Meade lands.
Q: And you said your parents actually worked at Fort Meade, is that correct?
A: That is correct. My dad was a World War II…tank driver. Right after the war, he came back to Fort Meade and got a job in the mechanic shop for tanks. We had tanks here in Fort Meade in the fifties and sixties during the Vietnam War. My mom worked here in an office. They didn’t meet here though.
I come from a Polish immigrant family and all four of my grandparents came from Poland right after World War I. My parents met at my one grandparents’ country store two miles from Fort Meade. They corresponded when my dad would go into the office she was working in and Jerry was born! I also had seven uncles and aunts that worked on Fort Meade during that time, so I have a long history. My one aunt was the manager of the Self-Service Store when it was a really big store and my uncle was the manager of the Post Publications. For 34 years, my family has had a family reunion out at Burba Lake. I go back and I look at the pictures with my uncles and aunts that are now departed, and my cousins and I think we're going to have another reunion here soon. We've gotten over the time period of being sad with the older ones gone. Well, you never get over it, but we need to carry it on for the younger ones.
Q: What are some of your most rewarding aspects of your job?
A: Some of the most rewarding aspects of my job are protecting the history of those who came before us at Fort Meade and that they will never be forgotten. It’s my job to keep Fort Meade and the garrison commander compliant with the National Historic Preservation Act. So I have to safeguard that heritage. I have to keep these buildings historically eligible for the historic register. It’s like [Kuhn Hall] built in 1931. It's had many uses through the years, and a lot of changes had to be made. Whenever something fails or rots or we decide we need a new purpose for the building - which happens - I have to be careful that I don't change so much that it's not historically eligible anymore.
Q: What initially attracted you to working with the Cultural Resource Program on Fort Meade? How has your experience matched your expectations?
A: From the time I was a little child on our farm, where Fort Meade's border was, I would find Native American artifacts. Normally in the spring rains after we planted string beans or something like that, we cultivate, and the rain would come, and the little pottery shards and the projectile points would come to the surface. So, I had a huge collection with my two sisters, Jamie and Joanie. We'd go look through the fields, and it always interested me. I initially wanted to be a vet when I went to school, but then I found out you can't have a B-average and become a vet. So, I went to my second love, which was history, and I wanted to be an archeologist.
My experiences have matched my expectations way more than I thought it would be. It’s opened up a whole new world for me. I get to participate in archeological events throughout the state of Maryland showing Fort Meade's vast collections of artifacts that spanned from the archaic period all the way up to present time.
Q: What makes you most proud to be a part of the Fort Meade community?
A: What makes me most proud to be a member of the Fort Meade community is that I am a son of Fort Meade. I’m told my dad brought me over here two weeks after I was born. I played little league here. I was in the cub scouts here on Fort Meade. I served here once as a Soldier. I did take a 20-year absence when I was helping my family, but when I returned, I continued to help the Fort Meade community. I’m very proud of the legacy I’ll leave here.
Jerry Glodek poses with his family during one of their reunions at Burba Lake on Fort Meade. Many of Glodek's family members worked in different organizations on Fort Meade and were veterans of World War II, Korea, Vietnam and the Gulf War (Courtesy Photo).
Note: Response edited for clarity