NCMS Remembers Longtime Friend and Colleague Gabe Draguicevich

On June 15, 2021, NCMS lost a colleague, an enthusiastic supporter, and friend. Gabriel Draguicevich (or just Gabe as most people called him) was a division director for new technologies in the Facilities & Infrastructure Management Department at the Naval Air Command, Fleet Readiness Center Southwest (FRCSW) in Coronado, California. This role within the maintenance, repair, and overhaul engineering arena provided a fitting stage for his talents for working closely with and bringing others together—colleagues within his department as well as other departments and organizations—collaborating to find solutions.

For over ten years, Gabe was a tireless supporter of maintenance and sustainment technology insertion and developed innovative ways to accelerate aircraft availability. Adding to his already impressive list of awards, Gabe was recently nominated for a Civilian Employee of the Quarter Award. His supervisor cited his professionalism, customer service, and job performance while successfully reaching a critical milestone in improving FRCSW’s ability to provide readiness to naval aviation through installing the Navy’s first flexible manufacturing cell (FMC). Gabe was instrumental in establishing the logistical elements to enable final design, fabrication, programming, location preparation, delivery and installation.

The FMC is an automated system comprised of six computer numerically controlled (CNC) five-axis machines and a pallet system. The FMC will ultimately bring a state-of-the-art manufacturing and production process to FRCSW.

“This is a game changer for FRCSW. We will be virtually eliminating process variance while improving turn-around time. There is nothing like this system installed anywhere in the DOD,” Gabe said in a June 7, 2021 FRCSW Facebook posting. According to naval maintenance experts, Gabe’s tireless work will benefit aviation fleet availability for years to come.

Over the years Gabe has been eager to utilize the CTMA Program to streamline technology transition into naval aviation readiness. Always engaged with pushing new technologies forward, Gabe worked tirelessly to support warfighter readiness.

Gabe’s contribution to the availability of an operational naval aviation fleet will be his lasting legacy.

Read excerpts of tributes from his colleagues [these will be linked to a pdf with the full tribute]

“Through our collaborative and innovative relationship, we created a strong bond of trust and friendship that I’ll forever cherish.  In fact, I can’t think of a week since he was hired on with the Navy in 2009 that we didn’t have a conversation, either in person, by email or text. Fair winds and following seas my friend.” Chris Root, former longtime FRC-SW colleague.

“Gabe was a ‘prime mover’ in NAVAIR’s and FRC’s advancement of digital engineering and sustainment and was largely responsible for the successful transformation from paper-based tech data-centric processes to modern product data management system-based manufacturing and sustainment execution across the vast COMFRC enterprise…. a true culture-changing paradigm shift and herculean effort!!” Greg Kilchenstein, former colleague from the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Materiel Readiness.

“When Gabe walked into a room, I always saw a sparkle in his eye. He was an inspiration to me with his vast knowledge of and passion for technology transition. Gabe brought extensive knowledge from his days with industry that he happily shared, and he was the first person who would offer help and guidance when needed. I couldn’t have asked for a better, more active, or more collaborative colleague. I miss him every day!” Debbie Lilu, NCMS vice president for maintenance and sustainment business development.

Click to read full tribute.