Mac McLaughlin (Photo: Ron Trumbla, SRH)
(Jan. 3, 2011) - To paraphrase the now famous slogan coined for stock brokerage firm E.F. Hutton, "When Mac McLaughlin speaks – everybody listens". Widely known for his dry wit and superior insights, National Weather Service Southern Region Deputy Director for Performance and Resources, Melvin R. "Mac" McLaughlin turned in his federal employee I.D. after 48 years of service to his country.
"I have had the pleasure of working with Mac in a number of the same National Weather Service offices over the years and like many of his colleagues, have seen first-hand his many outstanding contributions," noted Bill Proenza, regional director of the National Weather Service Southern Region. "Anyone who has had the opportunity to know and work with Mac knows him for his dedication to the National Weather Service, his talent, agency knowledge and his refreshing integrity for saying it like it is."
Southern Region Deputy Regional Director Steven Cooper concurs, recalling his first performance review as McLaughlin's Assistant Chief of Meteorological Services. "I was satisfied with the rating but asked Mac if he had any advice for the coming year. He did. It was 'Don't screw up'. Sage advice I've heeded ever since."
McLaughlin launched his National Weather Service career as a student trainee at the U.S. Weather Bureau airport station in Austin, Texas in 1962. After receiving Bachelor and Master of Science Degrees from the University of Texas, he was commissioned as a U.S. Army Meteorological and Signal Officer and served in Vietnam, where he earned a Bronze Star for meritorious service.
He returned to the National Weather Service in 1970 and began a long career serving in offices throughout the South and in the Southern and Central Region headquarters.
Assigned to the forecast office in New Orleans, he served as the Warning Preparedness Meteorologist for the central and western Gulf Coast states; responsible for assisting various federal, state, county and local officials in developing weather related preparedness plans. He also served as an operational forecaster.
In 1976, he was reassigned as Deputy Meteorologist in Charge of the forecast office Jackson, Miss. Between 1979 and 1999, he held the positions of Assistant Chief and then Chief of Meteorological Services at Central and Southern Region Headquarters. He assumed his final duties as the Deputy Director overseeing staffing, resources and performance for the Southern Region in December of 1999.
Atlanta Meteorologist-in-Charge Lans Rothfusz was one of many who looked to McLaughlin as a friend and mentor over the years. Rothfusz notes that, while avoiding the spotlight himself, McLaughlin routinely played an indispensable supporting role for major projects and programs.
"I owe much of my career success to his wisdom and support. And I am not alone. Many meteorologists, hydrologists and other personnel throughout the National Weather Service could tell stories about his breadth of knowledge and keen political sense. His retirement from the National Weather Service will take a long while to overcome," he added.
In addition to the Bronze Star and other military decorations, Mac McLaughlin has received Commerce Department Silver and Bronze Medals and the NOAA Distinguished Career Award in recognition of his outstanding service.