Air Force employee celebrates 60 years of federal service

When Bettye Krieter started her federal government career in 1948, it cost 3 cents to mail a first-class letter and she worked on a Royal typewriter. Today it costs 41 cents to mail a first-class letter and typewriters are viewed as museum pieces. But one thing has not changed in her life; Krieter still shows up for work at Patrick Air Force Base in Florida in 60 years of federal service.

Krieter, who started her federal career with the Veterans Administration in Atlanta on Jan. 21, 1948, at the age of 17, said she has no immediate plans to retire and no desire at the moment to while away her time sitting on one of the many beaches near Patrick, which is located on the Florida coast just south of the John F. Kennedy Space Center. Still very active at the age of 77, Krieter said if she needed relaxation, she would rather go golfing than sit on the beach.

On weekdays, however, Krieter prefers to be on the job at Patrick, where she is the executive secretary to Lt. Col. Nick Seaward, chief of the Human Space Flight Support Office of the 45th Space Wing, which provides support for NASA manned space flight operations.

While Krieter now does most of her work on a computer, she said she still has an IBM Selectric typewriter on her desk, a touchstone to the start of her federal career, to fill out forms that have not been computerized.

Krieter has been at Patrick since 1969 and during that time has witnessed all the launches of the space shuttle, 120 of them, something that no one else has done, said Chris Malbon, deputy commander of the support office. The launches, "just knocks you off your sea. It's breathtaking," said Krieter, who has had the opportunity to watch shuttle launches from up close NASA VIP viewing areas.

Krieter attributes her long career to a true dedication to service and a chance to perform that service in interesting places with interesting people, as well as stints on active duty and as an Air Force spouse. She didn't plan on such a long career.

A member of the Air Force Reserve, Krieter was activated for 18 months during the Korean War in 1951 and served as secretary for the base adjutant and in 1953 her position was civilianized and she remained at Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana, where she met her husband Jack.

An Air Force pilot, Jack Krieter was transferred to Homestead Air Force Base in Florida, Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota and then to Guam from 1967 to 1969, when he went to Vietnam and she started work at Patrick. Her husband died last year.

Malbon, who has worked with Krieter for the past 20 years, said, "She knows everyone who works here and has a fabulous memory for document produced over the years. She helps us capture lessons learned so we can build on them."

Seaward concurred. "Bettye's depth of experience is a gold mine for us," with a historical memory reaching back to the Apollo moon missions.

Krieter has set no retirement date, but she said it will "probably be sooner than later", though Malbon is confident she will be on the job long enough at Patrick to celebrate 75 years of federal service.

Bettye Krieter in 1952 and in 2008.

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