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Hill AFB employee retires after 62 years of military, civil service

A portrait of Donald F. Douglas.

Donald F. Douglas, 83, retired April 3, 2020, at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, after working a combined 62 years for the IRS and Air Force. Leading up to his retirement, he worked in landing gear as a material expediter for the 532nd Commodities Maintenance Squadron. (Courtesy photo)

Donald F. Douglas and his wife Mary sit under a tent during the retirement ceremony.

Donald F. Douglas, 83, and his wife Mary during Douglas' retirement ceremony at Hill Air Force Base, Utah. Douglas retired April 3, 2020, after working a combined 62 years for the IRS and Air Force. Leading up to his retirement, he worked in landing gear as a material expediter for the 532nd Commodities Maintenance Squadron. (Courtesy photo)

The certificates, award, flag, coin and pin presented to Donald F. Douglas sit upon a table at his retirement ceremony.

The certificates, award, flag, coin and pin presented to Donald F. Douglas, 83, during his retirement ceremony at Hill Air Force Base, Utah. Douglas retired April 3, 2020, after working a combined 62 years for the IRS and Air Force. Leading up to his retirement, Douglas worked in landing gear as a material expediter for the 532nd Commodities Maintenance Squadron. (Courtesy photo)

HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah -- An employee at Hill Air Force Base recently retired after honorably serving his country as both a service member and civil servant for well over a half of a century.

Donald F. Douglas, 83, retired April 3 after working a combined 62 years for the IRS and Air Force. Leading up to his retirement, Douglas worked in landing gear as a material expediter for the 532nd Commodities Maintenance Squadron.

In order to celebrate this tremendous accomplishment and his dedication to service, a ceremony was planned for this spring, but postponed due to the ongoing pandemic. However, Karen Ackermann, Douglas’ supervisor in the 532nd CMXS, still found a way to honor him with a retirement ceremony.

“Don’s original retirement ceremony was going to be April 2, but was cancelled due to the pandemic, then rescheduled for May 14 and cancelled again,” said Ackermann. “So, I came up with the idea of doing a kind of drive by where we put up a canopy, had chairs and refreshments for Don and his wife Mary of 64 years, while those in attendance stood six feet apart.

“Chad Mather, our director and Don’s former flight chief, Rob Van Canneyt, presented his certificates, award, flag, coin and pin as part of the ceremony,” she said.

Ackermann characterized Douglas as a humble man of few words.

“Old soldiers never die, they just fade away,” he said when asked about his retirement. The saying comes from an old song quoted by Gen. Douglas McArthur after he was removed from command by President Truman during the Korean War.

She said he appeared happy and appreciative as he and Mary drove off, “honking to all his friends and co-workers.”

Originally from Louisville, Kentucky, Douglas joined the Air Force in July 1954 and served a successful 21-year, active-duty career before retiring in 1975.

His military career from October 1954 to March 1975 included tours of duty working with aircraft, ballistic missiles, radars and warning systems around the world including assignments in Japan, Michigan, Greenland, Vermont, Germany and Utah.

Upon completion of his military service, Douglas went to work for the IRS for several years before beginning his Air Force civil service career in March 1979, which spanned more than 40 years.

Ackermann said Douglas was well-regarded for his dedication and worth ethic.

“As his supervisor for the past five years, I admired his dedication working for 532nd in landing gear, “Ackermann said. “He was always willing to work overtime, had a great attitude and was an excellent example of a Wingman to everyone.”