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MSG executive secretary reaches 50 years of civil service

Col. John Zazworsky, acting 22nd Air Refueling Wing commander, presents Mary Eary, 22nd Mission Support Group executive secretary with a certificate of service and pin for her 50 years of service as of Sept 10 working as a civil service member. (curtesy photo)

Col. John Zazworsky, acting 22nd Air Refueling Wing commander, presents Mary Eary, 22nd Mission Support Group executive secretary with a certificate of service and pin for her 50 years of service as of Sept 10 working as a civil service member. (curtesy photo)

MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. -- For many military members, serving their country is their way to contribute to their country. What some people may not realize is through the sacrifices and dedication of civil servicemembers, their work can also add substantial value to the US government. 

For military members who retire after 20 years of service, it can be seen as quite an accomplishment. Mary Eary, 22nd Mission Support Group Executive Secretary, has put in more than twice that amount of retirement as she reached 50 years of working as a civil servicemember on September 10. 

She answers the phone with a gentle voice and greets everyone who enters the MSG command office. Behind the daily grind of command group secretary, answering phones, calendaring events, scheduling meeting and customer service, she enjoys interacting with people. 

"People ask me, doesn't it get old?" No, she tells them. "The thing I like about my career most is being able to work with so many people," said Mary. "That's why it is so interesting." 

"Another great benefit from working for the military is that I was able to share the same hours, holidays, and time off as my military husband," she said. 

Mary graduated high school in 1956 at age 16 and realized that there were very few career options available to her as a young female. She could have gone into the nursing career field, but she despised the site of blood. She could have married young like many of her peers, but chose not to. Being a school teacher was out of the question for her, so she chose to become a secretary. 

Immediately after graduating she started business school in Kansas City, MO. After graduation from an advanced secretarial course, she discovered that the job market was disappointing. Urged by her school counselor, she took a civil service test and entered the civil servant world as a clerk typist at the General Services Administration in Kansas City in February 1957. In December 1957, she married her husband, Loy, and moved to Walker AFB NM, where he was serving in the Air Force. 

Finding a job in the 50s, she said, came as a disadvantage for many women who were dependants of military members. 

Mary felt very fortunate that she was able to transfer from his position in Kansas City to Walker AFB, NM. 

"It was hard to find work downtown," she said. "If employers realized you were a spouse to a military member, the obvious was your military family would have a permanent change of station to another base, leaving little time to have stability in the job." 

After a short assignment in England, her husband was transferred to Offutt in 1959. She took another civil service test for the accounting career field and accepted a position Offutt AFB, Neb. as a travel voucher examiner. She used her new skills to move into an advancing position with the Army Corps of Engineer in 1961. 

"I liked my job with the Army Corps of Engineers, but I realized I missed working in a military environment," she said. "I told myself I would never work off base again." 

Keeping that in mind she went back to work for the Air Force in January 1965, this time at McConnell. Over the next several years she worked in various secretarial and accounting positions before becoming executive secretary to the support group commander. 

Civil service members can officially retire when the dedicate 30 years of service, but they must be at least 55 years of age. 

For Mary, she had reached her 30-year mark at 47 years old. 

"The day I reach 55, I will retire with 38 years," she said, looking back on her initial plan to retire. 

When she reached that point in her career, she realized how many benefits she had staying as a civil service member. 

From wing leadership, to base facelifts and remodels, she has seen many changes during her 42 years of service at McConnell. 

"The biggest change I have seen at McConnell is going from Strategic Air Command to Air Mobility," she said. 

When people ask Mary when she plans on retirement she proudly recollects her long dedicated career. 

"I have spent my whole life in this kind of work, I just can't stop yet," she said. "When it's time to retire, I'll know."