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Beloved Bettye retires with 63 years of federal service

Bettye Krieter in 1953, left, when promoted to Staff Sergeant in the Women in the Air
Force, and in 2008, outside 45th Space Wing Headquarters at Patrick Air Force Base, where she was recognized for 60 years of federal service. She retired Sept. 29, 2011, with a total of 63 years of federal service. (Air Force photos)

Bettye Krieter in 1953, left, when promoted to Staff Sergeant in the Women in the Air Force, and in 2008, outside 45th Space Wing Headquarters at Patrick Air Force Base, where she was recognized for 60 years of federal service. She retired Sept. 29, 2011, with a total of 63 years of federal service. (Air Force photos)

Bettye Krieter, long-time secretary to the commander, Human Space Flight Support Office, wears a spacesuit with Space Shuttle Discovery in the background. Her 32-year tenure with the unit spanned the entire length of the space shuttle program. She retired Sept. 29, 2011, from the 45th Space Wing, with 63 years of federal service. (Courtesy photo)

Bettye Krieter, long-time secretary to the commander, Human Space Flight Support Office, wears a spacesuit with Space Shuttle Discovery in the background. Her 32-year tenure with the unit spanned the entire length of the space shuttle program. She retired Sept. 29, 2011, from the 45th Space Wing, with 63 years of federal service. (Courtesy photo)

Airman Bettye Krieter looks at nose art on an Air Force fighter. As one of the first to serve in the Women in the Air Force (WAF), Krieter was activated during the Korean War. She retired from the Air Force Sept. 29, 2011, at Patrick Air Force Base, Fla., with a total of 63 years of federal service. (Air Force file photo)

Airman Bettye Krieter looks at nose art on an early Air Force jet aircraft. As one of the first to serve in the Women in the Air Force (WAF), Krieter was activated during the Korean War. She retired from the Air Force Sept. 29, 2011, at Patrick Air Force Base, Fla., with a total of 63 years of federal service. (Air Force file photo)

PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Bettye Krieter began federal service in 1948 working for the Veterans Administration, became one of the first to serve in the Women in the Air Force (WAF), was activated during the Korean War, and has since worked for the Air Force around the world.

In 1969, she began working at Patrick AFB. From 1979 until today, she worked as the secretary for the commander of the Human Space Flight Support Office (HSFS, formerly DoD Manned Space Flight Support Office).

Though she has had a wide variety of experiences, she counts seeing a space shuttle  launch from up close as one of the highlights.

"The countdown is suspenseful and the blast-off almost knocks you off your feet," she said. "I've seen all of them and it never gets old."

Sept. 29, with much fanfare and surrounded by friends, families and associates, Krieter retired.

"I think 63 years is time, don't you think?" she said.

Krieter said she didn't plan on such a long career, but attributed its length 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 credited the help, caring and support of her superiors and co-workers during trying times, especially during the death of her husband, Jack, in April 2007 after nearly 50 years of marriage.

Her commander is new to his position, and appreciates the depth of experience she provided.

"As a new commander, it has been absolutely wonderful to walk into an organization and have someone with Bettye's knowledge, expertise and professionalism to help make the transition," said Lt. Col. Dave Hamby, Commander, Detachment 3, 45th Operations  Group/Human Space Flight Support. "She made sure that all the time critical items were done right away to keep us out of trouble."

Like many within the 45th Space Wing and DoD, he was glad to recognize her accomplishments, but reluctant to see her leave the office.

"Her retirement is obviously a bittersweet occasion for Det 3. We are so proud of her and happy for all she has accomplished, but sad to see her go since she has been such a  big part of our organization," said Colonel Hamby. "I mean 32 years of supporting human space flight to include every space shuttle launch is a lot of experience walking out the door. She's a wonderful person and much loved by everyone in the unit - we wish her all the best."