Space Command civilian celebrates 50 years of service
By Senior Airman Shawn Nickel, 9th RW Public Affairs
/ Published May 03, 2012
BEALE AIR FORCE BASE, Calif., --
While many employees are counting down days, months or years until retirement, one member of Team Beale from the 7th Space Warning Squadron has no plans of hanging it up despite 50 years of federal service.
Chet Burress, a ground radar systems analyst, was recognized for five decades of federal service during a ceremony April 26 attended by friends, family, and coworkers.
"Being at work every day brings pride, but looking back on so many years of service really makes what I do feel like an accomplishment," he said.
Lt. Col. Scott Schroff, 7th SWS commander, presented a federal service pin, numerous awards and certificates from government officials, including Chief of Staff of the Air Force, Gen. Norton A. Schwartz.
"I have been honored to be part of numerous ceremonies in my career, but this has been the most important," said Schroff. "Within the world of ground radar, Chet is the highest authority. Generations of commanders have relied on his advice and I am no different."
The commander compared Burress's work to the Air Force B-52 Stratofortress, which the half century veteran helped build during previous employment with Boeing.
"He's just like the B-52... they are both still flying, both prove persistence, versatility and reliability," he said. "Because of this he has received more awards than I can count from the Air Force and deserves every one of them."
The Fresno, Calif., native, who was born in a tent city during the depression, started his career in the Army as an electronics technician on the HAWK surface to air missile system. He continued to work in electronics and radar throughout his career and logged several claims to fame.
While working for the Navy, Burress installed radar systems on two famous ships, the USS Blue Back, which is in the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, and the USS Pueblo, the Navy intelligence ship captured by North Korea and still remains there.
After leaving active duty, Burress used his technical skills to land a position in Oregon at Mt. Hebo Air Station which led him to taking part in developing the Phased Array Warning System here.
Since 1979 PAV PAWS has continued to keep him busy, presents the biggest challenges of his career and the most notable rewards.
"Although keeping up with the upgrades and technology have been a challenge, I believe that is what keeps me going," said Burress. "We stick together like a family here and I believe I still have a few more years before I can give this all up."
During the ceremony Burress was presented a flag by Rep. Wally Herger (R-Calif.) and to close the ceremony he gifted this flag to his mother, Eula Burress, thanking her for continued support and sacrifice.