38th CEIG member retires after distinguished 46-year career

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. - Colonel Cynthia Wright, 38th Cyberspace Engineering and Installation Group commander, presents a certificate of service to Bob Meadows, 38th Operations Support Squadron Operations Support Flight chief, in recognition of his 46 years of government service Oct. 25. The project manager and safety professional retired from government service Nov. 3. Meadows’ career included a short enlistment in the Army, assignments supporting operations in Southeast Asia, Japan, Germany and stateside installations, and he has held various positions within the Air Force related to safety and civil engineering project management. (Courtesy photo)

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. - Colonel Cynthia Wright, 38th Cyberspace Engineering and Installation Group commander, presents a certificate of service to Bob Meadows, 38th Operations Support Squadron Operations Support Flight chief, in recognition of his 46 years of government service Oct. 25. The project manager and safety professional retired from government service Nov. 3. Meadows’ career included a short enlistment in the Army, assignments supporting operations in Southeast Asia, Japan, Germany and stateside installations, and he has held various positions within the Air Force related to safety and civil engineering project management. (Courtesy photo)

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- Bob Meadows, 38th Operations Support Squadron Operations Support Flight chief, ended his 46-year government career here Nov. 3 after an informal lunch among coworkers and family Oct. 26, which his coworkers said was fitting for his humble demeanor.

"He didn't want a formal ceremony," said Pam Moulin, 38th OSS director, "just a small lunch with friends."

Despite what his coworkers considered an unassuming attitude, Meadows has had an outsized impact on the military during his career.

As the commitment to cyberspace operations has grown in the Air Force, the scope and complexity of the 38th Cyberspace Engineering and Installation Group mission has grown as well.

"No matter what form our mission took--from anti-terrorism and disaster recovery efforts on Tinker, to training engineers for installation projects in dangerous areas or conditions around the world, to showcasing our personnel and capabilities in expertly managed facilities, Bob Meadows was the person I could always call on for the absolute right answer to protecting people, assets, and capabilities," said Col. Cynthia Wright, 38th CEIG commander. "He's such a repository of institutional knowledge, and such an integral part of the functioning of this group, I don't think we'll fully grasp the magnitude of his absence for many months, if not years, after he says goodbye."

Meadows' career of service began nearly half a century ago with a short enlistment in the Army, as well as assignments supporting operations in Southeast Asia, Japan, Germany and state side installations. He held various positions within the Air Force related to safety and civil engineering project management.

Meadows said one of his proudest moments came when he was selected to lead the hazardous materials assessment team after a major fire on Tinker in 1984. The blaze consumed $57 million in facilities and spread over 13 acres. The disaster put 3,000 personnel temporarily out of work and exposed widespread asbestos insulation, representing a threat to the health of those workers still on the job.

For six months, he and his unit worked 12 hours a day, seven days a week, clearing the area of dangerous chemicals and substances. Because of his efforts, none of the personnel employed in the affected area experienced negative health effects from asbestos exposure.

Meadows also has a history of finding innovative solutions that, when applied across the Air Force, have saved massive amounts of money and greatly increased personnel safety. One such instance occurred in 1993, when he suggested that the Air Force adopt a four-gas atmospheric monitoring system to protect technicians working in confined spaces. At the time, the service only tested for oxygen and combustible gases. Meadows' solution included tests for hydrogen sulfite and carbon monoxide, both potentially harmful when individuals are working in cramped areas. This innovation greatly reduced risk factors for civil engineering personnel.

Asked to reflect on his decades of work, Meadows offered a simple secret to his success: become an expert. Whenever he assumed a new position, he tried to become the smartest man in the room so that nobody could doubt his competence.

"If I took on something, I tried to become as knowledgeable as I could through regulations and networking," he explained.

Meadows' coworkers say he leaves huge shoes to fill when he takes his well-earned retirement.

"There's no aspect of our operations that he didn't have a hand in securing, shaping, or improving," said Colonel Wright. "We thank him for his decades of selfless service to his nation and to Tinker AFB. He will be sorely missed."