67th NWW civilian surpasses 30 years in federal service

Col. Kevin Wooton, 67th Network Warfare Wing commander, gives Deborah Wilson, 67th NWW Wing Plans deputy, a pin in honor of 30 years of federal service. Ms. Wilson started her career as a typist at Randolph Air Force Base, Texas. (courtesy photo)

Col. Kevin Wooton, 67th Network Warfare Wing commander, gives Deborah Wilson, 67th NWW Wing Plans deputy, a pin in honor of 30 years of federal service. Ms. Wilson started her career as a typist at Randolph Air Force Base, Texas. (courtesy photo)

Deborah Wilson, 67th NWW Wing Plans deputy, stands in a unit picture June 23, 2005 when she was with the 67th Information Operations Group. Ms. Wilson was recently awarded the 30-year pin for federal service. (courtesy photo)

Deborah Wilson, 67th NWW Wing Plans deputy, stands in a unit picture June 23, 2005 when she was with the 67th Information Operations Group. Ms. Wilson was recently awarded the 30-year pin for federal service. (courtesy photo)

LACKLAND AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Dedicated.

That's the word Rick Martin, 67th Network Warfare Wing director of plans, uses to describe a woman who was recently recognized for surpassing 30 years of civilian federal service.

"She lives for the wing," he said of Deborah Wilson, the 67th NWW XP deputy director who started out so many years ago as a GS-3 clerk typist at Randolph Air Force Base laboring over promotion tests for enlisted Airmen. "She's always the first one in in the morning and the last one out at the end of the day."

A country girl from Fredericksburg, Texas, who was deer hunting by the age of 12, Ms. Wilson moved 70 miles south to San Antonio a few years before she started working with the Department of Defense. Her sister had a civil service job and encouraged her to look into it.

Military, state and federal government service wasn't anything new for Ms. Wilson as her family was deeply embedded in service to the nation in San Antonio and other parts of Texas. To the extent that anyone who's ever said, "Remember the Alamo," in earnest or jest, is talking about either side of Ms. Wilson's family tree.

"I've got family that died at the Alamo, so there's a long family tradition of military in my family," she said. "It was actually two family members. One on my Mom's side and one on my Dad's side."

Ms. Wilson's life within the Air Force family began at Randolph, but she moved to Kelly Field just six months later to an inventory management position at the San Antonio Air Logistics Center depot. During that time, she and her husband had their son, Christopher. From inventory management she then moved to the commander's action group.

"I stayed there in various functions in the XP family until 1996 when I came to Security Hill at what was then Air Force Information Warfare Center - the 688th Information Operations Wing," she said.

At AFIWC, her responsibilities grew as the pace quickened and Ms. Wilson etched out a name for herself as someone who gets the job done.

She performed the CAG function, was responsible for the Air Logistics Center mission briefing - to include the first-ever video mission briefing. Ms. Wilson then led bid competition teams when the Air Force depots had to start competing for workload against private industry. She led the cost-to-move study team that determined what it would take to move the C-5 workload from San Antonio to Robins Air Force Base, Ga. She was also responsible for the team of engineers undertaking the $40 million military construction project to upgrade Building 171.

As a part of the Engineering Analysis directorate for AFIWC, Ms. Wilson helped resource the Air Force Computer Emergency Response Team mission sets for what would become the 67th Network Warfare Wing, the 33rd Network Warfare Squadron, the 91st Network Warfare Squadron, and the 92nd Information Operations Squadron. So from early on, she became an essential part of Air Force cyberspace operations.

Juggling all of her duties with raising her son took a lot of effort, but Ms. Wilson said Christopher always understood and remains very supportive of her passion for serving with the Air Force.

"My son, obviously he's grown up now, but he never begrudged me the time that I spent at the office," she explained. "He understood. It was good for us - a very good life. It provided a good family environment for me."

In 2008, the vice wing commander of the 67th NWW asked Ms. Wilson to fill in as the temporary wing plans director, and has continued on as the deputy. Ms. Wilson said being a part of the 67th has been the most rewarding because of the chance to work with military members.

"When I was at Randolph, Kelly, and even in AFWIC and EA, it was more of a civilian atmosphere," she said. "But when I came to the wing I had a great superintendent who really got me involved in the blue suit issues. I love that, and the tradition that comes with that. The honor that comes with that. To me, that's what it's all about."

Ms. Wilson has guided many to the military in whatever way suits them best.

"I encourage young people to consider the military," she said. "I encourage them to be fit because if they ever want to be in the military, that's a critical issue. And I never was. So it's something that looking back, I wish I would have done things differently so I would have been able to do something in the military. I definitely encouraged my nephew, and my nephew and niece's children, who are either in the military or married to military members."

Although Ms. Wilson reflects on what it might have been like to serve in uniform, she said the continuity civilians offer their military partners can be very useful.

"You stay in touch with the people you develop the best friendships with, and it's also very rewarding [as part of your career]; as a civilian you stay and you provide the continuity," Ms. Wilson explained. "Just because something happened in the past doesn't mean that it will happen again, but you can also provide the history of things and that's important. There's a place for that in every organization. Even though the military people need to come in and provide fresh ideas, it provides a balance. My boss calls me his 'fact-totem' because I've been around so long."

Ms. Wilson said her 30-year career has been rewarding. She said if she could go back in time, she might have tried to concentrate on her education sooner, but the balance between work and family was important to her.

"I would probably tell myself to continue my education a little bit more," she said. "I made a choice not to do that because I was spending time with my family. But I don't know that I would have changed anything. I've had a very rewarding career. To me, it's been a very successful career. Not very many people go from a GS-3 to effectively a GS -14 and a temporary GS-15 for eight months. At one point in time, they were asking, 'What are your career goals?' and jokingly I said I wanted to be a GS-14 some time. I never even imagined that I would get there. Maybe I would have gotten there faster if I had gotten my Masters or done some professional military education, but it doesn't matter because I got where I needed to be. And I enjoyed it every step of the way and that's what's important."

So what now for Ms. Wilson? She's not done yet.

"I'm hoping to stay in the wing, and they keep me as long as they can until I decide to retire," she said with a chuckle. "I'm not planning on going soon. I'll probably be around for at least a couple more years. I want to see this wing healthy and running well. I say this wing. I want cyber to do well. I want [24th Air Force] to do well, but I'm vested in the 67th wing."

Vested ... another word for dedicated.