Headquarters employee marks 50 years of service
/ Published October 15, 2009
ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- Jerry Chalker, a civilian employee at Headquarters Air Force Reserve Command, achieved the personal and professional milestone Oct. 9 of 50 years of continuous service at Robins AFB.
Mr. Chalker began his career at Robins AFB as a tabulation machine operator Oct. 9, 1959. Today he is the chief of software and development in the directorate of communications at the Reserve headquarters.
"After high school, I worked for a company that built bridges and then I installed automatic building sprinkler systems," he said. "I knew that wasn't what I wanted to do the rest of my life. I've been very fortunate to work in the same place for so long, and I have never had a job I didn't enjoy."
To put Mr. Chalker's career in perspective, 1959 was the year Mattel introduced the Barbie doll, Alaska and Hawaii became the 49th and 50th states, and NASA was a year old.
After accepting his civilian position, the former code writer began his career as a GS-2 making $1.58 an hour. At the time, a gallon of gasoline costs 25 cents and the average annual salary was slightly more than $5,000 a year.
"My goal was never to stay 50 years, but I enjoy the great people I work with and I enjoy life too much to retire," Mr. Chalker said. "I'm also proud of the fact I'm going into my sixth decade of working here."
Through his career, the Centerville, Ga., resident worked with technologies that were the forerunners to the computers and network systems used today. In the 1980s, Mr. Chalker was the project officer introducing local area network technologies to locations throughout the Air Force Reserve.
"The process today is the same as it was back then," he said. "We are still taking in data and distributing it to the users, but today we do it much easier, faster and it is much less expensive."
After a half century of federal government service, the career communications specialist has no plans of slowing down.
"Right now I have no plans to retire, but I look forward to spending more time with my wife and grandchildren one day," he said.
In December, the Air Force communications pioneer will celebrate his 50th wedding anniversary. The Chalkers have a son and daughter-in-law living in Marietta, Ga., and two grandchildren. (Air Force Reserve Command News Service)