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Longest serving government civilian at Vance to retire

Kathy Burge is the 71st Flying Training Wing operations plans officer. Burge is the longest serving Department of Defense civil service employee assigned to Vance Air Force Base, Okla., and plans to retire June 28. She started working at Vance in 1984. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Senior Airman Frank Casciotta)

Kathy Burge is the 71st Flying Training Wing operations plans officer. Burge is the longest serving Department of Defense civil service employee assigned to Vance Air Force Base, Okla., and plans to retire June 28. She started working at Vance in 1984. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Senior Airman Frank Casciotta)

Kathy Burge sits behind her desk working as a computer aide at Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., in 1979. Burge is currently the 71st Flying Training Wing operations plans officer at Vance Air Force Base Okla. Burge started her career at Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., in 1977 as a clerk stenographer. She will retire June 28. (Courtesy photo)

Kathy Burge sits behind her desk working as a computer aide at Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., in 1979. Burge is currently the 71st Flying Training Wing operations plans officer at Vance Air Force Base Okla. Burge started her career at Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., in 1977 as a clerk stenographer. She will retire June 28. (Courtesy photo)

VANCE AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- With spunky, cropped hair and her modern, stylish wardrobe, Kathy Burge doesn't look like someone with 36 years of civil service.

The 71st Flying Training Wing operations plans officer is the longest serving Department of Defense civil service employee currently assigned to Vance Air Force Base and is set to retire June 28.

Only one year after graduating high school, Burge started her career in civil service in 1977 at Tinker Air Force Base as a clerk stenographer. She worked with her computer programmer colleagues who provided on the job training and just two years later, she began her job as a computer programmer.

After seven years at Tinker Air Force Base, Burge moved to Vance Air Force Base in 1984 and started working as a clerk typist.

Two years later, she started a training program that lead to her current position. For the last 27 years, her duties have included writing and managing plans that guide leadership during emergencies.

Burge said from those plans, her team builds quick reaction checklists so the wing commander and his key staff have a logical path to get Vance Air Force Base back to normal operations.
Burge also serves as the wing Operations Security manager. The best part of that additional duty was the TDYs, said Burge. She enjoyed the opportunity to visit different locations for training and conferences.

Lt. Col. William Maher, 71st Flying Training Wing chief of plans and exercises, is Burge's current supervisor. He said she is a faithful employee and a wealth of knowledge and experience. She can always be relied upon as the constant, friendly face in the office, even under stressful conditions, said Maher.

Throughout her career, Burge has won multiple awards at the wing, command, and Air Force level. Her most memorable day in the Air Force, though, was the "beautiful, sunny, summer day" she took an orientation flight in the T-6 Texan II. "It was so much fun and such an eye-opening experience about our primary mission," said Burge.

Burge met her husband of 26 years, David Burge, on a blind-date cookout with mutual friends. David is now a local businessman and barber who owns Expressive Design in the Heritage Hills Shopping Center.

The couple plans to take a trip to a tropical location with friends to celebrate her retirement.

Burge also intends to spend "lots of grandbaby time" with her 2-year-old granddaughter, Parker Jae, who lives in Stillwater, Okla., with Burge's daughter and son-in-law, Angie and Jason Ward.

Burge will start working with her son, Tyler Burge, and the team at Downtown Threads in mid-August.

Burge does not know exactly what drove her ultimate decision to retire, but in anticipation of her first days as a retiree, she said, "I think I'll love it."

A retirement ceremony and reception will be held at the Chapel Community Activity Center from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., June 28, if Team Vance members would like to say farewell to a professional and dedicated civil servant.