Schriever AFB's most tenured civilian retires

The original 2nd Space Wing staff, July 28, 1985, including Col. Richard Griffin, wing commander at the time (center-front), and Ms. Carol Searson, future 50 SW protocol chief, to his left. (U.S. Air Force courtesy photo)

The original 2nd Space Wing staff, July 28, 1985, including Col. Richard Griffin, wing commander at the time (center-front), and Ms. Carol Searson, future 50 SW protocol chief, to his left. (U.S. Air Force courtesy photo)

SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- On Oct. 1, 1985, Carol Searson drove down a dirt covered Highway 94 to get to her workplace, Falcon Air Force Station, for her first duty day with the 2nd Space Wing. On that day the base consisted of only three buildings; Buildings 300--which had an incomplete 2nd floor, and required hard hats; Building 400--which was completely empty; and Building 500. The entire base populace consisted of no more than 150 people including military and civilian personnel.

Now, 25 years later, the base infrastructure has grown with its more than 20 operations buildings, and a workforce totaling near 8,000.

Ms. Searson began her tenure as the secretary to the then wing commander, Col. Richard Griffin. For the past quarter century, she has worked directly with every wing commander in the history of the installation. The 2nd Space Wing stood up on July 8, 1985, but it wasn't until late September that the gates of Falcon Air Force Base officially opened.

According to Ms. Searson, a dining facility was not even constructed in the early days of Falcon AFS; in fact, meals were delivered from Peterson Air Force Base to compensate for the isolation of the installation. Even with the lack of facilities and small number of base occupants, Ms. Searson described the base culture as a big family.

"We were all going through the same things, and everyone knew everyone. The wing was like one close knit group," she said.

According to Ms. Searson, it was this familiarity that made the installation feel like home, but with time came changes and expansion.

The Air Force chose to rename the 2 SW to the 50th Space Wing Jan. 30, 1992 due to changing strategic priorities. Because the 50th Tactical Fighter Wing had a distinguished historical lineage, the 2nd Space Wing was inactivated and the 50th Space Wing gained the units historical honors. According to Ms. Searson, this change was not taken well by those who had been with the 2 SW for several years.

"(The 2nd Space Wing) it felt like a child to me, I watched it grow from its beginning," she said.

Throughout the 1990's the base continued to grow, and with this came about great change. The installation changed its name from Falcon AFS to Schriever Air Force Base in honor of General Bernard Schriever, who is known as the father of the Air Force Space and Missile program. Ms. Searson attended the renaming ceremony and dinner June 5, 1998, honoring General Schriever.

"The renaming ceremony was one of my most memorable moments here at Schriever," she said. "It was so touching to be present at such a great event, especially in the presence of General Schriever. For him to be alive and actually see his legacy carried on through the base dedication was an extraordinary moment."

Ms. Searson humbly says, "I never planned to be here for 25 years; it just happened...I've just sort of been here."

Ms. Searson has worked as the wing secretary, as well as in the wing public affairs office. She is currently rounding out her career as the chief of protocol. She has seen the evolution of Schriever from its conception to reality and with only a matter of days left until her retirement; Ms. Searson continues to be a part of the Schriever AFB family.

"It has truly been a pleasure to have Carol as part of our Schriever family," said Jeffery Hunt, director of staff. "We are going to miss her experience and the continuity she has provided all of these years."

Throughout 25 years of service, Ms. Searson's most memorable day is going to be her retirement.

"It's going to be hard to leave, because Schriever feels like home. I've seen everything there is to see here, and I will truly miss it," she said.