Signal unit honors retirees in Greely Hall ceremony
February 1, 2010
FORT HUACHUCA, Ariz--Five people were recognized for their government service in a ceremony held in Greely Hall here Jan. 21. In addition to the ceremony, two of the honorees participated in a hallway ribbon cutting for the official dedication of the Golden Corridor.
"The 9th Signal Command Golden Corridor is dedicated as a tribute to those conspicuous few who have retired from Headquarters, 9th Signal Command, after having completed 50 years or more of federal service," said Daniel Bradford, civilian deputy commander and senior technical director for the unit.
"The command is honored to receive Mr. Jerry King and Ms. Betty Olson as the first former civil servants inducted."
King joined the U.S. Army in 1948 at age 16 as a military policeman, patrolling the West German - East German/Czech border in the early 1950s. King moved to Fort Campbell, Ky., as a photo platoon sergeant in 1954. He served in a variety of roles, including radio site chief in Korea, microwave team chief at Fort Gordon, Ga., and Troposcatter manager in Europe. In 1966, he became post sergeant major at Fort Benning, Ga.; was an operations sergeant major in Vietnam; and finally, a command sergeant major of the 11th Signal Brigade here on Fort Huachuca until retiring from active duty in 1970. He returned to the Army in 1972 as a civil servant within the Fort Huachuca signal community serving as chief of G-3 plans section in Greely Hall.
With 56 years of dedicated civil service, Olson served as executive assistant and secretary to about 16 Signal Corps generals. An Ohio native, Olson began her government career as a bookkeeper at the Wilbur Wright Officer's Club on what is now known as Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.
Traveling west, she arrived at Fort Huachuca 1956 where she began her long and celebrated tenure in service to the U.S. Army.
In August 2009, Maj. Gen. Susan Lawrence, commanding general, Network Enterprise Technology Command/9th SC (A), awarded her a Meritorious Civilian Service Medal and appointed her after retirement to continue as the command's liaison to the city of Sierra Vista. Olson is an honorary member of the U.S. Army Signal Regiment and has received keys to the city from the mayor of Sierra Vista.
"I'm very pleased that today we are honoring two of our most enduring members, Betty Olson and Jerry King," said Lawrence.
"Their induction as the first Golden Corridor honorees guarantees that their long and dedicated service to our great Signal Corps will always be remembered," she explained.
"Betty and Jerry, between the two of you, you have served this country faithfully and nobly for more than a century. As a member of the United States Army and an American citizen, I would like to personally thank you for your sacrifice.
Your example is one that the rest of us can only hope to emulate, and I want you both to be assured that in this Golden Corridor, your name and memory will reside for generations to come as a tribute to your outstanding service."
The ceremony preceding the ribbon cutting recognized three retirees whose service was recently honored by the Arizona Veterans Hall of Fame: retired Col. Gene Fenstermacher; retired Master Sgt. Bill Hess; and retired Brig. Gen. Kenneth Symmes.
"The dedication, commitment and sacrifices of these men-both in uniform and out-have distinguished them," said Lawrence.
"Their recent induction to the Arizona Veteran's Hall of Fame is a testament to their selfless service."
Fenstermacher joined the Air Force in 1948 and retired in 1987. He's been a full-time pursuer of green causes since taking off his uniform, fighting to preserve the Arizona environment.
He has also been an advocate for veterans, assisting numerous veterans groups dedicated to taking care of our active and retired force and their families.
Hess also served in the Air Force, joining in 1958 and retiring as a master sergeant in 1981. As with Symmes and Fenstermacher, retirement wasn't the end of the road for Hess.
In the years since, he has continued to support our community as a military reporter for the Sierra Vista Herald, exercising one of the rights he defended while in uniform; as a volunteer supporting efforts ranging from the Sierra Vista Symphony to the annual community toy drive; and is a member of the United Sierra Vista Veterans Project.
Symmes enlisted in the Army in 1946 and retired from active duty in 1979. In the 31 years since, he has been a successful businessman, a volunteer leader in the Sierra Vista community, and a city official.
"I was honored to attend the recent induction of these men into the Arizona Veterans Hall of Fame," said Lawrence.
"Their entry into that body distinguishes them as the best of the best. While they were recognized there, we wanted to do a little something extra for them because of their special contributions to our community."