Fort Greely, Alaska – The Army Field Support Battalion – Alaska (AFSBn-Alaska) is celebrating a career milestone with one of its Department of the Army Civilians at Fort Greely.
This month, Ron Gibbens celebrates 50 years of federal service. Gibbens enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1961, the same year the Berlin Wall construction began; Alan Shepard made the first U.S. Space Flight; and John F. Kennedy sworn in as the President.
While his service has not been continuous, it certainly adds up. Gibbens served 20 years in the Army, 19 years federal service, followed by short break working as a contractor before rejoining the Department of the Army as a civilian again in 2009.
Over the course of his tenure, Gibbens has held an array of positions, from truck driver and squad leader to warehouse worker, and now Logistics Readiness Center (LRC) fleet manager.
“I think the best memory from working in the federal service would be the different duty stations,” said Gibbens. “Each one was so different from each other and I’ve had the opportunity to work with some absolutely phenomenal people.”
Gibbens enlisted at the age of 17. By the time he retired in 1982 as a sergeant first class, Gibbens worked at over ten different bases, expanding his experience and knowledge of Army logistics.
Gibbens and his wife of 57 years have called Fort Greely home for the last 44 years. After retiring from the Army, Gibbens began his civilian service with troop issue support activity before moving to the commissary as a supply clerk and retiring as a store foreman in March 2001 after winning numerous awards for commissary operations.
In 2002, Gibbens was hired as a contractor to set up the new Ground Based Missile Defense System at Fort Greely.
“The infrastructure was totally gone, even to the extent the phone and computer wires were cut at the wall. All equipment, office furniture, tools, vehicles and historical records were either sent to other Army posts or destroyed,” said Deborah Anderson, a former supervisor of Gibbens who began working with him in 2002.
“There was no guidance on how to bring Fort Greely back on line,” Anderson said. “Ron got to work setting up a warehouse for the parts needed to maintain the buildings and living quarters. He kept an inventory and insured the buyer ordered what was needed to maintain the stock.”
Anderson worked with Gibbens for 17 years and describes him as “the best of the best,” adding, “His bookkeeping and attention to detail is flawless.”
Colleagues near and far have nothing but praise for Gibbens, saying his knowledge and expertise, combined with his natural leadership and charisma makes the job easier for those around him.
“I talk to Mr. Gibbens a lot about his military career, mostly about the changes we've made in equipment and logistics supports strategies,” said Christopher Mancuso, the current maintenance and transportation supervisor at Fort Greely. “Mr. Gibbens has been with the Transportation Motor Pool, or TMP, system off and on since the 1970s. He’s taught me how the TMP vehicle system morphed into the program it is today.”
Over the course of his time in the Army, Gibbens experienced the developments in logistics technology firsthand.
“The method of acquiring items from the supply system, and the time frame involved, has changed drastically,” said Gibbens. “In the beginning, we’d use a stubby pencil to write our request then put it in the mail, which seemed like it took forever. Evolution took it to today's system where everything is electronic and virtually seamless. You have the item in hand by the time the old request even got to the point where the request could be filled.”
The battalion’s leadership relies on his continued work ethic and experience.
“He is a tremendous asset to the AFSBn-Alaska team at LRC Fort Greely. We are lucky and proud to call him a member of the Arctic family,” said Lt. Col. Luzhilda P. Restrepo, commander of the 402nd AFSBn-Alaska.
The AFSBn-Alaska and Logistics Readiness Center Greely family says they feel grateful and privileged to share in his celebration of an extraordinary lifetime of service.
“Thank you Mr. Gibbens for your service. Your commitment to being a warfighter and supporting the warfighter throughout the majority of your adult life in support of the Army and its families is beyond imaginable,” said Mancuso. “Your patriotic accomplishments are achieved by only the very few. You are the definition of a true American hero.”