Bernadette Liépin Retirement Ceremony
1 / 3 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Command Sgt. Maj. Gary E. Yurgans, U.S. Army Garrison Benelux Command

Sergeant Major, presents a commendation award to Bernadette "Bernie" Liépin, Military Clothing Sales Store supervisor, during a retirement ceremony at Chièvres Air Base, Belgium, Sept. 29, 2022. Liépin first began working at the Exchange as a summer job when she was a teenager. (U.S. Army photo by Christophe Morel) (Photo Credit: Christophe Morel)
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Bernadette Liépin Retirement Ceremony
2 / 3 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Bernadette "Bernie" Liépin, Military Clothing Sales Store supervisor, first pinned on her Exchange employee name tag in the summer of 1975. Liépin carefully keeps books with all her memories on Chièvres Air Base. (U.S. Army photo by Christophe Morel) (Photo Credit: Christophe Morel) VIEW ORIGINAL
Bernadette Liépin Retirement Ceremony
3 / 3 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Colleagues give Bernadette "Bernie" Liépin, Military Clothing Sales Store supervisor, a cake with a fun message during her retirement ceremony at Chièvres Air Base, Belgium, Sept. 29, 2022. Liépin worked at the Exchange for over 47 years before her retirement. (U.S. Army photo by Christophe

Morel) (Photo Credit: Christophe Morel)
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CHIEVRES AIR BASE, Belgium – Few people know their way around the Chièvres Air Base Exchange like Bernadette “Bernie” Liépin.

Liépin, who works as the Military Clothing Sales Store (MCSS) supervisor, first pinned on her Exchange employee name tag in the summer of 1975. Now, over 47 years later, she takes it off for the last time this month.

“It’s a strange feeling, because when you’re going through difficult times you say, ‘oh, I wish I could retire,’” said Liépin. “And now I am, and I don’t want to go!”

Liépin said decided to work at the Exchange after her U.S. neighbors recommended it as a summer job when she was a teenager.

“My parents were strict, so I couldn’t go on vacation,” said Liépin. “So the [American] lady, the mother, she said, ‘why don’t you work on the base for your vacation?’”

“And I said, ‘why not?’”

Her initial plan was to only work at the Exchange for two months, however that goal quickly stretched to nearly five decades.

“It was completely different,” said Liépin. “I liked it, and I stayed.”

She started as a sales store clerk in the clothing department, before working her way up to various supervisory positions in the main Exchange building, the “PXtra” secondary store formerly located on the installation and MCSS.

She found she enjoyed working with customers and being able to help solve their issues, particularly in MCSS.

“They need help, and when they get help they leave happy,” said Liépin. “If they leave a little bit happier, it makes our day.”

While the jobs weren’t always easy, Liépin is grateful for the opportunities she had and the lasting memories she formed with her teammates.

“[I’ve had] lots of good times,” said Liépin. “Lots of work, but lots of fun too.”

In addition to her time at Chièvres Air Base, Liépin also spent a year working at the shoppette on U.S. Army Garrison Benelux-Brussels.

“It was a nice experience,” said Liépin. “I loved it over there because it was always busy. We were not doing big sales…but it was busy all the time.”

Staying busy is something Liépin hopes to continue doing even after she retires.

Liépin said she’s still figuring out her long-term goals, but her first step is to organize her home so she’s ready for the future. She also plans to volunteer, enjoy her hobbies of walking and bicycling, spend more time with her children and grandchildren and travel, both within Europe and to the U.S.

“I will stay busy, said Liépin. “If I’m not busy, I’m not happy.”

While she is excited for retirement, Liépin said she will miss her job at the Exchange.

“Ever since I started working, 47 years ago, the base is like my second house,” said Liépin. “I like to handle merchandise, I like the contact with customers like I have now...that I’m going to miss.”

However, she has a plan for her final departure.

“I hate good-byes,” said Liépin, “so I say, ‘see you tomorrow!’”