After 57 years, Soldier turned Airman concludes service, retires

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Hailey Haux
  • 86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
A retirement ceremony was held April 25 to honor Robert Keffer, a man who gave 57 years of service to the United States.

Until his retirement, Keffer was the Plans Programs and Resources chief for the 86th Communications Squadron, the largest communications squadron within the U.S. Air Force. He supported a major command, one numbered Air Force, three wings and 125 associated units.

Keffer joined the U.S. Army in 1954 as an explosive ordnance disposal ammo specialist stationed in France until 1958 when he returned to the U.S. for discharge. He worked for Brentwood bus lines driving a bus in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania for a short time before returning to France in 1960 for a U.S. civil service position.

"During that time he led efforts to establish billeting for aircrew, supporting the Congo Airlift and Operation Silk Purse," said Lt. Col. John Zapata, 86th Communications Squadron commander. "He entered the plans and programs field in 1994 and his efforts allowed Rhein-Main to effectively provide communications support to Operations Provide Promise and Support Hope, both major U.S. humanitarian relief efforts in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Somalia."

In 2005 Keffer moved to Ramstein Air Base, Germany and oversaw planning for more than 60 multi-million-dollar military construction projects for the 435th Communications Squadron until 2009 when he moved to the 86th Communications Squadron.

During his time in the 86th CS, Keffer managed communications customer service actions and directed logistics teams, impacting 47 thousand members within the Kaiserslautern Military Community.

"His work for us has been nothing short of remarkable. From the day I arrived, he was the most knowledgeable individual in the unit," said Zapata. "Mr. Keffer's 60 years of committed service to his nation has truly been an inspiration to everyone he has touched. He epitomizes the spirit of service and the leadership and determination required to get the job done.

"He is one of the finest gentlemen I have ever met and I am proud to have been a small part of his story," continued Zapata. "His efforts have ensured our success in this theater for years to come and I can sum Mr. Keffer up by pointing to the Air Force goals of winning the fight, shaping the future, and strengthening the team. He has done just that for almost 60 years. I want to thank him for his service, leadership and support."

Keffer will be returning to the U.S. with his wife. One of his sons hopes they will be able to spend more time together as a family and hopes his father enjoys retirement.