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USTRANSCOM worker to retire after more than half century federal service

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. – Her grandfather left Poland and arrived at Ellis Island with the surname Cziarzynski, from what she has heard. 

But once the government officials at the port of entry heard his name, they decided to make it easier on themselves and future generations.  So, on the official documents they entered Fred Smith as his new name. And the rest is also history, Pat Smith’s to be exact.

This self-proclaimed Polish girl from Ohio has reached a milestone seldom achieved in the world of federal employees, or any other for that matter – more than 50 years of service.

She will end her impressive career June 29 this year in a position she has held since June 1994 as secretary of the U.S. Transportation Command’s Intelligence directorate.

Born in Lorain, Ohio, Smith moved to Belleville, Ill. in January 1958 and began her federal career at the Air Weather Service on Scott Air Force Base.  She left for a non-government job in 1979, but returned in 1982 to work for the U.S. Army’s Troop Support Command/Logistics in St. Louis and then for the Military Airlift Command.

Reflecting on the early days of her career, Smith said, “We had more time then.  There was more interaction with each other.  Secretaries got to talk once in a while. 

“Nobody communicates by talking anymore, there’s less face-to-face communication,” Smith continued.  “Everybody’s too busy.  We were busy, shoot, we had to type five copies and if you made any mistakes, you had to do it over.”

Smith says she owes her mother for her career path.

“My mom wanted to be a secretary,” Smith said.  “She worked in a factory, then had the kids, then worked in retail.  She always told me that being a secretary was the best thing.  So, I lived out her dream, I guess.

“That makes me happy, but I enjoyed it,” Smith continued.  “It’s been good. I could have gone to college and gotten good grades, but my family was more important.  I was working because I more or less had to.”

Smith has three sons, Michael Stoeber and Darryn and Dale Ficken and worked to help support them.

Smith reflected on her years on Scott Air Force Base and at USTRANSCOM.

“You don’t think about it day-to-day, but there’s a lot of important stuff going on around here and you’re part of it,” Smith said.  “A meager part, but a part.  And I’m really proud of it.  I love my country.

“I’ve had a bunch of great bosses, “Smith added, “they’ve been very supportive.”

Smith plans to stay active in retirement but not with any ordinary hobbies.

“I’m too hyper to sit there and craft,” she said.  “I’m gonna work with the food pantry and church.  They always need help, and the pregnancy center, the Mosaic.

“And of course I have five grandchildren who are still young,” Smith continued.  “One reason I want to retire is to spend more time with them while they’re still little.”

As far as sage advice from one who has been there, Smith says “Just do what they tell you.  If you have any ideas, don’t be afraid to pass them on.  Help somebody.  And have a good attitude.  I’ve been happy, and I’m gonna stay happy.”

As an afterthought, she said, “What’s a Polish girl from Ohio doing in a place like this?  It’s pretty awesome when you think about it.”

                                                            - USTRANSCOM -

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