Career civil engineer builds Moody legacy

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Parker Gyokeres
  • 23rd Wing Public Affairs

When Lowell 'Klep' Klepper retires from his position as the Moody Air Force Base, Ga., deputy base civil engineer on Feb. 1, he will end a legacy that entailed the oversight of the construction and renovation of nearly every existing building, road, runway and utility at Moody.

After spending 43 years as a civil engineer for the Air Force, and during his last 27-year stint at Moody, Mr. Klepper has seen the base change its aircraft and missions from training to fighters, then get rid of the fighters and get trainers back with a rescue role added in. These days, he has been busy preparing for the return of A-10's.

"I'm going to miss the change most of all when I'm gone," Mr. Klepper said. "There was always something new to work on, another project to improve the base in the pipeline."

Every change in Moody's mission and aircraft required new or updated buildings to house them and their support staff, Mr. Klepper explained. Each project took years to see to completion, and that's just the flightline aspect of the base.

"I'm proud that Moody has the atmosphere of a campus, not an industrial-looking airbase," said the engineer. "That's a combination of well-kept grass, good-looking buildings and lots of trees and shrubs."

Achieving this vision also took civic planning for events well into the future, he said.

"It's taken a while, but I think it has paid off," said Mr. Klepper.

In 1984, 'Klep' became the deputy base engineer and helped create master plans for Moody that laid out where major areas should be located.

When the new Consolidated Base Personnel Center is completed, the final pieces will fall into place in a plan he has been working on for more than 20 years, Mr. Klepper said. It's a legacy that future residents of Moody will probably never realize took so long to achieve.

Over the years Mr. Klepper has left not only his mark on the base, but on the people he has met.

"Klep has been an incomparable mentor to the military and civilian engineers over the years," said Lt. Col. Edwin Oshiba, 23rd Civil Engineer Squadron commander. "He's made an indelible mark on our career field. I will personally be forever grateful for what he's taught me, and carry those leadership lessons for the rest of my Air Force career and beyond."

After 43 years on the job, it is easy to forget the amount of changes he has seen.

Sitting on Mr. Klepper's desk are two lengths of railroad track. They were removed years ago after aviation fuel began to arrive in trucks instead of trains.

He explains they were laid during World War II and ran directly in front of the long buildings that face Bemiss Road. One rail bears a stamp reading '1911,' the other '98.' But they look as fresh as the day they were forged. He plans to put them on a board and display them in the 23rd CES lobby.

His distinguished career can be described much like those rails. Quiet, hardworking, reliable and humble, Mr. Klepper has reliably laid the foundation for many others to do great things at Moody, said Colonel Oshiba. And only after his work is done and it's time for him to retire, does one look down and see just how much he has accomplished for so many.

But just like the rails, his work will be remembered long after he has left.

"We'll miss Klep, as will the base, community, command and Air Force," said Colonel Oshiba. "But rest assured the things he's accomplished, and-more importantly-the people he's touched over the years, will continue to carry on his proud legacy."