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347th RQG bids farewell to longtime secretary

Ruth Treadwell, 347th Rescue Group secretary, addresses guests in attendance during her retirement ceremony Oct. 1, 2015, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. Ruth began her administrative career in 1983 at Royal Air Force Mildenhall, England, and went on to work at the squadron, group and major command level. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ceaira Tinsley/Released)

Ruth Treadwell, 347th Rescue Group secretary, addresses guests in attendance during her retirement ceremony Oct. 1, 2015, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. Ruth began her administrative career in 1983 at Royal Air Force Mildenhall, England, and went on to work at the squadron, group and major command level. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ceaira Tinsley/Released)

U.S. Air Force Col. Thomas Dorl, 347th Rescue Group commander, shares his fondest memories of Ruth Treadwell, 347th RQG secretary, during her retirement ceremony Oct. 1, 2015, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. Ruth worked as the 347th RQG secretary for 17 of her 32 years of civilian administrative service. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ceaira Tinsley/Released)

U.S. Air Force Col. Thomas Dorl, 347th Rescue Group commander, shares his fondest memories of Ruth Treadwell, 347th RQG secretary, during her retirement ceremony Oct. 1, 2015, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. Ruth worked as the 347th RQG secretary for 17 of her 32 years of civilian administrative service. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ceaira Tinsley/Released)

From left to right, U.S. Air Force Col. Thomas Kunkel, 23d Wing commander, Chief Master Sgt. David Kelch, 23d WG command chief, and Ruth Treadwell, 347th Rescue Group secretary, exchange farewells during Ruth’s retirement ceremony Oct. 1, 2015, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. Ruth retired after serving 32 years as an administrative civilian employee. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ceaira Tinsley/Released)

From left to right, U.S. Air Force Col. Thomas Kunkel, 23d Wing commander, Chief Master Sgt. David Kelch, 23d WG command chief, and Ruth Treadwell, 347th Rescue Group secretary, exchange farewells during Ruth’s retirement ceremony Oct. 1, 2015, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. Ruth retired after serving 32 years as an administrative civilian employee. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ceaira Tinsley/Released)

U.S. Air Force Col. Thomas Dorl, 347th Rescue Group commander, fastens a retirement pin on Ruth Treadwell, 347th RQG secretary, during her retirement ceremony Oct. 1, 2015, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. Throughout her career, Ruth worked as a secretary for 30 squadron commanders, 20 executive officers, and 10 group commanders. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ceaira Tinsley/Released)

U.S. Air Force Col. Thomas Dorl, 347th Rescue Group commander, fastens a retirement pin on Ruth Treadwell, 347th RQG secretary, during her retirement ceremony Oct. 1, 2015, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. Throughout her career, Ruth worked as a secretary for 30 squadron commanders, 20 executive officers, and 10 group commanders. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ceaira Tinsley/Released)

MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- It's hard to miss the two display cases filled with memories, walls adorned with awards and the shy lady who greets visitors with a smile and soft "hello."

Sitting behind the desk at the 347th Rescue Group with her bouncy-short, brown hair is a person filled with stories. Throughout the span of her career, Ruth went from being in Germany when the Berlin Wall fell to working closely with 30 squadron commanders, 20 executive officers, and 10 group commanders.

Now 32 years later, in front of base leadership, family, and friends, Ruth Treadwell blushes as she adjusts her circular frames and thanks her guests for being a part of her career as an administrative civilian employee during her retirement ceremony Oct.1, here.

"The first person you see when you come into the office is Mrs. Ruth with a smile," said U.S. Air Force Col. Thomas Dorl, 347th RQG commander. "Everyone who has been associated with Moody or the rescue group knows her ... she's kind of an icon around here."

The journey to reach this milestone in her career and local notoriety did not happen overnight.

It all began in 1983, when Ruth and Tom, her husband, were assigned to their first base at Royal Air Force Mildenhall, England. It was here that the Georgia native, launched her career as an administrative civilian employee, while Tom served on active-duty in the Air Force as an officer's club manager.

"As a civilian, you actually are being interviewed for a job all over again each time you move to a new base," said Ruth. "When we came here to Moody, I said 'if I get a job I'm going to stay in it because I don't want to move anymore.'"

Ruth got her wish and she became the 347th Operations Group secretary, but her 15 years of administrative experience did nothing to prepare her for the road ahead.

"I went from working for a one commander type of organization to 'jumping into the fire,'" said Ruth. "I found it a little overwhelming because we had a commander; three deputy commanders, four chiefs (master sergeants) and we had seven squadrons.

"[Luckily] I had a good boss, I told him that this is overwhelming and I don't think I want to stay," said Ruth. "He said, 'Ruth I promise you if you stay, your job will get easier and he was right, the job did get easier and now you couldn't pull me away."

Ruth proclaims, she's enjoyed her time here at Moody because she had the best job on base.

"I've always liked meeting a lot of people and being in this position has allowed me to do that," said Ruth. "Not only that, but we have some of the most talented and dedicated people in the Air Force. They perform a unique mission, not just in combat zones ... they also perform humanitarian search and rescue missions abroad and here at home."

Ruth worked at the squadron, group and major command level but the 17 years she spent at Moody's 347th RQG is where she says she's had the greatest impact. 

The group changed vastly throughout the years, but one thing remained the same: Ruth was there.

"Ruth makes me want to be a better commander because she's got a lot of experience, sage and wisdom," said Dorl. "She's seen so many commanders [and] most of them are general officers now or are going to be generals."

Keeping the commander in check is just one of the roles Ruth's played while acting as more than a secretary but as a mentor to him and the more than 400 rescue group Airmen. 

"When I first got here, she helped me, [because] I was a new colonel [and] a new group commander," said Dorl. "As a group commander you have certain expectations of what you should do."

Your boss is not going to tell you the small things that you need to do to be a good commander but the one who has been here forever will daily remind you of them, said Dorl.

"Ruth's very humble about her skills and she's incredible because she pretty much knows everything," Dorl added. "If she doesn't know, she'll go back to her files and tell you the way we did it in the past which has helped me out quite a bit."

Despite her abundance of knowledge, some people still don't understand what role Ruth plays and in response to those non-believers, Ruth has created her own little punch line.

"Some people don't understand what I do as a secretary and I just tell them that I consider myself as kind of like an executive officer," Ruth explained. "Let's just say I'm the civilian executive officer or 'CEO' [of the rescue group].

"I do a little of everything and it's not just administrative," Ruth added. "If there's anything to be done I make sure it gets done,"
After today, Ruth won't be sitting at the front desk making sure things get done anymore as this chapter of her life comes to a close.

Now that she has more free time, Ruth hopes to add to the stories that are forever in her memories and the experiences that she's had. Recalling the adventures she and Tom had when traveling around Europe, Ruth hopes to travel some more but this time around the United States.