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Fifty years and counting

  • Published
  • By Angela Woolen
  • Robins Public Affairs
Before Pat Deike was hired at Robins, she was rejected three times.

The only thing she had to do to get the job the last time was carry a 75-pound box across the room.

"I would've done it if I had a hernia," Deike said with a laugh. She was hired March 9, 1966 as a sheet metal mechanic making $1.92 an hour.

"I was so excited to get the job with all the aircraft out here," she said.

At her 50-year pinning ceremony, Deike was humble but proud about her work. She has held several positions including C-130 overhaul foreman, F-15 deputy branch chief, Paint/Depaint F-15 foreman and is currently a mechanical engineering technician.

One of her favorite memories was getting her photograph taken in front of the F-15 near the main entrance to Robins.

Deike has the distinction of being the first female maintenance supervisor in 1986. It was for that reason she asked Col. Jennifer Hammerstedt, the first female commander of the 402nd AMXG, to preside over the ceremony.

"I'm always talking about heritage and soul and dedication. It is right here," Hammerstedt said.

She went on to say that military members don't get the luxury of having 50 years in uniform.

About three dozen people attended the event including her son Tony Norrell; daughter-in-law Carla Norrell; and granddaughter Marla Norrell - all from Fort Valley.

"The thing that makes me so proud is that she's worked in maintenance the entire time," Tony Norrell, a firefighter for Peach County, said. "She hasn't left the flight line." 

Many of her current and former coworkers spoke about her wealth of knowledge and her commitment to her job. 

With 50 years at Robins, she's known to have the answers to any question that comes up. 

"Every day, I'm helping people," Deike said. "I have loved my job." 

When asked in front of the group if she would like to say something about her time at Robins, Deike's only words were, "keep 'em flying."

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