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Dirt Boy veteran retires after 47 years

  • Published
  • By Glenn S. Robertson
  • 90th Missile Wing Public Affairs

After 47 years of service to the Air Force, one Dirt Boyz member from the 90th Civil Engineer Squadron recently retired, taking nearly a half century of experience with him.

Garth McQuilkin enlisted into the Air Force in 1974 from Olympia, Washington, making the decision to serve before the decision was made for him.

“I figured I’d join the Air Force voluntarily, so I didn’t get an all-expenses paid trip to Vietnam,” said McQuilkin.

He received his draft notice while in Tech School for the job he’d continue doing his entire career, mostly for the Mighty Ninety.

Of his nearly 12-year active duty career, 2 1/2 years were spent at Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska, nearly one year in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and the rest here at F.E. Warren.

For much of that time as a member of the Dirt Boyz, he has been part of a team that ensures vegetation is cut down during the summer and snow is removed in the winter – on base and in the missile field. This responsibility is more than just beautification, though and is required for safe conduct of the mission on base and in the field, meaning long hours that sometimes started before the sun came up and ended after sundown.

It was a responsibility that McQuilkin took to heart.

“Everything he did had to be perfect and he always went above and beyond, said Victor Moore, McQuilkin’s supervisor and coworker since 1995. “He ensured that everything looked good and he led by example, showing the junior troops how it was done properly.”

With time and desire comes knowledge, and few knew the base and the missile field like McQuilkin. It was well known within his office that he was the go-to individual for locations and travel.

“He knows the missile field like the back of his hand,” said Moore. “He might have had a map, but he didn’t need it. Mac knew every road, every facility, how to get there and how long it would take.”

He didn’t just keep that information to himself when his coworkers needed help.

“If a question came up and it was missile field related, you called Mac,” said Brian Nichols, Dirt Boyz shop craftsman. “He was like Ol’ Faithful.”

But with so many years of experience, it wasn’t just the locations he was familiar with.

“He was always reliable on any piece of equipment,” said Moore. “You could put him on anything, and he’d know how to use it and be able to teach others how to use it.”

For many of those he’s made a difference to, they’re losing a friend they see every day, not just a coworker.

“It’s more than just the experience that leaves with him,” said Moore. “It’s the relationship, the camaraderie, the trust and just having him around. Mac is going to be missed.”

There were many who McQuilkin worked with who carry fond memories of their coworker.

“Working with Mac was a learning experience in a lot of ways,” said Nichols. “He brought a lot of wisdom and a lot of wit to this shop.”

Now that he is officially retired, he plans on making the most of his time.

“Now, I plan on going around the country and seeing things and doing things I haven’t been able to do all these years,” said McQuilkin.

When someone leaves a workplace, their loss has a ripple effect that touches many who used to work with that person. After nearly 50 years of experience and guidance, the ripples left by McQuilkin’s departure will flow deep and long for the Dirt Boyz of F.E. Warren.