Retiree Dedicates Life To Others' Well-being
(March 30, 2010)
Retired Col. Steve dePyssler speaks at a function in 2008 at Barksdale Air Force Base, La. Colonel dePyssler is the Barksdale AFB Retiree Affairs Office director, and has worked for the past 70 years of his life.
||BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. (3/25/2010 -
AFNS) -- The average retirement age in the
United States is 67, according to
www.ssa.gov; however, a 90-year-old veteran
here still works and has no plans to stop in the
Retired Col. Steve dePyssler, the Barksdale Air
Force Base Retiree Affairs Office director, has
worked for the past 70 years of his life, first
with active duty and now as an RAO volunteer.
As a young adult, Colonel dePyssler was involved
in athletics and was recognized as the Illinois
state boxing and basketball champion. While
sports were very important to him, he decided to
leave it behind for a bigger purpose.
"I was offered a basketball scholarship to the
University of Chicago, but the draft came
along," Colonel dePyssler said. "I decided to
gain weight, get a little bigger, and accept the
draft in 1940. I spent one year in the service
before the war came along and was promoted to
first sergeant within one year."
In the following years, Sergeant dePyssler was
involved with the initial cadre of 8th Air Force
that was activated at Savannah Army Air Base
where he accompanied troops to England on the
Queen Mary. Later, the sergeant was offered to
attend officer school with the British and upon
graduation, received his commission.
After leaving Europe, Lieutenant dePyssler came
back to the U.S. and soon met his future wife.
However, he was shipped off to war again shortly
after he married. Once the war was over, the
military decided it did not need him within its
officer corps, and he
returned to his old rank as a master sergeant. However, the sergeant received
his commission again and made it through the ranks to O-6 where he, as the chief
of supply, worked with Strategic Air Command.
"I transferred from the Army to the Air Force in the 1950s,"
he said. "I had the choice to stay in the Army or go into
Air Force for logistics. Even while in the Army I was in the
Army Air Corps. It was a simple transition to go into the
Air Force. It's a little different in how they operate, and
in my personal opinion, it's better to be in the Air Force."|
Throughout his career, he was known for his drive and
dedication to the mission, straightforwardness and
zero-tolerance for laziness, as one off-base official was
"I was assigned to Headquarters Strategic Air Command in the
mid-11200s," said Bossier City Mayor Lorenz Walker. "I was a
major and he was a colonel. We were both in logistics. One
day I had to go down and brief him on something; he was the
chief of supply."
During the briefing, Major Walker was quickly spun up on
Colonel dePyssler's work ethic.
"He was like, 'Don't bother me with insignificant stuff. Get
on with it,'" Mayor Walker said. "From there we developed a
After having held every enlisted, warrant officer and Army
specialist rank during 38 years of service, Colonel
dePyssler retired at the age of 60 at Barksdale AFB from
what he calls, "a pretty good career."
However, the newly-retired officer did not immerse himself
into a life of leisure. True to form, he went back to work
as a retiree association volunteer at Barksdale AFB.
"I was 60 years old and had 38 years of service," Colonel
dePyssler said. "I had job offers, but they were overseas. I
couldn't get enthusiastic about moving overseas again after
I had spent about 14 years of my military career overseas. I
had enough. What led me to volunteer was my experience in
casualty affairs. It was a shame to let it go after I
retired, and I needed something to do. I had handled
casualties in World War II and in SAC, so it seemed like the
natural thing for me to do because of my background and
Luckily, Colonel dePyssler found his niche in volunteering.
"It was a perfect fit for me to be a volunteer," he said.
"It's a pleasure to meet people and to be able to say, 'I
have helped them.' I can't imagine the number of lives I've
helped and there's no way you can put a dollar amount to it.
It's a good feeling. Yes, I had a tremendous military
career. Yes, I got involved, but bottom line is I helped
more people volunteering than I ever did in the service."
Mayor Walker has witnessed the affect Colonel dePyssler's
volunteer work has had on individuals.
"What he's done for the retirees is almost unbelievable,"
Mayor Walker said. "Many retirees don't understand their
benefits or entitlements. He has helped widows come to the
office with nothing but a commissary bag full of receipts
and paperwork. He would help them go piece by piece to make
sure they get everything they're entitled to.
"The word unique is overused but he is a unique individual,"
he continued. "Even today at the age of 90, he has more
energy than most elderly people. Sometimes he has a little
rough edge, but that's because he doesn't have a lot of
tolerance for people who procrastinate. He wants to get
things done and is a little impatient when people aren't
like that. But there's no one who has done more for the
retirees than Colonel Steve dePyssler."
His contributions can also be seen throughout the local
area. Colonel dePyssler spearheaded projects for the local
veteran's home, the War Veteran's Memorial and the
installation of the Avenue of Flags at the Bossier City
Civic Center. Additionally, he heads the annual Prisoner of
War/Missing in Action Luncheon, an event that brings 800
individuals to Barksdale AFB. Even with these
accomplishments, Colonel dePyssler said he feels his job is
"My goal is to keep working, and every day is a challenge,"
Colonel dePyssler said. "When you get to be 90 years old,
sometimes you wake up in the morning feeling like you're 100
years old. My goal is to be able to come to work. I've got
two new knees, new hips, and when you get to be my age
walking is a serious problem. Most injuries to the elderly
are a result of falling. I've already fallen twice and I
have to be extremely careful. But my goal is to make it to
95 years old and then find someone to take my job."
Mayor Walker is amazed with Colonel dePyssler's
"We're close friends and I consider him to be one of the
most outstanding individuals I've ever met in my life," the
mayor said. "His work ethic then and now is very similar.
He's very knowledgeable, extraverted and has no patience for
those who don't do the job. If I were in need of a pint of
blood, I would want it to be Colonel dePyssler blood."
Sr. Airman Alyssa C. Wallace|
2nd Bomb Wing Public Affairs
Air Force News Service
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