Airfield manager retires after 45 years of service

  • Published
  • By Danielle Gregory
  • Tinker Public Affairs
For most, 45 years of military service and 23 years of the same position may seem like a lifetime of repetitive work, but for Tinker's airfield manager, it's been a lifetime of enjoyment.

Don Lott joined the Air Force at the age of 18 and stayed active duty for 22 years. After he retired from active duty he continued to serve his country as a civilian at Tinker for another 23 years. His Air Force career will come to a halt on Dec. 31. "I am retiring because it's just time to quit and enjoy life. It is going to be difficult because I've worked since I was 18 years old," said Mr. Lott. "This job is a great job and I love it."

He said he couldn't have asked for a better place to work than Tinker.

Originally hired as a GS-07 civilian, Mr. Lott was placed in base operations, which oversees the airfield. His entire Tinker career has been has been about the airfield. In 1997, he became a supervisor in base ops and then he was promoted to airfield manager in 2000. As the airfield manager, Mr. Lott has made sure the airfield is operational for all flying units. He refers to himself as the middle man between the base and flying units.

"It's been great working in the same area. You don't get bored in this job, there is always something changing," said Mr. Lott. "Here at Tinker, we have four wings, unlike most Air Force bases where you have one wing, one type of airplane. We have more wings and several different types of planes."

Mr. Lott said he has had two events that have stuck out in his mind as major events for the base.

"Historically, I remember the Murrah bombing. It was a beautiful morning and we were about to cross the runway and I saw all of the smoke downtown. When I returned we found out someone had bombed the federal building," said Mr. Lott. "The subsequent events following had us seeing former President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore come through. That was probably the biggest event that occurred here, for me."

He said the biggest workload he has seen was during the Persian Gulf War because the cargo center was operational and pallets and cargo were stacked everywhere.

He said the biggest adjustment during his career was getting used to new command coming in.

"The turnaround on commanders is every couple of years and it seems like you're always trying to help one get accustomed to the way things work," said Mr. Lott.

Mr. Lott said he is going to miss getting up and going to work every day.

"It will be different not having a job to go to but I would like to do more volunteer work and become more involved in church," said Mr. Lott.