His is an extraordinary achievement.
Paul Zedalis has spent the past five decades serving his nation. After serving in the Army for 29 years, he spent another 21 years in civilian government positions.
Mr. Zedalis, who joined the Army as a 20-year-old private in April 1958, served in all the combat arms fields and with the Military Police Corps.
He retired as a first sergeant in August 1987 and immediately went to work at the 7th Army Combined Arms Training Center in Vilseck, Germany. There, he served as a senior instruction of physical security for Central Texas College.
Then, in 1988, Mr. Zedalis entered the U.S. Civil Service as a Department of the Army security specialist.
For the next seven years, Mr. Zedalis worked at the office of security, plans and operations in Nuremberg.
He joined the 21st Theater Sustainment Command in 1995, where he still serves as the command’s security manager with the intelligence and security division.
Looking back at more than five decades, Mr. Zedalis has no problems singling out the highlight of his career, he said.
“Being the first sergeant was incredible. It’s the most challenging and rewarding position a noncommissioned officer can hold. You are the trainer, mentor, father and mother of the company. You can’t feel any more important than that,” he said.
Nonetheless, civilian employment has had its moments as well.
“I enjoyed going to work every single day, and I really will miss my colleagues and friends. They are like family,” Mr. Zedalis said.
Mr. Zedalis will retire in June and move back to the United States. Having lived in Germany since 1981, he said he expects a bit of a culture shock.
“It will be a little like going to a foreign country. But we will be back for visits since this is where my wife is from and where her family lives,” he said.