Artis marks 50th year of service

Pfc. Stephen Decatur
21st TSC Public Affairs

***image1***Fifty years sounds like a long time to do anything in an age when people get antsy waiting for seconds to pass on a microwave timer, but to Edwin O. Artis, the operations branch manager of the Director of Quality Assurance, Ammunition Surveillance, who could have retired a decade or so ago, time has passed quickly.

“It really does not seem like 50 years. The only time I think about it is when somebody mentions it,” he said.

Mr. Artis was recognized for more than 50 years of public service, including 26 years in the Army, along with 48 other 21st Theater Support Command employees in a length-of-service award ceremony Jan. 30 at the Kaiserslautern Community Activities Center on Daenner Kaserne.

The places that Mr. Artis has been during that time include Orleans, France; Heidelberg, Germany; Ft. Bliss, Texas; Ft. Bragg, N.C.; Ft. Jackson, S.C.; Ft. Richardson, Alaska.; Korea, Hawaii, and two tours in the Vietnam War in 1968 and 1971.

First as an artilleryman, then as a laundry and bath specialist with 5th Surgical Hospital in Heidelberg, and finally as an ammunition supply specialist, Mr. Artis proudly looks back on his military career, remembering what the Army was when he served. He’s not shy about his bias.

“I believe that I was in the best Army. Now, if you ask a young Soldier today, of course, he’s going to say he’s in the best Army,” he said.

Two reasons for Mr. Artis’ strong feelings about the Army back then are his fellow Soldiers, and the camaraderie of barracks life. “You had a whole team there, and it was at those times when the young G.I. didn’t have a whole lot of money, didn’t have a car, he couldn’t go too far, so you were together,” he said. “Now people are more mobile. You get off work, everybody does their own thing. There are more married people. There are a few people who still live in the barracks, but it’s not like it used to be.”

Mr. Artis may not have graduated high school, but through hard work, he got his bachelor’s degree in 1982, and earned his master’s degree in 1988. It was a lot harder in those days for a Soldier to get an education, he said.

“The Soldiers today, the way I understand it, have more advantages, they give them everything. You can do it online, they furnish the computers. They got it made,” Mr. Artis said.

After retiring as a master sergeant in 1983 at 43 with no civilian work experience, Mr. Artis had a difficult time adjusting to the civilian job market. After about 20 interviews and meager offers, he discovered that his age counted against him.

“My plan was to never get close to the government again. I wanted to go out into the real world and get a real job,” he said. “When you hit that magic age of 40 and you go out there in the real world, it’s not really real in my opinion.”

Discouraged, Mr. Artis got a job at an ammunition supply point in Ft. Bragg, and began his long Army civilian career, which brought him to his position today.

Mr. Artis, who plans to serve one more year at Ft. Bragg before retiring, seemed personally unimpressed with the length of his career in public service.
“Well, I’ve done 50 years, but you have to be somewhere for 50 years doing something, I mean, what’s the big deal?” he asked.

Mr. Artis’ years of dedicated service are a big deal to the 21st TSC, and that’s why he was recognized for having more time in public service than anyone else in the unit.