Fifty-five years of government service — That’s what Robert Bigelow was recognized for at the U.S. Army Garrison Rheinland-Pfalz Length of Service Ceremony Nov. 3 at Armstrong’s Club. Garrison leaders presented civilian employees with length-of-service awards for milestones beginning at five years.
Bigelow, Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Community Recreation Division chief, retired from the Air Force in 1989 with almost 29 years of service. Leaving behind his career as a special agent with the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, Bigelow joined the sports and fitness field where he has stayed ever since. Bigelow’s Army career has taken him from Baumholder to Fort Drum, New York, back to Hohenfels, Germany, and finally Kaiserslautern, where he has worked for more than 17 years.
Bigelow said he never planned on reaching this 55-year milestone.
“It’s one of those things. If you enjoy what you’re doing, time just doesn’t matter,” Bigelow explained. “I’m still a Soldier. I serve the Soldiers. That’s what we do; it’s our mission.”
Also among the award recipients was Tawny Jimeno, Kazabra Club manager and five-year government employee. Jimeno’s Army career began at the Landstuhl Java Cafe upon relocating to Germany with her husband, retired Army and current contractor. Since then, she has assumed the roles of operations assistant and assistant manager at Armstrong’s Club, manager of the Rhine Ordnance Barracks Java Cafe and finally her current role at the Kazabra Club.
Jimeno recounted her experience as a new employee at the Family and MWR Team Member Orientation several years ago, where former Family and MWR Director Steve Pelletier inspired her with his success story of a program assistant at the Child Development Center who worked his way up to become director of the entire organization. The story motivated Jimeno to seek out opportunities for upward mobility and different areas of experience with the organization.
“I would love to continue working for the Army. When my husband and I go back to the States, this is specifically what I am looking to do — to continue with Family and MWR,” said Jimeno, who hopes to become a Family and MWR division chief one day.
The garrison conducts quarterly length-of-service ceremonies in Kaiserslautern and Baumholder communities. Kenneth Armstrong, directorate of human resources and event organizer, explained the ceremonies allow the garrison to formally acknowledge its employees, both civil service and local national.
There are a countless number of employees who assist Soldiers with day-to-day missions who may not receive the gratitude they deserve, Armstrong said.
“By recognizing the employee’s length of service, it allows the employee the opportunity to feel appreciated and valued amongst their family, friends and peers. It also lets the employee know that their hard work and efforts have not gone unnoticed.”
As Garrison Commander Col. Keith Igyarto finished presenting the awards Friday, he took a moment to let the awardees know how much he appreciated his workforce of Army professionals.
“I love being your garrison commander,” Igyarto said. “You all make every day a joy to come to work. This garrison wouldn’t be what it is without each and every one of you. Thank you.”