JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas –
Nov. 2 is a date that will always hold a special place in the heart of Peggy Gast, an Air Force Life Cycle Management Center information technology specialist at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph whose civil service career spans five decades.
On that date four years ago, Gast’s beloved Chicago Cubs won their first World Series title in 108 years.
On that date this year – chosen specifically for its significance in Cubs history to fans like Gast – the longtime civil servant found another reason to always remember Nov. 2.
Surrounded by friends and her colleagues from the AFLCMC Business and Enterprise Systems’ Human Resources Systems Division, including those on hand virtually for the occasion, Gast received a pin and certificate of service representing 50 years as a civil servant from Ronnie Carter, division director.
“It was very special,” Gast said after the ceremony. “I was uncertain about having a ceremony during a pandemic, but my anniversary was perfect.”
Gast’s supervisor, Maj. Cory Steinbrecher, the division’s Enterprise Integration Branch chief, called her “one of the pillars of the organization.”
“I have learned many things from her and about her over the past few years,” he said. “When asked to be part of the ceremony, I leapt at the occasion. It’s not every day you have the opportunity to honor someone for 50 years of federal service.”
Gast’s Air Force journey began in July 1970 when she took a Greyhound bus from her home in Kentucky to Ohio for training as a computer programmer at Headquarters Air Force Logistics Center, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.
Her first day of training was July 15, her mother’s birthday.
“I joined civil service because I was having trouble finding a job,” she said. “At the time, there weren’t as many jobs open to women. One of the few opportunities was being a teacher. I didn’t want to be a teacher.”
Gast found that a civil service job fit her mother’s advice to a T.
“My mother told me to get a steady job and hang onto it, so that’s what I’ve done,” she said.
During her stay at Wright-Patterson, Gast was given a temporary duty assignment that set her sights westward.
“I was sent TDY to Kelly Air Force Base here in San Antonio,” she said. “February in Ohio is winter; February in San Antonio was spring. I loved this area and wanted to move here.”
However, Gast had to place that dream on hold for the time being.
A massive reduction in force due to the demise of the Advanced Logistics System forced her to move to St. Louis to work for the Army. After she saw the Mississippi River freeze solid, she sought a warmer climate and secured employment at Fort McPherson near Atlanta.
A few years later, Gast got a job at Oakland Army Base. She head to California and lived in Alameda, where Jim Morrison, the lead singer of her favorite band, The Doors, once lived.
Living in California proved to be too expensive, so Gast secured a position at Yuma Proving Ground, but as she was preparing to move to Arizona, a job offer from Randolph came her way, and she wasted no time getting here.
“The first time I saw the Taj in May 1980, I thought it was the most beautiful building I had ever seen and that I would stay here forever,” she said. “So far, I have.”
Gast’s four decades at JBSA-Randolph have been filled with accomplishments, but she points to four in particular.
“Programming a T-38 flight simulator was probably my greatest contribution to the Air Force mission since it involved pilot training,” she said.
Gast also called that her hardest assignment since she knew nothing about aircraft when she started working with pilots on the project. She successfully simulated the manual diverter valve on a T-38 and later learned that one of the pilots had been told that simulating the manual diverter valve could not be done.
“I also made contributions by programming the accounting system for Morale, Welfare and Recreational activities, including the clubs; programming occupational measurement surveys for Air Education and Training Command; and working as the Privacy Act monitor, safety monitor, and security monitor for my unit.”
Gast’s current primary responsibility is implementing configuration status accounting for the organization’s more than 15 HR systems, Steinbrecher said.
“This configuration management role includes the process of recording and reporting configuration item descriptions and all departures from the baseline,” he said. “Largely, in this quality-based role, she is responsible for validating that the proper documents are complete and accurate, and any deviations are quickly addressed.”
Steinbrecher said he’s never met anyone “more tenacious and dedicated than Peggy.”
“When set on a task, she not only owns it, but she assures it’s complete and accurate,” he said. “These attributes are the cornerstone to how well she handles her day-to-day requirements on the configuration management team and her additional responsibilities.”