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Swanson appreciative of Arnold experience

AEDC Test Range & Specialized Contracting Division Chief Kathy Swanson recalls her 30 years at AEDC in the days before her retirement. (U.S. Air Force photo/Rick Goodfriend)

AEDC Test Range & Specialized Contracting Division Chief Kathy Swanson recalls her 30 years at AEDC in the days before her retirement. (U.S. Air Force photo/Rick Goodfriend)

ARNOLD AIR FORCE BASE, TENN. -- Fearing that she would become too emotional, Kathy Swanson did not plan on giving a big speech during her retirement party.

Instead, Swanson put her thoughts in a letter handed out to co-workers and colleagues in attendance. One of the things she emphasized in this letter was her appreciation to the U.S. Air Force.

“The Air Force has been so good to me,” Swanson said the week before her final day on the job. “They paid for most of my undergrad. They paid for all of my master’s. For a little girl who grew up on a farm just outside the gates and went to a three-room elementary school, to be able to have traveled all over the United States and even went on a TDY [temporary duty assignment] to Europe, it’s been an incredible career.”

Swanson is entering retirement after working 30 years for AEDC at Arnold Air Force Base. Most recently, she served as chief of the Test Range & Specialized Contracting Division. In her role, Swanson was responsible for overseeing contract administration, including the Test Operations and Sustainment contract, as well as the Facilities Support Services and Base Communications and Information Technology Services contracts.

She was also supervisor for the Air Force Test Center Test Range & Specialized Contracting (Arnold) and advised on Source Selection contracts.

Swanson began her career at AEDC in September 1987 as a GS-4 secretary within the office of Deputy of Operations for Flight Dynamics. She also served as secretary to the AEDC vice commander and worked as a security specialist before beginning her work with the contracting division in 1995.

“I have loved my job,” Swanson said. “It’s just something I have looked forward to every day I’ve come to work, especially in contracting. Every buy is different. It’s challenging. It’s not the same routine over and over again. It’s just been rewarding. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it.”

Swanson doesn’t plan to take it easy. She would like to continue riding horses, paddleboarding and waterskiing, get into hiking, be more active in church activities, and do more mission work through Samaritan’s Purse, something she has done previously. She added she would possibly like to do some consulting work.

Swanson also intends to be the “best cheerleader” for her five grandchildren.

“Whatever they’re involved in, I want to be there to watch and encourage them,” she said.

Swanson’s retirement is effective Dec. 31. Her last day at AEDC was Dec. 15.