December 31, 2013
By Rhonda Apple, Pentagram Staff Writer
JOINT BASE MYER-HENDERSON HALL, Va. - Hattie Maiden, branch chief of network and transmission at the Network Enterprise Center on Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, will start 2014 much differently than she has for the past 42 years and 11 months.
Maiden will actually turn off the lights in her office at the NEC in Bldg. 205 for the final time Dec. 20, when she departs JBM-HH on holiday leave - 11 days ahead of the official end date of her career in government service.
Her journey began in 1969, when the Columbus, Ga., native, enlisted in the Air Force, after growing up in the home of her grandparents. "My grandfather served in the Army during World War II and retired after 27 years of enlisted service," Maiden said. Instead of following him and wearing an Army uniform, Maiden said she chose Air Force blue. "I liked the blue uniforms," she said with a smile.
There were a lot of first-time events in Maiden's young career. "My first flight was when I left home to go to basic training in August 1969, at Lackland Air Force Base, San Antonio, Texas," she said.
Following basic training, she reported to Wichita Falls, Texas, for teletype training school prior to her first assignment on Maxwell Air Force Base, Montgomery, Ala.
"Now [the job title] is called a telecommunication specialist, but back then I was a teletype operator. I worked in a telecommunications center sending and receiving messages by teletype and AUTODIN (Automatic Digital Network System)," Maiden explained.
In 1972, Maiden was transferred to Defense Intelligence Agency at the Pentagon. "I thought the [National Capital Region] was so big and open," said Maiden, remembering living in the area and being so far from her native Georgia.
Maiden fondly remembered going out with a group of friends into Arlington or Washington, D.C., during those years. She also recalled how the base had changed.
"My barracks was Bldg. 402, which was where Bldg. 417 is now located. It was an all-female barracks with Army, Navy and Air Force women living there," Maiden recalled. "The post exchange was in Bldg. 242, which is now The Old Guard [Regimental] Headquarters. I've seen a lot of changes from when I first came here in the early seventies."
She also remembered bus transportation between Fort Myer and the Pentagon. "There was an underground bus transport back in those days," Maiden said.
In the mid-seventies, Maiden decided to change her job specialty to dietician, and returned to Lackland for training. Her assignment at was at the hospital on Shaw Air Force Base, S.C. "I worked both as a dietician and teletype operator, because there was a shortage in my former field and the Air Force requested me to return to work doing that," she explained.
Maiden met her [future husband], a tech controller in the Air Force, in 1970. "We were both at Maxwell together. We continued to stay in touch and got married 36 years ago - on June 13, 1977," she said. "When I returned to work at the Pentagon in 1976, he was assigned to a site in Brandywine, Md., then was transferred to Korea - and I joined him about six months later."
The couple spent their first year of marriage living and working on the Army post, Camp Red Cloud, Uijeongbu, Korea. "It was very exciting - our first year of marriage, we were overseas learning new things and meeting new people," said Maiden, remembering two-hour trips to Seoul and to visit other military posts for shopping. "The people there were so nice and accommodating - it was something totally new for me."
Other assignments in Maiden's 13-and-a-half-year Air Force career included Scott Air Force Base, Ill., and Andrews Air Force Base, Md. "Our first child, daughter Briana, was born at Andrews," Maiden said. "I stayed there for work until I left active duty in 1983. My husband left the service before me, and went to work for a major credit card company and is retired now."
In 1983, Maiden studied information technology for computer programming at Northern Virginia Community College. "I went to school for about a year-and-a-half, and in 1984, started working for the government [as a civilian]," she said. "I began federal service working as a communications clerk with the U.S. Army Information Systems Command," Maiden said.
"Our second daughter, Taryn, was born in 1988," said Maiden
Maiden joined the Air Force Reserve in 1988, working as a telecommunications field operator, retiring from 20 years of service in 1995. She also left her civilian job with the Army in 1988, to work for the Defense Mapping Agency as a security specialist.
She returned to the Army in 1993 to work with the 1101st Signal Brigade at Fort McNair for 20 years. "During this time, the organization moved back to Fort Myer and went through several name changes, including the U.S. Army Information Systems Command; the U.S. Army Signal Activity; Southern Information Technical Operations Center; the National Capital Region Directorate of Information Management; the Fort Myer Military Community Directorate of Information Management, and the U.S. Army Signal Network Enterprise Center," said Maiden.
Recalling all the changes experienced over her career, Maiden pointed out the major shift in modern technology. "When I first started [my career], the secretary had the typewriter. You had to draft everything in 'long-hand,' and give it to her. Now you do your own typing, and there's a computer on every desk," she said.
"I remember we've supported the Army Ten-Miler, we provided the telephone lines for telecommunication support. We got out there with the local phone company and ran the lines from trailer to trailer," said Maiden. "We've supported the Armed Forces Inaugural Committee for different U.S. presidents. It's just been a whirlwind of exciting jobs."
Job security was a key factor for Maiden's longevity in government service. "Knowing I would have a pension was a big thing," she said.
Maiden said she considered retirement earlier in the year, but was not ready to leave government service yet.
"I'm so looking forward to retirement and not being on a time schedule - not having to wake up at 4:30 a.m.," said Maiden, who said she enjoys gardening, baking pound cakes and spending time with her eight-year-old grandson, Lorenzo.
"I've really enjoyed the people I have worked with over the years, both co-workers and customers," Maiden said.