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48 Years of Making a Difference at the 171st Air Refueling Wing

  • Published
  • By Capt. Jodi Snyder
  • 171st Air Refueling Wing

After nearly five decades of service to the 171st Air Refueling Wing, Deborah Krall retired on June 30, 2022.

Most people around the base know her as “Deb,” but previously, she was Master Sgt. Deborah Krall.

“I enlisted in 1975 and retired as a master sergeant,” said Deb.

After being an enlisted member at the 171st for more than 20 years, Deb obtained a civilian position on base as the airman and family readiness program manager, the first person to ever serve in this role at the installation. In this role, Deb provided assistance and support to enhance the quality of life for Airmen and their families. With her military and civilian service combined, Deb has served in some capacity at the base for 48 years.

While Deb’s love of service is common knowledge at the 171st, there is a story many people may not know about her. Deb was a pioneer for women at the 171st, even at a young age. When Deb was in high school, it was mandatory for girls to take a home economics course, but Deb wanted to take an industrial art class, which was only a class for boys. Having a determined attitude, Deb got herself into that shop class, and unknowingly, she started her path towards the 171st.

Deb’s industrial art teacher, a public affairs officer at the 171st, overheard her talking with a friend about test scores she had just received. These test scores were her Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery scores, which is the test students can take to see if a military career is the right choice for them. Deb’s teacher handed her a flyer for the 171st, and she was hooked! Her family, on the other hand, was not sold on the idea of their little girl joining the military. At the time, it was still uncommon for women to be in the military.

“I started off with a struggle with my family and then to add to it, the military didn’t have that many females yet. I never had any bad experiences, but we have come a long way as females in the military,” said Deb.

Paving a pathway for other women is just one of Deb’s many accomplishments. Through her military and civilian career, she supported all Airmen of the 171st.

“My goal was to have a positive impact. If someone came to see me and felt like they left with something, then I knew I was making a difference,” said Deb.

While enlisted, Deb worked different jobs around the base, including base photography, administrative work, food services, and she was assigned to the chaplain’s office. From helping Cuban refugees to scrubbing seats in a briefing room, Deb expressed that her many roles and experiences at the 171st helped shape who she is today.

“I had never been on my own before—I had never even been away from home before the military,” said Deb. “But, what I learned is you can make a difference every day. If you smile at someone, you don’t know what a difference it can make in their day.”

The emphasis Deb places on positive change was not only evident through her military career. It was also present in her efforts as the base’s airman and family readiness program manager.

“We are grateful to Deb for her nearly 50 years of service to the wing, both as a uniformed member and a civilian leader. Her efforts to provide the best care and support to our Airmen and their families has been greatly appreciated through the years. We wish her all the best in her retirement,” said Col. Ray Hyland, commander of the 171st ARW.

While everyone will miss working with Deb, there is comfort knowing the programs she established will live on and will continue to spread kindness through the foundation of the 171st ARW.