Patent illustrator celebrates 50 years of federal service

Thomas Doyon, director of the Air Force Materiel Command Law Office at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, awards Fred Bennett Sr., a patent illustrator, with a gold pin commemorating 50 years of federal service Dec. 12 in Bldg. 11, Area B. (U.S. Air Force photo/Fred Rojas)

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Thomas Doyon, director of the Air Force Materiel Command Law Office at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, awards Fred Bennett Sr., a patent illustrator, with a gold pin commemorating 50 years of federal service Dec. 12 in Bldg. 11, Area B. (U.S. Air Force photo/Fred Rojas)

Fred Bennett Sr. may be past normal retirement age, but he doesn’t care, he says. At the age of 69 he enjoys working as a patent illustrator for Air Force Materiel Command Law Office at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base so much, he doesn’t plan to stop doing so anytime soon.

That philosophy has led to an impressive career milestone – 50 years of federal service, honored during a ceremony in front of his colleagues Dec. 12 in Bldg. 11, Area B. Bennett was awarded a 50-year gold pin and certificate noting his service by Thomas Doyon, AFMC Law Office director.

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Doyon commended Bennett for his professional demeanor, willingness to accept additional duties and rapid proficiency with new technology.

“You have given more than 18,000 days of federal service,” Doyon said. “It’s been an incredible career with lots of wonderful memories, but you’ve also given us in the law office a lot of wonderful memories.”

He also commended Bennett for his optimistic outlook.

“Fred sees the glass half full, but even more than that, he does positive things to fill the glass up,” Doyon said. “I am proud to serve with him.”

Bennett received letters of recognition from Secretary of the Air Force Dr. Heather Wilson and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein.

Bennett has worked at the law office since 2012, but he started his half-century of service to the nation as a summer hire in 1965 in Base Operations, where he performed general maintenance, washing B-52s and C-135 aircraft. He joined the Army in 1967, serving stateside and in Korea. Following his service, he attended Wright State University for two years and started working in Kettering at the Defense Electronics Supply Company as a packer. A supervisor in DESC’s graphics department took note of Bennett’s artistic talents and he became an illustrator.

He then moved to the Air Force Research Laboratory as an illustrator and designed displays that showed off the organization’s achievements. His work continues to utilize 3D elements to add vibrancy.

“I like what I’m doing, and if I retired I’d just find another job so I think I’ll just stay put here,” Bennett laughed. “I just keep going and going, and here I am at 50 years.”

He didn’t set out to mark such an achievement. As a young man, he’d always planned to work until age 55. But good health and good work conditions have kept him right where he wants to be, he said.

“Creating is my forté,” Bennett said. “I’ve been at the drawing board since I was 7.”

His wife, Kathryn, shares his worth ethic, as she is a year younger and continues to work as an auditor at Capital Health Services Inc.

Bennett gives the following words of advice to younger workers: “Get up in the morning and come to work with a smile on your face. There’s nothing to be sad about. A positive attitude keeps you youthful.”

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