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NEWS | July 10, 2023

40 Years of Service Before Self

By Airman 1st Class Adisen Smith 633d Air Base Wing Public Affairs

 After 40 years of commitment to the United States Air Force, Vanessa Linden begins her newest life adventure in retirement on June 30, 2023. 

Linden served the Air Force as a civil servant, with 20 of those years working for the 1st Maintenance Group at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia.

 Linden began her military career by enlisting in the U.S. Army directly out of high school in 1972 as an administrative section click typist, now known as an administrative specialist.

She married her first husband in 1974, while he was serving in the U.S. Air Force. Based on an outdated U.S. military regulation preventing female service members from serving while pregnant, Linden left active duty upon finding out she was expecting.

Linden began working as a non-appropriated funds civilian and a librarian’s assistant at Langley Air Force Base, until her husband got orders to Italy, where she became a secretary.

After traveling the world, she found herself back at Langley Air Force Base in 1983, becoming the first female civilian to work in the 83rd Communications Squadron.

“Working for the Communications Squadron felt the most rewarding to me because if the computers weren’t working, the people wouldn't be working.” Linden said. 

Linden mentioned she feels accomplished when she’s working on computers and notes how her love of computer science was passed on to her son and grandson.

“I’m really good with computers,” said Linden. “I believe it’s hereditary, because my son is a computer expert, along with my 11-year-old grandson,” laughed Linden.

In 2003, she moved over to the 1st Maintenance Group, as the commander’s executive assistant. According to Linden, she was able to create long-lasting personal connections at the 1st Fighter Wing, creating a real family-like atmosphere. 

“I like where I’m at now because we all take care of each other,” said Linden. “My first sergeant was there for me every evening when my ex-fiancé was in the hospital and passed away. It’s not like that in a lot of places, but this group made sure I was taken care of.”

Linden says she’s going to miss everyone, especially her bosses.

“We love you,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Neal Van Houten, 1st MXG commander. “We will miss you and we can’t find the words to thank you enough for everything you’ve done to help support our mission.”

According to both Van Houten and Linden, the love between everyone in the shop is mutual.

“There are a lot of jobs where when you leave, they don’t want you to come back,” said Linden “This job is not like that at all. One thing I love about the Air Force, it’s one big family. It seems like a huge community, but it's actually a small Air Force and you will run into your people again.” 

Linden leaves a remarkable legacy within the 1st FW, personifying the core value of “Service before Self”. Joint Base Langley-Eustis congratulates her and bids her good luck on her next adventure.