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Personnel director retires with 38 years of service
Legusta “Lee” Hathorn, Keesler’s human resources officer, is retiring with 38 years of federal service. (Air Force photo)
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Personnel director retires with 38 years of service

Posted 6/30/2010   Updated 6/30/2010 Email story   Print story


by Susan Griggs
81st Training Wing Public Affairs

6/30/2010 - KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss.  -- Legusta "Lee" Hathorn, Keesler's human resources officer, is retiring with 38 years of federal service.

Mr. Hathorne began his federal career in 1972 while still in college with the Office of Personnel Management, where he served as a certification assistant and later became a federal test examiner.

After graduating from Jackson State University in 1974, he came to Keesler as a personnel management specialist. He was one of the Air Force's first interns in the Manpower and Personnel Center Program hired under a program now referred to as the Outstanding Scholars Program.

In 1977, Mr. Hathorn was selected as Keesler's first black employment program manager and later accepted a reassignment to the base equal employment opportunity office.

He was reassigned as a personnel staffing specialist in 1981 and a year later he was promoted to lead personnel management specialist. In 1983, he was reassigned to the staffing section as chief of affirmative employment. In 1989, he became the chief of labor/employee management relations and served as assistant to the human resources officer.

He assumed his current position in 1999, leading the civilian personnel flight to two "outstanding" Air Education and Training Command inspection ratings and earning AETC's outstanding civilian personnel flight in 2001, 2005 and 2008.

Mr. Hathorn won the Air Force outstanding intermediate civilian personnel program manager award and AETC recognition as outstanding human resources officer, distinguished EEO award in the supervisory action category and outstanding intermediate personnel specialist. He's also the recipient of the Air Force Exceptional Civilian Service Medal and many performance awards.

"In order to work an entire career in personnel, you have to have an interest in people," Mr. Hathorn said. "My greatest satisfaction came from the times when I was able to put a smile on the customer's face, or instill a bit of happiness in their day, by finding or constructing a solution to the problems in their lives."

Mr. Hathorn recalled that when he first arrived at Keesler, the base had more than 3,000 appropriated civilians. Over the years, that number has been cut in half due to mission changes, arbitrary and scheduled manpower reductions, privatizing and changes in student load.

"Such a drastic reduction in the work force has been accomplished through a series of reductions-in-force over the years," Mr. Hathorn explained. "I was deeply involved in two major RIFs at Keesler, and I consider those to be my biggest challenges.

"During RIFs at Keesler, the civilian personnel office has always sought to limit involuntary separations through every means legally possible," he continued. "Not only is it challenging, but it can become an awesome burden, as the futures of affected employees often rely upon the actions and decisions made within the personnel arena."

Mr. Hathorn said his greatest accomplishment from a personal perspective was leading his team of human resource professionals through an eight-year process in executing Keesler's last RIF of more than 300 appropriated positions without a single involuntary separation.

Mr. Hathorn and his wife, Carolyn, have been married 37 years.

They have two sons and two grandsons.

"First, I want to take some time and rest," he said of his retirement plans. "After that, I'm thinking about exploring the possibilities of volunteering as a Federal Emergency Management Agency disaster team member to help pay back for the many volunteers who helped us during Hurricane Katrina."

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