Air Force has been family for retiring civilian

  • Published
  • By Mark Wyatt
  • 66th Air Base Group Public Affairs

HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. – Since beginning a federal career in the summer of 1968 here, the Air Force has been like family for one retiring employee.

Susan Doherty, a Billerica, Massachusetts, native will retire this month many years after it began.

“I’ve been very fortunate to work here and meet many wonderful people throughout my career,” she said. “I have a lifetime of memories and experiences that I’m so grateful for.”

Among those she credits is retired Brig. Gen. Donald J. Stukel, who tutored her while she attended Middlesex Community College in Lowell, Massachusetts. He had a doctorate in physics.

“On our lunch break he would bring me into his office and teach me math,” she said. “I ended up graduating from Middlesex with a three-plus grade point average because he wanted me to succeed.”

Doherty also appreciated the diversity of people she has been able to work alongside, both military and civilian employees.

“You have the opportunity to work with people from all over the country,” she said. “That perspective when I was young really opened my eyes to the world outside Massachusetts.”

She began her civil service career two months after graduating from Billerica Memorial High School.

Doherty held several administrative positions early in her career in the Special Program Offices in the former-Electronic Systems Division. Hanscom Air Force Base was then known as L.G. Hanscom Field.

In the early 1970s, Doherty left federal service for a short time to work for private industry.

“I wanted to experience what working outside the government was like,” she said. “Less than a year later I returned.”

A second break in service happened in 1984, when she resigned her position to raise her children.

“As my kids got older, I was lucky to return again and resume my career,” she said. “Not many employers allow that flexibility. Working here has always allowed for a healthy work-life balance.”

Upon returning to Hanscom in 1998, Doherty worked in the housing office for then-Lt. Col. Thomas Schluckebier, who was the 66th Civil Engineering Squadron commander.

Following that, she worked for the 66th Mission Support Group commander, then the vice commander of the former-Electronic Systems Center.

Doherty was reassigned to the Protocol office in 2007, a position she has held for more than 15 years.

In this role, Doherty is responsible for planning senior leader visits, providing advice on customs and courtesies, flag etiquette and for special events held on the installation.

Now Hanscom’s longest tenured protocol specialist, Doherty is calling it a career 54 years after it began.

She hopes to spend more time with friends, many of whom she met while working at Hanscom, including current employee Maria Bandouveres, Hanscom’s longest-serving employee.

Image of civilians

“I’m just going to enjoy life and be thankful for the opportunities and experiences I have had while working here,” Doherty said. “I also plan to spend time gardening and watch my grand-puppies.”

All are invited to attend a farewell lunch for Doherty Feb. 22. For further information on it, email