MSgt. Ralph L. Lilley, Jr. retired from the Kansas Air National Guard after 28 years on June 8.
There ceremony was held at Forbes Air Force Base with his family and wing squadron in attendance.
Lilley, who graduated from El Dorado High School, began his military career on June 26, 1985 as a material facilities specialist with the 190th Air Refueling Group (Strategic Air Command) while he was at Emporia State University.
His original plan was to get out after his six-year commitment, joining to do his part and take advantage of the GI bill, but that was not to be the case.
Lilley was called up in 1990 to back fill a position vacated by a technician deployed in Desert Storm. During that time, a technician position became available and Lilley applied. This was the start of his career with the 190th in the warehouse.
Then in 1992, the 190th changed from Strategic Air Command to Air Mobility Command and in 1995 the group’s status changed to Wing.
During his career, Lilley worked in several positions including the warehouse, stock control, procedures and analysis and most recently managing the hazardous material pharmacy.
On Sept. 11, 2001 he watched with co-workers as the events unfolded and he spent the next two weeks as a security forces augmenter patrolling the parameter or standing guard at the nose of a plane.
He also was assigned about every extra duty possible.
Throughout his career, Lilley participated in the following operations: Desert Storm, Joint Forge, Deliberate Guard, Iraqi Freedom, Joint Guard, Enduring Freedom and Northern Watch. He traveled to many parts of the world, with his favorite being Turkey.
In his retirement program, Lilley stated, “These years have brought with them a deeper appreciation for my country the United States of America and what it takes to keep it free. I salute my brothers and sisters which carry on this task.”
Lilley is the son of Judy and Ralph Lilley of El Dorado.