Zinsmeister concludes 26-year Air Force career

Story by Airman 1st Class Joshua Horton, 123rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs

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Chief Master Sgt. Lori F. Zinsmeister, the outgoing chief enlisted manager for the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Airlift Wing, receives her certificate of retirement from Maj. Kevin A. Krauss, commander of the 123rd Force Support Squadron, during a retirement ceremony at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., March 23, 2014. Zinsmeister served in the active-duty Air Force and Air National Guard for 26 years. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Airman Joshua Horton)

KENTUCKY AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Chief Master Sgt. Lori F. Zinsmeister officially retired after 26 years of service to the active-duty Air Force and Air National Guard during a ceremony held at the Base Annex here March 23.

Zinsmeister, chief enlisted manager of the wing’s 123rd Force Support Squadron, received a Meritorious Service Medal and a Kentucky Distinguished Service Medal during the ceremony, along with several other gifts and awards.

“I do not think anything that I can say here today will do justice to her 26 years of service,” said Maj. Kevin A. Krauss, commander of the Force Support Squadron. “She’s done a lot for the unit, she’s done a lot for the wing, she’s done a lot for the country and I would say she’s done a lot for me personally as well.”

Zinsmeister joined the Air Force on Aug. 5, 1987 as a security specialist shortly after high school graduation. Her first assignment was Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D. A year and a half later, she was assigned to Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, where she remained for three years. During this assignment, Zinsmeister participated in Operations Desert Shield, Desert Storm and Provide Comfort.

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Chief Master Sgt. Lori F. Zinsmeister, the outgoing chief enlisted manager for the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Airlift Wing, receives a distinguished service medal from Maj. Kevin A. Krauss, commander of the 123rd Force Support Squadron, during her retirement ceremony at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., March 23, 2014. Zinsmeister served in the active-duty Air Force and Air National Guard for 26 years. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Airman Joshua Horton)

In July 1992, Zinsmeister and her family were reassigned to Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash. She separated from the active-duty Air Force in July 1993 after six years of service.

Zinsmeister joined the Washington Air National Guard’s 141st Air Refueling Wing six months later, working in medical administration. Within two years, she transferred to personnel, a career field in which she would spend the last 18 years of her career, rising to the position of superintendent of customer support and casualty affairs at the 141st.

Three years later, in May 2007, Zinsmeister joined the Kentucky Air National Guard as chief enlisted manager at the 123rd Airlift Wing, a job she regards as the most gratifying of her career.

“You always knew where her passion was, and she showed it through her work ethic and how she raised up her people,” Krauss said. “She kept us on track. She kept us moving forward. She’s loyal to the end to her unit and people. With that, I want to say thank you very much to the chief. Godspeed as you make this transition, and good luck.”

“Most people don’t know how much she affects everyone’s lives here, whether you’re wearing a uniform or not,” said Chief Master Sgt. Wade Zinsmeister, the 123rd’s vehicle fleet manager and Lori’s husband. “As a chief, you mentored a lot of people and many people looked up to you. You may not have known it, but I also look up to you.”

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