The life-long service of a military veteran has been forever memorialized following the renaming and dedication of the 2nd Mission Support Group building at Barksdale Air Force Base during a ceremony Nov. 8.
Retired Col. Steven L. dePyssler, Barksdale AFB Military Retiree Affairs director, served 38 years on active duty in the U.S. Army Air Corps and the Air Force. He has also spent the past 41 years volunteering with the retiree affairs department. He is believed to be the only known American to have served in World War II, the Korean War, the French Indo-China War, the Bay of Pigs Invasion and the Vietnam War.
“I did check and no one I spoke to at Headquarters Air Force could remember a building dedication to a living person ever being approved,” said Col. Sara Ann Custer, 2nd MSG commander at the ceremony. “Which is in line with many comments I’ve heard when folks talked about today’s event – show a person how you feel while they are still with you.”
dePyssler has held every enlisted, warrant officer and officer rank during his career, from the rank of private to colonel. He was awarded the Legion of Merit medal four separate times for his outstanding service. The renaming of the newly established Col. dePyssler Mission Support Group building was announced back in July 2019 after dePyssler celebrated his 100th birthday.
“I really appreciate you all coming out,” dePyssler said. “What I want to make sure y’all understand that this has all been accomplished by the staff here, my staff and ‘Sue’ (Col. Custer).”
During the ceremony, a plaque and display case were revealed. The plaque described his lifelong service and dedication to the Air Force, the state of Louisiana and the Barksdale AFB community. The display case is filled with mementos illustrating milestone events throughout dePyssler’s life of service. A special announcement was also made at the ceremony by Ken Epperson, Veteran’s Celebration Committee chairman.
“We are elated that Col. dePyssler’s illustrious career has led to the renaming of this particular facility,” Epperson said during the ceremony. “It is even more of an honor and a privilege that he has allowed the Veteran’s Celebration Committee to render a twelfth honor in his good name. This Saturday (Nov. 16) we will be rendering the first ‘Steven Colonel D. dePyssler Award.'”
This does not, however, mark the end of a legacy for dePyssler. He plans to continue volunteering not only with the base, but with the local community as well for as long as he is able to.
“I continue to do it because I enjoy coming to work, working with people and helping people,” dePyssler explained. “As long as I’m able to work and help people, I will.”
Generations today and for years to come will be able to learn and be inspired through the service the retired colonel has provided every day since his enlistment in 1940. The plaque leaves six words at the bottom for all to remember dePyssler by: “He is truly an American hero.”