An extremely long and glorious Army career spanning seven decades in the Pacific theater will come to an end soon for a man finally calling it quits.
For Alfred Budris it's very simple -- work is life and life is work.
Budris, 85, will work just nine more days after a retirement ceremony to honor him June 20 and his lifelong distinguished career, marking the end of an era that most people wouldn't even consider -- serving 67 years, six months, and seven days.
He retires as the director, Logistics Readiness Center-Okinawa at Torii Station, Japan.
He took a job as Department of the Army civilian in 1956, the day after he got out of the Army as a Soldier and has been one ever since.
"Mr. Budris is a national treasure," said Col. Renee Mann, commander, 403rd Army Field Support Brigade, Camp Henry, Republic of Korea. The brigade has mission command of the LRC-Okinawa.
"He has impacted readiness in Northeast Asia for seven decades and has influenced generations of Soldiers, Marines, and civilians both U.S. and Japanese. There are very few civil servants who have built such a legacy," Mann said.
Japan and the Pacific theater is where Budris found a place to plant his roots back in the 1950s, only to permanently go back now to his stateside hometown.
This included serving nearly three years as a Soldier in the U.S. Army from 1953-56 as a supply sergeant achieving the rank of sergeant. He served at Misawa Air Base in mainland Japan.
"No one will ever be able to surpass Mr. Budris' accomplishments through the years of dedication and commitment to providing the very best service to our customers. He will be missed more than anyone can imagine," said Larry Fuller, deputy commander, 403rd AFSB.
Asked what drives a person to work nearly 68 years versus retiring at a more traditional age, Budris replied: "I love my job, and I am a workaholic."
While Budris's career length and age to still deliver professional work is astounding, he has earned the right to stand in good company with others who have served a long military-related civilian career.
On Nov. 3, 2011, John Bruce Jr., an acquisition and contracting employee with the TACOM Life Cycle Management Command, (a major subordinate command to the U.S. Army Materiel Command) retired after 69 years of federal service. He was described as being in his 90s. He also served in the Army during World War II.
In 2007, Louis Dellamonica, 94, a general engineer who worked his entire career at Hawthorne Army Depot in Nevada, now under AMC, retired after 65 years of federal service. An annual award is presented in his name for integrity, innovation, leadership and outstanding dedication to AMC's mission.
Looking back, Budris said there is nothing he would've done differently regarding his life and career. He never married and has no children.
Budris hails from Thomaston, Connecticut -- a town with a population of almost 8,000 which he described as "northwest Connecticut, [in] Litchfield County, quiet farm land, small population."
Here's a look at some of his assignments:
O November 1956: Budris entered the U.S. civil service as a Department of Army civilian, and was assigned as the Ordnance Materiel Accountable officer for northern Japan. He subsequently was assigned to the Army Engineer Depot at Sagami, Japan, as the chief of Inventory, responsible for maintaining inventory of $257 million in equipment and materiel.
O November 1958: Budris accepted a position with the Army Transportation Depot, U.S. Army Ryukyu Islands/ XI Corps at Naha, Okinawa, as Stock Control chief. He then accepted a position with the Army Engineer Depot at Makiminato, Okinawa, in various logistics assignments, which included Logistics Management instructor to foreign military personnel. He subsequently was assigned to the G-4, Headquarters, USARYIS.
O 1960 -- 1974: Budris served a variety of functions which included extended periods of temporary duty in Vietnam, Laos, the Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand, and Hong Kong. Assignments included chief of Aviation Logistics for Okinawa and Southeast Asia; logistics project officer for the Bangkok bypass road and its extension; Air America project officer; economics development projects for the Ryukyu High Commissioner; counterinsurgency warfare support; contingency planning; staff procurement officer exercising supervision of vessel repair/overhaul projects in Singapore, Taiwan, and the Philippines; and project officer for barter arrangements with Australia.
O 1964 to 1972: Budris was assigned as G-4 (Logistics), U.S. Army Ryukyu Islands. He became involved in the islands' economic development. At the time, the Ryukyu Islands -- Okinawa is the main Island of a chain that reaches to Taiwan -- was not a part of Japan and was under the direct administration of the U.S. until it reverted to Japan in 1972.
O 1967 to 1972: Budris served as the G-4 Supply Division chief which supervised the logistics operations of all Army units on Okinawa, primarily the 2nd Logistics Command which provided the logistics support to Southeast Asia, including Vietnam and Thailand.
O 1974: Budris got involved in Okinawa reorganization. He was assigned to the U.S. Army Garrison Okinawa in various logistics operations primarily as the Air America project/support officer, and the evacuation of Saigon. As assignment chief of inter-service support agreements, and participation in the preparation of various agreements, he implemented the DOD Program Budget Decision 253, under which many Army base support operations were transferred to other services.
O 1988: Budris was assigned to the 10th Area Support Group, where he served as deputy Support Operations director and chief of Logistics Plans and Operations. He also served as the chief logistics planner for the Joint and Combined Balikatan exercises for several years, held annually the Philippines.
O 2004: With the separation of the installation and logistics function from 10th ASG, Budris was assigned to the U.S. Army Garrison, Japan, Directorate of Logistics. He also served as director of logistics for U.S. Army Garrison, Torii Station, and Okinawa Japan. Budris managed, supervised, and coordinated all logistical activities. He directed all maintenance, supply, ammunition, food service, laundry, transportation, and property accountability, clothing issue, and other related logistical activities.
O 2012 to present: While serving as the director, Logistics Readiness Center-Torii Station, Installation Management Command, Budris transferred all resources, personnel, and reassigned the then-Directorate of Logistics organization to the U.S. Army Sustainment Command. He currently works under the general supervision of the deputy commander, 403rd AFSB. In doing so, he directs policy, program planning, and program execution for the directorate.
Budris also manages, supervises, and coordinates all logistical activities. Likewise, he directs all maintenance, supply, ammunition, food service, laundry, transportation, property accountability, clothing issue, and other related logistical activities. Additionally, he oversees a workforce comprised of both in-house and Japanese contracting personnel performing various logistical functions.
And, as an additional duty, he manages the State Department's Humanitarian Assistance Program.
Budris at a glance:
O Awards and decorations: Budris received numerous awards (commendations, achievement, customer service awards to include three Commander's Awards for Civilian Service). Awards were presented by various Headquarters including U.S. Special Forces for exercise support and U.S. Army Pacific for planning logistic support, participation and deployment, for the Joint and Combined Balikatan exercises.
O Due to his knowledge of Air America operations, he was able to write what was probably the last chapter (message) on the fall of Saigon. As a result of that message, which had wide distribution, he was informed that he was requested to testify before a Senate Committee along with the U.S. ambassador to Vietnam. Due to changes in personnel, the testimony was not carried out.
O Budris served as Project Officer assigned to manage a bailment agreement and provide logistics support for the transfer of possession, but not ownership, of Army helicopters to Air America for their operations in Southeast Asia. The assignment came down directly from Department of Army.
O He was one of the last U.S. persons still in Saigon, South Vietnam, prior to it falling to North Vietnam in April 1975.
O Budris was exempted from having to serve elsewhere during his career based on U.S. control of U.S. Army Ryukyu Islands before conversion to Japanese control.
O His grandparents are from Lithuania and although he was born in the United States he speaks fluent Lithuanian. He also knows Latin and speaks French, and some German; he is also fluent in Japanese and the very distinct Okinawa dialect of Japanese.
O Budris's parents and siblings were never able to visit him in Okinawa; however, his aunt and cousins did and loved visiting his new home.
O He plans to start a vegetable garden to grow food necessary for certain Japanese dishes.
O In regards to the Pacific theater: "It is a great place to work and learn about the culture/history/politics," Budris said.
O Budris visits his hometown "every time I [take] re-employment leave," he said. New England is an area of the U.S. he especially likes.
O He has one brother and one sister. He is the oldest.
O Budris plans to write books in retirement. A book he is planning on writing will be about his experiences during the fall of Saigon and other incredible journeys while on missions across Okinawa, Vietnam, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. He always kept notes on his experiences, which will help him track back history in order to write his books.
O When not working, he likes to relax and enjoys photography.
O A life lesson his career has taught him: "The world is really getting small, and we need to live together," Budris said.
O Budris has said: "The use of common sense and logic will not be tolerated nor encouraged."
Even with all that's been written, perhaps 403rd Command Sgt. Maj. Petra Casarez summed up Budris's career when she said this: "Mr. Budris is our own Brigade Powerhouse Legend: a clever historian who knows the background to every issue; an ebullient character who livens up every meeting or briefing he attends; an energetic individual who at 85 years old can make everyone else around him feel old; a story-teller who can spellbound any audience; a razor-sharp logistician who knows his craft. I cannot wait to buy his book and read all the awe-inspiring stories of which I have only gotten a small glimpse."