Air Force employee honored for 70 years of service

  • Published
  • By Steve Warns
  • AFCEC Public Affairs
Anthony "Tony" Duno always puts Airmen and their families first.

As U.S. Air Forces in Europe's Lead Residual Value Negotiator for the Air Force Civil Engineer Center's European store front at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, he is responsible for the recoupment of more than $1 billion from the return of installations to host countries in Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

"I love to work on giving the United States something for the money we spent," said Duno, 91, who was honored July 22 during a special ceremony at The Pentagon to recognize his 70 years of service to the U.S. Government -- the longest-serving civilian. "It gives me great pleasure. We're entitled to that money. They (the other countries) owe us."

Duno, who is set to retire Nov. 1, has a simple formula for a long career.

"Professionally, obey the boss," Duno said. "Personally, don't eat too much, go easy on the alcohol and take a walk every night."

At The Pentagon, Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James praised Duno for his service.

"You truly epitomize the core values of integrity first, service before self and excellence in all that we do," James said. "I promise that we're going to work really hard into the future to live up to the example that you have set for us."

AFCEC director Randy Brown echoed James' sentiments.

"His outstanding professionalism and diplomacy contributed immeasurably to the success of the AFCEC mission," Brown said.

During the ceremony, Duno was presented mementos from his remarkable career, ranging from congratulatory letters from three former U.S. presidents to a case containing the American flag and his service medals, including a Bronze Star and Purple Heart.

Born in 1925, Duno grew up in The Bronx as one of nine children born to Sicilian immigrants. The Great Depression and World War II shaped his life of service.

"My mother (Giovannina) kept the family together," Duno said. "The situation in those days was very tough. My mom, who was very strong, picked us up when we were down and out and showed us how to cope with problems."

Duno was drafted into the U.S. Army after graduating high school in 1943. He served in Gen. George S. Patton's 3rd Army with the 379th Infantry during the European Theater. After the War in Europe ended in May 1945, he returned stateside to prepare for the invasion of Japan. With Japan's surrender in September that year, he briefly left the Army before returning to Europe for an 18-month tour with the U.S. Army Occupation Forces in Germany.

Duno joined the U.S. Government in 1947 as an administrative and logistical officer with the U.S. Army Exchange Service. Three years later, he began his career with the U.S. Air Force as a management officer with the Air Installations Office at the former Neubiberg Air Base, Germany. He eventually became chief of the real estate branch for USAFE. 

Duno had two mottos when negotiating for residual values: "We ain't payin'" and "I don't care if it's 10 cents."

"For example, I was able to reference my time in combat during World War II in helping to save Holland, which had suffered greatly at the hands of the Nazis," Duno said. "So when it came time some 40 years later to sell the houses at (the former) Soesterberg Air Base, back to the government of the Netherlands, they, in appreciation, advised us to wait because the market would soon be in an upswing and therefore cause a huge increase in the return on U.S. investments at quite a large sum of residual value return to the U.S. forces."

In looking to the future, Duno said, "we will pursue residual values no matter how long it takes. We will be patient, and we will persevere."