Special Agent retires after four decades of service, reflects on journey

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Jessica Do
  • 6th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

Forty-four years of military service is admirable on its own, but it is the memories and experiences behind those years that make the journey honorable and fulfilling. Members join for different reasons; some had no intentions of joining at all -- like Special Agent Timothy Ries, OSI Det. 340 Special-Agent-in-Charge. 

“I used to drive a Zamboni and the irony behind it was that I had a bachelor's and master's degree, I just wasn’t motivated,” Ries said.

Both of Ries’ siblings were in the Air Force and encouraged him to join, he added. It wasn’t until he got married and wanted to start a family that he changed his mind.

Ries was offered a pilot slot but turned the offer down. According to Ries, he had only flown once before and did not seem interested.

“In 1979 I went to Officer Training School and moved forward as an Adjutant for the 335th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Seymour Johnson, [Air Force Base, North Carolina]” Ries said. 

From his time seeing the fighter community and bond they shared, Ries decided he did want to be a pilot.

“I was the worst pilot in history,” Ries said. “Normally you have to successfully complete 11 or 12 flights before you can solo, I had fifty-seven, so I ended up washing out.”

After washing out of pilot training he was given the option to go into Air Traffic Control or Office of Special Investigations. He chose OSI and there was no turning back.

“I thought the bond was tight in the fighter squadrons, but it is nothing compared to the bond OSI agents share.” Ries said.

Ries spent the next 20 years of active-duty service, making the rank of lieutenant colonel, before retiring in 2000 at OSI headquarters in Quantico, Virginia, where he served as the chief information officer. He took a short leave of six days before returning as a GS-15 in the same position, at the same base.

Twenty-three years later, Ries recently retired as a civilian GS-14 special agent and served as the lead developer of the Investigative Information Management System. The system took Ries five years to build and is still in use today.

Over the last 43 years, Ries has been a part of over 860 operations. During his deployment in Albania, Ries led a three-man team in the rescue of an Air Force colonel who was targeted for assassination. Ries said over the years he has dipped his toes in all facets of OSI. 

Throughout his career, both active duty and civilian, Ries has accumulated numerous awards and decorations to include, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Meritorious Civilian Service Award, two Bronze Star medals, the Kosovo Air and Ground Campaign medals and many more.

“I don’t hang my awards and decorations in my office, I hang my photos and memories” he said. “It is not what was awarded to me but the people who were there with me that are important.”

When asked if he was excited for retirement, Ries said he did not know how it was going to be waking up every day without his badge.

“It is not that I want to go,” he said. “I love my job, which is why I came back the first time. I would do this longer if I could, but I know it is my time to go.”