Dean Peebels, son of Ronald D. and Ellen (Owen) Peebels of rural Simpson, was awarded the Meritorious Civilian Service Medal on February 21, 2014, by AFDW Commander Maj. Gen. Sharon K. G. Dunbar. The awards ceremony was held at Joint Base Andrews, Md.
As the Director of Staff, Headquarters Air Force District of Washington, Peebels is responsible for managing and orchestrating the headquarters staff efforts to provide the Air Force voice in the National Capital Region.
A native of Illinois, with family ties to Marion and Vienna, Peebels attended Sparta High School. High school served as a major point in his life as he not only met his future wife, Barbara Smith, there, but it was as a student when he first developed an interest in the Air Force.
“Technologies and capabilities seemed pretty cool then,” Peebels said.
Upon graduating from high school, Peebels was an agriculture student enrolled at Shawnee Jr. College when he transferred to Belleville Area College, now called Southwestern Illinois College. He later graduated with an associate degree in business administration.
Peebels attempted to join the Air Force several times while in college, hitting speed bumps along the way.
“I briefly investigated ROTC, but since I was attending a junior college, it didn’t have a detachment,” he said. “I considered it again when I later attended Illinois State University, but they didn’t have a detachment, either.”
Peebels continued pursuing his education at ISU where he graduated in 1983 with a Bachelor of Science in business administration and finance.
After graduating from ISU, Peebels found himself looking for a job during a recession in the early 1980s. After months of unsuccessfully searching for his first post-college job, he began considering joining the military once again.
“When I contacted an Air Force recruiter, he told me that the Air Force didn’t usually enlist graduates with business degrees,” Peebels said. “However, a month later he contacted me with an opportunity to attend Officer Training School.” He accepted and has worked with the Air Force in some capacity ever since.
After seven years of active duty, Peebels separated from the Air Force in 1992, swapping his military uniform for civilian attire, and continued in his previous military unit as a civilian contractor. Still unable to shake off the military bug, he entered the Air Force Reserve in 1996 and in 2002, he transitioned once more from being a contractor to officially joining the U.S. government as a civilian. Continuing to serve part time in the Air Force Reserve, Peebels retired in the rank of lieutenant colonel in 2009.
Peebels’ Meritorious Civilian Service Medal reflects his achievement as an outstanding civilian Airman who emphasizes leadership and excellence, characteristics highly respected throughout the Air Force. The MCSM honors his leadership from his previous assignment as deputy director of the Space Based Infrared System program at Scott Air Force Base, Ill., where he stepped in to lead a division during a critical time.
“I’ve stayed with the Air Force because I’m proud to serve my country and I enjoy the people, the work and the multiple mini-careers,” Peebels said. Additionally, as a holder of two master’s degrees and four certificates, “I appreciate the opportunities for advanced education.”