SFS to celebrate contractor's millionth pass

SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany -- Ferdinand Raskob keeps track of a lot of things - electricity, car insurance, car repair, gas for the car and garbage usage and costs.

He also has kept track of the number of base passes he writes while working at the Pass Buro outside the Spangdahlem Air Base main gate since 1973. Thirty-six years, 28 supervisors and 14 commanders of the 52nd Security Forces Squadron later, Mr. Raskob is nearing his millionth pass for visitors requesting access to the base.

It's like any other pass, Mr. Raskob said, who in 1973 wrote a mere average of 41 passes a day compared to the 198 he averaged in 2008. "It is just like every day. No extra feeling. What's the difference between 40,000 or 900?"

While he may not feel the record is cause for celebration, the 52nd SFS feels differently.

"Security forces wants to highlight his millionth pass because we feel it is a very significant milestone reflecting a lifetime of service and dedication," said Senior Airman Christopher Sass, 52nd SFS Pass and Registration clerk. "We also want people to recognize this very charismatic individual who truly enjoys and excels at his job. This achievement gives us the opportunity to do just that."

Charismatic. That may be what anyone stopping at the Pass Buro might call Mr. Raskob. While not everyone walks through the Pass Buro door with a smile, it's possible they might leave with one.

"My dad tells me, we have 15 cows. Every cow has a different character. Even the pigs - the pigs are all different. It's the same with humans," he said. "But I see there are two kinds of people. There are negative and positive. When the mean ones come in, you can be friendly or you can hit them with a big hammer.

"I let them leave positive, I say nice things, I open the door. And only two out of my entire time have left with a negative attitude. Two," he added. "That's the way you have to be with customer service."

Since he was 19 years old, Mr. Raskob has spent his entire career on base, first in 1965 working law enforcement, and transitioning to the Pass Buro eight years later.

"When I first started here, I was the youngest in the security forces squadron. I used to think all these Americans were so old when they were in their 30's. Now I'm the oldest and have the most duty years and think these Americans are so young," he said. "I thought I'd be at the base this long."

Almost one million passes later, the reasons Mr. Raskob has stuck around this long are plentiful.

"My home is six kilometers from base. I worked here because it was close. I like the money. I like my job. I like the Americans, the military persons. And they work with my schedule," he said, referring to the eight weeks he takes off to make apple and orange juice and schnapps, a business he took over from his father who inherited it from his father.

With retirement looming around the corner two years from now when he turns 65, he will have more of time to dedicate to the family business. However, avoiding work would be tough for him

"I hate it to be retired. I'm not a man to sit at the kitchen window and tell you about the last war... Even two years ago, I had a stroke and had a heart operation," he said, showing the scarred incision on his chest. "Oh, I still came. I can't stay at the hospital!"

If a stroke could not keep Mr. Raskob from his duties at the Pass Buro, it's no wonder he has logged the numbers of passes he's written throughout the years.

Just last year, he wrote 973,143 passes, a monthly average of almost 4,000 , he said pointing to his daily, monthly and yearly hand-made charts.

As the numbers have increased and decreased, then increased again throughout his 36 years on the job, Mr. Raskob has seen many faces at the Pass Buro and learned a great deal from them.

"What I know now is from Americans because I deal with Americans 75 percent of my days. I been sitting more and longer here in this building than next to my own wife," he said. "And let me tell you this, if you asked me to do it again, I would do it all the same."