Dawkins has been a part of federal service since 1953

Freddie J. Dawkins, a pneudraulics systems mechanic at Fleet Readiness Center East at Cherry Point, was lauded as a national treasure Wednesday.

Dawkins, 81, of New Bern, received the Department of the Navy Career Service Award signed by Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus at a ceremony honoring his 63 years of service in the armed forces and as a civil servant.

Dawkins joined the Air Force in 1953 and worked with the Tuskegee Airmen. He served for 26 years plus time as a reservist. After working at Alameda Naval Air Station from 1981 to 1995, Dawkins came to Fleet Readiness Center East in January, 1995. He has been there ever since.

In presenting the award, Col. Vincent E. Clark, commanding officer of FRC East, called Dawkins a “national treasure.”

“It is not something that is being given to you,” said Clark. “You earned that.”

“You are a piece of history too,” Clark said. “You continue on. The standards you have set, the longevity, you persistence, your perseverance, you are quite the gentleman and quite the professional and quite the example for all to emulate. It takes the personal commitment on a personal and a professional level. It takes the individual commitment and the individual initiative, the drive, the endurance. I can go on and on. You are a shining example, Mr. Dawkins, for all.”

Supervisors and coworkers alike had encouraging words about Dawkins and his service to the nation, but also for bringing a personal touch to the FRC East team around whom he worked.

“When I found out about this day, I had to be here,” said Cynthia Hargett-Hill, G manager. “I had the privilege of being Mr. Fred’s PC (production controller) starting in 2012. There is one thing I can say about Mr. Fred that I will always remember: You never knew that when you brought your cards and when you brought your flowers and when you brought your candy, you never knew that your gift to some of us was the only gift we received on that day, and I want you to know that you touched my heart, and I will always remember that. When Mother’s Day came, when Valentines came, when Christmas came, and even when birthdays came, us ladies didn’t have anything to worry about.”

He received the Distinguished Flying Cross and had 125 combat missions while serving in the Vietnam War. Dawkins also served in the Korean War.

“That was an early part of my career and we had to be a qualified engine mechanic to qualify for the flying missions,” said Dawkins.

“I’m proud to serve. I would do it again and in the same token, I am really, really appreciative of being given the opportunity to serve and being allowed to serve,” Dawkins said. “That’s my heart.”

“The only thing I would do different is more of it,” said Dawkins, who doesn’t plan on retiring anytime soon.

Clark said it was “unspeakable” the honor of awarding Dawkins for his years of service to the country.

Dawkins said his most important accomplish in his career was flying.

“Flying and being in Vietnam and supporting the mission and doing the job that I came into the military to do,” said Dawkins. “That’s the highlight, from day one. I am a military man and I love it.”

Dawkins offered advice to young workers to set them on the right track for their careers.

“You’ve got to set a goal. You have got to really want to be able to do it,” said Dawkins. “I went to a military school, so I knew when I came out of that school I was going into the military one way or the other. I would advise them to start right now. When you come out of high school, make up your mind. It’s a good career. It’s good to you and it’s good for you. That’s all I can tell a youngster to do. Go in the military.”

Dawkins said it has been “wonderful and beautiful” to be involved with all the FRC East workers he has had the opportunity to know through the years.

“When I first got here, I didn’t know what to expect,” said Dawkins. “I came here to do two years and 21 years later I’m still here. It has just been a beautiful experience for me here at the FRC.”