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83 and Not Retiring

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Retirement is often referred to as the glory years. Some choose to travel, others take care of grand kids, or just enjoy their free time. However, retirement isn't for everyone, including an 83-year-old man who is working in North Dakota. His career in construction has taken him all over the world, and his current stop is on highway 85 at the Water Treatment Plant.

When he was just 15-years-old, Robert Kirchoff was hired to work construction on a new grain bin elevator on a farm close to him in Nebraska.

"That's where I got all my experience in slip forum my first time. Then, I went on to a couple different smaller companies and did some slip forum jobs," says safety engineer Robert Kirchoff.

Sixty-eight years later he is still going strong. One of Kirchoff's first major jobs was working for Morris and Knutson on the Navajo Dam in New Mexico. After that, he made his first trip to North Dakota working as a water superintendent on the missile base in Grand Forks.

"I lowered the blast doors in the equipment room," says Robert.

That's when his career took off. Kirchoff was sent to Chu Lai, Vietnam, an American Base during the war, and was in charge of pouring concrete for runways. After that, he was transferred to Saigon to help build a port for ships that were stuck at sea.

"Two hundred ships out in the ocean that couldn't get unloaded, and McNamara told Johnson about it. Johnson said, 'Get a location over there and build it.' So, that's what we did," adds Robert.

In the late 70s and early 80s, Kirchoff was sent to Saudi Arabia. Then, Saudi Arabian King Khalid feared an invasion from Iraq, and wanted a $7,000,000,000 military city built on the border.

"Did the ground work, putting all the barracks up for the 5,000 man camp and swimming pool, the whole 9 yards," says Robert.

Kirchoff's work has taken him to more countries than he can count, including installing an oil pipeline in Holland and Netherlands. Now he is working in the Bakken alongside his son.

"Growing up as a little kid, I knew what a 12-inch crescent was before I knew my ABCs," says his son Ken Kirchoff.

At 83-years-old, Robert says he is just going with the flow.

"When you're healthy, far as I know there is nothing wrong with me, why not go for it?"

Ken says he doesn't know when he will retire because he doesn't want to be the slacker of the family.

 

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