Skip Overdier has gone from Vietnam and working with drones to digging his toes in the sand

Matt Algarin
Skip Overdier has no hesitations about jumping on his Harley and hitting the road. In fact, he and his wife, Brenda, have ridden their bikes from Clovis, NM to Destin.

EDITOR’S NOTE: As part of The Log's election coverage leading up to the March 11 city council elections, we will be profiling each candidate. Stories will appear each Wednesday and Saturday. Candidates will be profiled in alphabetical order. Read past profiles at A candidate forum will be hosted by the Okaloosa County Republican Executive Committee at Destin City Hall Dec. 19 at 5:30 p.m.

Skip Overdier is just as likely to strap on riding leathers and hop on his Hog as he is to lace up his dress shoes, knot a Windsor around his neck and throw on a suit coat.

"I love motorcycles," said the 66-year-old. "My wife and I both have Harleys. I've been to Sturgis twice — it's like spring break for adults."

Born in Rock Island, Illinois, along Interstate 80 at the Illinois-Iowa border, Overdier has seen his life take him from the average Midwest town to far away lands in Turkey, Germany, Vietnam and Iraq.

After graduating from high school, Overdier did what a majority of people did at the time, he joined the military, specifically the Air Force.

During his time in the service, he was no stranger to globetrotting, having "traveled everywhere."

"I moved 14 times in 30 years," said Overdier, who worked in aircraft maintenance. He also spent time as a first sergeant and chief, before being a command chief in England for two years.

One of the more memorable moments of his career came in Germany, where Overdier worked on NATO aircraft. The way the base was set up, there were 14 countries represented on the base.

"I got to meet a lot of people, learn about their countries, and their military," he said. "For example, the Dutch have a union, and they have long beards and long hair — it works for them."

His military career took him to Vietnam, where he worked on B-52s high above the sky. Overdier, who holds a Bachelor's Degree in business administration and a Master's Degree in public administration, retired in 1996 in Clovis, New Mexico, where he would begin working in the real estate industry.

His 14-years in real estate saw him rise from an agent, to managing broker, before he bought his way into the company as a partner in the Coldwell Banker franchise.

Not one to settle down too early, Overdier went back to work after retiring for the second time. This time his government contract took him around the globe again, as he worked for a company called Battlespace Flight Services.

Working on the Predator MQ-1 drone, Overdier spent plenty of time in Iraq, which was "less fun than Vietnam."

"Our drones would go out for several miles and orbit, take pictures," he told The Log. "We had a couple of hellfire missiles that we carried on the aircraft that we could use if we needed. It took an act of Congress to get authorization, but we had to use them a couple of times."

Overdier's last deployment came in 2012, after he and his wife moved to Destin.

Giving back to the community, Overdier is heavily involved with the American Legion Post 296, where he serves as the vice commander, the Knight's of Columbus, and the local Parrot Heads club. He is also a Eucharistic minister and lector at Corpus Christi Church.

Looking back, Overdier told The Log that his buddies in the military never told him about Destin, so luckily he was able to experience it for himself.

"I don't know if they were trying to keep it a secret and didn't want everybody coming here, so they didn't talk that much about it," he said.

When he speaks to residents in Destin, he said most of them are at a "crossroads," much like the city. He maintains locals are unsure if they want Destin to remain a tourist-centric community or if they would like to diversify the economy to include light industrial manufacturing or other high tech careers. Ideally, he said the city could take advantage of opportunities with Airbus, which will open shop in Mobile.

"I think it's time for us to diversify," he said.

Diversity is something that brought both professional and personal joy to Overdier when he was in Clovis working with their chamber of commerce to woo new businesses to the area. During the successful recruitment of Southwest Cheese, Overdier would be introduced to his wife Brenda.

"I wound up marrying her, so it worked out real well," he said.

Overdier has three grown daughters and eight grandchildren, which come to visit him as often as possible.

"This is just a great place for me at this point in my life," he said. "It's where I need to be."

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