A very good friend of mine related a similar story with one of her co-workers. Like you, they worked for a government (State) agency, and the director was a political appointee who believed government agencies should be run the same way as a business.
As I understand it this agency was tangentially related to Public Broadcasting, and one of its major functions was to produce print media. This co-worker had worked there almost since its inception, and his only real role was to run the Linotype machine. The new director announced a new 'cross-training' program, and everyone will be required to learn the jobs of three other people.
This co-worker and the Linotype had a lot in common - they did not take well to change, and they could only be managed by only a people. Which was just fine with nearly everyone working at the agency - they did not like him, and they damnsure did not want to work with the Linotype.
Needless to say he and the Director did not get along. After butting heads for a couple of weeks the Director suggested he take some time off to "re-evaluate his role." He agreed, and he asked if the Director would allow him to use his vacation and personal time. The Director agreed, and signed off on it ... without HR approval.
Co-worker took his Director's Permission Slip to HR and announced he was using his vacation and personal time. The HR Director asked, "How much?" He replied, "All of it."
This guy had worked for the agency for over 20 years, he rarely took any time off, and at that time State employees were allowed to "bank" any unused time off. He had accumulated over 3-years of vacation+personal time, and the Director himself had approved him to use it.
Three weeks later Director flipped out. He told HR to fire him for being AWOL, and they reminded him that he had approved the time off request.
A month before his "vacation" was up, the co-worker dropped in to submit his retirement notification to HR. He returned to work the day his retirement kicked in.
Monuments need to be built for people like this.