Retirement ceremony fitting end to AF career

  • Published
  • By Col. Jerry Martinez
  • 62nd Airlift Wing commander
Today, Lt. Gen. Christopher Kelly, Air Mobility Command vice commander will retire a great Airman, Col. Chris Coley, the 62nd Airlift Wing director of staff.

His retirement has made me reflect on the many retirement ceremonies I've attended and presided over throughout my years in the Air Force.

Retirements are unique ceremonies, different from any other because of the wide range of emotions they cause. No other military ceremony can simultaneously make a person happy, sad, proud and anxious all at the same time, and that's just the person who's retiring!

The members of the ceremony and audience also feel a wide range of emotions as they watch their friend, colleague or loved one end one chapter of their life and begin a new one.

At retirement ceremonies, it's amazing to see how many emotions the retiree will experience within the span of about an hour -- laughter and joy as colleagues and friends share stories, happiness as they turn their focus to their family and future, pride as supervisors recount their accomplishments and anxiety as they look forward to a new beginning outside of the Air Force.

The emotion of a retirement ceremony is a fitting conclusion for a 20 or more year career in the Air Force. An Air Force career brings with it many challenges and joys from day to day and year to year.

Serving in the Air Force is not an easy task no matter when or how you serve. Service before self, excellence in all we do and integrity are not easy core values to live by. 

Deployments, PCS's and long hours take their toll on the Airman and his or her family.
But there is also the sense of family and a feeling of truly making a difference in the world around you that you can only find in the Air Force.

Serving in the Air Force has made you part of something special, so when the day comes, treasure and enjoy the ceremony that will commemorate your career. You will have earned it.