Saluting 70 years

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U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Valentina Lopez; see below for more information.
U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Valentina Lopez; see below for more information.

The Armed Forces Retirement Home was the setting for a recent celebration of the Air Force's 70th birthday by Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, members and veterans.

The origins of the retirement home date back to the 19th century. The U.S. Navy first established the Naval Asylum in 1831. Soon after, the Army created the Soldiers' Home in 1851. In 1991, the two merged as one to create the AFRH. Ever since, thousands of former service members have lived there.

“The impact of us coming out here is monumental because it lifts the residents' spirits, and our own,” said Tech. Sgt. Michael Moomaw, 89th Maintenance Group C-40B crew chief noncommissioned officer in charge. “It bridges the gap between the past and the present. This is a great mentoring opportunity to learn and discover experiences from prior service members.”

More than 50 people attended the Sept. 7 event, where Chief Master Sgt. Nathaniel Perry, 11th Wing and JB Andrews command chief, was guest speaker.

“I understand the only reason I'm able to wear this uniform and bask in a sense of pride is because of the giants that have come before me,” Perry said. “[The AFRH residents] are those giants and have paved the way for our service to be what it is today. [You all] created the legend that is our Air Force.”

Retired Air Force Master Sgt. Herbert Simonds, a 96-year-old AFRH resident, is the oldest airman at the retirement home and was invited to the celebration as a special guest. He served in the Army and Air Force for a total of 21 years and received honors such as the French Croix De Guerre, the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with 10 service stars and the Air Force Commendation Medal.

The event ended with a special cake-cutting ceremony that involved the Vanguard V-21 sword, which symbolizes the sacrifices made by past armed forces members. Simonds and JB Andrews' youngest airman, Airman 1st Class Marshall Robinson, 89th Communication Squadron radio operator, were invited to cut the cake together.

Above: Retired Master Sgt. Herbert Simonds, right, Armed Forces Retirement Home resident, talks to Airman 1st Class Marshall Robinson, 89th Communication Squadron radio operator, during the 70th Air Force Birthday Celebration at the AFRH Sept. 7 in Washington, D.C. Simonds, the AFRH's oldest Airman, and Robinson, Joint Base Andrews' youngest Airman, were invited to cut the ceremonial cake together.

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