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Retiree Appreciation Day brings food, fun to those who served
A veteran of three wars, retired Master Sgt. Charles W. Snodgrass of Selma plays bingo alongside his wife at the base's Retiree Appreciation Day Friday. (U.S. Air Force photo/Bud Hancock)
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Retiree Appreciation Day brings food, fun to those who served

Posted 11/25/2009   Updated 11/25/2009 Email story   Print story


by Kimberly L. Wright
Air University Public Affairs

11/25/2009 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -- Maxwell Air Force Base treated retirees to bingo, flu shots, burgers, coffee and more during Retiree Appreciation Day Friday at the Honor Guard hangar. More than 1,000-1,200 were anticipated to attend, said 42nd Air Base Wing Commander Col. Kris Beasley in his opening remarks.

Colonel Beasley noted that approximately 25,000 retirees are in the Montgomery area, and the base serves them through a variety of support functions, including the BX and the clinic. "It's a fact," said Colonel Beasley. "You're either a retiree or you're going to become a retiree."

Several organizations manned information booths, including the Cancer Support Group, the Retired Officers Wives Club, the dental clinic and the pharmacy. Retirees were treated to a grilled lunch of burgers and hot dogs, and were eligible for a number of door prizes in appreciation of their service.

Retired Master Sgt. Charles W. Snodgrass of Selma, who had celebrated his 88th birthday the day before, enjoyed the chance to be among other retirees and play bingo. "I love it," he said. Drafted into service during World War II, Sergeant Snodgrass served 21 years, 7 months and 1 day, a tenure that included service in three wars, including Korea and Vietnam. His service took him overseas to India, Burma, China and Korea, and stateside to MacDill AFB, Fla., Maxwell AFB, Craig AFB, and Tyndall AFB, Fla. He retired in 1964 during the Vietnam War. Reflecting on his retirement, he said, "I had done enough. I was wondering why I was here."

Sergeant Snodgrass kept his statements about his service to the nation simple. "I just wonder sometimes with what I went through why I am still here," he said. "If I had to do it over I wouldn't change a thing." His advice to young Airmen was also succinct: "Just do your best all the time, and do it right. That way you don't have to redo it. Never look back."

Another retiree, Chief Master Sgt. Johnny W. Owens, started his life as a farm boy in Louisville, Ala. "I was plowing with a mule when I was six," he said. The Alabama farm boy was transformed into a world traveler thanks to his 28 years in the Air Force, serving from February 1953 to August 1980. His travels took him to duty stations as Crete, Guam, Iran, Korea, the Philippines, as well as several stateside locations. In fact, he still has the sea shells he collected while diving in Guam 50 years ago. "I've been a lot of places and done a lot of things," he said.

Sergeant Owens originally joined the Army's 82nd Airborne Division, but was recruited over to an Air Force supply position "right here at Maxwell," he said. Through the Air Force, he developed new skills and held a number of supply, logistics, electronic maintenance, communications surveillance and security positions along the way, in jobs of increasing importance. "I learned everything they could teach me," he said.

Most notably, he supported Air Force Cold War-era operational establishments such as the Strategic Air Command, the operational arm in charge of America's strategic nuclear arsenal, and the Air Force Security Service, the intelligence arm of the Air Force. His position in the Air Force Security Service required routine travel to sites scattered all over the world to inspect communications equipment. He appreciated his career as an Airman. "I enjoyed every bit of my military service," he said. "I thank God I was able to do it."

Sergeant Owens was also appreciative of the chance to hang out with fellow Air Force retirees during Retiree Appreciation Day. "I think it's fabulous," he said.

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