Last Saturday my buddy Steve passed a major milestone in his life. He retired from the 446th Civil Engineer Squadron over at McChord AFB after 23 years of service. Sarah and I along with his wife Angela, sister-in-law Amanda, niece Amaya, and their grandparents joined a room full of others wishing all 7 new retirees well. Though no long bio's were read through there was over 150 years of reserve experience in that room passing the torch that day. A flag folding ceremony with narration about the history of the flag and its modern reach on satellites orbiting the Earth and planted on the Moon was touching to say the least. Steve left as a highly regarded 1st Sargent and easily, for that and many other reasons, has the respect of all his piers and friends as well. Congrats Steve and thanks!
Since it was Sarah's and my first time on base Steve and Angela showed us around a bit. The grounds are beautiful with forests and open grasslands all dutifully managed. The rules of honor are pretty impressive and remind me what you might get used to living in a small town. You don't speed on base nor should your guests/visitors because any infraction comes right back to your "sponsoring" member of the Air Force. Likewise, we left their truck's windows rolled down with stuff inside ripe for the picking. Again, the full on honor and respect for one another there makes doing so and after though. Along with the Civil Engineering Squadron's building [ map ] Steve spent a lot of time in we got the see the BX (or Base Exchange) which is a good sized mall complete with Starbucks, a food court, and pretty much anything you'd need from new shoes for your uniform to the much coveted Nintendo Wii. We went to the Commissary [ map ] which is a huge grocery store that is tax-free and vast to say the least. Prices there are pretty good overall and provide an easily accessible resource for families and individuals living and working at McChord. We even drove by the "Castle" building [ map ] which houses most of the big-wigs and is the oldest and original structure there.
We actually parked near it to join in the celebratory picnic for the Air Force's 60th Anniversary. All the various squadrons had booths with BBQ, desserts, fresh fruit and more that charged a minimal fee that goes toward helping the groups put on events like Steve's retirement ceremony, honoree pins and plaques. A group played on a bandstand overlooking the main runway and with Mt. Rainier in the background. The wind whipped a bit but cooled us down from the warm day. We even got to walk through a brand new park with a dozen or so vintage and modern planes and jets preserved for visitors to walk by, under, behind and touch these amazing machines that have served and graced our skies for decades.
Thanks to Angela and Steve for including us on a wonderful Saturday and we're really looking forward to being back at McChord for the return of the air show next year.