Retiree honors: The American flag journey

  • Published
  • By Joseph Mather
  • Robins Public Affairs

The military is no stranger to retirement ceremonies. The American flag is unfolded by the honor guard, displayed, then neatly folded, placed in shadow box, and presented to the retiree.

But before the retiree receives their flag, it takes a journey of its own.

According to Marisol Soto, Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex executive support specialist the flags are purchased and then taken to 339th Flight Test Squadron to be flown on the different aircraft at Robins Air Force Base.

“We do not get to see the whole journey of the flag and to be a part of it is special,” said Maj. Nate Hawkins, 339th Flight Test Squadron Executive officer. “It all comes back to people here in the end, the chance to honor a person for a lifetime of achievement.”

After the 339th FLTS returns the flag with flight data on a certificate for the retiree to Mrs. Soto, she then takes the flag to the 78th Air Base Wing Headquarters to be flown.

“We take the flag to the headquarters flag pole, raise it up to be flown over the base,” said Senior Airmen Erika Asad, 78th Air Base Wing, Wing Support Staff Administrative assistant. “I know it is a special moment to show respect for those that served and those who passed. It’s an honor to be part of that moment.”

According to Soto the flag’s next stop is the Robins Air Force Base Honor Guard.

“It’s humbling, even though we have small piece of it by folding the flags and placing them in the shadow box,” said Master Sgt. Ellis D. Coley Jr., Robins Honor Guard Program manager. “We are not mandated to do that, but we do this to honor the retirees.”

The last stop of the flag’s journey is to the retiree at their retirement ceremony.

“It is reflection of the Air Force,” said Staff Sgt. Shykana Copeland, also with the Robins Honor Guard. “It is something they will remember with their whole Air Force experience.

“We all want to be remembered,” said Soto. “We all want to feel special, and we should all help make this happen. The smallest things make big differences especially when they come from the heart.”