Team Malmstrom honors retirees

  • Published
  • By Valerie Mullett
  • 341st Space Wing Public Affairs Office
Malmstrom Air Force Base was the hub of retiree activities April 25 to 27 as personnel from all areas of the installation came together to honor those who have served before them. 

The weekend started with a formal retreat ceremony in honor of the retirees Friday, which had to be moved inside the Grizzly Bend Club due to inclement weather. 

But the snowy skies gave way to warmth and sunshine for Saturday's activities. 

"We had a bit of a rocky start with the spring snow shower that came through late Friday afternoon," said 1st Lt. Jennifer Hubal, chief of the career support unit for the 341st Mission Support Squadron. "But we overcame that and the rest of the weekend went very smoothly." 

The clinic personnel were kept busy from 7 to 11 a.m. catering to the medical needs of the retirees. Laboratory technicians drew more than 50 blood samples for diabetic and cholesterol testing, the dental clinic staff performed more than 20 exams, optometry specialists catered to another 20 customers, audiology tested the hearing for an additional 15 retirees and more than 20 immunizations were administered. While getting from place to place in the clinic for those tests, nurses and family practice technicians took the blood pressure readings for countless numbers of retirees who asked for their service. Fresh fruit, muffins and hard candies could be found at most every stop along the way along with free informational brochures, pamphlets, DVDs and books. 

"The support we received from the clinic more than covered all the bases," said retired Col. Milt Feltch, director of the Montana Military Retiree Council. "Good early morning snacks were available to help all of us recover from all the tests and move on with the day." 

More than 60 visitors reserved a seat at the brunch held at the Grizzly Bend Club where Col. Paul Gydesen, 341st Space Wing vice commander, provided a wing mission briefing and Rick Jones, legislative director for the National Association for Uniformed Services, talked to the audience about key issues affecting retirees. 

The base exchange and commissary were the afternoon hot spots and both offered specials in honor of retiree weekend. 

New this year was the opportunity to buy commemorative coins from the Air Force Sergeants Association, who had a table set up in the commissary. 

"Coin collecting has been going on for some time. It is something of a tradition in the Air Force," said Master Sgt. Tim Hezel, AFSA Chapter 1156 president. "We thought the retiree weekend would be a good opportunity to sell the coins." 

He said the group sold 75 of them throughout the course of the weekend and the money they raised would be used to support activities on base such as the Airmen Leadership School awards program. 

Saturday night more than 170 active-duty and retired military members and spouses gathered for their traditional retiree appreciation dinner. Guest speaker was retired Maj. Gen. Richard Marr, a former Air Refueling Wing commander here from 1990 to 1993. 

He talked to the audience about innovative approaches toward solving the pressing problems the military faces with future warfare, according to Mr. Feltch. 

"Judging from the questions asked, everyone seemed very impressed," Mr. Feltch said. 

During the intermission, the Top of the Falls Chorus, formerly the Sweet Adelines, entertained the audience singing a mixture of military and traditional songs like the "Star Spangled Banner" and "God Bless America" to "I Believe in Music" and "Can You Feel the Love Tonight," for which they received a standing ovation from the crowd following their eighth and final number. 

Just as traditional as coming together for the meal is, so is naming of the retiree volunteer of the year during this event. The award winner is selected by members of the retiree council who choose someone from their group to be honored for services they have provided throughout the year. 

"Wow! I had no idea," said Rose Maflin, winner of the award this year. "I was absolutely surprised. I haven't ever gotten anything this great." 

Mrs. Maflin was one of the key players in baking more than 30,000 cookies this year for Operation Happy Holidays as well as spearheading and organizing the holiday gift wrapping at the base exchange. She was also in charge of getting most of the door prizes that were handed out at the end of the evening Saturday. 

Sunday morning a group of retirees got together one last time for breakfast at the Elkhorn Diner with promises to do it all over again next year. 

"I have been involved with this annual retiree weekend for 18 years," said retired Senior Master Sgt. Al Maflin. "Compared to other years, this one went great. Excellent!"