JB Andrews, Armed Forces Retirement Home celebrate 70th AF birthday

A1C Robinson & Mr. Simonds

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 in Washington, D.C., Sept. 7, 2017. Simonds, the AFRH’s oldest Airman, and Robinson, Joint Base Andrews’ youngest Airman, were invited to cut the ceremonial cake together. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Valentina Lopez)

Celebration’s audience

Audience members attend the 70th Air Force Birthday Celebration at the Armed Forces Retirement Home in Washington, D.C., Sept. 7, 2017. The event consisted of singing the Air Force song, a speech by Chief Master Sgt. Nathaniel Perry, 11th Wing and Joint Base Andrews, Md. command chief, a coining ceremony and a cake cutting. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Valentina Lopez)

Chief Perry’s speech

Chief Master Sgt. Nathaniel Perry, 11th Wing and Joint Base Andrews, Md. command chief, gives a speech during the 70th Air Force Birthday Celebration at the Armed Forces Retirement Home in Washington, D.C., Sept. 7, 2017. Perry spoke about the accomplishments of the force and how past veterans have help mold the branch. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Valentina Lopez)

WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- Joint Base Andrews, Maryland members and veterans celebrated the Air Force’s 70th birthday at the Armed Forces Retirement Home in Washington, D.C., Sept. 7, 2017.

The origins of the AFRH 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 resided 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 event. The celebration welcomed Chief Master Sgt. Nathaniel Perry, 11th Wing and JB Andrews command chief, as the guest speaker.

“Our great Air Force has turned 70 years old, and in that short time, we have become the most dominate force on this planet,” Perry said. “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. [The AFRH residents] are those giants and [you all] 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, AFRH resident, at 96 years old, 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. He 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, which involved the Vanguard V-21 sword that symbolized the sacrifices made by our 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.

This event brought together past and current generations to celebrate the Air Force’s 70th anniversary. Audience members may have differed in age, but were similar by their duty to respond, honor, defend, support and care for America.