Recognition of members who are retiring from a career of long, faithful, and honorable service is one of the oldest traditions of military service. Each retiree should leave the service with a tangible expression of appreciation for his/her contribution to the military, and with the assurance that they will continue to be a member of the military family in retirement.
Retirement ceremonies require almost the same level of advance planning as a change of command ceremony to ensure success. It's important early on to confirm the Director of Personnel has arranged for retirement and appreciation certificates for the retiring officer and spouse.
If a retirement decoration is to be presented, the award request must be written and submitted for approval in accordance with regulations. If you wish a United States flag that was flown over the Capitol to be presented, this must be coordinated far in advance of the ceremony. Another nice touch for a retirement ceremony is to request a letter/card from the President. Requests for personal letters from the President are limited to personnel with 30 or more years of service. You must request that letter/card through SAF/LL, White House Liaison, Washington, D.C. 20330 at least 45 days prior to the retirement date. SAF/LL will need the following information:
Full name and rank
spouse's full name
dates of service
unit and command assigned
where to send letter
date letter must be received
You'll also need to confirm ceremony and reception locations, schedule the officiating officer's participation, get an invitation list from the retiring officer and send out invitations, and arrange for flags, photographer, mementos (normally presented at a separate farewell event), and a myriad of other details to ensure a professional departure from active military service. You may also have to make arrangements and develop itineraries for senior officers attending or presiding over the ceremony. Finally, make sure the presiding official has an information package detailing the retiring officer's career and a sequence of events at an appropriate time before the ceremony occurs.
Sample Military Retirement Party Invitation Wording
1. After 20 years of faithful and hororable service
Petty Officer First Class
will be retiring from the
United States Navy
Please join us on
November 1, 2009
as we celebrate!
14 Derby Drive
2. Retirement Party
The family and friends of
cordially invite you to join us
in thanking him for 20 years of serving our country
and wishing him well in his next endeavor
Saturday, the 12th of August
Cranberry Country Club
Dinner at 7pm
Special Tribute at 9pm
3. Please join us for a party celebrating (name)'s retirement.
4. Please join us as (name) celebrates his/her Retirement.
5. My family and I would like you to share our happiness
on the occasion of my Retirement
6. With pride and joy we invite you to share a special day in our lives
as (name) celebrates his/her retirement.
7. We invite you to share this special occasion as (name)
celebrates his retirement.
8. Verdugo Realty Corporation
announces the retirement of
Bob Jackson Jones
after 15 years of wonderful service and inspiration
9. Ted Smith is retiring; he's put in his time,
he leaves us now with warmer plans in mind.
Just "R & R" and taking life slow,
at home in the garden, or perhaps Mexico!
Please join us for a final farewell
1:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.
Sunday, April 30, 2000
Dunsmore Ave. Park
Food and beverages provided
10. Forget the black tie it's no formal affair
Just come as you are for that casual flair,
We'll drink and laugh as we all reminisce,
It's a gathering for a friend that will surely be missed.
Bob's Retirement Party
Please bring a favorite story about Bob
The Garson's House
3325 76th Street
11. Too quickly the time has passed us by,
now it's time for us to say good-bye,
Please join us to wish him the very best,
as he starts his long and well deserved rest.
Please join us for lunch
in honor of
Friday, June 9, 2000
2:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.
The Sheraton Hotel, Studio City
12. You're invited to a
Friday, June 9, 2000
2:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.
1225 Coldwater Canyon, Studio City
R.s.v.p. to Dottie Hansen 711-5444
A "Typical" Retirement Ceremony from with Air Force:
Normally, retirement ceremonies are less formal, and begin with a short meeting between the presiding official and the retiring officer and his/her family. Then the family members are escorted to their seats (usually in the front row, to the right of the center aisle). They are followed by the officer to be retired and the presiding official, who take their places in front of the audience. Posting of the colors is appropriate, or flags may be positioned beforehand. Make sure chairs are provided on stage for the presiding official, retiring officer, and his or her spouse.
If a decoration is to be presented, the narrator begins by asking the audience to rise and reads the citation for the decoration. At the conclusion of the reading of the citation, an aide hands the decoration to the presiding official, who "pins" on the decoration. Photographs are taken, and then the aide hands the citation to the presiding official, who presents it to the retiring officer and again photographs are taken.
Now the narrator asks the audience to take their seats. The retiring officer takes his assigned seat, and the presiding officer usually makes a short speech summarizing the retiring officer's career and their contributions to the Air Force. At the conclusion of his remarks, the narrator reads the retirement order. The audience rises with the words "Attention to Orders." The retiring officer rises and takes his position next to the presiding official. After the orders are read, the aide hands the retirement certificate, signed by the President of the United States and Chief of Staff of the Air Force, to the presiding official, who presents it to the retiree. Again, photographs are taken.
Then the presiding official or narrator asks the spouse to come forward. (It's appropriate for an escort officer to escort the spouse to her place on stage.) The aide passes a certificate of appreciation for the spouse, signed by the Chief of Staff of the Air Force, to the presiding official, who presents it to the retiree's spouse. The narrator normally reads the citation, and photographs are taken. At this point, it's appropriate for the retiree to present flowers to the spouse (flowers are an authorized SM&W expense for retirements). The aide hands the flowers to the retiree, who presents them to the spouse. Again, photographs are appropriate with each presentation.
The narrator then asks the audience to take their seats (if they haven't been instructed to do so already), and asks the retiree to make his or her remarks. The presiding officer takes his or her assigned seat, and the retiree moves to the podium or center stage. At the conclusion of the retiree's remarks, the narrator asks the audience to rise for the departure of the official party (including the spouse). Once the official party has left the area, the narrator announces "Ladies and gentlemen, this concludes the ceremony. Please join (name of the retiree) for a reception in the (location)." (It is traditional for the retiring officer to host a small reception for honored guests and attendees following the ceremony.)
Usually it is not appropriate to present mementos other than retirement certificates and decorations during the ceremony. However, there are always exceptions. For example, if the retiring officer's coworkers or peers made prior arrangements to have a U.S. flag which had flown over the Capitol and cased in a presentation box, it may be appropriate to have the presiding official (or someone else) make the presentation just before or after the retirement order is read. (Such flags are authorized, and can be ordered by contacting the nearest office of your Senate member or Congressional Representative).
Sequence of Events.
Here's a sample of the sequence of events shown in 'Til Wheels Are Up' for retirement ceremonies. Also, we have a "Retirement Ceremony Checklist" for your use. You will want to tailor these to fit your particular situation.
Retiring officer, spouse, and family meet with presiding officer.
Spouse and family escorted into position.
Presiding officer and retiring member proceed to ceremony location.
Narrator announces the presiding officer.
"Ruffles and Flourishes" and General's March may be played, if appropriate for the presiding officer.
Individuals take position on the stage, retiring member stands on presiding officer's left.
National Anthem is played.
Invocation is said if desired.
Presiding officer makes comments (usually pertaining to the retiring member's biography/family).
Presiding officer announces that decoration will be presented.
Narrator reads citation
Aide presents medal to presiding officer.
Medal presented and photo taken.
Presiding officer directs that retirement order be read.
Retirement certificate presented to member; photo taken. (Personal Color may be presented at this point in the ceremony.)
Presiding officer asks spouse to come forward.
Presiding officer presents spouse's certificate; photo taken.
Presiding officer turns floor over to retiring member for comments.
Ceremony concludes and reception follows.
Note: If the retiring member is a General Officer you may want to present his personal color to him as part of the ceremony (based on his desire to do so). One method of doing this is as follows:
Honor Guard NCOIC and Personal Color Bearer move into position.
Honor Guard NCOIC and Personal Color Bearer furl and case Personal Color.
Personal Color Bearer moves into position between the colors and the presiding officer and the retiring officer.
Personal Color Bearer passes Personal Color to the presiding officer.
The presiding officer presents the Personal Color to the retiring officer.
The retiring officer accepts the Personal Color and returns it to the Personal Color Bearer.
Personal Color Bearer returns to original position.
Remember, either you or the retiring officer's office staff should put together an information package for the presiding official well in advance of the ceremony. The package should include, as a minimum, the retiring officer's biography, first and last names of attending family members, and a copy of the sequence of events. Include a copy of the citation if a decoration is to be presented. You may also want to pre-brief the presiding official just prior to the ceremony.
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