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Veterans reunite 40 years later at Moody

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Janiqua P. Robinson
  • 23rd Wing Public Affairs

Former pilots and weapons systems officers who were stationed at Moody AFB in the late 1970s joined from all over the country to attend a reunion April 24 through 26.

The group of nearly 85 veterans spent their time visiting their old stomping grounds, seeing familiar faces and reliving some of their proudest and memorable experiences as Airmen 40 years ago.

“A wise Airman once said that during a family’s second or third assignment they will likely develop the friendships that will stick together for the rest of their lives,” said retired Maj. Gen. L.D. Johnston. “Many of us feel our assignment at Moody was such an assignment.”

Many fought alongside one another during the Vietnam War and afterwards were stationed at Moody when it transitioned to the Tactical Air Command in support of the F-4E Phantom II’s mission.

“It’s that kind of stress that really makes families stick together and people keep in touch,” Johnston added. “In 1977, we were all stationed at Moody flying the F4 Phantom. We’ve pretty much kept in touch since then. We had a small reunion in the early 80s at Ramstein [Air Base, Germany,] and a pretty good 30 year reunion in Vegas.”

Many of the veterans haven’t had a chance to come back to the one place they’d all served and wanted to visit.

“I sent an email asking if people wanted to come to Valdosta for the 40-year reunion,” Johnston said. “[I] had the first RSVP in about 10 seconds.”

Their excursions around Moody included touring the Air Park, flightline, 74th and 75th squadrons, testing out Moody’s golf course and reminiscing about the time they spent serving together.

“What sticks out to me the most is the mutually shared sacrifice that every career field in the service goes through,” said retired Brig. Gen. James Timothy Bodie Jr. “It just makes you real happy to see people you haven’t seen in 40 years; it’s a real hoot.

“The rest of these folks are in their 70s, but I’ll be 86 in October,” Bodie added. “It’s a wonderful experience renewing friendships and contacts, and to see so many people alive and well who were able to attend.”

While rekindling their friendships, the retirees also got a glimpse of what the Flying Tigers are up to now and how their generation laid the foundation for today’s Airmen.

“We raised a generation of warriors,” Bodie said. “I feel good about their successes, because I was a part of that. Just about all of these folks [attending the reunion] have been in combat and survived. I’m glad to be back at Moody and see the changes that have taken place.”