Airman concludes 34 years of service to Air Force, Kentucky Air Guard

Story by 2nd Lt. James Killen, 123rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs

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Col. Michael Cooper (left), commander of the 123rd Medical Group, presents Chief Master Sgt. Johnie Cherry with a Meritorious Service Medal during Cherry’s retirement ceremony at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., Feb. 7, 2015. Cherry retired after more than 34 years of service to the active-duty Air Force and Air National Guard. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by 2nd. Lt. James Killen)

KENTUCKY AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, LOUISVILLE, Ky.  — After more than 34 years of service to the active-duty Air Force and Air National Guard, Chief Master Sgt. Johnie L. Cherry officially retired during a ceremony held at the Base Annex here Feb. 7.

Cherry, superintendent of the 123rd Medical Group, was responsible for managing health services and medical administrative functions.

The commander of the 123rd Medical Group, Col. Michael Cooper, said he had a deep respect for Cherry’s values and dedication to serve others.

“In our military service we’ve all had someone who was our chief, and I know that for many of you and countless others who could not be here today, Chief Cherry has been, and will always be, your chief,” Cooper told the audience.

Cherry served as a medical service specialist in the active-duty Air Force before joining the Kentucky Air National Guard. He would later cross-train as a public health technician and health services manager before taking responsibility as superintendent.

His decorations include three Air Force Achievement Medals, four Air Force Commendation Medals and three Meritorious Service Medals, in addition to other distinguished awards.

Cherry took the podium to thank the people he said made his career possible. He choked up as he addressed his wife, Sherry, saying, “Without you, this day could not be possible. You are my rock, my inspiration, and I love you with all my heart.”

“To the 123rd Airlift Wing,” Cherry concluded, “as reflected by the many devices on my uniform, you really are an outstanding unit, and the number one airlift wing in the United States Air Force. Thank you.”

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