One of the oldest traditions of military service is to recognize Airmen and Guardians retiring from a career of long and honorable service. Military members should retire with a tangible expression of appreciation for their contribution to the Department of the Air Force and our mission, along with the assurance that they continue to be part of the military family after retirement. Commanders recognize the contributions of all retiring service members by conducting a retirement ceremony unless the individual specifically requests not to have one.
AFI 36-3203, Service Retirements, paragraph 126.96.36.199, outlines the items to be presented at the ceremony. At the ceremony, the unit presents:
- DD Form 363AF, Certificate of Retirement, or DD Form 363SPF, Certificate of Retirement, United States Space Force
- United States Flag
- Air Force Retired Lapel Button
- DD Form 2542, Certificate of Appreciation for Service in the Armed Forces of the United States
- The Presidential Letter of Appreciation (if Airman has at least 30 years for retired pay purposes)
- Any awards, decorations, honors, or letters of appreciation
- AF Form 1344, Certificate of Appreciation for Spouse of Retiring Member, or SPF Form 1344, Certificate of Appreciation (if appropriate)
- AF Form 4370, CMSAF Certificate of Appreciation, or SPF Form 4370, CMSSF Certificate of Appreciation
- AF Form 4369, CMSAF Certificate of Appreciation (Spouse) or SPF Form 4369, CMSSF Certificate of Appreciation (Spouse) (if appropriate)
- Review AFI 36-3203, chapter 7, and the Retirements Personnel Services Delivery (PSD) Guide, volume 1, Section M, for more information and certificate preparation instructions.
Commanders ensure the retirement ceremony meets the basic intent and traditions of a military functions, as spelled out in AFI 1-1, Air Force Standards. If the member chooses not to have a formal or informal ceremony or cannot be present for duty on the retirement date due to unforeseen circumstances, the member’s commander, or an officer designated by the commander, personally presents the Certificate of Retirement, Certificate of Appreciation (Spouse), retired lapel button, US Flag and any awards or honors that express appreciation for the member's service.
A checklist is available in the Retirements PSD Guide, Volume 1, Section M-2, to assist individuals designated to arrange the ceremony. Use the checklist to prevent error or oversight that may offend the retiree, their family, or friends. Additional guidance can be found in AF Pamphlet 34-1202, Guide to Protocol, chapter 6.