JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas —
Carl Powers, retired Air Force senior master sergeant, closed the book on his federal civilian career last month, tallying nearly half a century of service in and out of uniform.
Retiring amid the COVID-19 pandemic meant his unit would be unable to render traditional, full honors to the T-6 Texan maintainer, who is the "T-6's most beloved maintainer," said Maj. John Camponovo, 39th Flying Training Squadron T-6 flight commander.
The 39th FTS is one of seven Air Force Reserve squadrons under the 340th Flying Training Group headquartered at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, Texas. Instructor pilots assigned to the 39th FTS fly T-38 Talons, T-6 Texans and T-1 Jayhawks side-by-side with regular Air Force instructors from the 12th Flying Training Wing.
While physical distancing rules affected their farewell plans, it was unthinkable for the Cobras to allow the occasion to go uncelebrated. To ensure Powers knew how much he means to his teammates, 39th FTS, 12th Flying Training Wing and 559th FTS Airmen planned an outdoor, physically distanced, masked celebration that culminated with Powers being presented a print on canvas of his T-6 team and aircraft.
Enlisted in 1970, Powers served as an F-4 and T-37 maintainer throughout several stateside and overseas assignments. A year after his 1994 retirement from active duty, he was hired as a bead blast operator on the T-37, T-38 and F-16 aircraft, working his way into supervisory roles and retiring as a work leader.
Powers' retirement celebration was May 31. His goals for the retirement phase of his life are to travel, do volunteer work and "Spend time with my lovely wife, Arlene," he said.