JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. --
Joint Base Andrews members bid farewell to former President Barack Obama and thanked him for his leadership here during a ceremony, Jan. 20.
This event was also marked by Obama’s final departure on presidential aircraft, this time known as Special Air Mission 44 instead of Air Force One, a designation reserved for use by the president.
More than 1,800 guests attended the event, most of which were White House staff, Joint Base Andrews leadership and media.
“This is a good way to say thank you to Obama for everything he’s done,” said Senior Airman Laura Stemm, 811th Security Forces Squadron commander’s support staff administrator. “We also want him to know, as he’s transitioning to this new part of his life, we’re still thinking of him and wishing him the best.”
Obama arrived on a U.S. Marine Corps Marine Helicopter Squadron One aircraft and was greeted by 89th Airlift Wing and 11th Wing leadership before making his way into the ceremony.
“It is part of our national tradition to honor the outgoing President and First Family in this manner, and we are honored to be their host as America’s Airmen,” said Col. Julie A. Gundahl, 11th Wing vice commander. “Our Airmen were with President Obama in the initial hours of his presidency and throughout his tenure; it is fitting that we stand by him now as he departs.”
The ceremony was kicked off by the playing of the national anthem and Ruffles and Flourishes by the U.S. Air Force Band and a 21-gun salute.
The former president then took the stage and thanked his staff and all the others who assisted him during his presidency.
“For all of you who have just done amazing, remarkable work—most of it unheralded, most of it without fanfare, most of it without you getting any word of thanks—I could not be prouder of you,” said former President of the U.S. Barack Obama. “This has been a privilege of my life and I know I speak for Michelle as well. We look forward to continuing this journey with all of you.”
Joint Base Andrews supported Obama during his two terms as the 44th President of the U.S. by providing services like transportation, security and recreation.
The base’s final act of thanks was the execution of the farewell ceremony with the help of security forces, civil engineering, public affairs, contracting and logistic readiness.
“We take great pride in the first-class support we provide to the President and the First Family,” Grundahl said. “Perfection is our standard whether we are supporting him or the tens of thousands of [Department of Defense] members, families and veterans who are supported by Joint Base Andrews.”
The ceremony concluded as Obama exited the stage and walked through a cordon made up of Military District of Washington Joint Honor Guardsmen to his last flight on presidential aircraft.