MSgt. Nickole Leslie Bush retired the afternoon of Saturday, July 5, at the Lakeside Club at Arnold Air Force Base in Tullahoma after twenty-one years of service.
The ceremony took place with 105 guests, including family and friends who traveled from Ohio, Georgia, Florida, Texas, Mississippi, Virginia, Alabama and D.C.
The presiding officer, Capt. Gaylan Gray, and his wife, the narrator, MSgt. Victoria Gray, traveled from Yokota Air Base, Japan.
Retired MSgt. Joy Mines, of Washington, D.C., sang the National Anthem. The Arnold Air Force Base Honor Guard Posted the Colors. The Rev. Willie Leslie, grandfather of the retiree, provided the invocation.
Special guests were recognized and the presiding officer, Capt. Gray, approached the podium to begin his remarks. Capt. Gray is the 374th Medical Group Resource Management Flight Commander. He is also the cousin of MSgt. Bush, making this ceremony extra special for the family.
MSgt. Bush was presented the Defense Meritorious Service Medal authorized by executive order of the President of the United States for service from 1993-2014.
Capt. Gray directed the narrator to publish the retirement orders: “MSgt. Nickole Bush, you are retired from active duty on order of the Secretary of the Air Force and signed by General Mark A. Welsh, USAF, Chief of Staff.”
Bush received the Presidential Certificate of Appreciation, signed by Barack H. Obama, Commander in Chief.
Gary Bush, MSgt. Bush’s husband, came forward to pin the retirement pin on his wife of 17 years and remained standing to receive his certificates of appreciation from the Air Force Chief of Staff and the Spouse Certificate from Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force, James A. Cody.
The Honor Guard Team folded the flag and presented it to MSgt. Bush, who presented it to her mother, a tearful Diane Leslie.
A shadow box in the shape of the master sergeant stripe was presented to Bush by her two best friends, Joy Mines and Frankie Keelings of Valdosta, Ga. An Airman’s shadow box is a showcase of his or her years of service, filled with medals and ribbons. Bush approached the podium for remarks, thanking everyone for being there and presenting her mother-in-law, Mary Bush, roses and a watch to her husband, Gary.
The ceremony concluded with the singing of the USAF song.
MSgt. Bush stood with her family to receive guests and take photos of the reception.
On the table next to the podium were letters from all four former U.S. Presidents, Carter, Bush, Clinton and Bush, along with a proclamation from Lincoln County Mayor Peggy Bevels proclaiming July 5, 2014 as MSgt. Nickole Leslie Bush Day.
A map of all U.S. Air Bases sat on an easel with 21 years of duty stations and TDYs highlighted with red or blue pushpins. To the right of the podium, a table held all the certificates that had been presented to MSgt. Bush during the ceremony.
In addition to being the wife of Gary D. Bush, Nickole Leslie Bush is the mother of Gary, Jr., and the daughter of the late Richard Leslie and of Diane Leslie. She is the granddaughter of Willie Lee and Verna Leslie of Fayetteville and the late Verneta Gray.
Nikki is a 1993 graduate of Lincoln County High School. She received a bachelor of arts in business management in 2003 and master of arts in mental health counseling in 2009.
She served as the Knowledge Operations Manager to the Deputy Director for Partnership Strategy/Trans Regional Policy, U.S. Pentagon, Washington, D.C.