Flint native to retire after 28 years with USAF

WASHINGTON – After 28 years spent serving the United States Air Force, Flint native Chief Master Sergeant Willarvis Smith is retiring his wings.

Smith spent the day in the nation’s capital Wednesday, visiting his local Congressman Dan Kildee (D-MI) and walking the halls of Congress.

“I’ve learned so much being out in the Air Force, out in the world,” Smith said. “It was a blessing to hear him speak those words, and say those things from that little small town of Flint.”

Smith is talking about the moment Kildee recognized his service on the U.S. House of Representative’s floor – calling Smith an honorable, dedicated servant to his country.

“We pause once in a while to recognize the achievements of people from our community, so it’s nice to be able to take a few minutes to do that on the floor of the House,” Kildee said.

Smith, who retires with the highest possible ranking, says it will take time to adjust.

“Being in the military, active duty, traveling around like I have for so long…It’s been intense,” he said. “I’ve been in tactical units most of my career as well. This will take some adjusting, too, but I’m ready for that.”

Kildee and Smith, who both hail from Flint, spent the morning chatting about their hometown, joking about the two competing high schools they attended, Flint Northern and Flint Northwestern.

“There is something about growing up in Flint that we take, is a special source of pride, it’s a great community,” Kildee said.

Now, Chief Smith is retiring to sandy beaches, but not entirely. He’s going to work for the Department of Defense in Hawaii, as a civilian contractor.

“I like serving, in different kind of ways. Volunteering, anything I can do to help out,” Smith said.

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