Local hero celebrates 100th birthday

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Deanna Muir
  • 23rd Wing Public Affairs
Celebrating the centennial birthday of a local hero, Moody Air Force Base shines the spotlight on James Herring, a retired chief master sergeant and WWII veteran whose life journey embodies the essence of dedication and sacrifice.

Col. Bobby Buckner, 23rd Maintenance Group commander, and members of the local community recognized Herring for his dedication and service to his country during a celebration at Westside Baptist Church in Valdosta, Georgia, April 28, 2024.

“Celebrating 100 years is quite an accomplishment, but being able to recognize what Chief Herring has done during that precious time is what every Airman at Moody Air Force Base and I are thankful for,” Buckner said in a recognition speech.

At age 17, following the attack on Pearl Harbor, Herring enlisted in the U.S. Navy. Over the ensuing years, he navigated dangerous situations with remarkable resilience. Despite numerous close calls, he emerged unscathed, ultimately receiving an honorable discharge in 1945. Two years later, he enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps, and just eight months afterward, the U.S. Air Force was formed – of which Herring proudly declares himself a charter member.

Herring's military tenure spans 30 years and nine days, encompassing some of the most significant conflicts in modern history. From WWII to the Cuban Missle Crisis, the Berlin Airlift to the Korean Conflict, and the Vietnam and Cold Wars, Herring served with unwavering dedication. Notably, he was stationed in Thailand during the Vietnam War, adding another chapter to his illustrious career.

“I know the danger, hard work, long hours and family separation that Jim endured as his ship liberated islands in the Pacific. But it is that service and sacrifice that has made us stronger. We are ready for the next fight,” Buckner continued.

Although Herring’s time in the service took him all over the world, South Georgia is where he calls home.

Claiming Barretts, Georgia as his hometown, his roots run deep in North Lowndes County. He vividly recalls traversing the farmland with his father, James Thomas Herring, in a horse and buggy – a landscape that would later transform into Moody Field, now Moody Air Force Base.

Herring was honorably discharged from the Air Force in September of 1973 and found himself back at Moody working as a civilian supply contractor.

As a lifelong native of South Georgia, it’s no surprise the community gathered to commemorate this milestone birthday and honor his contributions to the military, community and Moody AFB.

“Jim is one of the finest men I’ve ever met,” said Bill Malone, a friend and local community member. “He’s the epitome of the greatest generation. I appreciate him and love him with all of my heart.”

As Moody Air Force Base celebrates this milestone, Herring's legacy serves as a poignant reminder of the sacrifices made by veterans like him. His steadfast commitment to duty and his profound connection to the base's history epitomize the enduring spirit of the Air Force community.

“Chief Herring, it has been veterans like you that know the price of freedom,” Buckner said. “As we celebrate your 100 years of life, today it will be your service that will ensure we know the price of freedom for the next 100 years.”

As the celebration came to an end, Herring was at a loss for words but shared one piece of advice for the crowd to live by, “What’s life without a little fun?”