Rare military retirement ceremony conducted in Luverne
Retirement from the U.S. Air Force traditionally involves a special ceremony at the airman’s last assigned base.
Rarely does the ceremony travel hundreds of miles to be presented near the airman’s hometown.
For Master Sergeant Nathan Rust, however, he wanted his retirement ceremony conducted at home and with family and close friends.
“I wanted as much family as possible,” the 21-year veteran said. “I didn’t want to be telling my life story to strangers.”
Instead, Grand Prairie Events in Luverne was filled with about 120 friends and family on July 15 including his 84-year-old grandmother, Joan Heeren, Luverne, who, Rust said, probably couldn’t attend a similar ceremony at the Langley Air Force Base in Eustis, Virginia.
Coordination of the off-base ceremony came easily to Master Sergeant Rust, who leads and manages 15 management inspections annually, involving 225 active military units and over 148,000 personnel.
At his retirement ceremony, Rust remembered many of those who impacted his journey into and through his years in the Air Force.
“Everyone in this room has had an impact on me,” he said.
Their impact gently nudged Rust to obey rules and finish his high school education.
“He was always in trouble,” brother Justin remembered. “I learned what not to do.”
Justin, however, followed in his brother’s footsteps and joined the Air Force in 2000.
Justin, a master sergeant, is currently stationed at NATO Air Base near Geilenkirchen, Germany. He flew home especially to preside as master of ceremonies at his brother’s retirement.
“I joined the military because of my brother,” Justin said.
Echoing the same reason was Rebecca (Smook) Nistler, who joined the U.S. Air Force and traveled from Georgia to preside over Nathan’s retirement ceremony.
She credited Rust for her Air Force enlistment in 2000, when he returned to Luverne High School for a visit. He was dressed in his official blue uniform.
“When I first saw him walking in his dress blues into the high school, he walked as if he had pride, purpose and meaning,” she said.
From that impression Nistler chose the U.S. Air Force as a career.
She is currently a captain at Dobbins Air Reserve Base near Marietta, Georgia.
Her role model entered the U.S. Air Force in 1996. Nathan Rust completed three deployments and seven different base assignments.
“This career has been amazing,” Nathan said.
He will officially retire on Sept. 1 and turn his sights to another passion, automobiles.
“Rusty’s Garage” will feature auto sales, maintenance and recovery service and finally receive his full attention.
“If I am not busy, I am in trouble,” he said.
Rust will stay in the Virginia area as his wife, Darlene, continues her career with the U.S. Air Force until she retires.
The Rusts have three children, Lexie, 18, Tyler, 16, and Ethan, 11.
Nathan is the son of Kraig and Patricia Rust, Kenneth. In addition to Heeren, his grandparents are Bud and Gloria Rust, also of Kenneth.