Air Force Retirement Ceremony | Kirtland AFB | SMSgt Hettinger

Military Session

As a military spouse myself, I love serving other military families. I typically do this in family photo sessions, but I had a different opportunity with the Hettingers. After 24 years of service, Don was retiring from the Air Force and asked me to capture the celebration of his career. It was an honor to be a small part of such an important day for his family. While his accomplishments are certainly noteworthy and worth celebrating, he and his commander also paid tribute to all the sacrifices that his family made over the years. It was a beautiful Air Force retirement ceremony!

Albuquerque Air Force Retirement Ceremony

We arrived early to meet Don, capture some details, and touch base on the big surprise… During his speech, Don would be surprising his family with a puppy! We got to meet the two-month old pup who was originally hiding in an office with some of Don’s coworkers. I snapped a few pictures of the fluffiest little thing and then we set up for the ceremony.

From start to finish, the ceremony was distinguished, beautiful, and emotional. Don and his commander shared some highlights of his career and recognized the sacrifices that his wife, Stephanie, made with their five children. Tears were shed. Hugs were shared. Gifts were given. Friends and family from far away even joined via livestream. The highlight of the ceremony (at least in my biased opinion) was the big surprise. Don mentioned during his speech that there was one more gift he forgot to give. At that point, a fellow airman walked out with the puppy, which the Hettinger kids (Dylan, Brooklyn, Evelyn, Joslyn, and Kaitlyn) quickly named Franklin. The whole Hettinger crew took turns holding their new furry friend and then the ceremony came to a close.

After the ceremony, we had the opportunity to take photos on the flight line. Don helped maintain both Ospreys and C-130s in his career, so we captured some photos by both aircraft. Franklin roamed the flight line and made his way in and out of the photos. We had a great time on such a beautiful spring day and I just love how the photos turned out.

To the Hettingers, thank you so much for your service and for allowing me to capture the culmination of a successful career for you. I hope you enjoy these memories – and your new puppy! – for many years to come. 💕

First look at Franklin hiding in an office!

I just love these sweet moments! 😍

Emotions were high when Don began his speech by talking individually to each of his children.


Contact Me

If you are interested in having me capture an Air Force retirement ceremony for your family, please reach out! It would be an honor to be part of such an important milestone.

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more about me

I've been navigating military life with my family since 2008. In that time, I went from a full-time classroom teacher to an online course designer to a photographer. Actually, I still teach a little math on the side because I just love it too much!

Through it all, I've discovered how passionate I am about connecting with military families. Whether it's taking photos at a retirement ceremony, coaching a fellow milspouse photographer, or just grabbing coffee with a new squadron friend, I love this community. And as a teacher at heart, I'm excited to use this space to share what I've learned about business and life with you.


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