Retiree going strong at fitness center
By 2nd Lt. Ryan DeCamp, 56th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published July 16, 2009
LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. --
He owns a '65 Mustang, has a college degree in secondary education, fought in Vietnam and was an air traffic controller. He also keeps up with players on the court and punches them out on strikes officiating basketball and softball.
Did I mention he is a 72-year old retired Air Force Master Sergeant?
Charles Dunning joined the Air Force in 1955 and spent more than 23 years on active duty as an ATC. After earning a degree and teaching grades 6 through 12 he spent the next 21 years with the Federal Aviation Administration. Now he spends up to four nights a week officiating on and off Luke Air Force Base.
"I can't stand standing still," Dunning said. "I hope I can keep on going. As long as my feet and legs keep moving then why not? I feel great!"
The Luke intramural referee started calling games in 1975 while stationed in Okinawa. He is the oldest official the Luke fitness center has ever had.
"I like officiating because I get out in the fresh air with softball and in the gym with all the people in basketball," he said. "I really enjoy sports. I just don't want to sit at home."
Dunning played basketball in high school and intramurals in the Air Force. He enjoys softball but says basketball is his game.
"I like basketball because I can run a lot," he said. "I used to play basketball with my son but I can't cut nowadays like I used to. I can still get up and down the court though."
Beyond exercising as a referee, he tries to eat right too he said.
"I try to eat correctly with a lot fish or chicken with fruits and vegetables," he said. "I eat a lot of salads too but I still like my hamburger every now and then though," he said with a laugh.
He credits his ability to keep up with the younger athletes to staying fit throughout his career.
"I really kept in good shape when I was in the Air Force doing a lot of exercise, especially swimming," he said. "When we lived in Denver I used to go to Buckley Air Force Base at least four times a week officiating intramural games and running on their track."
Dunning has advice for the other retirees looking stay in shape too.
"Come out to the gym, talk to the fitness assistants and get a regimen started," he said. "They'll tell you about what to do, how to do it and how long it would be. It doesn't take that long just to workout a little bit. You can go to the mall and just walk in the summertime and all."
Dunning is retired from the Air Force and the FAA and says he loved both of those jobs.
"I can't complain about my careers. I really enjoyed them."
So how does a 72-year-old keep up with men young enough to be his children?
Dunning has five children and he and his current wife Julie have an 18 year old who graduated from high school in May. Mrs. Dunning is 15-years younger than Charles and is also a retired master sergeant who spent 20 years in the Air Force National Guard in New Mexico.