NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. (WKBW) — After 33 years of service in the Air Force, Chief Master Sergeant Mike Zimmerman of Niagara Falls is retiring. His celebration plans were canceled due to COVID-19, but his family found a way to show their love.
"We were just trying to think of a way to honor him and show him his service really mattered. We're making the best of it," said Joanne Zimmerman, his wife.
They welcomed him with a retirement parade where he spent most of his career in Niagara Falls at the 914th. He's also a leader in the community, serving as President of the Starpoint Central School District Board of Education, an usher at church and Chairman of the Board for the Love Canal Medical Fund.
"He's always been my hero. Not only because of his job, but in my life as well," said Liesel Zimmerman, Mike's Daughter.
Retiring from the Air Force usually brings a big sendoff, including international flights and celebrations of honor, but COVID-19 canceled all of his plans.
"He served selflessly and has kind of been a really great example of a servant leader my whole life and it was just a joy for us to celebrate him and give him the retirement celebration that he deserves," said Liesel Zimmerman.
Despite the rain, neighbors and loved ones lined the streets to celebrate with him. His family says he was overwhelmed with emotion and grateful for both his home family and his Air Force family.
"I just hope he's able to take time to relax and enjoy and continue to do the things that make him happy," said Liesel Zimmerman.