His career began in 1970, when he enlisted in the U.S. Navy. Upon completion of Navy Boot Camp at Great Lakes Naval Training in Illinois and the Naval Fleet Training in Memphis, Tenn., his first tour of duty was aboard the USS Ranger CVA-61.
Airmen Perry was assigned to the shipboard crew working in the V-4 division, for which his main job was refueling aircraft assigned to the ship. He worked all the jobs on the flight deck and in the hanger bay and pump rooms. Perry completed three Westpac tours of duty on board the Ranger.
After completing his four years in the Navy, he entered the reserve fleet as a weekend sailor. That year he also entered the police academy in southwestern Michigan. Upon graduation, he became a police officer for the Village of Dundee, Mich.
In 1978, Perry enlisted in the Army Guard and was stationed at a decommissioned Nike base and armory in Monroe, Mich. The unit’s primary function was fire support for aircraft and artillery.
In 1981, Perry moved to California and enlisted with the U.S. Air Force as an Air Guard member of the 129th RQW, stationed at NAS Moffett Field in Mountain View. The 129th’s main function during wartime is combat rescue, and in peacetime it performs local search and rescue. Staff Sgt. Perry worked under the Logistics Squadron.
In 1987, Perry became a full-time air technician, a role he continued until he was retiured by the Air Force this month at age 60. During his time, he was promoted to the rank of technical sergeant.
During his career, Perry fueled Air Force One for every president starting with Ronald Reagan. He was also awarded the Military Cross for actions performed during the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake.