Veterans Day in Texas
At the Frontiers of Flight Museum in Dallas, AFA was front and center during a Veterans Day ceremony that recognized World War II WASPs, Women Airforce Service Pilots.
US Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Tex.) asked AFA Texas State President Kelly M. Jones, from the Abilene Chapter, to take the lead on the event. As the sponsor, AFA Texas chapters raised $5,000 and brought together some 20 WASPs from around Texas, as well as arranged for an Air Force ROTC color guard, choral music, and a luncheon for the guests of honor.
Jones was master of ceremonies for the event, where keynote speakers were Hutchison and Alamo Chapter member Col. Jacqueline D. Van Ovost, commander of the 12th Flying Training Wing at Randolph AFB, Tex.
AFA Board Chairman Joe Sutter and his wife, Geri (both in the back row, left), met President Obama (second from right) and Michelle Obama (fourth from right) at a White House breakfast on Veterans Day. At their table were representatives of other veterans organizations. They later attended a memorial service at Arlington National Cemetery, where Joe Sutter laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns. (Photo courtesy the White House)
Hutchison had sponsored a bill—signed into law in July—that awarded WASPs the Congressional Gold Medal. At this Dallas Veterans Day ceremony, she presented each WASP with gold-page replicas of Public Law 111-40. (The actual medal is still being made by the US Mint.)
During World War II, WASPs worked as test pilots, towed targets, flew weather reconnaissance missions, flew student navigators and bombardiers, and instructed pilots.
As for the Texas tie-in: Houston Municipal Airport and Avenger Field in Sweetwater, Tex., were the earliest sites for WASP training.
Are You Ready for Some Football
The Nov. 16 nationally televised Monday Night Football game began with Fred Kubli Jr. from Ohio’s Steel Valley Chapter tossing the ceremonial coin into the air.
The Baltimore Ravens won the coin toss and went on to shut out the Cleveland Browns, 16 to zero. The game, held in Cleveland, was televised in prime time.
How did AFA get into the picture
The 910th Airlift Wing, Youngstown ARS, Ohio, nominated Kubli—longtime Steel Valley Chapter president and now its VP—to represent the World War II veterans being honored at this game. The 910th personnel are a main focus of the chapter, which holds many events at the Air Reserve Station and recently recognized outstanding wing members with an annual awards banquet in May.
In its coverage of the coin toss, a feature article in the Tribune Chronicle newspaper of Warren, Ohio, highlighted AFA several times.
It noted that the wing nominated Kubli because of his World War II Army service with the 139th Semi-Mobile Evacuation Hospital “and for his more than 40 years of work with the Air Force Association.”
To Its Former Glory—Again
Chapter VP Ransom Meriam calls it a “long-term Gold Coast Chapter 351 project.” Long-term in this case spans nearly 40 years.
On Veterans Day in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., the chapter led the formal rededication of an F-86H Sabre, with retired Maj. Gen. Frederick C. “Boots” Blesse, a Korean War double ace, as guest speaker. It was the second, if not third, time the fighter aircraft has been dedicated.
The saga began in 1970 when then-chapter leader Robert M. Rawls persuaded the city to acquire F-86H, #53-1255, from the Maryland Air National Guard.
By 1999, the aircraft had corroded from being displayed outdoors. With the city’s blessing, chapter members organized a complex restoration effort that involved trucking the Sabre down the coast to Homestead Air Reserve Base.
Reservist volunteers, some from as far afield as Tinker AFB, Okla., and Hill AFB, Utah, worked for five years on the restoration. The chapter raised funds for materials and supplies.
In 2004, the chapter dedicated the restored F-86 at Fort Lauderdale’s Holiday Park.
The next year, Hurricane Wilma knocked it to the ground.
The chapter prevailed on the city for repairs, and in September—restored yet again—the F-86 was raised back on to its 12-foot-high pedestal.
In Fort Lauderdale, the Veterans Day commemoration began with a chapter-hosted breakfast and culminated with the rededication.
The restoration and rededication were organized by chapter officers Harvey D. Bennett, Fran C. Shaw, Milton Markowitz, Joseph H. Roberts, Loretta Young, Meriam, and chapter member Ron Edmunds.
Meriam reported that this time, three massive footers around the pedestal, with fittings for guy wires, will tether the aircraft in future storms.
Veterans Day in Iowa
In Iowa, the Fort Dodge Chapter carried out its annual observance ceremony for Veterans Day, with an Air Force Outstanding Airman of the Year as guest speaker.
AFA National Director Justin M. Faiferlick explained that as soon as the Outstanding Airmen for 2009 were announced, he sought out the one located closest to Iowa: ANG MSgt. Tyrone F. Bingham, a host aviation resource management superintendent with the 170th Operational Support Squadron at Offutt AFB, Neb., and an Ak-Sar-Ben Chapter (Neb.) member.
Bingham agreed to speak at the November ceremony, so Faiferlick and his wife, Iowa State President Deann Faiferlick, kept in touch with him over the summer and met him in person at AFA’s Air & Space Conference and National Convention in September.
Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Tex., addresses Women Airforce Service Pilots and their families at a ceremony in Dallas honoring the World War II pilots. On the podium with her are (l-r) Col. Jacqueline Van Ovost, 12th Flying Training Wing commander, and Kelly Jones, the Texas state president. (USAF photo by SrA. Katie Hickerson)
In the meantime, a chapter committee made up of both Faiferlicks, Chapter President Luke T. Ascherl, and VP Jason Kolacia arranged for the 133rd Test Squadron (ANG) to provide a color guard and to conduct a POW-MIA memorial ceremony for the Veterans Day remembrance. They called on Veterans of Foreign Wars and Marine Corps League representatives for a rifle detail and to carry out a flag ceremony. They contacted local media and printed color programs to be handed out at the event.
Ascherl was master of ceremonies for the Nov. 11 service. It took place at St. Edmond High School, whose students handed out programs, ran the sound system, and performed music.
Bingham spoke to an audience of 125 guests about the World War II “greatest generation” veterans and today’s young vets of the war on terror.
Justin Faiferlick wrote afterward that Bingham told him the Veterans Day ceremony was “definitely a highlight of the year” for the Guardsman from Nebraska.
C2ISR Summit VII
Retired Gen. John P. Jumper returned to the podium for the eighth annual C2ISR Symposium and Technology Exposition, co-sponsored by the Paul Revere Chapter (Mass.) and Electronic Systems Center of Hanscom AFB, Mass.
As Air Force Chief of Staff from 2001 to 2005, Jumper had been a keynote speaker for the inaugural C2ISR summit in 2002. In his opening address this September, he said that lean defense budgets mean that “the next generation of advancements and transformation in combat power will be more about how we integrate the stuff we’ve already got.”
Air Force Secretary Michael B. Donley, Chief of Staff Gen. Norton A. Schwartz, and commander of Air Force Space Command Gen. C. Robert Kehler were among other guest speakers at the summit, held at a resort in Ledyard, Conn. Other presenters included C2ISR operators, budget and acquisition experts, and industry leaders.
The Revere Chapter—at the time led by Angela M. Dupont—hosted several events held in conjunction with three days of symposium activities: a golf tournament on the resort’s championship course, an opening reception, and an Aerospace Education Scholarship Dinner.
“Around Smart, Young Cadets”
AFA’s North Central Region, headed by James W. Simons, held its annual conference in October in Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minn., home of the Gen. E. W. Rawlings Chapter. The meeting was timed to coincide with an AFROTC conclave sponsored by the Arnold Air Society—an AFA affiliate—and Silver Wings, the AAS partner organization.
As guest speaker for the AFA meeting, AFA Vice Chairman of the Board for Aerospace Education S. Sanford Schlitt updated the region’s field leaders on association activities.
Other presentations covered AFA support for the Total Force, AFROTC, AFJROTC, the Civil Air Patrol, and Visions of Exploration. Visions is a joint AFA-USA Today newspaper program that encourages students’ interest in studying science, technology, engineering, and math.
Schlitt later addressed AAS and Silver Wings members, informing them about AFA’s history and mission and promoting membership in the association.
A joint AFA-cadet banquet on the last evening featured Maj. Dave Skalicky as guest speaker. The Minneapolis native is the Air Force’s F-22 Aerial Demonstration Team commander, based at Langley AFB, Va.
Minnesota State President Glenn M. Shull commented that the cadets “stole the show” during the three-day conference. After all, he asked, “Who doesn’t want to be around smart, young cadets?”
More Chapter News
In Texas, the Alamo Chapter, headed by Gary L. Copsey, hosted 400 guests at its 39th annual Combat Breakfast Nov. 3 at the Kendrick Enlisted Club, Randolph AFB, Tex. As is tradition for this event, which emphasizes the Air Force role in combat, the Airman Battle Uniform, Battle Dress Uniform, or a flight suit was the uniform of the day. Brig. Gen. Leonard A. Patrick, commander of the 502nd Air Base Wing at Ft. Sam Houston, Tex., was guest speaker. The Combat Breakfast is part of San Antonio’s Celebrate America’s Military Week.
The Lexington Chapter (Ky.) celebrated the Air Force’s anniversary in September, with more than 80 guests at a dinner at the Aviation Museum of Kentucky. James R. Jenkins and Vaiden Cox, state AFA officials, presented $1,500 to the museum. Keynote speaker, Lt. Col. Kevin J. Raybine from the University of Louisville’s AFROTC unit, is a former B-2 pilot and spoke about the stealth bomber’s capabilities. Also that evening, the chapter presented a memorial plaque to Russell McElroy and Mary McElroy Perry. Their father, Kentucky native Maj. John L. McElroy, was a C-130 navigator in the Vietnam War. His aircraft was shot down near Da Nang in 1968. His remains were identified and buried in Arlington National Cemetery a year ago.
On Oct. 26, the Lt. Col. B. D. “Buzz” Wagner Chapter in Johnstown, Pa., held a birthday anniversary dinner for its namesake. Wagner was born in nearby Emeigh in 1916 and became the first AAF ace of World War II on Dec. 16, 1941 in the Philippines. After eight aerial victories, Wagner returned to the states, but died in 1942 in a P-40 Warhawk crash near Eglin AFB, Fla. His remains were then buried near Johnstown, but in 2008 and 2009, James E. Moschgat, researching a book on Wagner, found more remains and several personal items at the crash site. At the October chapter dinner, Boyd Wagner Gilbert, Wagner’s nephew, updated chapter members on DNA testing now being conducted on the newly discovered remains.
The Langley Chapter (Va.) sponsored a bus trip that enabled more than 50 AFJROTC cadets from Hampton High School to attend AFA’s Air & Space Conference and Technology Exposition in September. Retired Maj. Paul A. Willard II, the cadets’ senior aerospace science instructor—and also a chapter member—requested help from the chapter for this field trip, and chapter members Keith Ebert and Randy Hobbs made the arrangements. Willard reported that one cadet, dazzled by the expo, said, “This is a tech geek’s paradise.”
AFA Nebraska Vice President for Education Diane R. Bartels, from the Lincoln Chapter, and Ak-Sar-Ben Chapter President John D. Daly presented the 2009 Nebraska State Teacher of the Year award to Pamela Galus at a schoolwide assembly. Galus is a science teacher at Omaha’s Lothrop Magnet Center. The school specializes in science, technology, and Spanish, with some 400 students in grades pre-K to fourth grade.
With help from the Civil Air Patrol’s Siouxland Composite Squadron, the Richard D. Kisling Chapter in Iowa participated in the annual Pioneer Valley Days parade in August in Sergeant Bluff, Iowa. The parade celebrates the town’s history. Chapter President Kenneth E. Watkins led the chapter contribution, with help from Chapter Treasurer Sandra Watkins, chapter member Ronald E. Lenz, and other volunteers. A CAP color guard marched behind a truck decorated with an Air Force Association banner, while other cadets handed out candy to parade viewers along the two-mile route. Lenz said it was the latest effort by the chapter to include the CAP while raising AFA’s profile in the community.
When an Honor Flight operation from Ocala, Fla., needed help, the Donald W. Steele Sr. Memorial Chapter in Virginia stepped in. Honor Flights take World War II veterans to Washington, D.C., so they can see the new memorial commemorating their wartime service. Honor Flight from Ocala learned just days before an October trip that those who were to meet the vets’ airplane to help the wheelchair-bound had to cancel out. Red Tail Memorial Chapter (Fla.) President Michael Emig immediately contacted Air Force Association chapters in the D.C. area. Steele Chapter External Affairs VP Kevin Lewis and members Robert Keighery and Col. Robert Colella were among those who responded. So did University of Maryland AFROTC cadets and some 40 other volunteers. Emig said US Rep. Clifford Stearns (R-Fla.) and former US Republican Senator Elizabeth Dole even went to the memorial to greet the veterans. AFA, Emig said, saved this Honor Flight.
AFA Chairman of the Board Joe Sutter attended the 313th Recruiting Squadron’s annual awards banquet in Tannersville, Pa. AFA member Lt. Col. Thomas Rudy heads the unit, based in North Syracuse, N.Y. Sutter spoke about Air Force role models and said his current heroes are the service’s 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year. “Where do we find them?” he asked the recruiters. “You’re the people who find them,” he said, and he challenged them to keep it up.
AFA’s Field Leaders Attend Annual Orientation
The Air Force Association’s 14 Region Presidents and 29 of its State Presidents attended the annual Region and State Presidents Meeting in Arlington, Va., in October. Many field leaders were new to the position; some, as AFA Board Chairman Joseph E. Sutter noted in his opening remarks, were there “on a second tour.” All were on hand for an orientation to AFA operations.
During two days of information sessions and workshops, the field leaders took in “AFA 101,” a detailed briefing on region, state, and chapter requirements; learned about the aerospace education component of AFA’s mission; were briefed on the USAF Year of the Air Force Family program; and listened to department directors and representatives from AFA’s national headquarters describe the functions of their sections. AFA President-Chief Executive Officer Michael M. Dunn spoke about the association’s strategic focus and direction. AFA Vice Chairman of the Board for Field Operations James R. Lauducci conducted a field operations session.
Pointing out the importance of this Region and State Presidents Meeting, Lauducci said, “If we just want to listen to briefings, we can do that by teleconference.” He said meeting face-to-face gives field leaders a chance to learn informally from each other.
During one session, for example, Mark J. Dierlam, the South Central Region President, mentioned the importance of building a long-term relationship with Congressional staffers. Arizona State President Harry Bailey said he studied AFA’s Top 10 Issues and boiled them down to one, for a quick soundbite. Louisiana State President Paul LaFlame told attendees that always being ready to list AFA’s benefits has helped him recruit new members.
Several of the presentations from the Region and State Presidents Meeting are available online at: http://www.afa.org/members/field.asp.
37th SPS/12th SPS, Phu Cat AB, South Vietnam. April 29-May 1 in San Antonio. Contacts: Pete Piazza (405-921-8900) (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Marvin Hiller (414-336-9105) (email@example.com).
91st Strategic Recon/Bomb/Missile/Space Wg, including all units and McGuire, Yokota, Barksdale, and Lockbourne personnel. May 12-17 at the El Tropicano Riverwalk Hotel in San Antonio. Contact: Jim Bard, 3424 Nottingham Rd., Westminster, MD 21157 (410-549-1094) (firstname.lastname@example.org).
622nd ARS (1955-64). April 26-30 in Fort Walton Beach, FL. Contact: Bob Cleckler (334-365-2108) (email@example.com).
Air Force Public Affairs Alumni Assn., including current and former public affairs personnel, all fields. April 22-24 at the Caribe Royale Hotel in Orlando, FL. Contact: John Terino (703-239-2704) (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Albrook air police, Albrook AFB, Panama Canal Zone (1951-55). April 27-29 in Gettysburg, PA. Contact: Bob Carlson, 29 Rainbow Pond Dr., Apt. A-1, Walpole, MA 02081-3460 (508-668-1655) (email@example.com).
B-58 Hustler Assn. May 17-21 at the Gold Coast Hotel in Las Vegas. Contact: Bill Shunney (702-896-3400) (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Bunker Hill/Grissom AFB firefighters (1960s). 2010 at Grissom ARB, IN. Contact: Bob Breckel (email@example.com).
Doolittle Tokyo Raiders. April 16-18 at the National Museum of the US Air Force in Dayton, OH. Contact: National Museum of the US Air Force (937-904-9881).
Pilot Tng Class 65-F, Webb AFB. March 2-4 in Cocoa Beach, FL. Contact: John McNamara (904-373-0583) (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Ramey Air Force Base Historical Assn. April 13-17 at Robins AFB, GA. Contact: Ted Raymond (623-271-9619) (email@example.com).
Red River Valley Assn.-NAM POW. April in Orlando, FL. Contact: Bruce Slasienski, 7240 Coventry Ct., #317, Naples, FL 34104 (239-352-3242) (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Undergraduate Navigator Class 63-1, James Connally AFB. April 29-May 2 at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Destin, FL. Contacts: Jack Brennan (850-897-1163) or Ken McNair (425-226-5501).
Seeking 620th TCS and supporting units’ personnel, Monkey Mountain, Vietnam (1970-73) for a reunion. Contact: Craig Lovell (281-992-4914) (email@example.com).
Unit reunion notices should be sent four months ahead of the event to firstname.lastname@example.org, or mail notices to “Unit Reunions,” Air Force Magazine, 1501 Lee Highway, Arlington, VA 22209-1198. Please designate the unit holding the reunion, time, location, and a contact for more information. We reserve the right to condense notices.
An F-86H Sabre gets hoisted back onto its pedestal in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The Gold Coast Chapter pushed for its restoration after a hurricane damaged it.
Richard D. Kisling Chapter President Kenneth Watkins sits on the running board of a truck used in an Iowa parade. CAP members helped with the project.
Joe Sutter (third from right) attended the 313th Recruiting Squadron awards banquet. L-r: Lt. Col. Thomas Rudy, commander; TSgt. Haylee James, receiving the squadron line officer of the year award; and CMSgt. Lou Francavilla, 313th superintendent.
AFA leaders Jim Simons (yellow tie) and (l-r) Sandy Schlitt, AFA Vice Chairman of the Board for Education; Vic Seavers; Glenn Shull; and (far right) James Bowman pose with organizers of a cadet conclave in Minneapolis.
Several guests help cut the cake at an Air Force birthday celebration in Lexington, Ky. AFA Kentucky and the Kentucky Air National Guard were the hosts, led by CMSgt. Thomas Downs (back row, second from left).
Pennsylvania State President Bob Rutledge, Buzz Wagner Chapter President Bill Burns, and Medal of Merit recipient George Henderson (l-r) display awards at a chapter dinner.
AFA Nebraska state education VP Diane Bartels (l) presents the State Teacher of the Year award to Pamela Galus. Ak-Sar-Ben Chapter President John Daly leads the applause.
Sandy Schlitt (l) and retired Gen. John Corley stand on either side of Col. Tonya Hagmaier, commandant of the Judge Advocate General School, Maxwell AFB, Ala. With them are some of USAF’s newest lawyers. Both Schlitt and Corley addressed the class.
Angela Dupont, then Paul Revere Chapter president, cuts the ribbon to open the chapter’s C4ISR conference. L-r: retired Gen. William Looney, Tom Powis, retired Gen. John Jumper, Lt. Gen. Ted Bowlds, Col. Rob Dominguez, and AFA Vice Chairman of the Board for Field Operations James Lauducci. USAF photo by Rick Berry.