AFA National Report

Feb. 1, 2008

Los Angeles Ball

Lt. Gen. Michael A. Hamel, commander of Space and Missile Systems Center at Los Angeles AFB, Calif., received the prestigious Gen. Thomas D. White USAF Space Award at the Air Force Ball in Los Angeles in November.

The Air Force Association’s Gen. B.A. Schriever Los Angeles Chapter sponsored this 36th annual gala, with the aid of the General Doolittle Los Angeles Area Chapter and the Orange County/Gen. Curtis E. LeMay Chapter.

The award recognized Hamel’s leadership of an organization that completed 54 consecutive, successful launches, among its accomplishments in 2006.

The ball was a highlight of AFA’s National Symposium on Space. It also paid tribute to the Air Force’s 60th birthday, milestones in space achieved over the past year, and the late Gen. Bernard A. Schriever, who is often called “the father” of America’s ballistic missile and space programs.

At the Los Angeles Ball in November, Lt. Gen. Michael Hamel receives the Gen. Thomas D. White USAF Space Award from AFA Board Chairman Bob Largent (left) and Brian Arnold (right), chairman of the board for the Gen. B.A. Schriever Los Angeles Chapter. (USAF photo by Ron Hall)

More on the LA Ball

Another LA Ball honor recalled Schriever’s role in Air Force history: The “Schoolhouse Gang” was named an AFA Gen. Bernard A. Schriever Fellow.

The Schoolhouse Gang was a nickname for the men and women who joined Schriever at Air Research and Development Command’s Western Development Division in Inglewood, Calif., in 1954. They worked in an abandoned parochial school—thus their nickname. Under Schriever’s command, they carried out the program for America’s ballistic missile program.

Retired USAF Lt. Col. Bill Getz accepted the tribute on behalf of the group. S. Sanford Schlitt, AFA Vice Chairman of the Board for Aerospace Education; Martin Ledwitz, California state president; and Pam Levine, president of the Schriever Chapter, presented the award.

The Air Force Ball in Los Angeles raised $20,000 for AFA and the Schriever Chapter’s education foundation. The general chairman for the ball, Roger A. Krone—Boeing president of network and space systems—told the audience that the foundation last year distributed $45,000 in scholarships and support to local Air Force personnel and units and sponsored 83 classrooms in the Visions of Exploration program. Visions is co-sponsored by AFA and USA Today newspaper and encourages elementary, middle, and high school students to study math, science, and technology.

Visiting Team Moody

AFA Chairman of the Board Robert E. Largent visited Moody AFB, Ga., in December, at the suggestion of the South Georgia Chapter, headed by Nick Lacey.

Over the course of two days, Largent received a comprehensive orientation to Moody’s host unit, the 23rd Wing, and its missions of close air support, force protection, and combat search and rescue. At the 820th Security Forces Group, he listened to briefings and observed demonstrations of the unit’s capabilities. He also presented the 2007 AFA national-level Civilian Program Manager of the Year award to the 820th’s Robert D. LeFever, the group’s chief of operations and training.

Largent met some of Moody’s junior airmen when he addressed the Jason D. Cunningham Airman Leadership School, speaking to them about their tie to the legendary Flying Tigers. The 23rd Fighter Group of World War II initially owed its aircraft, several pilots, and the Flying Tigers nickname to Claire L. Chennault’s American Volunteer Group. The 23rd FG became part of the 23rd Wing in August 2006, and the wing carries on the heritage of the Flying Tigers.

A live-fire combat search and rescue demonstration gave Largent a close look at Moody’s combat capabilities, as an HC-130P dropped pararescuemen behind enemy lines, an A-10 provided close air support, and an HH-60G helicopter rescued an “injured” pilot.

Accompanying Largent on this orientation tour was Southeast Region President Don Michels, Georgia State President Gregory A. Bricker, and South Georgia Chapter member W. Parker Greene. Largent’s hosts included Col. Kenneth Todorov, the wing commander, and Col. Eric Kivi, 347th Rescue Group commander.

Largent’s visit to Team Moody received coverage, including several photos, on the base’s and the Air Force’s Web site, where he noted that the airmen impressed him with “their positive attitude, ingenuity, and articulate knowledge of their individual responsibilities.”

AFA Explores a Group Approach

Air Force Association Chairman of the Board Robert E. Largent and Michael M. Dunn, AFA’s president and chief executive officer, hosted a gathering of several Air Force-related associations in December to discuss establishing a federation. The federation of associations would share resources and information, explore synergies for efficient operation and cost savings, and band together to support the Air Force and Air Force family.

Attending the meeting at AFA headquarters in Arlington, Va., were representatives from the Air Force Historical Foundation, Air Force Navigator Observer Association, Air Force Sergeants Association, Airlift/Tanker Association, Air Rescue Association, Association of Air Force Missileers, and the Jolly Green Association. These groups and others plan to meet again to discuss common issues and strategies for working with Congress.

Joe Sutter, AFA’s Vice Chairman of the Board for Field Operations (third from the left), and Alfred Coffman Jr. (far right) led the Gen. Bruce K. Holloway Chapter in arranging a visit to Washington, D.C., by 112 World War II veterans from Knoxville, Tenn. Standing with them at the Air Force Memorial are (l-r) Derick Seaton and Jack Westbrook. The Gen. Charles A. Gabriel Chapter in Virginia helped direct the tour and coordinated a luncheon for the visitors.

Pearl Harbor Remembrance

The Long Island Chapter sponsored the annual Pearl Harbor remembrance on Dec. 7 in New York, this year attracting the most attention yet. Event organizer Fred DiFabio called it “unbelievable” and noted that two national TV newscasts and several local TV stations and print news outlets covered the ceremonies.

More than a thousand spectators—including 11 members of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association—gathered at the American Airpower Museum in Farmingdale, N.Y., to pay tribute to those who died in the 1941 Japanese attack.

David T. Buckwalter, a former AFA national director and former New England region president, was keynote speaker. A Navy bell chimed, as the names of Pearl Harbor veterans who died in the past year were read. The playing of Taps honored all vets who have died. Then P-40, P-51, and AT-6 warbirds flew 66 American Beauty roses—one for each year that has passed since 1941—to the waters around the Statue of Liberty. They dropped the roses into the water surrounding this icon at 12:55 p.m., the exact time on the East Coast of the Japanese attack in Hawaii.

Because of this, the Pearl Harbor remembrance is called the “Dropping of the Roses.” It’s a tradition started in 1970 by a Pearl Harbor survivor Joseph S. Hydrusko, who used to drop the flowers from his own airplane. After his death, Long Island Chapter members Irvin Hansen and the late Walter Zywan kept the tradition going. Nine years ago, the chapter took on the responsibility of conducting the ceremony.

Meet the Future

In Sumter, S.C., the Swamp Fox Chapter joined with Lockheed Martin to host two receptions to introduce base and civilian leaders from two South Carolina facilities to their future: the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

The Air Force announced in late 2006 that Shaw Air Force Base outside of Sumter and McEntire Air National Guard Station, located near Columbia, would be among the first operational bases for the stealth fighter, so at two December receptions held at the Shaw Club, Lockheed officials presented a briefing on the JSF’s capabilities and demonstrated them with an F-35 simulator.

As further preparation for the job ahead, Shaw’s 20th Fighter Wing commander Col. James N. Post III and 169th Fighter Wing commander Col. Keith Coln, from McEntire, each received model-airplane JSFs—formally named the Lightning II—with appropriate wing markings.

The USAF leaders as well as local businessmen, Congressional staffers, and local elected officials had a chance to “fly” the simulator.

David T. Hanson, from the Swamp Fox Chapter, pointed out that the receptions were “an excellent opportunity to help educate the public about the future of the Air Force.”

The conventional-takeoff JSF version for the Air Force began flight-testing in December 2006. Two weeks after the Swamp Fox receptions, Lockheed Martin rolled out the short takeoff and vertical landing version of the F-35 in Fort Worth, Tex. It is slated for Marine Corps use. A third, catapult-launched JSF version for the Navy is scheduled for first flight in 2009.


Sue C. Payton, the assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition, was keynote speaker for the Donald W. Steele Sr. Memorial (Va.) Chapter’s most recent Salute reception—this one spotlighting action officers in her directorate. Payton described a dozen lessons learned during her first year on the job, including—according to a chapter VP—“Washington, D.C., can be a dangerous and unforgiving AOR.”

In reporting on Payton’s insights, Tom Veltri, a chapter vice president, noted that this was the 11th annual chapter reception for SAF/AQ. The chapter holds such gatherings, called Salutes, several times a year to highlight the work of action officers in different sections within the Air Staff. Veltri serves as host and master of ceremonies for the events. He virtually single-handedly organizes Salutes from the ground up, arranging for the venue, ordering award plaques, and registering guests.

In November, 14 active duty and civilian members of USAF acquisition community receiving a Salute were: Col. Charles Bailey, Dan Barton, Mary Blasi, Shari Cohen, Cynthia Culpepper, Theresa Elliott-Brown, Donna Farrell, Ricky McMahon, Lt. Col. Kristen Nelson, Marti Ramirez, Al Rease, Ed Rosenberg, Lt. Col. Rob Schlegel, and Maj. Alexander Walan.

Chapter-Cadet Teamwork

Through a guest speaker booking arranged by the Everett R. Cook Chapter (Tenn.), retired Lt. Col. Cecil H. Brunson returned to his alma mater to speak about his Air Force experiences to the current AFROTC cadets at Det. 785.

The 1970 graduate of the University of Memphis had a lot to tell. After earning his commission, Brunson trained as a navigator and was assigned to Korat AB, Thailand. He flew on 160 combat missions until, on Oct. 12, 1972, his F-4E was shot down over North Vietnam, some 50 miles northeast of Hanoi. The North Vietnamese held him captive until March 29, 1973.

After his release from six months as a POW, Brunson trained as an F-4 pilot and in 1980 joined the Tennessee Air National Guard, flying C-130s. Chapter President James A. Van Eynde reported that Brunson flies for FedEx today.

Van Eynde said that rounding up a guest speaker for the cadets’ leadership lab gives the students “some firsthand connection with AFA and veteran members who can share their Air Force experience.”

It is just one way the chapter works with the future Air Force officers, he said. The chapter awards several scholarships. It provides the cadets with copies of Air Force Magazine. Detachment commander Lt. Col. Steven E. Fell presents an AFROTC update at the annual chapter awards banquet. More recently, the chapter began allowing the cadets to keep $25 for each Community Partner that they sign up.

Gold Coast Chapter officers Milt Markowitz (holding wreath) and retired SMSgt. Joseph Roberts take part in a Wreaths Across America ceremony on Dec. 15 at the South Florida Veterans Affairs Cemetery in Lake Worth, Fla. The tradition began at Arlington National Cemetery 16 years ago with the laying of donated wreaths. In 2006, similar Wreaths Across America ceremonies began taking place concurrently at national and state cemeteries and veterans memorials nationwide.


For the Prescott/Goldwater Chapter (Ariz.), a chapter-cadet partnership has blossomed to the point where cadets now outdo chapter members in carrying out one of the chapter’s annual projects.

As Chapter President Tom Rowney explained, the chapter has for several years been putting up holiday decorations in the extended care unit at the Bob Stump Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Prescott. About five years ago, the chapter invited Det. 28, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, to help with the project. Arnold Air Society cadets and their Silver Wings fellow student-supporters stepped forward.

“The cadets now outnumber the chapter members who volunteer,” said Rowney. This past December, the largest group ever turned out. The cadets and students put up Christmas trees and decked the walls and ceilings on two floors of the VA facility. “The cadets did all the work,” Rowney said. He and chapter members Jim Turner and Jim Muehleisen “supervised.”

Arnold Air Society is an honorary service organization that helps AFROTC cadets develop the leadership, management, and organizational skills that they will need as Air Force officers. AAS is supported by Silver Wings, a coeducational service organization aimed at developing students into civilian leaders with an understanding of airpower.

More Chapter News

The Iron Gate Chapter (N.Y.) held a reception in December at the Soldiers’, Sailors’, Marines’, Coast Guard, and Airmen’s Club in midtown Manhattan. The event served as a Pearl Harbor remembrance and also honored Col. Norman E. Schaefer, an Air Force Reserve doctor, and George E. Burns, a Civil Air Patrol colonel. At the time of Desert Storm, Schaefer voluntarily closed his practice in New York City and lent his medical expertise and leadership to organize medical evacuations from Saudi Arabia to Ramstein AB, Germany. Burns received recognition for his longtime service to the chapter as well as the CAP.

Unit Reunions

9th Air Force Assn and 391st BG. May 29-31 at the Sheraton Westport Plaza, St. Louis. Contact: John Peterson (719-380-1412) (

55th Strategic Recon Wg and 55th Wg. May 14-18 at the Hilton Crystal City, Arlington, VA. Contact: Ricky McMahon (703-791-4133) (

90th TFS, Bien Hoa AB, Vietnam, and all eras. June 22-26 in Dallas. Contact: Jack Doub (229-259-9399) (

100th BW, B-47/KC-97 era. May 16-19 in Fort Walton Beach, FL. Contacts: Charley Brown or Ken MacPike, P.O. Box 134, Fort Walton Beach, FL ( (850-244-7194) (

355th FW, WWII-present. April 24-28 at the Viscount Suites, Tucson, AZ. Contact: Bill Cook (330-541-2653) (

384th BG. Oct. 2-5 in Dayton, OH. Contacts: Ted Rothschild, 650 Snug Harbor Dr., Apt. 402, Boynton Beach, FL 33435 (phone: 561-734-5052 or fax: 561-731-5420) or Lloyd Whitlow (

509th BW Veterans Assn. April 30-May 4 in Dayton, Ohio. Contact: Fred Smith (501-922-5990) (

794th AC&W, including anyone ever stationed at Cape Newenham, AK. April 23-26 in Branson, MO. Contacts: Joel Cooper ( or Art Perron (

7405th/7580th Operations Sq, Rhein Main AB, Germany (1980s). May 2-4 at the Holiday Inn, Beavercreek, OH. Contact: Mike Hushion (937-320-1998) (

Battle of the Bulge veterans, including 8th and 9th AF. Sept. 9-14 in Columbus, OH. Contact: Ralph Bozorth, 608 Treaty Rd., Plymouth Meeting, PA 19462 (610-825-9409).

C-17 SATAF. March 15-16 in Charleston, SC. Contact: Paul Schmidt (724-353-2833) (

Firebird Assn, including 17th TAS, 17th TCS, 109th TA NYANG (Airlift Wing), 517th ALS. April 6-8 in Galveston, TX. Contact: Bruce Huff (713-827-7975) (

Hahn AB, Germany, air traffic controllers and weather personnel (1966-74). April 7-10 in Las Vegas. Contacts: Bill Mosley (702-558-0776) ( or Ron Axley (317-850-3504) (

Pilot Class 56-G. May 12-15 at the Marriott Hotel in Huntsville, AL. Contact: Porter Jones (615-876-0450) (

Pilot Training Class 56-Q & Navigator Class 09. May 13-15 in Dayton, OH. Contact: Ned Derhammer, 2722 Covington St., West Lafayette, IN 47906 (765-463-4988) (

SAC veterans. April 30-May 4 at the Holiday Inn, Fairborn, OH. Contact: Toby Romero (866-260-9203 or 520-203-8809) (

Selman Field Historical Assn, including WWII Army Air Corps navigators. May 2-5 in Monroe, LA. Contact: Swansea Katz (318-325-2998) (

WWII bombardiers. April 30-May 4 in St. Louis. Contact: B. Thompson, 280 Sharon Dr., Pittsburgh, PA 15221 (412-351-0483).

Unit reunion notices should be sent four months ahead of the event to, 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.


Cadets from Embry Aeronautical University decorated a Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Prescott, AZ., at the direction of the Prescott/Goldwater Chapter. Tom Rowney, chapter president, stands at far right.

Contributions to “AFA National Report” should be sent to Air Force Magazine, 1501 Lee Highway, Arlington, VA 22209-1198. Phone: (703) 247-5828. Fax: (703) 247-5855. E-mail: Digital images submitted for consideration should have a minimum pixel count of 900 by 1,500 pixels.