AFA National Report

Feb. 1, 2009

Speaking to Space Command

Air Force Association Chairman of the Board Joseph E. Sutter spoke at a commander’s conference for Air Force Space Command in November.

Gen. C. Robert Kehler, head of AFSPC, had invited him to the meeting, held south of Los Angeles, at Ft. MacArthur, and dovetailing with the AFA Global Warfare Symposium. Among the 100 people at the AFSPC conference were command chiefs, staff, and civic leaders.

Sutter told the audience that AFA has expanded its communications efforts to better inform decision-makers and the public about airpower’s role and the need to recapitalize USAF’s aircraft and space systems.

AFA Board Chairman Joe Sutter speaks at an Air Force Space Command commander’s conference at Ft. MacArthur, Calif., in November. (USAF photo by Duncan Woods)

For a Tuskegee Airman

Through efforts spearheaded by the Lincoln Chapter in Nebraska, a new elementary school was officially named in October to honor a Tuskegee Airman.

Paul Adams Elementary School in south Lincoln opened to students (kindergarten through fifth grade) this past August. In October, more than 500 guests attended the formal dedication ceremony for the first elementary school to open in the district since 1995. The guest of honor was retired Lt. Col. Paul Adams.

Born in Greenville, S.C., Adams was among the nation’s first African-American military airmen, having trained at Tuskegee Army Air Field in Tuskegee, Ala., for World War II service. Adams became a P-51 fighter pilot in the 332nd Fighter Group. After retiring from the Air Force, he began teaching industrial arts in 1964 at Lincoln High School. He retired in 1982 but continues to mentor students through volunteer programs.

The chapter’s involvement in the elementary school began two years ago when nominations were sought for names for three schools to be built. The chapter’s aerospace education vice president, Diane R. Bartels, received chapter approval to organize a letter-writing campaign to have a school named for Adams. Chapter VP Lang W. Anderson III and Membership VP Robert A. Athan pitched in by making telephone calls and writing e-mails to support the nomination.

After Adams’ name was selected, Bartels, Chapter President Robert A. Tovado, and Chapter Secretary Steven H. Plamann helped plan the dedication ceremony.

A brass quintet from the USAF Heartland of America Band at Offutt Air Force Base provided the music for the program. After the ceremony, Adams spent a half hour signing autographs at a reception. The afternoon culminated with the flyby of a warbird familiar to Adams, a P-51 Mustang.

Don’t Throw It Away

The director of an institute that preserves World War II memorabilia and memories spoke to the November meeting of the Col. H. M. “Bud” West Chapter in Tallahassee, Fla.

William O. Oldson, a history professor at Florida State University, founded the school’s Institute on World War II and the Human Experience. He described its mission to archive artifacts from the time period 1936-49 and to collect oral histories. People have donated letters, diaries, photographs, newsletters from bases and defense plants, service records, drawings, and uniforms. Oldson echoed a statement on the institute’s Web site: “Do not let your memorabilia be thrown away because you think no one is interested.”

Receiving special recognition at this dinner meeting were cadet leaders Charday Caminero of FSU’s Det. 145; Jeremy Chick from Godby High School FL-811; and Perry Thomas from the Civil Air Patrol. In addition, several FSU cadets—including cadet chapter members Christopher Wittman and Mei-Ling Liber—performed a POW-MIA ceremony that evening.

Chapter President Gary Sharpe later explained, “At every opportunity, we collaborate with all cadet programs within our coverage area.” He pointed out that the chapter is more than 100 miles from the nearest active duty Air Force base—Tyndall—so it concentrates on supporting nearby junior and senior ROTC units and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics efforts in area schools. The chapter even supports three AFJROTC programs in Bainbridge and Thomasville, Ga., because they are not located near Georgia chapters.

Capt. Travis Nels, treasurer of the Charlemagne Chapter, presents an AFA Pitsenbarger Award to MSgt. John Rickman at a Community College of the Air Force ceremony at Geilenkirchen NATO AB, Germany.


The take was $20,000 in round numbers—$19,800, to be exact—when the San Jacinto Chapter (Tex.) manned a food booth at a Houston air show in October.

The chapter took home 10 percent of that, plus an invitation to return, from the company that organized the concessions at the 24th annual Wings Over Houston air show at Ellington Field.

Selling cold drinks, nachos, and hot dogs was no simple task. Chapter Vice President Richard P. Campbell began lobbying for a food booth eight months ahead of time and did not land the job until September. Rules stipulated no fewer than a dozen people manning the booth at all times during the two-day event, so Campbell rounded up 40 volunteers. Most came from the University of Houston’s AFROTC Det. 003—commanded by chapter member Col. Philip A. Bossert Jr.—and the school’s Corps of Cadets. Others helping out came from the Air National Guard’s 147th Reconnaissance Wing (ANG), whose vice commander, Col. Rodney L. Horn, is chapter president; an Air Force detachment at NASA’s Johnson Space Center; and the ranks of NASA contractors.

Among the chapter members working the booth were Tommy Thompson, Samuel Morthland, and William J. Rothschild.

All-State Effort

In preparation for Veteran’s Day, the Red River Valley Chapter put a varied group of people to work and got all the state’s AFA chapters involved.

In early November, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and a group from Youth Activities at Grand Forks AFB, N.D., stood outside the base’s commissary and exchange, soliciting donations. They had in hand lists of items needed by residents of the state-run North Dakota Veterans Home in Lisbon.

“The response was outstanding,” said the chapter’s president, SMSgt. Daniel J. Becker. “The scouts received over eight full shopping carts of donations over two days.”

Becker then organized more than a dozen volunteers from the base, his chapter, and the Happy Hooligan Chapter in Fargo to deliver the donations on Nov. 11. A donation from the Gen. David C. Jones Chapter in Minot helped with travel costs, since Lisbon is some 100 miles south of Grand Forks.

The group had lunch with residents of the facility and participated in a Veterans Day ceremony, along with other visiting veterans organizations. Becker was called on to speak to the audience and presented the residents with AFA 2009 calendars, which, he later said, “the veterans absolutely loved.” The calendar features Army Air Forces photos from World War II.

With Tuskegee Airman Lt. Col. Paul Adams, USAF (Ret.), at the dedication of a school named for him are (back row, l-r): Lincoln Chapter’s Kelly Schweitzer, Katie Elwer, and Gina Nastase. Front row: Silver Wings members Jackie Reisinger and Karla Rinschen.

More Chapter News

Capt. Travis J. Nels, treasurer of the Charlemagne Chapter in Germany, presented an AFA Pitsenbarger Award to MSgt. John V. Rickman at the November Community College of the Air Force graduation ceremony at Geilenkirchen NATO Air Base. Pitsenbarger Awards provide $400 scholarships to CCAF graduates who are continuing on to a bachelor’s degree. Rickman is a member of the logistics wing, NATO Airborne Early Warning and Control Force, E-3A Component.

James Kirkstadt, treasurer of the Lt. Col. B. D. “Buzz” Wagner Chapter (Pa.), spearheaded an effort to secure an award for a World War II veteran. Leonard Reighard, who served with the Army Air Corps in the Philippines, was overlooked when Pennsylvania’s Cambria County honored Johnstown area veterans in a spring 2008 ceremony. Kirkstadt remedied the situation and presented Reighard with a Certificate of Appreciation and medal during the chapter’s anniversary dinner. Another guest of honor at the dinner was retired USAF Col. Boyd Gilbert, nephew of the chapter’s namesake. Wagner was the first AAF ace of World War II.

In November, the Richmond Chapter (Va.) sponsored a lecture called “Mach 1 and Beyond” for AFJROTC cadets at Deep Run High School in Glen Allen, Va. Chapter President David Reisenwitz’s hour-long PowerPoint lecture began with an explanation of Ernst Mach, a 19th century Austrian physicist who established the principles of supersonics. Reisenwitz then covered aviation development from the Wright brothers to the SR-71.

The 181st Intelligence Wing vice commander, Col. Christopher H. Colbert, was guest speaker for the Veterans Day meeting of the Southern Indiana Chapter. The Air National Guardsman, whose unit is located near Terre Haute at Hulman Airport, is a command pilot with more than 3,000 hours in F-16s and F-4s. He described the unit’s transition from F-16s to intelligence operations. The 181st was redesignated in July 2008. Chapter President Marcus R. Oliphant reported that 40 guests attended this dinner meeting.

The Pearl Harbor Memorial Reception of the Iron Gate Chapter (N.Y.) included patriotic songs and a recital of the poem “Rouge Bouquet,” written by World War I soldier-poet Joyce Kilmer. Honored guest was retired Maj. Gen. J. Stanley Holtoner, a longtime chapter leader. Holtoner earned his wings at Kelly Field, Tex., in the early 1930s. In 1952, he became commander of the Air Force Flight Test Center at Edwards AFB, Calif. The chapter named him and chapter member George Burns as Jimmy Doolittle Fellows.

William C. Rapp

Retired Brig. Gen. William C. Rapp, an AFA national director emeritus, died Nov. 21. He was a resident of Williamsville, N.Y.

A Korean War veteran, General Rapp served in the Air Force and Air Force Reserve from 1948 to 1990. He was a retired executive of a telephone company.

General Rapp had been an AFA member since 1950, serving as chapter, state, and region president (Northeast Region) and on national committees before his election to the board of directors in 1978. He was also a trustee of what was then the Aerospace Education Foundation.

Unit Reunions

509th BW. April 14-18, 2010 in Tucson, AZ. Contact: Fred Smith (501-922-5990) (

601st and 615th AC&WS, Germany. April 26-May 1 at the Howard Johnson Inn in St. Augustine, FL. Contact: Francis Gosselin, 10645 Cup Dr., San Antonio, FL 33576 (352-588-9295) (

AF Navigators Observers Assn. Oct. 14-16 at Wright-Patterson AFB, OH. Contact: Ron Barrett (816-782-0745) (

Jolly Green Assn. May 1-2 at the Ramada Plaza Beach Resort in Fort Walton Beach, FL. Contact: Lee Massey, 916 Aloma Faye Ln., Fort Walton Beach, FL 32547 (850-863-3131) (

WWII bombardiers. May 6-10 in Nashville, TN. Contact: Bob 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.


Col. Christopher Colbert, vice commander of the 181st Intelligence Wing, speaks to the Southern Indiana Chapter about the wing’s new mission.

The San Jacinto Chapter ran a concession at a Houston air show. L-r: Chapter VP Richard Campbell and, in the booth, NASA volunteers Ksenia Shelkova and Elicia Hay.

Red River Valley Chapter members and others visited a veterans home. Chapter President SMSgt. Daniel Becker is second from right. SMSgt. Lorna De La Cruz holds an AFA poster. Far left: SrA. Josh Martini, 906th ARS, Grand Forks AFB, N.D.

Iron Gate Chapter President Frank Hayes shows an AFA Medal to AFROTC commander Lt. Col. Mark Adair and cadets (l-r) Clayton Martin and John Gorss.

Cadets surround guest speaker William Oldson (front row, center), with Col. H. M. “Bud” West Chapter President Gary Sharpe in the back row, far right.

Lt. Col. B. D. “Buzz” Wagner Chapter Treasurer James Kirkstadt (left) holds the certificate presented to Leonard Reighard (right), a World War II veteran.