AFA National Report

April 1, 2010

In the Spotlight at Orlando

The Central Florida Chapter’s Air Force Gala in Orlando, Fla., paid tribute to the role of USAF aerial reconnaissance, spotlighting some of its pioneers and practitioners.

The 26th annual black-tie affair served as the culmination of the Air Warfare Symposium and Technology Exposition, held Feb. 18-19.

In his remarks to the audience, Chapter President William A. Yucuis defined aerial reconnaissance as “obtaining critical enemy intelligence from above” and described some of the earliest intel-gathering efforts by men flying on kites and in balloons.

Short videos highlighted “modern pioneers in innovative aerial reconnaissance”: Boeing and the U-2 spyplane’s camera developed by the former Hycon Manufacturing Co.; the Ryan remotely piloted vehicle Lightning Bug; Raytheon Intelligence and Information Systems’ electronic sensors; the 9th Reconnaissance Wing from Beale AFB, Calif.; L-3 Communications, developer of high-speed data links; and the 55th Wing, Offutt AFB, Neb.

The chapter named representatives from these companies and units as AFA Jimmy Doolittle Fellows. Air Force Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Carrol H. Chandler, gala chairman Tommy G. Harrison, and Yucuis presented these honors.

At the gala, the chapter made a $10,000 donation to the Air Force Memorial Foundation, raising its total contribution to $230,000. Yucuis urged the audience to “join us in assuring the Air Force Memorial is maintained in the highest quality as it represents the No. 1 Air Force in the world.”

He said that the chapter has contributed more than $780,000 to AFA’s national educational programs, over the past 26 years, for a total of $2.5 million for educational programs at all levels. The Central Florida Chapter, he said, “is dedicated to aerospace education.”

At the Central Florida Chapter’s Air Force Gala, Board Chairman Joe Sutter (second from right) joins officials in displaying a check representing the chapter’s $65,000 donation to AFA’s aerospace education programs. With him are (l-r): Gala Chairman Tommy Harrison, Vice Chairman of the Board for Aerospace Education Sandy Schlitt, and Central Florida Chapter President William Yucuis. (Photo by Dan Higgins)

Preserving Veterans’ History

For the Lehigh Valley Chapter in Pennsylvania, a chapter gathering serves double duty.

The group works with two local organizations to arrange for a veteran to be guest speaker for their joint meetings. Chapter members record the presenter’s talk, then submit the audio tape to the Library of Congress for its Veterans History Project, a program that preserves wartime memories of veterans.

The January meeting of the chapter and its sister organizations featured Navy veteran Francis J. Ginther. He was a communications technician first class on USS Pueblo when the intelligence ship was seized by four North Korean vessels in the Sea of Japan on Jan. 23, 1968.

One crewman died in the attack on the ship; its commanding officer, Cmdr. Lloyd M. Bucher, was among those injured. The 82 crew members and two civilians were POWs until Dec. 22, 1968.

Chapter President Gerald Still said the audience was surprised by several facts in Ginther’s presentation: that Pueblo had been some 18 miles off the coast of North Korea, in international waters; that the crew was tortured; that Bucher faced a court-martial on his return to the US; and, most of all, that Pueblo is a museum today, anchored in the Taedong River at Pyongyang.

Still said about 150 people typically attend one of these veterans’ presentations and that the chapter has collected more than 70 oral histories, although not all of them through this meeting-presentation method.

Congress authorized the Veterans History Project in 2000 as an endeavor of the Library of Congress’ American Folklife Center. The project involves collecting videos and audio cassettes of interviews conducted by volunteers, as well as written items such as original diaries or official military documents.

Still credited several chapter officers with helping him prepare the program every month: Chapter VP Maurice L. Connor, Secretary Gary Weaver, and Veterans Affairs VP Donald J. Graham help line up the guest speakers and handle the logistics. Government Relations VP Paul J. Fiske helps Still prepare the submission to the Library of Congress.

Still noted that the project includes veterans who served in peacetime, too. “We want to get a total history by veterans,” he said.

Delayed Enlistment, AFA Opportunity

The Blue Ridge Chapter in Asheville, N.C., makes early contact with potential AFA members.

In November, Chapter President Kenneth Walters inaugurated a program to speak to enlistees who are joining the Air Force under the delayed entry program.

Some 40 soon-to-be-recruits jammed into the office of USAF recruiter MSgt. Chad Caden to listen to Walters. A retired chief master sergeant, Walters drew on 26 years of active duty experience and another 24 years of USAF civilian work as the background for his talk about Air Force active duty and retiree life. He also made a pitch for AFA membership.

Walters said he and Caden, who is based with the 332nd Recruiting Squadron, Nashville, Tenn., came up with the idea of making presentations to this group because the delayed-enlistment recruits meet monthly anyway.

Caden is considering moving the meeting site to an auditorium to accommodate the group’s size. His recruiting territory encompasses 17 high schools in nine counties.

Model T-eacher

A Rhode Island science teacher who helped his students outfit a Model T with a fuel cell and plans to design and fly a biodiesel airplane, received the state Teacher of the Year award in December.

Ross K. McCurdy—originally Metro Rhode Island Chapter’s top educator—was recognized at a Ponaganset High School award ceremony in North Scituate, R.I.

Turning out to honor him were: Deborah A. Gist, the state commissioner of elementary and secondary education; Michael Barnes, the regional school district superintendent; as well as the school’s principal, Dennis Kafalas, and the faculty. State AFA officials on hand were President Robert Wilkinson, Vice President Fred Frostic, Secretary Steven Winsor, and Metro Rhode Island Chapter President Dean A. Plowman.

According to a local newspaper feature article on McCurdy, he served for six years in the Air Force. He once made a cross-country trip in a truck fueled with biodiesel and sometimes plays in a rock and roll band that uses a fuel cell to power their guitars. He has taught with “imagination and flair,” the Valley Breeze newspaper said.

A Look Back at the A-10

The January meeting of the Liberty Bell Chapter in Philadelphia featured an A-10 crew chief as guest speaker and the re-election of the current chapter officers.

MSgt. Dave Barnes, an Air National Guardsman from the 103rd Fighter Squadron, NASJRB Willow Grove, Pa., gave a comprehensive presentation on the Warthog’s capabilities, showing photos of the attack aircraft, his fellow airmen, and the unit’s deployment to Iraq. Barnes emphasized the teamwork necessary during the deployment, when A-10s from different Stateside units came together to fly missions.

Chapter President Raymond Hamman said Barnes told the group that his unit was now down to four A-10s and will lose the last four this year. BRAC 2005 targeted Willow Grove for shutdown, and the 103rd’s parent unit, the 111th Fighter Wing, is losing its flying mission.

Barnes told the audience that he would miss being called on for A-10 deployments.

Also at the January meeting, Hamman was re-elected as chapter president, John P. Duffin as VP, Eric P. Taylor as secretary, and James A. King Jr. as treasurer.

Thanking the Honor Guards

As it has for the past two years, the Minuteman Chapter in Massachusetts donated funds to help Hanscom Air Force Base carry out its annual banquet for the Patriot Honor Guard and its support units.

Described as “the face of the United States Air Force for many,” the unit posts colors at ceremonies and large sports events, but its first priority is rendering honors at military funerals.

Minuteman Chapter Vice President Joseph P. Bisognano Jr. pointed out that Hanscom is the last remaining active duty installation in the region, so the Patriot Honor Guard—based there and manned by 36 active duty volunteers and seven permanent staff members—must cover funeral details in seven New England states and Nova Scotia. Eight other Air National Guard and Reserve honor guard units pitch in to help.

In 2009, the Patriot Honor Guard performed details at 352 funerals, according to Hanscom’s public affairs office. The Guard and Reserve honor guards covered another 1,314.

Bisognano called the unit “one of the real Air Force superstar organizations.”

The chapter raised money for its $500 donation to the Honor Guard Awards Banquet through golf tournaments.

Orientation to Flight

In Arizona, the Cochise Chapter sent its Teacher of the Year flying—on an incentive flight in a light airplane provided by a local Civil Air Patrol pilot.

Maura Neill, a science teacher at Joyce Clark Middle School in Sierra Vista, Ariz., and Derrick Neill, a science teacher who just retired from the same school, flew aboard a Cessna 182.

The Air Force auxiliary organization arranges orientation flights for teachers who become CAP Aerospace Education Members. Maura Neill received her membership as part of being named the Cochise Chapter’s Teacher of the Year. Her husband, by coincidence, won his incentive flight in a drawing at a teacher workshop last October that was jointly sponsored by the Cochise Chapter and Tucson Chapter.

Cochise Chapter President Ross B. Lampert was at the airport to see them off and followed up with them afterward. They said they were surprised at how much they got to fly the airplane. Under the eye of Doug Henderson, the CAP pilot, Derrick Neill was at the controls for much of the flight out to Bisbee Airport, while Maura Neill handled most of the trip back to Sierra Vista.

State Meeting: North Carolina

In Raleigh, N.C., the Tarheel Chap-ter hosted a state meeting that brought together State President David A. Klinkicht from the Scott Berkeley Chapter; Renee D. Siemiet, president of the Pope Chapter; and Norman Melton, the Cape Fear Chapter VP, among the attendees.

Also in the audience: AFROTC cadets from North Carolina State University, who described an upcoming statewide drill meet.

Tarheel President Raymond E. Benson said he led a discussion about AFA chapters donating funds to organizations that help Air Force families. He reported that the Tarheel Chapter afterward donated $100 to the Family Support Center at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, as well as $100 to the USO operation at Raleigh-Durham Airport.

Tarheel Chapter VP Patrick H. Yanke was guest speaker at this meeting.

More Chapter News

The February meeting of the Green Mountain Chapter in Vermont featured author James L. Nelson. His 15 works include fiction and nonfiction, many covering historical Navy ships, most recently Benedict Arnold’s Navy. Chapter President Joel A. Clark reported that the luncheon gathering included members of the Arnold Air Society from Clarkson University in Potsdam, N.Y., and also recognized chapter member James Anderson for his support of the chapter’s Teacher of the Year program.

In December, the Altus Chapter (Okla.) held its annual Community Partner Luncheon, with Craig Seeber, 97th Mission Support Group deputy director, as guest speaker. He presented what Chapter President Richard Baldwin called “an in-depth report” on current and future construction on Altus Air Force Base. Also at the meeting, Red River Federal Credit Union was named Community Partner of the Year, and Sandra J. Foster, a math instructor at Western Oklahoma State College, received the State Teacher of the Year award.


Cochise Chapter Teacher of the Year Maura Neill observes CAP pilot Doug Henderson check the Cessna 182 before an orientation flight.

At the Rhode Island Teacher of the Year award ceremony (l-r): Michael Barnes, school district superintendent; Fred Frostic, state AFA VP; Bob Wilkinson, state AFA president; Dean Plowman, Metro Rhode Island Chapter president; Deborah Gist, state education commissioner; and Ross McCurdy, Teacher of the Year.

Unit Reunions

39th Bomb Gp, all veterans and descendants of the 60th, 61st, 62nd, and Hq. Sqs, and the 314th BW Hq., Guam (1945). June 16-20 at the Maison Dupuy Hotel in New Orleans. Contacts: Liz Van Kampen, 5418 Honeysuckle Ln., Oregon, WI 53711 (608-835-0923) ( or Pete Weiler, 3728 Aloha Dr., Sarasota, FL 34232 (941-377-2451) (

231st Combat Comm. Sq, DCANG. June 12 at JB Andrews, MD. Contact: Chip Jackson (703-876-0303) (

485th Tactical Missile Wg. June 10-13 at the Essex Inn in Chicago. Contact: Paul Arnswald (708-261-2088) (

497th Recon Tech Sq (1950-60s). May 14-16 at the SpringHill Suites in Dallas. Contact: Neal Masterson (972-527-5327) (

774th Tactical Airlift Sq Assn. June 25-26 at VFW Post 6837, 1049 Veterans Dr., Abilene, TX. Contact: Robbie Robinson (806-470-7034) (

794th AC&WS, Cape Newenham, Alaska. June 6-12 in Mystic, CT. Contact: Art Perron (860-658-9697) (

Airmen, sailors, and marines stationed at Karamursel AS, Turkey (1957-61). Sept. 19-21 in Myrtle Beach, SC. Contact: Pete Johnson (980-328-4150) (

ArcLight/Young Tiger/Bulletshot, B-52 and KC-125 crews and supporters. Aug. 29-Sept. 3 at El Conquistador in Tucson, AZ. Contact: Russ Stephenson, 4625 Broken Lute Way, Ellicott City, MD 21042 (410-740-8024).

B-66 Destroyer Assn, all models, squadrons, aircrews, and support personnel. Sept. 6-10 at the DeSoto Hilton in Savannah, GA. Contact: Tom Stack, 271 St. Catherines Ct., Richmond Hill, GA 31324 (912-727-3799) (

C-133 Cargomaster, including all associated with the C-133. May 7-8 at Dover Downs in Dover, DE. Contact: Edward Sandstrom, 34772 Frontier Rd., Lewes, DE 19958 (302-644-1414).

Combat Talon. May 20-23 at Fort Walton Beach, FL. Contacts: Max (850-543-0475) (850-243-1343) or Papasan (850-609-7904).

Pennsylvania AACS. July 13-15 at the Hampton Inn in DuBois, PA. Contact: Ed Rutkowski (814-371-7167).

Pilot Tng Class 53-F, including Greenville, Hondo, and Webb classes. Sept. 16-19 at the Hope Hotel at Wright-Patterson, AFB, OH. Contact: Jim Mayton, 2000 Tynne Meadow Ln., Prince George, VA 23875 (804-732-2225) (

RF-101. June 20-23 at the Four Points Sheraton in Fort Walton Beach, FL. Contact: Ray Hinely (850-678-3466) (

SAC Airborne Command Control Assn. Sept. 8-12 in Seattle. Contact: Wilton Curtis (804-740-2290) (

Society of CSAR. May 11-15 at Nellis AFB, NV. Contact: Gene McCormack (850-283-2071 or DSN 523-2071) (

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.