AFA National Report

May 1, 2011

More Than a Thousand

When an AFA chapter in Florida hosted a band concert, 1,100 people showed up. Yes, a thousand.

It happened in Ocala, Fla., in March when the Red Tail Memorial Chapter, backed by US Rep. Clifford Stearns (R) and other organizations, arranged for the US Air Force Academy Concert Band to perform locally.

Chapter President Michael H. Emig knew ahead of time the event would fill the venue, the Marion Technical Institute’s auditorium: All the tickets for the free concert were scooped up on the first day they were offered.

Emig served as master of ceremonies for the evening. He spoke about AFA and introduced Stearns, an Air Force veteran and co-founder of the Air Force Caucus in Congress.

The band gave several local high school student-musicians a chance to perform with them during an evening of patriotic songs, music from movies, and tunes from the Swing Era, complete with conductor Lt. Col. Larry H. Lang playing the part of Army Air Forces band leader Maj. Glenn Miller.

Out in the lobby, the Red Tail Chapter set up information tables and recruited new members.

Emig said the concert was such a success that there’s now talk of having two performances the next time.

AFA Chairman of the Board Sandy Schlitt (left) met with several newly elected members of Congress, including New Jersey Republican Rep. Jon Runyan (right). Here, they stand in front of Runyan’s football jersey, from his days as an offensive tackle with the Philadelphia Eagles.

Hands-on Learning for Teachers

Teachers—not just students—benefit from hands-on learning. This principle guides the Hurlburt Chapter’s annual teachers workshop in Florida.

In February, 45 teachers attended the chapter’s eighth workshop. It took place at Hurlburt Field and opened at the USAF Special Operations School with a welcome from Chapter President Dann Mattiza and a presentation about Civil Air Patrol.

Chapter volunteers and base public affairs personnel escorted the teachers to the flight line to see static displays, including an AC-130 gunship from the 1st Special Operations Wing and a 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron WC-130 “Hurricane Hunter.”

Another memorable highlight from the flight line orientation: Special operations forces parachuted into the infield area, as part of an already scheduled exercise.

Chapter member David M. Loar and other volunteers next demonstrated equipment at the 19th Special Operations Squadron simulator complex. They then tried out the trainers and simulators themselves.

At lunch at Hurlburt’s club, the group listened to a presentation on Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and on a local aviation program for high school and younger students.

Hands-on seminars took place all afternoon, led by a team of instructors that the chapter cultivated through networking efforts and chapter recognition programs, Mattiza said.

For example, Amy K. Davis from Kenwood Elementary School at Fort Walton Beach led this year’s workshop. The chapter had sent her to Educator’s Space Camp in Huntsville, Ala., two years ago. Those supporting Davis included Megan Tucker, also a chapter Space Camp alumna; Sandy H. Palmer, a former Chapter Teacher of the Year; Glenn S. Rutland, whose students went to Space Camp with help from AFA and chapter grants in 2004; and Jeri A. Martin, a Florida Region Teacher of the Year.

Each workshop participant took home an item as valuable as the hands-on experiences from a day at Hurlburt Field: a CD of classroom-ready science, engineering, technology, and math lessons from the afternoon seminars.

Hurlburt Chapter workshop participants take a group photo in front of a WC-130 on the flight line at Hurlburt Field. See “Hands-on Learning for Teachers,” p. 137.

Joint Meeting in Dallas

Gen. Duncan J. McNabb, head of US Transportation Command, spoke in Dallas to a joint meeting of the Seidel-AFA Dallas Chapter and local chapters of the Navy League and Association of the United States Army.

Some 90 people turned out for McNabb’s presentation, “Mobility Supporting Worldwide Operations,” reported Chapter President Robert M. Gehbauer. Seated at the head table was chapter member Herbert D. Kelleher, co-founder of Southwest Airlines and a friend of McNabb’s.

According to Gehbauer, the chapter quarterly meeting, held at a country club in Richardson, Tex., marked the first joint meeting of the AFA chapter and its sister service organizations in Dallas. Also on hand were members of the Military Order of the World Wars.

The Seidel-AFA Dallas Chapter is named for the late Bob Seidel and his wife, Helen. Active in the chapter for more than five decades, they held chapter newsletter-mailing working dinners at their home for 25 years until distribution switched to e-mail. Helen Seidel now hosts executive committee quarterly gatherings at her home.

From the AFA VC for AE

AFA’s vice chairman of the board for aerospace education addressed the Orange County/Gen. Curtis E. LeMay Chapter in Costa Mesa, Calif., in March.

George K. Muellner spoke on a range of topics, covering the association’s aerospace education and CyberPatriot programs and commenting on the Air Force’s Fiscal 2012 budget request.

The retired lieutenant general brought to the podium more than three decades of experience, including assignments as principal deputy in the USAF acquisition office and as a Vietnam War fighter pilot, which Chapter President Bryan Roland said, really caught chapter members’ attention. More recently, Muellner retired from Boeing as president of advanced systems.

Red Tail Memorial Chapter President Michael Emig (left) joined US Rep. Clifford Stearns (R-Fla.) and Lt. Col. Larry Lang, conductor of the Air Force Academy Concert Band, at a sold-out musical performance. See “More Than a Thousand,” p. 137.

Roland said that he had first met the AFA leader at a California state meeting and invited Muellner to the chapter because he spoke from “real life experience.” AFA members and veterans, Roland said, “like to hear from those who have been on the front lines of USAF.”

Old and New

Here’s how to lure an audience to an AFA meeting: Combine vintage aircraft and a well-known guest speaker. The Tidewater Chapter in Virginia Beach, Va., used this mix when it hosted the state AFA meeting in March.

AFAers gathered first for a morning business meeting. In the afternoon, other guests joined them for a guided tour of the nearby Military Aviation Museum.

Founded by chapter member Gerald Yagen, the museum has a collection of some 30 airplanes from different eras, services, and countries. All but one are flyable, and through a drawing, James Hannam from the Donald W. Steele Sr. Memorial Chapter (Va.) won a ride in a P-51, piloted by Yagen.

Gary Powers Jr. served as guest speaker for the state quarterly meeting, held that evening. Nearly 80 people turned out to hear Powers, the son of U-2 pilot Francis Gary Powers. The younger Powers spoke about the experiences of his father, whose spyplane was downed over the Soviet Union in May 1960.

Gary Powers Jr. joined the Military Aviation Museum as director in January.

Retired CMSAF Robert Gaylor (fourth from left, in sweater) visits with Northeast Texas Chapter members, including Chapter President Tammy Walden Bryant (third from left).

Leadership Insight

Retired CMSAF Robert D. Gaylor spoke at the Northeast Texas Chapter meeting in January.

Chapter President Tammy Walden Bryant explained that Gaylor was in the area—Greenville, Tex.—visiting a nearby defense contractor. The chapter’s VP, Vance M. Clarke, arranged both that appearance and this piggyback AFA meeting.

Gaylor served as the Air Force’s top enlisted leader from 1977 to 1979, and according to Walden Bryant, gave the chapter members “insight into leadership” while encouraging the chapter to promote membership in AFA. He recommended giving chapter members a role in meetings, so they don’t merely attend them but actively contribute to the gatherings.

Gaylor joined Walden Bryant in naming Terry Thomas as an AFA Texas Aerospace Education Foundation Charlotte Loos Fellow and presented him with a souvenir coin. Thomas received the honor to recognize his leadership as past chapter president and his recruiting of Community Partners.

“He is the cornerstone of our chapter,” Walden Bryant commented, adding that Thomas had signed up nearly all of the chapter’s 32 Community Partners.

The Loos fellowship is named after an AFA volunteer who served as the administrative assistant for the Alamo Chapter and Texas AFA for nearly 30 years. Walden Bryant added that Gaylor had personally known Loos, making his part in the chapter award presentation to Thomas especially meaningful.

Grassfield High School AFJROTC cadet Kaitlyn Morrison sits in a Coast Guard rescue helicopter. The Tidewater Chapter helped AFJROTC cadets take a field trip to Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City, N.C., and also Kitty Hawk, N.C.

From Pancakes to Kitty Hawk

In March, Tidewater Chapter members—based in Virginia Beach, Va.—escorted 180 AFJROTC cadets on a trip to a Coast Guard facility and to Kitty Hawk, N.C.

The cadets came from six high schools in the Chesapeake, Va., area. They included the students of retired Lt. Col. Gordon Strong, who heads the AFJROTC unit at Grassfield High School and is chapter secretary and aerospace education VP, as well.

Joining Strong on this field trip were William M. Cuthriell, chapter VP; Robert C. Hudson, treasurer; and members Brian Mackey and Chip Moran.

The cadets first stopped at the Coast Guard’s North Carolina facility Air Station Elizabeth City, whose area of responsibility encompasses the Atlantic and Caribbean, with missions ranging from search and rescue to environmental protection. The students examined the helicopters and HC-130J aircraft used in these operations and had a chance to meet some Coast Guard rescue swimmers.

The group then visited the Wright Brothers National Memorial to see where the first controlled, sustained flight took place.

Where do pancakes come in? To hire the four buses needed for this field trip, the AFA chapter and the cadets raised funds by holding a pancake breakfast in February.

Unit Reunions

6th Bomb Gp., Tinian. Sept. 8-11 in San Diego. Contact: Glenda Richards (951-687-8676) (

34th Bomb Sq. Sept. 22-25 in Colorado Springs. Contact: Rod Breland, 5731 Hickory Ridge Blvd., Baton Rouge, LA 70817 (225-751-2058) ( (

110th ASOC and 172nd TASS. July 16 at the home of Henry Fuhs in Grand Rapids, MI. Contact: Henry Fuhs, 3848 E. Leonard, Grand Rapids, MI 49525 (616-949-8613 or 616-437-9059) (

526th Fighter Sq. Ramstein, Germany. Sept. 15-18 in Rapid City, SD. Contact: Don Wenzlick (402-291-0565) (

6911th Electronic Security Sq, Metro Tango, Hahn AB (around 1980s). June 16-19 in Colorado Springs. Contact: Cherish Shinners (828-256-6008) ( (

AC-119 and AC-47 Gunship reunion, all are welcome. Sept. 28-Oct. 2 in Charleston, SC. Contact: Gus Sininger (850-863-9649) (

Air Force Postal and Courier Assn. Sept. 27-30 at the MCM Elegante Hotel, Albuquerque, NM. Contacts: Frank Vazquez (407-462-1769) or Jim Foshee (254-774-7303) (

Pilot Tng Class 55-P. Sept. 14-18 at the JA Nugget Resort, Reno, NV. Contact: Norm Fogg (865-984-8401) (

UPT Class 62-A. Sept. 26-29 in Dayton, OH. Contact: Bill Kelher, 2718 Gray Fox Ln., Jacksonville, AR 72076 (

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.