Bozeman, Montana: In Search of AFA
AFA Board Chairman Sandy Schlitt chats with CyberPatriot IV finalists at the national high school cyber defense competition held at National Harbor, Md., in March. Alamo Academies from San Antonio won the Open Division. The Colorado Springs CAP Squadron won the All-Service Division. Full coverage will appear in Air Force Magazine in June. (Photo by Chuck Fazio)
The story of the Air Force Association’s newest unit, the Bozeman AFA Chapter in Montana, begins with a member who wanted active involvement in AFA but couldn’t find a chapter.
Dig further, and it turns out the Bozeman chapter also owes its beginnings to Silver Wings.
A university-level professional organization affiliated with the Arnold Air Society and AFA, Silver Wings strives to develop leadership through community service and by educating students about national defense issues.
Bozeman AFA Chapter President Summer B. Folsom joined Silver Wings as a student at the University of Georgia. Afterward, through 14 years in the information technology business—and now as she retools as a medical transcriber—Folsom kept that interest in the Air Force, but she could never find an active chapter close enough to join. When she moved to Montana in 2007, geography continued to work against her: The nearest chapter was 100 miles away.
Then James W. Simons took the initiative. He was AFA’s North Central Region president at the time. (He became North Dakota state president last fall.) On a visit to chapters in his region, Simons brought AFA materials to Folsom, so she could organize a chapter. Last Veterans Day, she chaired the group’s first organizational meeting.
Folsom said the chapter draws membership from those who belonged to the former Treasure State Chapter, which folded in 2002, and from cadets at Montana State University.
The chapter held its second meeting in March.
Southern Indiana Chapter President James E. Fultz forecast that the group’s March meeting would be “a real Hoosier Barn Burner.”
The reason? Bobby Plump, a legendary basketball player in a state fanatical about hoops, would be guest speaker. In 1954, Plump was a star guard on the team from Milan High School, where the enrollment totaled 161. Plump sank the winning shot in the last seconds of what the New York Times once called “the most famous high school basketball game of all time,” securing the high school state championship. Milan defeated Muncie Central, whose student body was 10 times the size of Milan’s.
Hollywood turned the tale—applying much artistic license—into the 1986 movie “Hoosiers,” starring Gene Hackman.
At the chapter meeting, Plump said that after the 1954 game, the state police carried out its tradition of escorting the state champions home, sirens blaring through stoplights.
“That was easy to do in Milan,” he joked. “We didn’t have any stoplights.”
Someone in the audience asked Plump what would have happened if he had missed that crucial basket.
“I wouldn’t be here tonight,” Plump shot back.
Just as Fultz had promised, Plump delivered a “slam dunk” evening of “Hoosier basketball memories.”
It’s a Match
The Central Maryland Chapter needed a president. SSgt. Neal M. Sutherland fit the bill.
He lives in central Maryland, though he’s stationed at JB Andrews, Md., as a training manager with the 11th Civil Engineer Squadron in the Water and Fuel Systems Maintenance Section. Sutherland won a Pitsenbarger Award and, through it, first came to the attention of Maryland State President Joseph L. Hardy, who became a mentor.
After Sutherland graduated from the University of Maryland University College last year, Hardy nudged him toward the chapter president’s job.
Sutherland says he viewed it as an opportunity to teach students about the Air Force, as well as promote the importance of education.
In February, he attended the annual awards banquet for the Hagerstown (Md.) Civil Air Patrol Composite Squadron, helping the unit observe its 70th anniversary.
He presented an AFA Outstanding Civil Air Patrol Cadet of the Year award to Kyle Lahr and spoke to the cadets about the vital role of the Air Force auxiliary and the valuable leadership training they receive.
CAP and local media outlets covered the event because the anniversary angle attracted the squadron’s founding members and numerous local and state officials to the event.
How’s the Weather
An outdoor classroom for earth science lessons helped earn its creator the Teacher of the Year award from the Northeast Texas Chapter.
Marcy Whited, the Science Lab teacher at Farmersville (Tex.) Intermediate School, rounded up funding to turn a patch of compacted land, cluttered with construction debris, into earth science learning centers.
At the weather station section, students measure rainfall, wind speed and direction, and record temperatures. At a large “sundial,” they observe the shadow on the ground, cast by a 18-inch-high pole, and learn about the planets and seasons.
Whited, who teaches second- to fifth-graders, has also organized a physics fair and two science clubs.
At the Northeast Texas Chapter banquet in March, she received her award from Chapter President Vance M. Clarke and guest speaker Maj. Gen. Alfred J. Stewart, commander of Air Force Personnel Center at Randolph AFB, Tex. (See photo, p. 70.) Stewart praised Whited and others receiving awards at the banquet: Chapter CAP Cadet of the Year Tommy Novotny and Elle Hussey and Peyton Chapman.
Hussey and Chapman, both seniors at Paris High School, had placed first and second in the chapter-level Earle North Parker essay contest and received $1,100 and $800. The chapter entered their essays in the state-level competition, sponsored by AFA Texas’ Aerospace Education Foundation and named for the Fort Worth Chapter’s founder, who died in 1993.
The Science of Six Flags
For everyone else, it’s an amusement park of hair-raising roller-coaster rides and seven-story-high water slides. For the Scott Memorial Chapter’s Teacher of the Year, the Six Flags theme park in Illinois is a physics classroom.
After all, even the slowest of rides illustrate Newton’s laws of motion, and the fastest demonstrate centripetal and centrifugal force in an unforgettable way.
Scott R. Schlapkohl, a physical science and physics teacher at Alton (Ill.) High School, takes his students to Six Flags St. Louis every spring where they use materials and lesson guidelines from the St. Louis Area Physics Teachers Association.
Schlapkohl also increased the rigor of the school’s science curriculum, developing and implementing changes and integrating it with other departments at the school. He has involved professional engineers in the school science club and is noted for guiding an award-winning trebuchet team. In constructing the device—used in the Middle Ages as a weapon to fling projectiles—his students call on science, technology, engineering, and math skills, plus computer-aided design and technical writing.
Schlapkohl received the top teacher honor at a March meeting of his local school board. Chapter President Alan H. Gaffney made the presentation. “It’s easy to see why he was selected,” commented Gaffney.
Six at the 100th
In the city of Sierra Vista, a half-dozen Cochise Chapter members manned an AFA booth in February at the centennial celebration of Arizona’s statehood.
Chapter President George L. Castle, Arizona State President Ross B. Lampert, Chapter VP Stuart S. Carter, Communications VP Gary M. Phillips, Government Relations VP Gene Fenstermacher, and member Mark L. Cline spent the day promoting the history of aviation in the state, particularly the Air Force role.
The chapter compiled this information in binders and displayed an aviation map of the state, as well as memorabilia from Castle’s student-pilot days (Class 73-09) at Williams Air Force Base in Mesa.
A radio-controlled F-86 model on display drew in many visitors, said Lampert.
A sign proclaiming “Huachuca Air Force Base” proved to be another attention-getter, highlighting a quirk in the history of Sierra Vista’s major military facility, the US Army’s Fort Huachuca.
Established in 1877, the post has historical ties to the Apache chief Geronimo, African-American Buffalo Soldiers, and Brig. Gen. John J. Pershing’s Punitive Expedition. At the end of World War II, the fort was declared surplus. Then came the Korean War and reactivation.
In 1980, an Air Force test team was operating in a dozen trailers there, so Fenstermacher—then a colonel—directed the Huachuca Air Force Base sign be hung above the gate of this fence-enclosed area. Replicas of the sign became popular farewell gifts for airmen leaving a Fort Huachuca assignment.
Today the post is home to the Army’s Network Enterprise Technology Command-9th Army Signal Command and the US Army Intelligence Center.
The statehood centennial celebration took place at Sierra Vista’s Veterans’ Memorial Park and included dedicating a new monument to vets. Lampert said the chapter had donated $500 to this project.
A Full Agenda
The Seidel-AFA Dallas Chapter in Texas held a combined meeting in February with the local chapter of the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association.
The main event: a presentation from Air Force Space Command’s director of communications and information, Brig. Gen. Ian R. Dickinson, titled “The Strategic Future of Space and Cyberspace Capabilities.”
The more than 130 guests listening to him included a dozen members from three CyberPatriot teams sponsored by the Seidel Chapter; AFROTC cadets who had traveled north some 100 miles from Baylor University in Waco; and CAP cadet Joseph Brands. He received glider training last summer, funded by a chapter scholarship, and gave the audience a brief review of his experience.
Chapter President Robert M. Gehbauer pointed out that Brands brought five family members with him, so they could observe his talk at the chapter meeting.
High school senior Taylor Kauffman, from Frisco, read her essay to the audience. She had won the chapter-level Earle North Parker essay contest and received $500, presented to her at the meeting by Chapter Aerospace Education VP Ric Hamer. Kauffman’s essay also went on to the statewide competition.
On the Border
The Richard I. Bong Chapter in Minnesota held its annual recognition banquet for 148th Fighter Wing airmen at an apropos location: the Richard I. Bong Veterans Historical Center.
The museum celebrates America’s top ace and is located just across the state line in Superior, Wis., where Bong—who scored 40 air-to-air victories in World War II—was born.
SMSgt. Mark Graves and TSgt. Jon Clauson received awards as the wing’s First Sergeant of the Year and NCO of the Year, respectively. The chapter also named SMSgt. Matthew Wolf as Senior NCO of the Year and SrA. Kayla Goorhouse as Airman of the Year.
The 148th is based at Duluth Airport, where in an adjacent air park, a US Customs and Border Protection station opened in December 2009.
“A number of us in the chapter leadership were curious about what was behind all the fencing,” wrote Chapter President Keith Johnson. So they invited border patrol supervisor Troy Bobbitt to be the guest speaker at the awards dinner.
Bobbitt spoke about the border patrol’s mission and why it opened the Duluth station. It has responsibility for more than 39,000 square miles, and its 13,000-square-foot office can accommodate 50 agents.
More Chapter News
The new commander for the 169th Fighter Wing, McEntire JNGB, S.C., addressed the Columbia Palmetto Chapter in March. Col. Michael Hudson had taken command in January. At the chapter meeting, he discussed the wing’s upcoming deployment and how USAF’s force restructuring will affect the base: It will lose some 60 positions, most of them Active Duty slots assigned to the wing’s active associate. Hudson, who had previously been wing vice commander, assured the audience that the unit had anticipated and planned for the downsizing and would manage it through attrition.
In Massachusetts last month, Hanscom Air Force Base’s Company Grade Officers Council mailed packages to troops deployed from the Boston area, using funds that the Paul Revere Chapter had helped raise. The mailing from Hanscom included items such as sports equipment, personal care supplies, and magazines. Revere Chapter members Ryan Lafferty and Lt. Erin Kendall had a direct hand in raising those funds last fall; they helped the Edith Nourse Rogers Memorial Veterans Hospital—a Department of Veterans Affairs facility in Bedford, Mass.—organize and carry out a second annual Fun Run. Some 360 runners and walkers took on the 10K and 5K courses last November, raising $12,000. Along with Hanscom’s CGOC, other deployed troops and family programs at the base benefitted from the donation.
AFA Board Chairman Sandy Schlitt (left) spent time with Doolittle Raider Richard Cole in March in Sarasota, Fla. Cole was Jimmy Doolittle’s co-pilot on that April 1942 mission to bomb Tokyo.
Indiana basketball legend Bobby Plump receives a pilot’s white scarf as thanks from Southern Indiana Chapter President Jim Fultz.
Central Maryland Chapter President SSgt. Neal Sutherland speaks at a CAP anniversary event.
Central Maryland Chapter President Sutherland (second from right) stands with CAP officials and Kyle Lahr, who holds his AFA Outstanding CAP Cadet of the Year award.
Maj. Gen. Alfred Stewart (l) and Northeast Texas Chapter President Vance Clarke (r) present the chapter’s Teacher of the Year award to Marcy Whited.
Northeast Chapter President Clarke stands with the chapter’s award winners and special guests.
Seidel AFA Dallas Chapter President Bob Gehbauer with guests Paul Brands; CAP cadet Joseph Brands; and guest speaker Brig. Gen. Ian Dickinson.
This sign highlights a USAF role in an Arizona Army base’s history. It drew visitors to the Cochise Chapter’s booth at a state centennial celebration.
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