AFA National Report

June 1, 2012

Doolittle Raiders: 70th Reunion

Air Force Association Chairman of the Board S. Sanford Schlitt attended the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders reunion in Dayton, Ohio, in April.

AFA Board Chairman Sandy Schlitt (standing, at right) applauds during a B-25 flyover at the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders reunion. Four Raiders seated (l-r) are Thomas Griffin, David Thatcher, Richard Cole, and Edward Saylor. Gen. Gary North (l) and Lt. Gen. Richard Newton stand next to Schlitt. Robert Hite could not attend due to illness. (USAF photo by Ben Strasser)

With four days of events centered around the National Museum of the US Air Force, four surviving Doolittle Raiders marked the 70th anniversary of their World War II mission to bomb the Japanese home islands. Then-Lt. Col. Jimmy Doolittle led the raid on April 18, 1942.

Richard E. Cole, Thomas C. Griffin, Edward J. Saylor, and David J. Thatcher took part in the reunion. The fifth survivor, Robert L. Hite, was not in good enough health to attend.

The raid on Tokyo and other targets in Japan involved 16 B-25s, launched from the aircraft carrier Hornet. Without enough fuel to return to the ship, 15 B-25s crash-landed in China or their crews bailed out. The 16th landed in the Soviet Union. The raid boosted US morale because it had reached the heart of Japan and put the enemy on the defensive for the first time since Pearl Harbor.

As part of this year’s commemoration, 20 vintage B-25 Mitchells performed a flyover above the museum.

Along with Schlitt, other special guests at this reunion included Gen. Gary L. North, the Pacific Air Forces commander, and Lt. Gen. Richard Y. Newton III, the Air Force assistant vice chief of staff.

Doolittle Tokyo Raider reunions have taken place since December 1946, when the group first gathered to celebrate Doolittle’s birthday.

Warrior On Wheels

Until AFA showed up, MSgt. Christopher Aguilera shot hoops from a borrowed wheelchair.

Then in April, Kevin R. Lewis from Virginia’s Donald W. Steele Sr. Memorial Chapter and Kip L. Hansen from the Nation’s Capital Chapter of Washington, D.C., presented a sports wheelchair to Aguilera in Colorado Springs, Colo., along with Brian Binn of the local Lance P. Sijan Chapter.

The next week, Aguilera used his new wheels to help the Air Force team earn a bronze medal in wheelchair basketball at the Warrior Games 2012 in Colorado Springs.

Aguilera led the Air Force basketball team in its first game, scoring 10 points in a 41-to-14 rout of US Special Operations Command. He later earned bronze medals in shot put and discus competitions and as a member of the USAF sitting volleyball team.

An Air Force recovery care coordinator at Nellis AFB, Nev., first brought Aguilera to AFA’s attention.

The association had launched the Wounded Airman program earlier this year to help airmen who return to the US, as they recover at medical facilities and transition back to active duty or civilian life. The Steele and Nation’s Capital Chapters were among three groups chosen to pilot the program.

AFA matched them with Aguilera because the two Washington-area chapters had already rounded up funding for Wounded Airman efforts from the charitable foundation of DRS Technologies. Lewis is VP of aviation programs for the defense technologies company, and Hansen was its VP of government relations.

Between the two chapters and an AFA headquarters donation, the wheelchair’s $3,000 cost was covered. Lewis describes it as lightweight, with special casters to prevent it from tipping over, and no arm rests to get in the way.

Aguilera “was pretty overwhelmed” when he received the wheelchair, said Lewis. “He said, ‘This means so much to me.’ “

Awards on TV

A Twin Cities ABC-affiliate TV station covered a Gen. E. W. Rawlings Chapter banquet in Minnesota this March, where airmen were among the nearly two dozen award winners.

AFA Board Chairman S. Sanford Schlitt served as guest speaker for the annual event that focuses on the 133rd Airlift Wing, 934th Airlift Wing, Civil Air Patrol, and ROTC and JROTC groups in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area.

Airmen who received awards at the Friday night dinner were: 133rd AW personnel SrA. Alyson Loftus, TSgt. Joshua Uhl, MSgt. Jace Erickson, and SMSgt. Kurt Huver and 934th AW members SrA. Zachary Allen, TSgt. Dan Kuehn, SMSgt. Scott Anderson, and Capt. Leo Moreno.

Headed by Jonathan E. Powell, the chapter also named Larry Brockshus, from Park High School in Cottage Grove as its 2012 Teacher of the Year. The school’s senior aerospace science instructor and an active chapter member, the retired lieutenant colonel had not been forewarned of this award, reported Minnesota State President Victor Seavers. Surprising Brockshus added fun to the evening, Seavers said.

TV station KSTP posted its video clip from the awards banquet at:

Congressman Attends Celebration

Justin Faiferlick (left), AFA Vice Chairman of the Board for Field Operations, chats with Northwest Iowa CAP cadets. He had just presented an AFA Outstanding CAP Cadet Award to Isaac Wachholz, who stands next to him.

North Dakota’s US Rep. Rick Berg told the Gen. David C. Jones Chapter that the airmen at Minot Air Force Base help ensure the nation’s defense and are its best assets.

Nearly 300 people attended the chapter’s Commander’s Choice Awards Banquet where the first-term Republican spoke in April.

This 31st annual dinner, carried out with support from the chapter’s Community Partners, took place at a hotel in the city and put airmen from Minot in the spotlight. Several of them—selected by commanders to represent each squadron and group at the base’s 5th Bomb Wing and 91st Missile Wing—received awards. So did AFJROTC and CAP cadets.

Two students at Minot High School received AFA citations as recognition for their acceptance into the Air Force Academy. Miles Way, a cadet in Minot High School’s AFJROTC unit, and fellow student Abby Bierschbach will join the academy’s Class of 2016.

The chapter named retired CMSgt. Clark Culbertson as its Teacher of the Year. The aerospace science instructor for Minot High School, Culbertson served in the Air Force for 30 years, mostly in aircraft maintenance.

Berg joined Chapter President Ken Fox in presenting awards.

How did the chapter land a US Representative as its banquet speaker? Two chapter leaders hatched the idea: Turns out, James Simons, who is also the state president, takes an active role in politics. Chapter President Fox, wearing his other hat as mayor of a small town outside Minot, has worked on economic issues with Berg’s local liaison. Between these connections, Simons and Fox brought the Congressman to their chapter podium.

Florida Drill: Big Haul for Belleview

In March, the annual Florida AFA AFJROTC Drill Competition pitted 14 teams from around the state against each other, vying for the top honor, Best of Meet.

At the end of the day, cadets from Belleview High School earned the three-foot-high trophy—and 10 others.

“The big winner,” Florida Region President Michael Emig called the unit. The Belleview High School website showed far less restraint, proclaiming the cadets “State Champs,” using 14 exclamation points for emphasis.

Cadets Jonathan Vann and Anthony Beczo accepted the trophy from Emig. Their senior aerospace science instructor, retired Col. Paul H. Calvert, belongs to the Red Tail Memorial Chapter of Ocala.

The drill meet took place at the University of South Florida in Tampa, with AFROTC cadets conducting and judging the event.

Among the many AFA officials on hand were John Timothy Brock and the competition’s announcer William A. Yucuis, both from the Central Florida Chapter, Ransom Meriam from the Gold Coast Chapter, Lawrence Belge from the Falcon Chapter, Miami-Homestead Chapter President Rodrigo J. Huete, and Dann Mattiza from the Hurlburt Chapter.

West Virginia Drill: Three-State Meet

Cadets from three states gathered in West Virginia for the Chuck Yeager Chapter’s 16th annual AFJROTC drill competition, and for the out-of-staters it was well worth the trip.

The McDowell Intermediate High School cadets from Erie, Pa., took home the first place Overall Champion trophy and top honors in four of the seven categories of competition.

A morning announcement at the school a few days later congratulated the team and pointed out that they had raised more than $2,000 just to be able to attend the meet.

Another team from Pennsylvania, representing Pine-Richland High School in Gibsonia, earned a first place trophy in the inspection team category.

Two teams from Ohio—Springboro High School in Springboro and Knox County Career Center in Mount Vernon—completed the out-of-state sweep, with first place wins for advanced unarmed drill and advanced color guard, respectively.

The South Charleston High School cadets received the West Virginia Grand Champion Traveling Trophy.

The chapter provided all awards, and AFA Central East Region President Scott Van Cleef helped present them.

On Exhibit

The Italian city of Salerno opened an exhibit featuring memorabilia from a late member of the San Jacinto (Tex.) Chapter, the Houston Chronicle reported in April.

According to the newspaper, Salerno’s state archive put on display some photos, military orders, telegrams, and pieces of the B-17 that Kemp F. Martin had been shot down in as a World War II navigator.

Martin bailed out of C Batt during an August 1943 bombing mission to Foggia. Though captured, he eventually escaped to Allied lines, completed his Air Force career, and became a businessman. The retired lieutenant colonel died in July 2008.

The next year, an Italian volunteer group found wreckage of what they determined to be Martin’s airplane.

R. H. Kjar, San Jacinto Chapter communications VP, says that the chapter provided the Chronicle with most of the background material for its feature article on Martin, announcing the Italian exhibit.

More Chapter News

Rick T. Johnson, president of the Golden Triangle Chapter in Mississippi, attended the dining-out for the University of Mississippi’s AFROTC Det. 430 in April. He presented Casey Rains with an AFA Outstanding Cadet Award and reports that she plans to begin an Air Force career in public affairs next year. They undoubtedly had much to talk about: Johnson is chief of public affairs at the 14th Flying Training Wing, Columbus AFB, Miss., and had first met Rains in February, when the “Ole Miss” cadets toured the base.

Retired USAF Col. Joe Kinego, a command pilot with more than 4,500 flying hours, spoke at the April meeting of the Tidewater Chapter in Norfolk, Va. Forty members and guests turned out for the dinner. Kinego flew more than 900 hours in the SR-71 and more than 400 in RF-4Cs in the Vietnam War. Among his assignments before retiring in 1994, Kinego commanded the 1st Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron at Beale AFB, Calif., and the 319th Bomb Wing at Grand Forks AFB, N.D. Also during the meeting, the chapter named Leonard Carson as its Teacher of the Year. He is a career and technology education instructor at Deep Creek High School in Chesapeake, Va.


Wounded airman MSgt. Christopher Aguilera (in ball cap) received a sports wheelchair from AFA, presented by (l-r) Brian Binn, Kevin Lewis, and Kip Hansen. Aguilera helped the USAF team win a bronze medal for wheelchair basketball at the Warrior Games 2012.

Justin Faiferlick, AFA’s Vice Chairman of the Board for Field Operations, presents Isaac Wachholz with a CAP Outstanding Squadron Cadet of the Year award at the Northwest Iowa Composite Squadron.

Jonathan Powell (left), president of the E. W. Rawlings Chapter, accepts an AFA coin from AFA Board Chairman Sandy Schlitt at a chapter dinner. Vic Seavers, AFA national director and Minnesota state president, is in the background. (ANG photos by SMSgt. Mark G. Moss)

Schlitt meets Lt. Col. Susan Maki and SrA. Zachary Allen at the Rawling Chapter awards banquet.

Zophia Raleigh displays her AFA CAP Cadet of the Year award, with Schlitt and Seavers.

Schlitt addresses the Rawlings Chapter banquet.

USAF Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz chats with Schlitt (center) and Seavers (far left) at a Founders Day Dinner of the Twin Cities Area Air Force Academy Association of Graduates.

The Metropolitan Boy’s Choir surrounds Gen. Norton Schwartz at the Air Force Academy Association of Graduates Founders Day Dinner in the Twin Cities.

SSgt. Bridget Bollinger accepts the 5th Bomb Wing Protocol Team’s award at a Gen. David C. Jones Chapter banquet. US Rep. Rick Berg (R-N.D.), at left, and Chapter President Ken Fox (right) presented the awards.

SrA. Andrew Barnes accepts the award for the 5th Communications Squadron Network Defense Team at the Gen. David C. Jones Chapter banquet.

At the banquet, the Gen. David C. Jones Chapter named retired CMSgt. Clark Culbertson as its Teacher of the Year.

AFJROTC cadet Miles Way (center), Minot High School, received an AFA Citation at the Gen. David C. Jones Chapter awards banquet. At left is Air Force Academy area liaison Mike Burt. US Rep. Rick Berg is at right.

At the Gen. David C. Jones Chapter awards banquet, US Rep. Rick Berg joined in congratulating Minot High School’s Abby Bierschbach for selection by the Air Force Academy. Her parents Greg and Julie are at left.

At the Florida drill competition, cadets Anthony Beczo (left) and Jonathan Vann accept the Best of Meet trophy from Mike Emig, Florida Region president.

Emig (back row, wearing blue ballcap) and Red Tail Memorial Chapter member Paul Calvert (white ballcap) pose with drill meet champions and supporters. Back row, fourth from left, is ASI Robert McCormack.

The Golden Triangle Chapter president, retired Lt. Col. Sonic Johnson, presents an AFA Outstanding AFROTC Cadet silver medal and citation to Casey Rains.

AFA Board Chairman Sandy Schlitt accepts a $10,000 donation from Air Force Sergeants Association CEO John McCauslin for the Air Force Memorial. It’s part of the AFSA’s $100,000 pledge to support the memorial.