AFA National Report

Nov. 1, 2007

AFA’s Teacher of the Year

At the Air Force Association’s Air & Space Conference and National Convention, Jennifer L. Sinsel, a fifth-grade science teacher from Wichita, Kan., received the Christa McAuliffe Memorial Award as National Teacher of the Year.

Sinsel received the award for her work at Wichita Collegiate School, a private school with nearly 1,000 students ranging from preschool level to the 12th grade. She had been at the school since 1999 and taught her students through discovery activities and hands-on projects such as a simulated mission to Mars. She is now teaching gifted students in grades three to five at Bostic Traditional Magnet, a public school in Wichita, and is in the process of raising funds to build a shuttle simulator there.

AFA Chairman of the Board Robert E. Largent presented the award to Sinsel at the convention’s opening day awards ceremony. She is the 22nd recipient of the honor.

The Christa McAuliffe award recognizes a public, private, or parochial school teacher in grades K-12 who promotes aerospace technologies through innovative curriculum in the classroom. The award is named for S. Christa McAuliffe, the Concord, N.H., high school teacher who was to become the first teacher in space. She died in the 1986 Challenger space shuttle explosion.

Sinsel was one of 35 finalists considered by NASA in 2003 to become an educator-astronaut.

AFA’s Roanoke Chapter nominated the second-place Christa McAuliffe award recipients, Sandy Sampson and Robert Keck, team teachers from the Gereau Center for Applied Technology and Career Exploration. The school is located in Rocky Mount, Va. Kareen Borders of Key Peninsula Middle School in Lakebay, Wash., received the third-place award. The McChord Chapter (Wash.) nominated her for the honor.

Keeping Hydrated

The Wright Memorial Chapter in Dayton, Ohio, led some 40 volunteers in offering cups of water to runners passing an aid station during the 11th annual Air Force Marathon in September.

Some 1,600 people finished the full 26-mile marathon, held at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. Some 4,700 others were registered for associated races and teams. Josh Cox, a civilian from Mammoth Lakes, Calif., won the marathon with a course record of two hours, 20 minutes, 57 seconds. AFRC Lt. Col. Mark Cucuzzella, a physician at Andrews AFB, Md., was the marathon’s first military finisher. Cucuzzella, from Shepherdstown, W.V., came in fifth overall, at 2:34:26. He won the marathon last year. Second Lt. Karissa Goodrich, 22, was the first female finisher, at 3:06:54. She is from the 17th Training Wing, Goodfellow AFB, Tex.

This was the first time the Wright Chapter manned a hydration station. It was located between mile 17 and 18 on the marathon route. Chapter volunteers handing out water included Chapter President Dennis Drayer, Government Relations VP John W. McCance, Leadership Development VP W. Ron Goerges, Jeff A. Liffick, Michael Winslow, and David Allen.

Liffick reported that the group worked with about 30 AFROTC cadets from Wright State University, the University of Dayton, and Cedarville University. He said this event gave the chapter members an opportunity to serve as mentors to the cadets.

Double Anniversary

September was an anniversary month for the Iron Gate Chapter (N.Y.), as well as the Air Force.

This year, the chapter marked the 46th anniversary since its chartering in 1961 with a meeting that highlighted a unique Air National Guard unit—the 109th Airlift Wing from Stratton ANGB, N.Y. Col. Anthony German—the wing commander and a chapter member—was guest speaker.

Located north of Schenectady, the 109th flies C-130s equipped with skis so the transports can operate “from Pole to Pole,” as its unofficial motto proclaims. In the 1970s, the wing began flying supply missions to reach Distant Early Warning radar sites in Greenland. In 1988, it began missions to Antarctica to support Navy and National Science Foundation units there. The 109th continues to support scientific research missions in Greenland and Antarctica, along with other federal missions and deployments to Southwest Asia.

Chapter President Frank Hayes noted that the guests for this double anniversary event came from eight states. Those who cut the anniversary cake were George Burns, Pamela Freytag, Irwin Gorman, and J.S. Holtoner.

The A2 on ISR

Lt. Gen. David A. Deptula, the deputy chief of staff for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (A2), was guest speaker for the August luncheon meeting of the Donald W. Steele Sr. Memorial Chapter (Va.).

He spoke about the Air Force’s three-pronged approach to intelligence-surveillance-reconnaissance: managing ISR capability, organizing it as a USAF-wide enterprise, and developing its intel general officers for joint positions.

Steele Chapter newsletter editor George DeFilippi said Deptula left the chapter members with the striking thought that “ISR is no longer a support function but a direct warfighting capability.”

During the chapter luncheon, Chapter President Peter Gavares announced the winners of the chapter’s scholarships and presented $1,000 each to SSgt. Cheryl Rush and Jennifer Kunkel. Other $1,000 recipients were Kathryn Tidaback, Jordyn Ginnity, Susan Chitwood, and Sean Croghan. The $2,000 recipients were 1st Lt. Jeffrey Genda and Thomas Junyszek.

Bob Nicholson received Chapter Teacher of the Year honors at the gathering. He teaches earth sciences, oceanography, and astronomy to grades 10 through 12 at T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria, Va. His award included a copy of a statement describing his achievements. It had been read into the Congressional Record by US Rep. James P. Moran (D-Va.).

Three Plus Three

Good news came in groups of three for the Joe Walker-Mon Valley Chapter (Pa.): For the third time, someone from the chapter won the state Member of the Year award. Also, the chapter gained a new member who is the third generation in his family to join AFA.

James M. Cain, chapter secretary, received the Pennsylvania State Member of the Year award at the AFA state convention in State College in June. He has held every chapter office and has been president several times. He was the third chapter member in the past five years to earn the honor. Chapter President William J. Worthington took home the award in 2002. The next year, David L. DuBarr, now chapter VP, received the award.

Earlier this year, the chapter presented a scholarship to DuBarr’s son, Chad, and in July signed up the young man as a member. Chad is a freshman at Waynesburg University (Pa.), majoring in business administration. His grandfather, Korean War Army veteran Winfield DuBarr, and father are both former chapter presidents. David joined AFA first, in 1998. He is a retired tech sergeant who served as a recruiter in the Monongahela area.

Keeping the Flame

The 1889 Johnstown Flood has been called one of the biggest news stories of the latter 19th century. More than 2,000 people died when the combination of heavy rainstorm and a dam collapse washed away several communities in western Pennsylvania. An eternal flame at a Johnstown park memorializes the flood victims, and the Lt. Col. B.D. “Buzz” Wagner Chapter (Pa.) wants to make sure it stays lit.

According to Chapter President William B. Burns, wind in the valley tends to blow out the flame, and chapter members have been asking around for help in solving this problem. He said they had “many doors slammed” in their faces until Chapter Secretary Robert C. Rutledge suggested contacting the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown.

Burns said the chapter is now working with Gregory M. Dick, associate professor and head of the Department of Electrical Engineering Technology. Dick told the chapter that the problem sounded like a good candidate for a senior class project.

Why should the AFA chapter get involved at all? Burns said that so many people died in the flood—and in more recent floods in 1936 and 1977—that almost every family in town, including those of chapter members, has a connection to these events. “We’ve always prided ourselves in being a community-oriented organization,” Burns explained.

More AFA Chapter News

In August, John W. Glass III, president of the Chattanooga Chapter (Tenn.), presented a laser-engraved AFA glass mug to Boy Scout Nathan Kennard, who had earned an aviation merit badge in the process of becoming an Eagle Scout. Glass presented the mug at a Boy Scout Court of Honor for four troops in the Signal Mountain area. He said he presents the award to every local Boy Scout who completes the aviation badge and makes Eagle and once gave out four in a year. “It gives them an incentive,” he said about the mug award. “The kids compete for this.”

It was a two-state effort: Sponsored by the Richard I. Bong Chapter of Duluth, Minn., Craig Anderson was named Wisconsin State Teacher of the Year for 2007. Anderson is a Wisconsin resident, but his school—Northwestern Middle School, in Poplar, Wis.—participates in the AFA-USA Today newspaper’s Visions of Exploration program in Minnesota, and he met the teacher of the year criteria using Minnesota guidelines.

The Del Rio Chapter in Texas held its third annual golf tournament, combining fund-raising for a chapter scholarship with the celebration of the Air Force’s 60th anniversary. Held on Laughlin Air Force Base, the tournament attracted some 45 golfers, many of them Community Partners and including Col. Mike Minahan, the 47th Fighter Training Wing commander, and local mayor Efrain V. Valdez. Chapter President Larry E. Martwig led the preparations for a barbecue after the tournament. James W. Winters, chapter VP, and Patricia A. Watson, secretary, organized the entire event. The chapter plans to award its scholarship to a graduating senior from Del Rio High School.

In Indiana in September, Heather Weatherbee was honored as both Chapter and State Teacher of the Year during a meeting of the Southern Indiana Chapter. Why was she selected? A local newspaper headline listed one reason: “Bottle rocket classes lead to Teacher of the Year Award.” Weatherbee, a fourth-grade teacher from Binford Elementary School in Bloomington, received the awards from State President Thomas E. Eisenhuth and James E. Fultz, aerospace education VP. Lt. Col. John D. Golden, the new professor of aerospace studies at Indiana University Bloomington, addressed the chapter meeting.

The L.D. Bell-Niagara Frontier Chapter (N.Y.) granted a $1,000 scholarship to Amanda Ward at a chapter dinner meeting this summer. Ward, who competed against some 70 other candidates for the award, is the daughter of SMSgt. Bob Ward of the 107th Air Refueling Wing (ANG). The wing is based at Niagara Falls Arpt./ARS, N.Y., where the chapter held this meeting. Chapter President Richard H. Waring and the installation commander, Col. Reinhard L. Schmidt from the 914th Airlift Wing (AFRC), presented the scholarship to Ward, who has begun studies at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, N.Y.

Joseph R. Falcone, 1927-2007

AFA National Director Emeritus Joseph R. Falcone died Sept. 20 in New Milford, Conn. He was 79 years old and lived in Ellington, Conn., and Charlottesville, Va.

Mr. Falcone was born in the Bronx, N.Y., on Oct. 15, 1927, and served in the US Army in World War II. He attained the rank of chief master sergeant.

He was a technical representative with Pratt & Whitney Aircraft in East Hartford, Conn., for more than 30 years, retiring in 1998. He also served as a police officer for the town of Ellington and a county deputy sheriff in the 1960s and 70s.

Mr. Falcone was a charter member of the association, having joined AFA in October 1946.

John P. Henebry, 1918-2007

Retired Maj. Gen. John P. “Jock” Henebry, former AFA Chairman of the Board and National President, died Sept. 30 in Evanston, Ill., of heart failure. He was 89.

Henebry was born in Plainfield, Ill., on Feb. 14, 1918, and graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 1940. In July 1940, he entered aviation cadet training and received his wings in March 1941 at Kelly Field, Tex. The next year, he was sent to Australia and began to make his mark in the Southwest Pacific Theater as a combat pilot. He flew more than 200 missions in the B-25, A-20, and A-26 and joined other pilots in sinking an entire enemy convoy during the Battle of the Bismarck Sea. A few months later, he led an air attack that, in effect, destroyed the Japanese stronghold at Rabaul, New Britain.

Released from active duty as a colonel in 1946, he was promoted to brigadier general in the Reserve and commanded the 437th Troop Carrier Wing. He was recalled to active duty and led the 315th Air Division during the Korean War.

General Henebry was AFA’s National President from 1956 to 1957 and its Board Chairman 1957-58. During his successful civilian business career, he founded a private aviation service and owned several businesses.

AFA In Action

The Air Force Association works closely with lawmakers on Capitol Hill, bringing to their attention issues of importance to the Air Force and its people.

Outstanding Airmen on the Hill

The Air Force’s 12 Outstanding Airmen joined AFA delegates for the Congressional Breakfast Program, held as part of the National Convention and Air & Space Conference and Aerospace Technology Exposition. The airmen toured Capitol Hill and made office calls on their Congressional Representatives.

SMSgt. Tammy L. Brangard-Hern, from Randolph AFB, Tex., and SrA. Linn Aubrey, from Lackland, met with Texas Republican Rep. Lamar Smith’s military legislative assistant Mark Sanchez. SMSgt. Ronald A. Colaninno met with Bill Jorch, MLA for Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.).

MSgt. Sachiko D. Jones met Rep. Mike McIntyre (D-N.C.). Rep. Peter Roskam, (R-Ill.) met MSgt. Lawrence B. Taylor.

TSgt. Jeremy L. Griffin was greeted by Eric Hannis, MLA for Rep. Dave Weldon (R-Fla.). Griffin is stationed at Patrick AFB, Fla. Rep. Ron Kind (D-Wis.) met SSgt. Matthew J. Hefti, while SSgt. Matthew Hulsman met Rep. Baron Hill, an Indiana Democrat. Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.) greeted SSgt. Jonathan C. McCoy. Also from Florida, Rep. Kathy Castor (D), met SSgt. David L. Orvosh. Republican Rep. Terry Everett (Ala.) welcomed SSgt. Richard W. Rose Jr. to his office. North Carolina Rep. Robin Hayes (R) met SSgt. Geoffrey M. Welsh, who is stationed at Seymour Johnson AFB, N.C.

Air Force Chief of Staff Visits With Staffers

AFA gave professional staffers on Capitol Hill an opportunity to meet with Gen. T. Michael Moseley, the Air Force Chief of Staff, during the AFA conference. This invitation brought 40 staff members—the largest number ever—to the conference.They received an update on combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and had a chance to ask Moseley questions on a wide range of issues.

Unit Reunions

Reisenbach AS, Germany, veterans, including the 2060th Radio Relay Squadron (1952-69). Sept 5-15, 2008, at the Bavarian Village Resort in Branson, MO. Contact: Richard Spoley (

B-47 Stratojet Assn. Sept 25-27, 2008, in Marietta, GA. Contact: Bob Bowman (770-826-5562) (

Veterans of Underage Military Service. April 24-27, 2008, in Rapid City, SD. Contact: R. Thorpe, 6616 E. Buss Rd., Clinton, WI 53525 (608-676-4925).

Seeking members from Pilot Training Class 65-XG, Laughlin AFB, TX, for a reunion. Contact: Hank Salcido, 1546 Pelican Bayou Dr., Biloxi, MS 39532 (228-354-8066) (

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.

Contributions to “AFA National Report” should be sent to Air Force Magazine, 1501 Lee Highway, Arlington, VA 22209-1198. Phone: (703) 247-5828. Fax: (703) 247-5855. E-mail: Digital images submitted for consideration should have a minimum pixel count of 900 by 1,500 pixels.