AFA National Report

Dec. 1, 2007

Region, State Presidents Meet

The Air Force Association’s region presidents and state presidents received a comprehensive orientation to AFA during two days in late October in Arlington, Va.

The association has 10 new region presidents and 18 new state presidents for the upcoming year. They were among the 42 field leaders attending the information sessions and workshops.

In opening remarks to them, AFA Chairman of the Board Robert E. Largent said, “The Air Force values what the association does,” and “it is a vital time for the Air Force Association to stand up for the Air Force.” He challenged the field leaders “to better the grassroots AFA”—the chapters, states, and regions—that they are responsible for.

Directors of the association’s headquarters staff gave an overview of their departments, and the Membership Operations staff presented information that the presidents will need to carry out their responsibilities.

Day Two was devoted to group meetings and training conducted by Vice Chairman of the Board for Field Operations Joseph E. Sutter. He told the attendees that one of the most important benefits from this annual orientation is “sharing good ideas.”

Convention in Colorado

At the Colorado State Convention, hosted by the Mile High Chapter in Denver, keynote speaker Lt. Gen. Craig R. McKinley and AFA Board Chairman Largent both highlighted the role of the Air National Guard. As ANG director, McKinley pointed out the importance of the Guard in keeping up the overall operations tempo of the military. In turn, Largent spoke of the AFA as a professional organization representing the entire Air Force community, including the Guard and Reserve.

Their remarks were apropos since nearby Buckley Air Force Base, which became an active duty facility seven years ago, is home to the Colorado Air National Guard.

Some 200 guests attending the convention and its awards banquet included Maj. Gen. H. Michael Edwards, the adjutant general for the state; Brig. Gen. William Hudson, the assistant adjutant general; AFA National Directors Jerry E. White and Charles P. Zimkas Jr.; and George M. Douglas, former AFA Board Chairman (1977-79).

The banquet honored Colorado AFA members who received national-level awards (listed in November, p. 93-94), state-level award recipients, and a dozen active duty, Guard, Reserve, and Air Force civilian personnel. One standout was the Lance P. Sijan Chapter; it earned the national-level Jack Gross Award for recruiting 325 new members in 2007. Sijan Chapter President Brian Binn took home a fistful of national and state awards and was named state AFA Member of the Year. He was also elected state executive VP. Others elected to state offices were Gayle White, state president, Ronald G. Kriete, treasurer, and Debbie Estrem, secretary.

The Mile High Chapter, led by Ronald A. Geurts, received the state Chapter of the Year award. Timothy J. Donahue received the state Teacher of the Year award, as a science and honors chemistry teacher at Cherry Creek High School, Greenwood Village, Colo.

Alamo Symposium

The Alamo Chapter (Tex.) co-sponsored with Air Education and Training Command a symposium and Air Force birthday ball in San Antonio in September.

Two days of symposium presentations were structured around four themes: the expeditionary warfighter, deciphering culture, the War on Terror, and accelerating change. Lt. Gen. Gary L. North, commander of 9th Air Force and US Central Command Air Forces, was a keynote speaker. In addition, a group of senior leaders from AETC units fielded questions from the audience during a panel discussion.

According to Kaye H. Biggar, chapter secretary, more than 2,500 guests attended the culmination birthday ball. Heading the list were Air Force Secretary Michael W. Wynne and AFA Board Chairman Largent.

The hundreds of volunteers who carried out these events came not only from AETC and the Alamo Chapter but also from the Paul Revere Chapter in Massachusetts. The out-of-staters—led by Chapter President Angela M. Dupont—lent a hand with registration and other logistics, sharing experience they have gained through sponsoring the Revere Chapter’s annual C2ISR summit.

Funds raised through corporate sponsors of the Texas symposium have been allocated by the Alamo Chapter’s aerospace education foundation to 2nd Air Force and 19th Air Force, AETC headquarters, Air University, Air Force Recruiting Service, and the chapter’s scholarship and educational outreach programs.

Keys to the Jag

The Wright Memorial Chapter in Dayton, Ohio, was the host for five air-conditioned tent chalets at the Vectren Dayton Air Show in July.

According to Chapter President Kent D. Owsley, about 2,000 visitors stopped by the tents for a “first-class view” and refreshments. VIPs from nearby Wright-Patterson Air Force Base included Gen. Bruce Carlson, commander of Air Force Materiel Command, and the AFMC vice commander, Lt. Gen. Terry L. Gabreski.

Guests of the chalet had a chance to win a double prize of a $100 gift certificate to a local steakhouse and the keys to a Jaguar XK coupe—albeit only for a weekend—courtesy of a car dealership. TSgt. Travis Haywood and his wife, SSgt. Amy Haywood, won the drawing. They are soon to deploy to Iraq, Owsley reported, so the chapter was “delighted that they had the lucky entry.”

With chapter member Jim Heitz heading up the project, the chapter hosts the chalets every year at this air show, held at Dayton Airport. This year, they invited military personnel who recently returned from overseas, Owsley said.

The headline act for the air show was the US Air Force Thunderbirds and their Brazilian Air Force demonstration team counterparts.

Mountaineer Leadership

In West Virginia this past June, the Chuck Yeager Chapter co-sponsored its most successful leadership school yet for AFJROTC cadets.

Called Mountaineer Cadet Officer Leadership School, the session lasted for six days, hosted by Concord University in Athens, W.Va. Chapter Secretary-Treasurer Herman N. Nicely II reported that 270 cadets—102 of them females—spent the week working on academics and leadership skills, drill and ceremonies, physical fitness, and other activities.

MCOLS in West Virginia got its start in 2001, organized by David F. Slaughter, then the chapter’s aerospace education VP and now a member of the Gen. Bruce K. Holloway Chapter (Tenn). Some 40 cadets attended that inaugural session.

This year, attendees represented five states, coming from the Mountain State as well as Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, and North Carolina. The commandant, retired Col. Randall Cantrell, came from North Carolina, too; he is the senior aerospace science instructor at Ragsdale High School in Jamestown and a member of the Tarheel Chapter. He has headed up this project since 2005. This year, with assistance from Yeager Chapter President Ira S. Latimer Jr. and Nicely, he led a cadre of nearly 40 adult staff members and 29 cadet trainers.

AFA’s Central East Region helped fund the awards earned by the cadets. Andrew Alston from Virginia took home the award for Outstanding MCOLS Cadet.

Sweet Sound of P-51s

When 77 P-51s flew into Columbus, Ohio, for an air show in September, the Capt. Eddie Rickenbacker Memorial Chapter was there to hear “that sweet sound of the V-12 Rolls Royce Merlin” engine, as one spectator put it.

The chapter joined with the Motts Military Museum of Groveport, Ohio, to man a display at the air show called the “Gathering of Mustangs and Legends.” It was held at Rickenbacker Airport. Among those handing out copies of Air Force Magazine and AFA membership applications were Chapter President Richard H. Coots Jr., Treasurer Chris M. Gibson, and chapter members Warren E. Motts and Richard W. Hoerle.

Peter J. Hennessey, an AFA national director from Columbus, stopped by the AFA area, as did visitors from seven foreign countries. It was a World War II WASP uniform jacket that attracted people to the display, Hoerle noted. Other attention-grabbers? P-51 artwork, Eddie Rickenbacker memorabilia, and a uniform blouse, helmet, goggles, and medals from Hump pilots of the World War II China-Burma-India Theater.

The chapter hosted a luncheon during the air show. About 100 guests gathered at the 121st Air Refueling Wing’s Red Tail dining facility at Rickenbacker Air National Guard Base, including a half-dozen Red Tails themselves—Tuskegee Airmen. They received AFA commemorative plaques during a ceremony at the luncheon, as did several former prisoners of war. Also honored: a group of AFA charter members, including Hoerle and James C. Gorman, who both joined in September 1946, William Runser, Bob Dean, and William Schubert.

Hoerle said that chapter research produced the names of 14 AFA charter members still living in Ohio, a state with three charter chapters of the association: the Rickenbacker Chapter, North Coast Chapter (chartered as the Cleveland Chapter), and the Wright Memorial Chapter.

AFA has 13 active chapters that were chartered before Dec. 31, 1948 and that are considered original charter chapters.


The Gold Coast Chapter (Fla.) teamed up with the Miami Chapter, the John W. DeMilly Jr. Chapter, and Civil Air Patrol members to present the second annual aerospace education workshop for teachers.

Held at Coast Guard Station Miami in Opa Locka, the workshop attendees had breakfast together, then each collected a binder of lesson plans and a generous amount of donated freebies: a book on space activities, pen, keychain, rubber ball, candy, calendar, beach towel, banner, balsa and Styrofoam airplanes, and posters.

More important, the workshop featured top-notch instructors: 2006 State Teacher of the Year Kathleen A. Foy and 2007 Gold Coast Chapter Teacher of the Year Peter Pompura. Both are Gold Coast Chapter members. A chemistry, astronomy, and space science teacher at South Plantation High School, Pompura gave the first presentation. He covered the NASA Explorer Schools program, which incorporates NASA content into curricula for grades four through nine, and also gave the 30 teachers a lesson on GPS. This led the teachers to conduct what Virginia Montalvo, chapter secretary, called a “field experiment”: using GPS coordinates to navigate around the Coast Guard station.

Foy taught a workshop on building paper “rockets” and launchers made of PVC pipes and bicycle pumps. Outside once again, the teachers launched their rockets, using what they had just learned about launchpad safety and estimation of trajectories.

NASA education specialist Les Gold, from the Kennedy Space Center, was luncheon speaker, providing an update on the agency’s news.

Montalvo said feedback about the workshop was positive. A typical comment: “This is fabulous, and we’ve learned so much.” The Gold Coast’s Fran C. Shaw, AFA Florida southeast area VP, organized the workshop.

More AFA Chapter News

At the Central Florida Chapter, William A. Yucuis ran the chapter’s USA Today-AFA Visions of Exploration program until recently. This contributed to the newspaper naming Yucuis, from Lyman High School in Longwood, to its All-USA Teacher Team of outstanding educators nationwide. According to Chapter President James E. Callahan, Yucuis had oversight of more than 200 classrooms. This school year, an estimated 1,100 classrooms across the US—elementary to high school level—are expected to participate in Visions of Exploration, a program that encourages the study of math, science, and technology.

The Tidewater Chapter (Va.) bought T-shirts for cadets and shirts for instructors who took part in an AFJROTC summer leadership school held at Oscar Smith High School. Other Chesapeake area high schools that sent students to the course: Deep Creek, Great Bridge, Indian River, and Western Branch. Outgoing Chapter President Gordon Strong was the officer in charge of the leadership school, with new Chapter VP William Auth as one of the instructors. Former Chapter President Allan Berg, Membership VP Edwin Spencer, and William M. Cuthriell spent time with the cadets, telling them about their Air Force experiences. The chapter sponsored all of the awards given to the top units and cadets on “graduation.”

The Chuck Yeager Chapter recently selected its 2007 State and Chapter Teacher of the Year. He is William J. Murphy of Matewan (W.Va.) High School. Murphy teaches ninth- and 10th-grade science classes and has been a teacher for just over two decades. An Army veteran of the Vietnam War, Murphy was selected particularly for his popular student program on building and launching rockets. Chapter President Ira S. Latimer and Secretary-Treasurer Herman N. Nicely II made the TOY award presentation.

Unit Reunions

3rd BG, (WW II). April 23-27, 2008, in Austin, TX. Contact: Bill Robinson, 4302 Horseshoe Dr., Needville, TX 77461 (281-342-0599) (

96th Air Refueling Squadron, Altus AFB, OK, (1953-65). April 29-May 2, 2008, in Branson, MO. Contact: Dick Lyon, 1054 Woodlore Cir., Gulf Breeze, FL 32563 (850-932-0124) (

307th BW B-47/KC-97 Assn. May 13-18, 2008, in Branson, MO. Contact: Brent Horn, 12014 West 68th Terrace, Shawnee, KS 66216 (

456th FIS. May 1-4, 2008, at the Holiday Inn in Dulles, Va. Contacts: Patrick Perry (972-355-2116) ( or Lou Pizzarello (703-481-6872) (

Ramey AFB Historical Assn. April 15-19, 2008, in Tucson, AZ. Contact: Ken Coombs, 412A Depot St., Andover, NH 03216 (603-735-4291) (

USAF Pilot Class 53-E. Jan. 17-20, 2008, at the Lexington Hotel in Orlando, FL. Contact: John Brill (317-501-8610) (

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.