AFA National Report

Dec. 1, 2011

Orientation for the Field

At AFA’s Region and State Presidents Meeting, Suzie Schwartz, wife of USAF Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz, fields a question from the audience, while AFA Board Chairman Sandy Schlitt (foreground) listens in.

Nearly 40 Air Force Association region and state presidents attended the annual orientation session held in Arlington, Va., in October. Sixteen of these field leaders were new to the job.

Before the two days of information briefings, workshops, and meetings got under way, Suzie Schwartz, wife of Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton A. Schwartz, addressed the gathering.

She has had a hand in numerous Air Force family-focused initiatives and described for her AFA audience several of them. One is the Key Spouse program, aimed at supporting and maintaining contact with families of deployed airmen.

AFA region presidents then took part in an orientation session, led by AFA Chairman of the Board S. Sanford Schlitt and Vice Chairman of the Board for Field Operations Justin M. Faiferlick. As part of this meeting, each region leader gave an update on chapters in their area.

In another room, AFA state presidents held a videoconference with former Texoma Region President David Dietsch who was in Texas. He presented a primer on keeping a chapter active.

Build relationships, he said. Seek out the local-office staff members who work for your US Senators and Representatives. Develop a tie to local-media reporters. Encourage members of like-minded associations to join AFA as well. “Leverage” the inherent interest of AFROTC, AFJROTC, Civil Air Patrol cadets—”great sources of enthusiastic, energetic manpower,” he said—and sign up their parents as AFA members. Offer Community Partners benefits such as access to the military and a chance to sponsor educational activities: CyberPatriot, Visions of Exploration, and sending cadets to summer encampments. Local businesses “love to be tacked on to education,” Dietsch pointed out. Invite all of these groups to brief the chapter; it informs the AFA members and it involves the cadets and local businesses in a chapter activity.

Director Jay Lavender spoke to the AFA leaders that evening and screened his documentary, “Wounded Warriors’ Resilience.” The 20-minute film debuted in September and pays tribute to the US military members.

On Saturday morning, Lt. Gen. Larry D. James, the Air Force’s deputy chief of staff for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance, wrapped up the roster of VIP guest speakers with a presentation on “The State of Airpower.”

On the Hill

While in the Washington, D.C., area for September’s AFA Air & Space Conference and National Convention, Central Florida Chapter, Hurlburt Chapter, and Falcon Chapter representatives made office calls on their US senators.

They met Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), a first-termer whom some have called a contender for the vice presidential nomination, and several of his staff members.

They also met with staffers in the office of Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.).

Months of work lay behind the Tuesday morning visits. Falcon Chapter President Lawrence A. Belge explained that Dennis M. Moran of the Central Florida Chapter began the process by making phone calls to determine who would be on the Hill when the conventioneers were in town.

Belge said: “Each one of the 15 chapters in Florida also [asked] their local representative’s office for their congressman’s availability. … These inquiries and requested confirmations by AFA Florida delegates [continued] up through the day before our Hill visit.”

Along with Belge and Moran, James B. Connors, from the Hurlburt Chapter, and John Timothy Brock, Bonnie B. Callahan, James E. Callahan, and President William A. Yucuis from the Central Florida Chapter formed the AFA Florida delegation.

Bonnie Callahan said each AFAer specialized in a topic: supporting airmen, caring for veterans, recapitalizing the aircraft fleet, investing in airpower, securing space and cyberspace, strengthening the nuclear mission, and CyberPatriot. Divvying up the subject areas gave every person a chance to cover AFA’s Top Issues, as well as its cyberspace competition.

“At both meetings, staffers took notes and asked questions,” Callahan said. “I think we all felt the meetings were productive and worthwhile.”

Happy Birthday Hoedown

September marked the 64th anniversary of USAF’s founding as an independent service, and the Tarheel Chapter in North Carolina invited guests to celebrate it “cowboy style.”

“Line dancing lessons if needed,” they promised.

Taking their cue, the 50 guests showed up for the barbecue dinner and dance at the American Legion post in Raleigh decked out in gingham, cowboy hats, boots, jeans, and leather vests.

Chapter Secretary Joyce W. Feuerstein reported that the male AFROTC cadets from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and North Carolina State University were shy at first. But they eventually tried the Texas two-step.

“Boot Scootin’ Boogie,” a 1990s hit by country music duo Brooks & Dunn sparked a line-dancing revival then and proved just as popular at this party.

Special guests included Community Partner Chioma Ugwa, a pharmacist, whom Joyce Feuerstein credited with funding the key to this birthday: the disc jockey, Clayton Fincher.

Other local businesses provided raffle items, some of them quite practical: an oil change and tire rotation, for example. Feuerstein said a hamper for separating laundry was a surprisingly hot item.

Call the evening a success. “No one was eager to leave,” Feuerstein said, and the students asked for an encore hoedown next year. “Any time we can get a teenager to offer an opinion as well as a compliment, it’s very special,” Feuerstein noted.

USAF’s Birthday at Keesler: It’s Back

For the first time since Hurricane Katrina, the John C. Stennis Chapter sponsored the Air Force Ball in September for the airmen of Keesler AFB, Miss.

It had been the chapter’s annual project until the 2005 hurricane hit the Gulf Coast, causing extensive storm-surge damage to the base.

The chapter itself didn’t get back on its feet until May 2008.

This September’s birthday celebration at Keesler included several days of activities ranging from sports and games to live music.

The Saturday evening Air Force Ball featured music by the Biloxi High School Jazz Band, a POW/MIA ceremony performed by the Keesler Honor Guard, and retired Col. Murphy Neal Jones as guest speaker.

In June 1966, then-Captain Jones was part of a mission to destroy a petroleum storage facility near Hanoi when anti-aircraft fire brought down his F-105. He endured more than six years as a POW.

During his repatriation, Jones spent time recovering at Keesler Medical Center. His appearance at the Air Force Ball was a kind of homecoming for him, said Chapter VP John E. Anderson. Jones now lives in Louisiana and belongs to the Maj. Gen. Oris B. Johnson Chapter.

For the Stennis Chapter, sponsoring the birthday ball required hands-on organization of every aspect. Chapter Treasurer Teresa Anderson rounded up volunteers to set up online ticket sales, collect tickets at the door, oversee the party favors, and even arrange for audio-visual equipment at the ball’s venue, Keesler’s Bay Breeze Event Center. Chapter President Lt. Col. Scott Solomon pitched in to find sponsors in the business community. The chapter asked several organizations, such as the base protocol office and the Top 3 group of senior enlisted personnel, to tap their contacts for help in carrying out this event.

Some 300 guests attended the formal.

Homecoming in Sumter

Fall means homecoming season, not only for schools but, apparently, for the city of Sumter, S.C., as well.

In September the Swamp Fox Chapter co-hosted its annual dinner with the Greater Sumter Chamber of Commerce, and three former 9th Air Force commanders, once stationed at nearby Shaw Air Force Base, turned out for the event: Pacific Air Forces Commander Gen. Gary L. North, retired Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. T. Michael Moseley, and retired Maj. Gen. William L. Holland.

Two former 9th Air Force vice commanders joined them: retired Maj. Gen. Thomas R. Olsen and retired Brig. Gen. Hugh C. Cameron. Both belong to the Swamp Fox Chapter, as does Moseley.

Maj. Gen. Stephen L. Hoog, who had only two weeks left as head of 9th Air Force, also attended the dinner, held at a country club. (Hoog assumed command at 11th Air Force, JB Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, on Nov. 7.)

Even US Rep. Mick Mulvaney stopped by for the social hour. The freshman Republican’s district includes the base, and he also sits on the House Budget Committee.

A local newspaper, The Item, reported that North spoke to the crowd of more than 150 guests about the challenges the US military faces in maintaining its “overmatching force” despite budget cuts.

Reporter Jack Osteen wrote in his column that North also told the gathering: “Sumter is the strongest military community I’ve seen in my 35 years of service in the Air Force.”

The Sept. 29 dinner marked the 12th time the AFA chapter and local chamber of commerce have co-hosted the event, noted Chapter President David T. Hanson.

The Transition to Reapers

The 174th Fighter Wing commander, ANG Col. Kevin W. Bradley, spoke to the luncheon meeting of New York City’s Iron Gate Chapter in October.

He covered his four deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan in the F-16, the 174th’s heritage, and the variety of aircraft the unit has flown—basically a history of USAF fighter aircraft in a nutshell: the P-47, F-84, F-100, A-10, F-16, and now the MQ-9.

The wing began operating the Reapers over Afghanistan in December 2009, from its operations center at Hancock Field in Syracuse. The 174th then became an MQ-9 formal training unit and maintenance training facility.

A few days after Bradley spoke to Iron Gate members, the unit received FAA clearance for Reaper training flights over remote areas of upstate New York.

Chapter President Frank T. Hayes said his group learned about on-site operations, takeoff, landing, ground servicing, and rearming of the Reapers. “A lively Q&A followed,” he said. Chapter members asked about integrating the MQ-9 with commercial traffic and about “stress after a day of intensive combat from a console.”

Shoe-in for Teacher of the Year

In Oklahoma City in September, the Central Oklahoma (Gerrity) Chapter’s aerospace education VP presented the State Teacher of the Year award to an instructor who’d earlier been named its Chapter Teacher of the Year.

James Putnam presented the state-level award to Brandi Williams before an audience of her fellow teachers during an in-service workday for Westmoore High School in Oklahoma City.

Putnam said when the chapter submitted Williams’ nomination for its award, the AFA state awards committee found it “so extraordinary” that they granted her the state award also and plan to nominate her as AFA’s national Teacher of the Year.

A biology teacher, Williams has landed grants to fund new and more-diverse biology lab equipment for her students. She introduced them to DNA studies through course material from Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, a research and education institution in Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y., specializing in molecular biology and genetics. Williams’ students thus have “cutting-edge, exciting biotechnology activities to do in the classroom,” commented Putnam.

More Chapter News

Three members of the Thomas W. Anthony Chapter (Md.) visited the Airmen Leadership School at JB Andrews, Md., in October. Harold Harris spoke to them about World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. He is 87 years old. He later described the value of AFA, stressing its role in advocating on Capitol Hill for young men and women in uniform. Maryland State President Joseph L. Hardy handed out a list of chapter activities on base and in the community. Shedrick S. Roberts, chapter aerospace education VP, was also on hand. Harris later represented the chapter at the ALS graduation, presenting the Academic Achievement Award and Commandant’s Award.

AFA Vice Chairman of the Board for Aerospace Education George K. Muellner joined Orange County/Gen. Curtis LeMay Chapter members at a USAF anniversary celebration in September in Newport Beach, Calif. Chapter President Bryan Roland helped an American Legion committee in planning the event and promoted it in his chapter’s newsletter. Some 35 AFAers attended the celebration, held at the American Legion Post.The LeMay Chapter sponsored several guests for this evening of dinner and dancing: local-area recruiters TSgt. Jennifer Guevarra and SSgt. Vanessa Richardson and Lt. Col. John Kanuch, the deputy commandant of the US Air Force Test Pilot School at Edwards AFB, Calif. Retired USAF Maj. Gen. Donald G. Hard was guest speaker. Before retiring in 1993, he led space and strategic defense initiative programs in the Air Force’s acquisition office.

In Minnesota, the Richard I. Bong Chapter held its September meeting at the local Commemorative Air Force museum at Duluth Airport. Dewayne H. Tomasek from the CAF—and a Bong Chapter member—provided an update on the collection that includes a hangar of vintage aircraft and military aviation memorabilia. Also during this meeting new Chapter President Keith Johnson presented information on an Honor Flight that he volunteered to help with in May. It was the first Honor Flight involving the Bong Chapter. Honor Flights bring war veterans who otherwise can’t afford the trip to Washington, D.C., so they can visit the World War II Memorial.

Florida Region’s new president, Michael H. Emig of the Red Tail Memorial Chapter in Ocala, Fla., and Joseph E. Sutter of the Gen. Bruce K. Holloway Chapter (Tenn.) were guest speakers at a regional conference of the Arnold Air Society and Silver Wings. AAS has been affiliated with AFA since the 1950s. Eighty-three students attended the conclave, held at the University of Florida, where Emig spoke about AFA.


At AFA’s Region and State Presidents Meeting, AFA Vice Chairman of the Board for Field Operations Justin Faiferlick (foreground) and AFA Board Chairman Sandy Schlitt listen to reports from region presidents.

In between information sessions, Faiferlick chats with Great Lakes Region President Bill Grider.

Region Presidents Eric Taylor (Northeast), Michael Emig (Florida), and Michael Cook (Midwest) take in Suzie Schwartz’s presentation.

Louisiana State President Paul LaFlame, Alabama State President Skip Dotherow, South Central Region President Tom Gwaltney, and Ohio State President Kent Owsley (l-r) listen to information on USAF family programs.

Oklahoma State President Riq Baldwin uses his IPad during a break.

In the front row, Oregon State President Mary Mayer introduces herself before the morning meetings get under way.

Florida AFAers visiting with Sen. Marco Rubio (fourth from left) were: Dennis Moran, Jim Connors, Jim Callahan, Bonnie Callahan, William Yucuis, John Timothy Brock, and Larry Belge (l-r).

Wearing straw hats for the Tarheel Chapter’s cowboy-theme hoedown: Chapter Treasurer Gil Slack (left) and Troy Cash.

Guest speaker retired Col. Murphy Neal Jones acknowledges the crowd at the Stennis Chapter-sponsored Air Force Ball. (USAF photo by Kemberly Groue)

At the ball, Stennis Chapter Treasurer Teresa Anderson receives the Chapter Member of the Year award from Chapter President Lt. Col. Scott Solomon. (USAF photo by Kemberly Groue)

Chapter President Solomon presents the Chapter Teacher of the Year award to Anja Comerford. (USAF photo by Kemberly Groue)

PACAF Commander Gen. Gary North and his wife, Shelley, receive the key to the city of Sumter, S.C., from Mayor Joe McElveen Jr. at a Swamp Fox Chapter-Chamber of Commerce dinner.

Jim Putnam, aerospace education VP for the Central Oklahoma (Gerrity) Chapter, presents the Teacher of the Year award to Brandi Williams at Westmoore High School.

Airman Leadership School students at JB Andrews, Md., hear perspectives on three wars from Harold Harris of the Thomas W. Anthony Chapter.

Lt. Col. John Kanuch, Lt. Col. Angernette Coy-Coates, and CMSgt. Jeffrey Cheney lead the honorees into the USAF Ball, which many Orange County-Gen. Curtis LeMay Chapter members attended.

The LeMay Chapter sponsored several guests at the ball, including recruiters (l-r) SSgt. Lonnie Richardson, SSgt. Vanessa Richardson, and TSgt. Jennifer Guevarra.

LeMay Chapter President Bryan Roland and his wife, Jeanine, led the group of 35 chapter members who attended the ball.

Florida Region President Michael Emig (second from right) spoke at an Arnold Air Society-Silver Wings conference. At left is retired Brig. Gen. Richard Bundy, AAS executive director and an AFA member.

AFA Board Chairman Sandy Schlitt (at podium) swears in new officers for the Donald W. Steele Sr. Memorial Chapter (l-r): Miles Sawyer, treasurer; Tom Lacey, secretary; Kevin Lewis, external affairs VP; and Gavin MacAloon, president.


324th FG, including 314th FS, 315th FS, and 316th FS. May 3-6 at the Menger Hotel in San Antonio. Contact: Winona Henry, 1618 Wishbone Dr., Abilene, TX 79603 (325-374-7985) (

Pilot Class 56-P and Nav Class 56-08C. May 15-19 in Colorado Springs, Colo. Contact: Roger Dilling (864-944-1880) (

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.