AFA Honors WWII Bombardier
Lt. Armand Sedgeley was on a mission to destroy enemy supplies at a rail yard near Verona, Italy, when his B-17 came under fire from a German Messerschmidt Bf 109. It was Valentine’s Day, 1944, and Sedgeley, a bombardier, survived the attack that killed three crew members instantly and fatally wounded another.
Along with his navigator, Sedgeley took up a machine gun position, returning fire and managed to shoot down the German aircraft, while their pilot aimed the badly damaged B-17 toward an Allied airstrip in Corsica, France. When he realized the strip was too short for the big bomber, he ditched into the Mediterranean Sea.
AFA President Lt. Gen. Bruce “Orville” Wright visited Sedgeley recently in Colorado Springs, Colo., presenting the surviving hero with an AFA 75th anniversary coin. “It’s a small token of thanks for a man who may never get the recognition he truly deserves,” Wright said.
Three of Sedgeley’s fellow survivors were awarded the Silver Star Medal for their actions that day. Sedgeley believes his squadron approved the honor for him as well, but the paperwork was lost, and he never received the award.
The story might well be forgotten if not for John Fine, a deep-sea diver who explored the sunken B-17, and is now leading an effort to recognize Sedgeley with the Silver Star while he’s still alive. Such a recognition at this late date would be nearly unprecedented. Without original records—Sedgeley’s personnel file, along with those of millions of others, was lost in a 1972 St. Louis warehouse fire—documentation is hard to come by. But Fine continues to advocate for awarding the 99-year-old survivor the Silver Star. “USAF rejected it,” he said. “No live witnesses, no record. He did not get it at the time, therefore [they] will not give it to him now.”
But Fine and others, including AFA Texoma Region President Paul Weseloh, continue to work the issue, and Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner, has also voiced his support. To find out more about how you might help, contact Weseloh at email@example.com.
Texas Civil Air Patrol Siblings Earn Spaatz Award
By Bob Gehbauer
Two brothers in the Civil Air Patrol’s Redbird Composite Squadron were simultaneously awarded CAP’s highest cadet honor, the Gen. Carl A. Spaatz Award, on May 23. They are among just 87 active recipients of the award and the rank of Cadet Colonel.
Cadet Col. Jacob Brown completed his requirements on Aug. 22, 2020, and his older brother, Cleveland Brown Jr. followed on Feb. 27, 2021. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the award ceremony was delayed, allowing the two brothers to be recognized together.
It takes an average of five years to progress through 16 achievements and earn the Spaatz Award, including developing self-discipline, personal responsibility, the ability to lead and persuade, and the foundation for a future career in aviation, space, or technology. The final step is a rigorous four-part exam, testing physical fitness, moral reasoning, leadership, and aerospace education.
CAP is a family affair for the Browns. The cadets’ father, Capt. Cleveland Brown Sr., is the squadron’s commander, and their mother, 1st Lieutenant Shemitia Brown, is a cyber education and personnel officer for the Redbird Composite Squadron.
Retired Lt. Gen. John Campbell, president of AFA’s Seidel Chapter in Dallas, Texas, presented the Spaatz Award certificates, noting that he knew the first-ever Spaatz Award recipient, the late Col. Douglas C. Roach. Former President George W. Bush sent a congratulatory letter for the occasion, a recognition made possible because Captain Brown had served on Bush’s Secret Service detail.
Cleveland Jr. graduated in June from Lakeridge High School and has entered the United States Coast Guard Academy; Jacob has begun his junior year at Lakeridge High and hopes to follow in his older brother’s footsteps.