Airman For Life

Jan. 22, 2019

A portrait of the daughters of then-Maj. Arthur S. Means, who was shot down on Nov. 11, 1966, over Hanoi, North Vietnam, are shown writing a letter asking for the return of their father. In 1977 it was determined that Means likely died that day and his status was changed to KIA.

AFA’s San Diego Chapter helped organize a special POW/MIA recognition ceremony for Col. Arthur S. Mearns in Coronado, Calif, in August. Chapter President Dick Jeffreys and the chapter worked with the AFA Legislative Affairs office to honor his memory and family.

On Nov. 11, 1966, USAF then-Major Mearns led a flight of F-105s on a strike mission over Hanoi, North Vietnam. His aircraft was shot down. Because the crash site was not found, he was initially listed as missing in action. When it was discovered in November 1977, it was determined that he likely died that day. His status was changed to KIA.

When Mearns was still listed as missing, DOD commissioned a portrait of his daughters, Frances and Missy, writing a letter asking for the return of their father from Hanoi. The original painting hangs in the National Museum of the US Air Force at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio. A copy had hung in the office of former Congressman F. Edward Hebert for 35 years. After his death, Hebert’s daughter, Dawn, sent the picture to widow Pat Mearns and her daughters.

The city of Coronado, Calif., held a ceremony to officially present the portrait in August. Gen. David L. Goldfein, Chief of Staff of the Air Force, designated the ceremony as an official POW/MIA recognition event and authorized a USAF flyover.

L-r: Brig. Gen. Tracie Beckett, USA (Ret.), CMSgt. Daniel Kenemore, SSgt. Christopher Jackson, SSgt. Rachel McClary, SrA. Ryan Missel, Maj. Gen. Stephen Farmen, Sgt. Jack Poitas, TSgt. Chantelle Friedman, and MSgt. Bob Schure, USAF (Ret.). Photo: Courtesy

The Spirit of St. Louis Chapter helped sponsor the Missouri Athletic Club’s yearly salute to veterans in November. Maj. Gen. Stephen E. Farmen, commander of the US Army’s Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command was the keynote speaker.

The USAF Band of Mid-America from Scott AFB, Ill., performed.

The Ramstein AB, Germany, Chapter partnered with the European Department of Defense School’s JROTC at the June 2018 Cadet Leadership Course. The CLC is a one-week journey where cadets from 13 schools across Europe, along with 120-plus youth groups, train as warfighting airmen.

The cadet’s experiences included cliff climbing, marksmanship training, obstacle courses, meals ready to eat (MRE), physical training, and close-quarters weapons training, among other activities. The Air Force Association sent nine volunteers to lead, guide, mentor, and train the cadets as they advanced through the course. All 120-plus cadets graduated.

SMSgt. Dustin “Lucky” Lawrence, Special Assistant, Europe, was very pleased with all the Field Training Officers who volunteered for this Team AFA event.

The volunteers were: TSgt. Deencel Tan, SSgt. Alfonso Clark, SSgt. Alexender Schlesinger, SSgt. David Robinson, SSgt. Aaron Robison, SrA. Maseray Swarray, A1C Jorge Moran, A1C Griffen Vincent, and A1C Sabrina Nieto.