AFA National Report

Jan. 1, 2009

Air Force Ball in Los Angeles

Brig. Gen. Susan J. Helms received the prestigious Gen. Thomas D. White Space Award at the Los Angeles Air Force Ball, hosted by the Gen. B. A. Schriever Los Angeles Chapter at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in November.

The ball, organized with the aid of the General Doolittle Los Angeles Area Chapter and the Orange County/Gen. Curtis E. LeMay Chapter, was held in conjunction with the Air Force Association’s Global Warfare Symposium.

The award recognized Helms—who in 1993 became the first US military woman in space—as an outstanding contributor to the nation’s progress in space. Helms in November was commander of the 45th Space Wing at Patrick AFB, Fla., and had been selected for assignment as US Strategic Command director of plans and policy.

At the Los Angeles Ball, Brig. Gen. Susan Helms receives the space award named for a former USAF Chief of Staff, Gen. Thomas White. Presenting it are (l-r) Brian Arnold, Schriever Chapter board chairman; Lt. Gen. John Sheridan, commander of the Space and Missile Systems Center; and AFA Board Chairman Joe Sutter. (USAF photo by Lou Hernandez)

Master of ceremonies Patrick Coulter, a Raytheon vice president, told the audience that Helms had directed space launches with a 100 percent success rate, placing “14 missions on target, including numerous shuttle flights and Department of Defense satellites.” He said that under her leadership, a list of firsts took place, including launch of the Wideband Global satellite.

More Awards at LA

Also at the Los Angeles Ball, Brig. Gen. Susan K. Mashiko, vice commander of the Space and Missile Systems Center at Los Angeles Air Force Base, was named a Bernard A. Schriever Fellow. Mashiko received the honor in recognition of a 28-year career that has included directing the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle system program, serving as vice commander of the Air Armament Center, and more recently, commanding the Military Satellite Communications Systems Wing.

S. Sanford Schlitt, AFA vice chairman of the board for aerospace education, joined Far West Region President Wayne R. Kauffman and Schriever Chapter President Pam A. Levine in making the presentation to Mashiko.

Proceeds from the Los Angeles Air Force Ball help promote aerospace education through the chapter’s Schriever Education Foundation. In 2008, the organization distributed some $34,000 for AFROTC units and USAF personnel, said Ronald D. Sugar, the general chairman of the ball. Sugar, who is Northrop Grumman’s chairman and chief executive officer, told the audience that the chapter sponsors 84 Visions of Exploration classrooms. Visions is an educational program of AFA and USA Today newspaper to encourage the study of science, technology, engineering, and math.

Alamo’s Combat Breakfast

An Air Force explosive ordnance disposal technician recovering from wounds sustained in Iraq was among the honored guests at the Alamo Chapter’s Combat Breakfast at Randolph AFB, Tex.

SSgt. Christopher Slaydon and 21 other wounded warriors attended the annual gathering held at the Enlisted Club on Nov. 3. Slaydon lost his sight and his left arm in October 2007 when an IED exploded as he cleared a convoy route in Kirkuk. At the time, he was on a joint mission with the US Army’s 10th Mountain Division. He had been assigned to the 56th Civil Engineer Squadron, Luke AFB, Ariz., and was on his third deployment to Iraq. Slaydon and the other injured vets at the chapter breakfast are recovering at Brooke Army Medical Center at Ft. Sam Houston.

According to Air Force Print News, 300 guests attended the Combat Breakfast, which was part of San Antonio’s annual weeklong series of events to salute the US military.

Alamo Chapter President Gary L. Copsey commented that the breakfast highlighted the “commitment and willingness of Americans to sacrifice for the nation.”

The Prescott/Goldwater Chapter’s entry in a Veterans Day parade was a 1933 Buick. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University cadet Steven Hamman, who is also a chapter member, rides in the rumble seat.

First Expeditionary Air Force

Shortly after Maj. Gen. Stephen T. Sargeant became commander of the Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center at Kirtland AFB, N.M., in July 2007, the president of the Albuquerque Chapter paid him a courtesy call.

Frederick J. Harsany said that during this visit, Sargeant suggested the chapter hold joint meetings with similar organizations and later offered even more direct help: Last summer, the two-star was guest speaker at an AFA-hosted joint luncheon with the local Military Coalition. More recently, Sargeant’s father-in-law, James R. Greenwood, was guest speaker for the chapter-hosted September meeting.

A retired Gates Learjet public relations executive and author of several books, Greenwood spoke about the first expeditionary operation by America’s airmen: the March 1916 Punitive Expedition into Mexico. Triggered by Mexican guerrilla Pancho Villa’s attack on Columbus, N.M., a week earlier, the expedition was led by Brig. Gen. John J. “Black Jack” Pershing. The 1st Aero Squadron—commanded by Capt. Benjamin D. Foulois—carried out aerial reconnaissance, photography, and courier missions for the operation.

Harsany said nearly 40 people attended the meeting, several of them members of an aviation history group. As a result, it was a knowledgeable audience that asked Greenwood follow-up questions. Harsany said they asked: How effective were the squadron’s eight Jennys? How did the expedition handle the logistics of resupply? What lessons learned from this first “tactical air unit” were later applied to World War I operations

Harsany videotaped the 45-minute presentation to add to the collection of the Albuquerque Aviation History Group.

Jumbo Jubilee

A medal ceremony organized last summer by the Long Island Chapter garnered so much publicity that a similar award presentation this fall brought forth three times as many recipients.

In October, the chapter’s 19th Jubilee of Liberty medal ceremony honored more than a score of veterans from the World War II Normandy invasion. They received their honors from three of New York state’s members of Congress: Rep. Tim Bishop (D), Rep. Steve J. Israel (D), and Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D).

The Regional Council of Normandy, France, originally minted the Jubilee of Liberty Medal in 1994, for a 50th anniversary commemoration of the June 6, 1944 landing. Later, the French government asked that the medal be presented to US veterans of the Normandy landing who didn’t attend the anniversary ceremony.

In the years since then, the Long Island Chapter has recognized several hundred Normandy vets. Last June’s ceremony involved seven soldiers, who received honors from Bishop and news coverage from a local newspaper and cable TV station. As a result, reported Chapter Treasurer Fred DiFabio, 21 veterans stepped forward with documentation of their part in the Normandy campaign.

DiFabio said 250 guests turned out for the October presentations, held at the American Legion Post in Babylon, N.Y. The ceremony included the presentation of the colors by a local Civil Air Patrol squadron, remarks from the three Congressional representatives, and music by a choral music group from Long Island.

The Genesee Valley Chapter had a good turnout for its Veterans Recognition Night in Rochester, N.Y. Among those in the front row are (l-r) Army veterans Mario Fabi and Henry Cudzilo and chapter member Thomas Callon, a Korean War veteran.

More Chapter News

With former USAF Chief of Staff Gen. Ronald R. Fogleman as guest speaker, an Air Force memorial was dedicated on Veterans Day at the New Hampshire State Veterans Cemetery in Boscawen, N.H. The Brig. Gen. Harrison R. Thyng Chapter in New Hampshire had joined with two other associations to raise $150,000 for the memorial, a small-scale replica of the Air Force Memorial located near the Pentagon. New Hampshire’s memorial features shorter versions of the three stainless steel spires; the tallest is 26 feet versus the original’s 270-foot spire. Granite monoliths at the New Hampshire memorial are engraved with descriptions of the state’s contributions to Air Force history. Just one example: Congressional Medal of Honor recipient Capt. Harl Pease Jr. and seven World War II and Korean War aces came from the Granite State.

In a Veterans Day ceremony at the Ocala/Marion County Veterans Memorial Park in Ocala, Fla., a Marine Corps color guard posted the colors, and local warbird aircraft flew overhead. Students and JROTC units from several high schools presented music and a parade of colors, and an honor guard from the sheriff’s office rendered a 21-gun salute. Fifteen Red Tail Memorial Chapter members manned a display at the park, attracting attention from visitors. Chapter President Michael H. Emig said a dozen people were recruited as members, as well as two Community Partners.

A committee that included Carl Vinson Memorial Chapter representatives worked for more than 12 years to raise funds for a POW/MIA memorial that was dedicated in October at the Museum of Aviation in Warner Robins, Ga. Retired Brig. Gen. James E. Sehorn was guest speaker for the ceremony. Sehorn was a POW in North Vietnam for more than five years, after having been shot down on his seventh mission. An audience of about 500 people attended the dedication of the 11-foot-tall six-sided granite memorial.

A retired German Air Force WSO was guest speaker for the November meeting of the Columbus-Bakalar Chapter in Columbus, Ind. Martin Baier, who retired as a lieutenant colonel in 2005, described his career as a weapons systems officer and his reconnaissance missions over Yugoslavia. He was stationed at Holloman AFB, N.M., from 1999 to 2002 as a liaison to USAF. In his remarks to the chapter, he described the German Air Force presence at USAF and US Navy installations. Today Baier lives in Indianapolis and is a consultant, reported Chapter Secretary John B. Pavone.

In Arizona, the Prescott/Goldwater Chapter took part in Prescott’s annual Veterans Day Parade that this year drew 3,000 spectators, according to news accounts. The parade began at the Bob Stump Veterans Affairs Medical Center, where Chapter President Thomas Rowney prepared the chapter’s entry: He tied AFA banners to the sides of a fire-engine-red 1933 Buick. Embry Riddle Aeronautical University cadets—and chapter members—Matthew Rhodes and Steven Hamman rode in the rumble seat of this ragtop coupe. Chapter VP James Turner, Chapter Secretary Adolphus Bledsoe Jr., and chapter members Paul Feirick and Gary Swigart escorted medical center patients, so they could watch the huge parade of some 60 floats and entries.

Maj. Gen. Stephen Sargeant (left), commander of the Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center, suggested author James Greenwood (center) as guest speaker for the Albuquerque Chapter. John Toohey, at right, is New Mexico state president.

The Genesee Valley Chapter (N.Y.) helped carry out a 22nd annual Veterans Recognition Night in Rochester in November. Chapter President Alfred E. Smith coordinated the event, held at Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Elementary School. The audience also included local representatives from organizations such as the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association and Jewish War Veterans.

Unit Reunions

319th FIS. May 7-9 in Nashville, IN. Contact: Jerry Henry, 2823 23rd St., Columbus, IN 47201 (812-314-0813) (

444th FIS. April 14-16 at the Sheraton North Charleston Hotel, Charleston, SC. Contact: Wallace Mitchell, 535 Mimosa Rd., Sumter, SC 29150 (803-469-3297).

494th BG (WWII). June 18-22 at the Grand Plaza Hotel in Branson, MO. Contacts: Marshall Keller, 7412A Vassar Dr. East, West Bloomfield, MI 48322 (phone or fax: 248-626-3684) or Jerry Lindley, 780 Alexander Rd., Stephenville, TX 76401 (254-965-5990).

Pilot Tng Class 54-G. April 15-19, in Phoenix. Contact: John Schaefer (623-561-5000) (

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.


Three US Representatives attended the latest Jubilee of Liberty medal ceremony hosted by the Long Island Chapter. Front row (l-r): Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D), Rep. Steve Israel (D), and Rep. Tim Bishop (D). Second row, far right is Chapter Treasurer Fred Di Fabio.

Red Tail Memorial Chapter President Michael Emig (far left) shows a list of Community Partners to visitors at the AFA table at the Ocala, Fla., Veterans Day event.