AFA National Report

Jan. 1, 2011

At the Air Force Ball, Los Angeles

Air Force Secretary Michael B. Donley and Chief of Staff Gen. Norton A. Schwartz headed the list of VIPs at the 39th annual Air Force Ball, in Los Angeles this November. Gen. C. Robert Kehler received the evening’s top honor, the General Thomas D. White US Air Force Space Award.

Sponsored by the Air Force Association and its Gen. B. A. Schriever Los Angeles Chapter, the White award takes note of the year’s outstanding contributor to progress in space. Kehler heads Air Force Space Command. Pat Coulter, master of ceremonies for the ball, told the audience that Kehler was singled out for “providing game-changing capabilities” to commanders while “managing a global network of satellite command and control, communications, missile warning, space launch facilities, and space systems acquisition.”

AFA Chairman of the Board S. Sanford Schlitt, Schriever Chapter COB Thomas D. Taverney, and Lt. Gen. John T. Sheridan, commander of the Space and Missile Systems Center at Los Angeles AFB, Calif., presented the award to Kehler.

AFA Chairman of the Board Sandy Schlitt (at right) and his wife, Patricia (left), met Vice President Joe Biden at the White House’s Veterans Day breakfast for military- affiliated organizations. A memorial service at Arlington National Cemetery followed.

More Honors at LA

The Air Force Ball in Los Angeles took place at the Beverly Hilton and was the culmination of the two-day AFA Global Warfare Symposium.

The gala paid tribute to Women Airforce Service Pilots, through a video about their World War II service, and introduced to the audience two WASPs who live nearby: Violet Thurn Cowden of Huntington Beach and Edna Modisette Davis of Santa Barbara.

In other honors, Schriever Chapter President Nancy Fitzgerald and Schlitt named Gary E. Payton as a Schriever Fellow. Payton received the recognition for his tenure as deputy undersecretary of the Air Force for space programs, overseeing USAF’s space portfolio from 2005 until last July. Payton is a retired Air Force colonel and flew on the space shuttle Discovery in 1985 as a payload specialist. He has worked for the Missile Defense Agency, Orbimage, and NASA.

In bringing the LA Ball to a close, general chairman Wanda M. Austin—president and chief executive officer of Aerospace Corp.—described the work of the Schriever Chapter’s Education Foundation. She said the organization uses proceeds from the ball to support Air Force personnel in the area and to sponsor 100 Visions of Exploration classrooms.

The Visions program is an AFA-USA Today initiative that provides newspapers to students and lesson plans for their teachers, to promote the study of science and math.

Austin announced to the Air Force Ball guests that this year’s gala raised $40,000.

Ceremony for an Ace

When Army Air Forces Lt. Col. Boyd D. Wagner died in a training flight in Florida in November 1942, it took weeks to recover most of his remains because the crash site was not on his expected flight path. It took another 67 years to recover more remains of Wagner, the AAF’s first World War II ace.

With help from the Lt. Col. B. D. “Buzz” Wagner Chapter of Johnstown, Pa., those additional remains were laid to rest in an urn under the original memorial headstone, in a cemetery near Johnstown this past October.

The chapter—headed by William B. Burns—took the lead in arranging military honors for the interment ceremony. It involved the Air National Guard’s Band of the Mid-Atlantic, the Army Reserve’s 458th Engineering Battalion honor guard, the Pennsylvania ANG’s 258th Air Traffic Control Squadron, an AFJROTC unit, a local high school band, and the Civil Air Patrol.

The 17th Weapons Squadron, Nellis AFB, Nev., conducted an F-15 flyover of the ceremony. Wagner had commanded the unit’s World War II predecessor, the 17th Pursuit Squadron, in the Philippines. The flyover had particular poignancy for Wagner’s nephew, retired USAF Col. Boyd Wagner Gilbert; bad weather had forced cancellation of a flyover for the January 1943 funeral of his uncle.

A native of Emeigh, Pa., Wagner had returned from duty in the South Pacific and was flying a P-40 to Alabama when he crashed. The war hero had just turned 26.

In 2003, another native of the Johnstown area, now-retired USAF Col. James E. Moschgat, began researching Wagner’s life and eventually discovered some of the pilot’s personal items, such as a high school ring, as well as more remains at the Florida crash site. The Army’s Central Identification Laboratory in Hawaii confirmed in 2010 that the remains were Wagner’s, using DNA from Gilbert, his last surviving relative.

After 66 Years, Still a Jubilee

The awardees are in their 90s. Some use wheelchairs, some use walkers, but all the World War II veterans showed great pride at the Long Island Chapter’s latest Jubilee of Liberty Medal ceremony in Farmingdale, N.Y., in October.

The chapter has hosted 22 such events. They pay tribute to veterans of the June 6, 1944, Normandy invasion, when some 70,000 American troops—and another 80,000 Allies—landed on the beaches of France to begin the drive to liberate western Europe.

The Jubilee of Liberty Medal originated in 1994 when the regional government of Normandy decided to mint the award for presentation to US vets attending the 50th anniversary remembrance of the invasion. Since then, some members of Congress have awarded medals to those who couldn’t make it to the Normandy ceremony.

At the Long Island presentation, held before an audience of 250 at the American Airpower Museum, 10 Normandy veterans received their medals from US Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.).

Fred Di Fabio, organizer of the event and now chapter president, said the museum’s C-47 “Gooney Bird,” bearing invasion colors, provided a perfect backdrop. He noted that the chapter has awarded more than 375 Jubilee medals over the years.

Chapter Secretary Cathy Ward served as master of ceremonies. In addition, New York State President Maxine Rauch presented the State Teacher of the Year Award to Joseph Castille.

Over the Top

A donation from the Wright Memorial Chapter in Dayton, Ohio, has allowed completion of a Fisher House at nearby Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

Fisher Houses, built on the grounds of major military and Department of Veterans Affairs medical centers, allow families to stay near service members who are undergoing medical treatment.

Chapter President Jeff Liffick presented $10,000 to the Fisher-Nightingale Houses, Inc., at a chapter meeting.

Announcing the donation on its website, Fisher-Nightingale said the check means the Wright-Patterson Fisher House has “finally been paid for.” It noted that the project had cost some $3 million.

The new house replaces an older facility, called Nightingale House, that had been constructed from two base housing units. It was not handicapped-accessible and had shared bathrooms.

The new Fisher House is scheduled to open this month.

You’ve Got a Partner

If the actual airplane or a simulator isn’t nearby to train on, 2nd Lt. Joseph Barton can always pull out the door prize he won at a reception sponsored by the Golden Triangle Chapter in Mississippi: It’s a poster showing the cockpit of a T-6 Texan II.

The reception was part of a chapter co-sponsored initiative called Pilot Partner. The program matches each of the 15 specialized undergraduate pilot training classes arriving at Columbus AFB, Miss., with at least two local businesses or civic organizations.

To host the Pilot Partner welcome reception for Barton’s Class 11-15, the Golden Triangle Chapter teamed up with the local Chamber of Commerce. Chapter President Rick Johnson, treasurer 2nd Lt. Travis Manter, and former treasurer Mike Counihan attended the party, held at a dirt-track speedway.

Barton won the door prize from among 31 pilots.

More Chapter News

To earn the Outstanding Cadet award at a drill meet sponsored by the Arnold Air Society at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, N.C., AFJROTC cadets had to face a panel of judges from the Tarheel Chapter. Nine cadets stood before Chapter President Ray Benson Jr., Veterans Affairs VP Lewis E. Feuerstein, and member Woody Sellers, vying for the trophy. Justin Dant from Ronald Reagan High School in Pfafftown, N.C., earned the award, presented by State President Louis A. Emond. The chapter paid for all trophies for this drill competition, as well as AFA logo T-shirts.

Two Virginia chapters sent representatives to a Veterans Day ceremony at the Virginia War Memorial in Richmond. Steven J. Combs, treasurer of the Richmond Chapter, and Albert Pianalto, VP of the Leigh Wade Chapter in Chester, Va., presented an AFA wreath at the annual ceremony, on behalf of all AFA chapters in Virginia.

From the Red Tail Memorial Chapter in Ocala, Fla., president Michael H. Emig attended the second annual Diamondback Drill Competition at Belleview High School in Belleview, Fla., in November. He presented trophies to the overall winners in several categories. Eleven schools, with some 400 cadets, competed.

David R. Cummock, 1937-2010

Retired Col. David R. Cummock, an AFA National Director Emeritus, died Nov. 22 at his home in Port Orange, Fla. He was 73 years old.

AFA’s Member of the Year in 2009, Colonel Cummock had also been AFA Massachusetts Member of the Year for 1988 and AFA Florida Member of the Year in 1997.

He was a longtime AFA leader, having been Florida Region President, as well as Massachusetts State President and President of chapters in Florida and Massachusetts. He was a Trustee and Secretary-Treasurer for the former Aerospace Education Foundation.

Born in Salt Lake City, Utah, Cummock began his first career in 1957 as an Air Force aviation cadet, receiving a commission the next year. He left active duty in 1967 to become an American Airlines pilot and served in the 104th Fighter Wing, Massachusetts Air National Guard. He retired from the Guard in 1986 and from American Airlines in 1997.

He founded the Wright Flight Program in Massachusetts and Florida. Wright Flight is a nonprofit organization that encourages academic performance through incentive flights.

In addition to working with middle school and high school students in Wright Flight, Cummock and his wife, Marguerite, took a particular interest in supporting cadets at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Daytona Beach.

Bryan L. Murphy Jr., 1921-2010

Retired Maj. Bryan L. Murphy Jr., an AFA National Director Emeritus, died Oct. 25 in Fort Worth, Tex. He was 89 years old.

Major Murphy was born in Guthrie, Okla., and earned a bachelor’s degree and MBA from Southern Methodist University. He was an Air Force pilot and retired as a reserve major, having served from 1943 to 1965. He was also a 35 year-plus retiree from General Dynamics.

He had served as AFA Texas State President and was a member of the Fort Worth Chapter.

John G. Brosky, 1920-2010

Retired Maj. Gen. John G. Brosky, former Air Force Association Chairman of the Board and President, died Oct. 10 of pneumonia and heart problems. He was 90 years old and was a resident of Carnegie, Pa.

General Brosky led AFA from 1981 to 1984, but in the Pittsburgh area was especially noted for his achievements in a 46-year law career. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, in 1957 he began reforming court procedures by proposing that the county court work year-round, rather than closing down for the summers. He later worked to create consistent procedures for domestic relations and juvenile crime cases, such as instituting a paternity testing program and a more reliable child support payment method. He retired in 2002 as a Superior Court judge.

Born in Scott, Pa., Brosky graduated from the University of Pittsburgh in 1942 and, having been in ROTC, served as a captain in the Army in the South Pacific. After the war, he earned a law degree and joined the Pennsylvania Air National Guard, serving from 1960 to 1980.


Presenting the Gen. Thomas D. White Space Award to Gen. C. Robert Kehler (second from left) at the Los Angeles Air Force Ball are (l-r) Thomas Taverney, Schriever Chapter chairman; AFA Board Chairman Sandy Schiltt; and Lt. Gen. John Sheridan, Space and Missile Systems Center commander. (USAF photo by Lou Hernandez)

AFA Board Chairman Sandy Schlitt speaks to Wanda Austin at the AFA Global Warfare Symposium in Los Angeles. Austin is president and CEO of Aerospace Corp. (USAF photo by Lou Hernandez)

AFA Board Chairman Sandy Schlitt and Patricia Schlitt meet Barron Hilton—aviator and hotel chain owner—at the National Aeronautic Association awards banquet Nov. 8 in Arlington, Va. That evening, AFA received the National Coalition for Aviation and Space Education’s Mervin K. Strickler Award for aerospace education.

Retired Col. Boyd Gilbert (holding flag) and his wife, Sally, stand before the urn holding remains of Lt. Col. Buzz Wagner at the interment ceremony in Johnstown, Pa. Back row, l-r: retired Col. James Moschgat, Becky Moschgat, and Kymberli Moschgat. (Photo by Charles Rametta)

F-15s from the 17th Weapons Squadron, Nellis AFB, Nev., perform a flyover at the interment for Lt. Col. Buzz Wagner on Oct. 23 in Johnstown, Pa. (Photo by Charles Rametta)

At Nellis, Pennsylvania State President Robert Rutledge (center) presents an AFA Certificate to Lt. Col. Daren Sorenson, 17th Weapons Squadron commander, noting the unit’s performance of the flyover for Buzz Wagner. At left: Col. Barry Cornish, 57th Wing vice commander.

Wright Memorial Chapter President Jeff Liffick (right) presents Chris Stanley, the Fisher-Nightingale Houses executive director, with the chapter’s donation. At left is Dave Coker, Fisher House Foundation president.

The new Fisher House at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio.

At a drill meet at North Carolina State University, cadet John Setera of Southern Nash High School in Bailey, N.C., answer questions from a Tarheel Chapter panel (l-r): Woody Sellers, Ray Benson, and Lew Feuerstein.

Cadet Justin Dant from Ronald Reagan High School in Pfafftown, N.C., receives the Outstanding Cadet Trophy from Louis Emond, state president, at the North Carolina drill meet.

First Lt. Joseph Barton shows off the poster he won at a Golden Triangle Chapter reception. With him are (l-r) Chapter Treasurer 1st Lt. Travis Manter, Mike Counihan, and Chapter President Rick Johnson. (USAF photo by A1C Chase Hedrick)

Albert Pianalto (left) of the Leigh Wade Chapter and Steven Combs of the Richmond Chapter placed a wreath at the Virginia War Memorial in Richmond, Va., on Veterans Day on behalf of the AFA’s Virginia chapters.

Unit Reunions

522nd TFS (1972-80). Feb. 25-27, 2011, in Tucson, AZ. Contact: Tim Tarris, (520-275-3726) (

601st & 615th AC&WS, Germany. May 1-6, 2011, in Biloxi, MS. Contact: Francis Gosselin (352-588-9295)

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.