AFA National Report

Feb. 1, 2012

Honors in Los Angeles

At the Air Force Ball in Los Angeles, AFA Board Chairman Sandy Schlitt (far left) presents the Gen. Thomas D. White Space Award to Lt. Gen. Larry James. Joining them are Lt. Gen. Ellen Pawlikowski, Space and Missile Systems Center commander and the ball’s military host, and Stephen Quilici, Schriever Chapter president. (USAF photo by Lou Hernandez)

The 40th annual Air Force Ball in Los Angeles—sponsored by the Gen. B. A. Schriever Los Angeles Chapter—honored Lt. Gen. Larry D. James for his leadership as head of 14th Air Force.

He received the General Thomas D. White Space Award, named for USAF’s fourth Chief of Staff (1957 to 1961) and presented for outstanding contributions to the nation’s progress in space.

Now USAF’s deputy chief of staff for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance, James had commanded 14th Air Force (Air Forces Strategic), USAF’s operational space component to US Strategic Command, from December 2008 until January 2011.

Master of ceremonies Pat Coulter told the Air Force Ball audience that James had shown “steadfast leadership, operational prowess, and strategic vision” through challenges that included 25 space launches with a 100 percent mission success rate.

Also on Stage in Los Angeles

The Air Force deputy undersecretary for space programs, Richard W. McKinney, received a Schriever Fellowship at the ball.

McKinney is the Air Force’s “focal point for space matters,” Coulter explained in his remarks. McKinney develops policy and integrates Air Force space activities with those of the NRO, NASA, and other agencies and nations.

In another ball highlight, San Francisco Giants relief pitcher Brian Wilson—his tuxedo contrasting with a huge Mohawk and trademark bushy black beard—presented $15,000 each to the first recipients of a scholarship named for his late father, an Air Force veteran.

The Michael Wilson Scholarships went to AFROTC cadets Kaleb Simpson from the University of Delaware and Alexander Shuler from the University of Washington. AFA and Brian Wilson established the award just after the Giants won baseball’s 2010 World Series.

The Schriever Chapter uses funds raised by this Air Force Ball to support local AFROTC units and USAF personnel and to enroll classrooms in the Visions of Exploration Program.

The Visions program has partnered AFA chapters with USA Today newspaper for more than two decades. It encourages students to take an interest in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) topics by providing classrooms with print or digital versions of the publication. Teachers receive lesson plans and suggestions for activities tied to news events.

The Schriever Chapter sponsors 84 Visions of Exploration classrooms.

Pearl Harbor: 70th Anniversary

The Long Island Chapter hosted New York’s annual “Dropping of the Roses” ceremony on Dec. 7, marking the 70th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.

At the ceremony at the American Airpower Museum in Farmingdale, N.Y., Chapter Treasurer William G. Stratemeier Jr. formally introduced five Pearl Harbor survivors: Richard Abeles, 90 years old, who was a radio operator on USS Dale; Gerard Barbosa, 88, a gunner’s mate on USS Raleigh; Bernard Berner, 91, a former Army technical sergeant at Schofield Barracks; Seymour Blutt, 93, who served at Hickam Field; and 92-year-old Michael Montelione, another Schofield Barracks soldier.

Guest speaker Libby H. O’Connell, chief historian for the History Channel, delivered a presentation on Long Island activities during World War II.

According to newspaper coverage of the ceremony, O’Connell said German U-boats off Long Island fired on vessels traveling to New York Harbor. The wreckage and bodies washed up on the south shore. Soon construction began on lookout towers. In Freeport, a bank building was designated as an air raid observation post. Mitchel Field became a key military center, and roadways became commuter routes for defense industry workers.

At the ceremony’s end, a vintage airplane took off for the Statue of Liberty with 70 American Beauty roses—plus a white one to remember 9/11—aboard.

The pilots dropped the roses in the waters around the monument at 12:55 p.m., the exact moment on the East Coast when the Pearl Harbor attack began.

An article on the website described the history and extensive preparation for this ceremony, organized by Chapter President Fred Di Fabio.

CyberPatriots Fund-raise for Airmen

In a kind of man-bites-dog role reversal, a group of kids in Maryland—with help from the Thomas W. Anthony Chapter—raised funds to benefit adults.

AFJROTC cadets from the CyberPatriot team for Gwynn Park High School in Brandywine, Md., bagged groceries at the Joint Base Andrews commissary to fund-raise for both their team and the base’s Combined Federal Campaign.

Anthony Chapter members James Warren and Col. David W. Koontz, the CyberPatriot team’s mentor and advisor, respectively, and John Thomas pitched in. Koontz, commander of the 11th Security Forces Group at Andrews, and Thomas collected donations, handled the cash box, and handed out AFA brochures.

The kids raised $943.

Cadet Matthew Simmons, a CyberPatriot team member and chairman of the Anthony Chapter’s Cadets Council, presented $471 to Col. Kenneth R. Rizer at a Maryland State AFA meeting in November. As 11th Wing commander, Rizer accepted it for the Joint Base Andrews Community Fund.

Captive in the Korean War

A Korean War POW received special recognition at the Virginia State AFA meeting and banquet, hosted in Colonial Heights, Va., by the Leigh Wade Chapter in November. Local area resident James M. Franklin Sr. represented all veterans at this Nov. 12 gathering.

As an Army private first class, Franklin had been captured in April 1951. He was released at Panmunjon on April 24, 1953, in a group of 40 ill and injured POWs, according to a newspaper account from that time. His repatriation took place as part of Operation Little Switch, between April 20 and May 3, 1953, when United Nations Command returned more than 6,000 Chinese and North Korean prisoners. The communists in turn repatriated 684 UN troops. (The main Operation Big Switch prisoner exchange happened after the armistice.)

At the AFA banquet, Virginia Delegate Kirk Cox presented Franklin with an AFA Certificate of Appreciation and a letter from US Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.).

Ken Allen, a senior China analyst with a public safety and national security company, served as guest speaker for the AFA state meeting’s banquet. The retired Air Force intelligence officer had been a Chinese and Russian linguist during his 21-year military career.

Remembering an Ace

In a tradition going back to the mid-1970s, AFJROTC cadets from Westland High School in Galloway, Ohio, joined Capt. Eddie Rickenbacker Memorial Chapter representatives in observing the birthday of the chapter’s namesake.

Some 50 students, as well as Chapter President Richard H. Coots Jr., Treasurer Christopher M. Gibson, and Richard Hoerle, attended a service last fall at Rickenbacker’s gravesite in Columbus, hometown of the World War I ace.

Rickenbacker earned 26 aerial victories and the Medal of Honor in that war. He died in 1973, and a few years later, a chapter member, the late Westland High AFJROTC instructor Melvin H. Gerhold, organized what became an annual memorial service. It was a way to teach cadets some Air Force history.

This year, Gerhold’s old AFJROTC unit—whose aerospace science instructor today, SMSgt. Clement L. Francis Jr., is a chapter member—turned the event into a school field trip to involve more students.

After the memorial service, including a color guard and a reading about Rickenbacker’s life, the students toured the nearby Motts Military Museum and had lunch, provided by the chapter.

Let’s Make it Official

The Chuck Yeager Chapter in West Virginia signed up its first new Community Partner in more than a decade.

Herman N. Nicely II said he’d been buying Hondas from the local dealer, Lester Raines, for 36 years. Raines had also regularly donated funds to support drill competitions and the chapter’s Mountaineer Cadet Officer Leadership School for AFJROTC cadets.

Nicely described Rains as an “unofficial Community Partner.”

Recently, Nicely decided to take a direct approach with the local businessman. “How about becoming a Community Partner?” he asked. “OK,” Raines replied.

Chapter VP John M. Lucarelli has been the chapter’s sole CP until now.

More Chapter News

Adelbert W. Carpenter of the Donald W. Steele Sr. Memorial Chapter (Va.) recently taught a class of middle-schoolers about his days as an SR-71 pilot. His presentation at Sacred Heart Academy in Winchester, Va., came about as part of the Northern Shenandoah Valley Chapter’s efforts to enrich STEM education in their area. “Buz” Carpenter is no stranger to Sacred Heart students; he has been their docent during field trips to the Smithsonian’s Udvar-Hazy Center in Dulles, Va. After Carpenter’s most recent lecture to the Sacred Heart youngsters, Thomas G. Shepherd, who had arranged for the teaching stint, presented a $1,000 donation to the school, from the chapter, in Carpenter’s honor.

In late November the Donald W. Steele Sr. Memorial Chapter of Virginia held its 16th annual Salute to AQ, recognition for USAF’s acquisition community. Lt. Gen. Janet C. Wolfenbarger, military deputy in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, spoke to the evening gathering and helped Chapter President F. Gavin MacAloon present AQ Hero Awards to: Samuel Brown, Steve Burke, Courtney Fonner, Sharon Foust, Allan Haenisch, Julie Hogan, Deborah Ann Johnson, Col. Nedim Kirimca, Julia Preisinger, Alonzo Rease, Jeanette Snyder, Samuel Torrey, Maj. Dan Walter, and Kevin Zawicki.

In Charlottesville, Va., in December, AFA members hosted their 13th annual holiday season dinner. Among the more than 50 guests was Thomas Shepherd, from the Northern Shenandoah Valley Chapter (Va.). As State VP North, he presented an AFA Medal of Merit to James Kevin Lavin.

Charles X. Suraci Jr., 1934-2011

Charles X. Suraci Jr., president of the Thomas W. Anthony Chapter (Md.) beginning in 1995, died Nov. 23 at age 77. He had resided in Kensington, Md. Mr. Suraci was born in Washington, D.C., in 1934 and served in the Air Force from 1953 to 1957. He then joined the Civil Air Patrol, where he was a colonel.


At the LA Ball, San Francisco Giants pitcher Brian Wilson (left) presents a Michael Wilson Scholarship to cadet Kaleb Simpson. Col. Jefferson Dunn, from AFROTC Headquarters, is at center.

AFJROTC cadet Matthew Simmons (fourth from left), from the Gwynn Park High School CyberPatriot team, presents a donation to Col. Ken Rizer, 11th Wing commander, JB Andrews, Md. L-r: Joe Hardy, Maryland state president; Chuck Suraci, then Thomas W. Anthony Chapter president; Scott Van Cleef, Central East Region president; cadet John Phipps; and James Warren, CyberPatriot team mentor.

Former Korean War POW James Franklin Sr. (right) accepts an AFA Certificate of Appreciation from Virginia Delegate Kirk Cox (R).

Lt. Gen. Janet Wolfenbarger (far left) and Donald W. Steele Sr. Memorial Chapter President Mac MacAloon (far right) bookend USAF’s Acquisition community awardees.

Sandy Latimer (left), Chuck Yeager Chapter president, presents Lester Raines with a Community Partner plaque. At right is Herman Nicely, chapter secretary and treasurer.

Guest speaker Buz Carpenter (far left) watches as Northern Shenandoah Valley Chapter Aerospace Education VP Tom Shepherd presents a donation to Sacred Heart Academy Principal Rebecca McTavish.

Tom Shepherd (left) presents an AFA Medal of Merit to Kevin Lavin in Charlottesville, Va., at an AFA holiday banquet.


13th Bomb Sq Assn. May 16-20 in New Orleans. Contact: G. E. Dorwart, 1849 Ramsgate Ct., Fort Collins, CO 80524 (970-416-1691) (

63rd Troop Carrier Wg. May 2-5 in Dayton, OH. Contact: Shirley Holmquist, 2021 Shelter Pt., Anderson, SC 29626 (864-226-6869) (

601st-615th Aircraft Control & Warning Sq, Germany. April 23-27 in Nashville, TN. Contact: Francis Gosselin (352-588-9295) (

3389th Pilot Tng Sq. April 19-21 in San Antonio, including IPs and foreign students. Contact: Charles Davies Jr., 4435 Monaco, San Antonio, TX 78218 (210-653-1475) (

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.