AFA National Report

March 1, 2008

“Thrills and Spills”

When the Washington Capitals hockey team played the Philadelphia Flyers in Washington, D.C., in January, several members of the Gen. Charles A. Gabriel Chapter (Va.) were in the stands. They were volunteer escorts for Wounded Warriors—injured US service members recovering at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

The home team Capitals lost four to six, but the chapter members and guests enjoyed a game described by one sportswriter as full of “thrills and spills,” with “plenty of hard hits.”

AFA Board Chairman Bob Largent (far right) observes a combat search and rescue demonstration at Moody AFB, Ga., in December. With him are (l-r) Parker Greene from the South Georgia Chapter; Col. Eric Kivi, commander of the 347th Rescue Group; and Col. Kenneth Todorov, commander of the 23rd Wing. (USAF photo by A1C Brittany Barker)

Gabriel Chapter member Kenneth A. Spencer and a co-worker, Jared Wurster, served as chapter contacts for the outing that involved 20 patients from Walter Reed and several of their family members. Others who escorted guests were Terrence J. Young, chapter president; Frederick S. Knowles, chapter treasurer; and Matt O’Kane. The hospital provided the bus, while Caps representative Jeff Keeney arranged for discounted tickets, access for the bus, and a welcome for the guests when they arrived at the arena.

Gabriel Chapter members first volunteered for a Wounded Warrior outing from Walter Reed in 2006.

Community Partner Dynamo

“A dynamo” in Colorado’s Lance P. Sijan Chapter was among the outstanding chapter members and Community Partners honored at an annual awards reception in Colorado Springs.

Debbie Estrem, chapter and state vice president for Community Partners, received a Special Award for her efforts to jump-start the chapter’s CP program. Chapter President George T. Cavalli, who described Estrem as “a dynamo,” said she took a chapter Community Partner program that had “dwindled” to four businesses and in four years increased the number of participants to 140. (As of February, Estrem was nearing 150, and Cavalli had rounded up two volunteers to help her administer the program.)

The Air Force Association established the Community Partner Program in 1975 as a way for chapters to build ties to local businesses. The Community Partner’s association membership fee is split between the chapter and AFA national.

Estrem is prepared to find Community Partners, by always carrying membership applications in her purse. Cavalli said the chapter executive board once had a lunch meeting at a restaurant, and by the time it was over, Estrem had talked the manager into signing up as a CP.

What is her most effective approach? “I sell it as a networking tool,” said Estrem, who is an executive assistant and security administrator in her civilian job. She explains to potential CPs that the program is a method to advertise, to show support for the military, and a way to work on the same team with other businesses.

Because of her effectiveness, the chapter has received four consecutive national-level Community Partner Gold Awards (2004-07), presented to chapters whose CPs represent at least six percent of the total number of chapter members.

The chapter awards reception was held in the banquet hall at the stadium of the Colorado Springs Sky Sox baseball team—a Community Partner.

“A Hit” in Arizona

In Arizona, the Cochise Chapter has received positive feedback on its first try at sponsoring classrooms in the Visions of Exploration program.

A joint effort between AFA and USA Today newspaper, the Visions of Exploration program encourages students in grades four through 12 to study math, science, and technology. The program includes lesson plans keyed to articles published in the newspaper and copies of the publication one day a week.

Chapter President Ross B. Lampert said fifth-grade teacher Jennifer Brooks from Village Meadows Elementary School in Sierra Vista wrote in December that the program is “a hit with the students.”

Lampert headed the Central Oklahoma (Gerrity) Chapter a few years ago. His Visions experience there prompted him to encourage the Arizona chapter’s aerospace education vice president to promote the Visions program in their area. Susan R. Struck signed up four classrooms in Sulphur Springs Valley—described by Lampert as “a very rural area.” Three other classrooms in Sierra Vista signed on, too.

All the classrooms were in grades four through eight, so this cost the chapter less than if they had sponsored high school classrooms, Lampert pointed out. He added that “nothing much like it was going on in the area,” making this chapter outreach effort more visible and important.

“This is the sort of thing that a small chapter like us can do relatively easily,” Lampert said. As of last June, the chapter had just under 130 members.

Debbie Estrem and Kevin Estrem of the Lance P. Sijan Chapter host an AFA membership table at SnoFest at Keystone, Colo., in January. The chapter was a sponsor of this 18th annual snow-sports weekend, organized for military personnel by Air Force and Army units in Colorado.

Historian on Deployment

An Air Force civilian historian just back from a deployment to Southwest Asia was guest speaker for the December meeting of the Scott Berkeley Chapter in Goldsboro, N.C.

Roy W. Heidicker, from the 4th Fighter Wing, Seymour Johnson AFB, N.C., had volunteered for a deployment last year to Balad AB, Iraq. He was historian for the 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing from May to September.

Heidicker explained that the historian career field has transitioned from active duty to all-civilians, so he is considered “emergency essential” and was in his “normal ‘bucket’ of deployment” when he volunteered for Iraq.

Heidicker, who once served in the Marine Corps, spoke to the chapter about “what it was like for a 54-year-old civilian to work as an Air Force historian in a war zone,” as he put it. In a commentary written en route to Balad, he said, “I am an observer, but I have the rare privilege of working for the extraordinary patriots who are taking the fight to the enemy.”

The 332nd is USAF’s most forward deployed wing in Operation Iraqi Freedom and ties its heritage to the World War II 332nd Fighter Group of the Tuskegee Airmen.

According to a press release from the 9th Reconnaissance Wing, Beale AFB, Calif., the first civilian historian to complete an Operation Iraqi Freedom deployment was Chris Mayse who served with the same 332nd AEW a few months before Heidicker, from August 2006 to January 2007.

Front-Line Medicine

Also on deployment with the 332nd AEW in the same May to September time period as Heidicker was ANG Lt. Col. Edythe A. McGoff from the Northern Shenandoah Valley Chapter (Va.).

At the January meeting of the chapter, McGoff presented a slide and video summary about her deployment as chief nurse for the 332nd Aeromedical Evacuation Operations Team. She provided an overview of the medevac system and described some of her work in overseeing patient movement, scheduling crews, and helping to ensure the readiness of equipment.

McGoff has been in the Air National Guard for 18 years and has served in other war zones. Before this deployment, she was the Emergency Department manager of City Hospital, Martinsburg, W.Va., and now is the trauma services manager for West Virginia University Hospitals-East.

At the chapter meeting, McGoff—who is also the chapter government relations VP—received an AFA Citation from Chapter President Norman M. Haller and Membership VP Raleigh H. Watson Jr.

Fund-Raising Golf

A golf tournament in Sacramento, Calif., last October raised $25,000 toward the C. Farinha Gold Rush Chapter’s support programs for Air Force families and for scholarships.

Lee V. Greer, chapter president, said this allowed the chapter to give $5,500 during this past holiday season to 22 Air National Guard and Reserve families who have a member deployed for the Global War on Terror. A chapter member donated another $5,000 that covered active duty Air Force families.

Some 110 players teed off at the tournament, called the “Wings of Hope Golf Classic,” held at a golf club north of Sacramento. Greer reported that the chapter raised the funds through a major corporate sponsor, Community Partners, donations, and raffles.

Post-tournament activities included a dinner, with a local former TV newsman, as master of ceremonies. In addition, retired Col. William A. Eveland was named the Wings of Hope Golf Classic honoree. He received framed artwork from the chapter to recognize his nearly 30 years of Air Force service and more than two decades as an airborne traffic reporter for a Sacramento radio station.

At a C. Farinha Chapter meeting in California, Rick Osmun (left) receives a memento from Lt. Col. Gary Aten, chapter VP for programs. Osmun is a program manager with Sierra Nevada Corp., an electronics and manufacturing company. He presented information on airships and their potential role in ISR and showed photos from an autonomous airborne refueling demonstration.


In Florida, the Hurlburt Chapter awarded the first scholarships from its newly established program for AFROTC cadets at the University of West Florida, based in Pensacola.

Kimberly Luzano and Angie Cox were selected from among some 65 cadets. Chapter President Dann Mattiza announced their names at a January gathering of the cadets at UWF and noted that each scholarship included $1,000, an AFA certificate, a year’s membership in AFA, and a unit coin.

Mattiza said the chapter expanded its scholarship program to encompass the UWF cadets last fall, deciding to choose from among third-year AFROTC cadets who were not already on an ROTC scholarship. Luzano is the wing commander for the cadets and Cox, a prior-enlisted USAF member, is the logistics squadron commander.

More Chapter News

It was a return engagement for Clint D. Null from Lockheed Martin. In January, he spoke to a meeting of the Tarheel Chapter in N.C., providing an update on the F-35. He had spoken to the chapter in February 2006. Chapter President Joyce Feuerstein reported that this time, Null focused on the Lightning II’s multinational development effort. A retired F-4 pilot who joined Lockheed Martin to work on the Joint Strike Fighter, Null is now based in Suffolk, Va.

Unit Reunions

1st Radio Relay Sq, in Europe. Sept. 15-17 in Chattanooga, TN. Contact: John Seifert (410-833-0672 or 1-800-872-2529) (

11th, 12th, 6166th TAC Recon Sqs. Starting Nov. 1 in Miami. Contact: L. Hayes (248-651-2995) (1-800-998-1228) (

27th Air Transport Gp, including ferrying, transport, and service squadrons. Sept. 18-20 in Portland, OR. Contact: Fred Garcia, 6533 W. Altadena Ave., Glendale, AZ 85304-3114 (623-878-7007) (

48th FS/FIS/FTS. Sept. 24-27 in Newport News, VA. Contact: Joe Onesty, 455 Galleon Way, Seal Beach, CA 90740 (562-431-2901) (

61st FS, Newfoundland (1950s). Sept 4-6 in Branson, MO. Contact: Charles Christianson, PO Box 326, Monticello, MN 55362.

91st BG Memorial Assn. June 24-29 in Fullerton, CA. Contact: Jim Shepard (

98th BG/Wg Veterans Assn. Oct. 14-19 in Cincinnati. Contact: Dennis Posey, 1780 Chasewood Park Ln., Marietta, GA 30066 (770-509-7734) (

306th BW. Sept. 17-23 in Washington, DC. Contact: Joe Demes (321-452-4417) (

351st BG Assn., Polebrook, England, WWII. July 10-13 at the Wyndham Hotel Airport in Milwaukee. Contact: Clint Hammond, PO Box 281, Mechanicsburg, PA 17055 (717-766-1489) (

384th ARW Maintenance Sqs. June 27-29 at McConnell AFB, KS. Contact: Jay Stark (251-479-6620) (

6922nd Radio Group Mobile, Ashiya, Japan, including radio intercept operators and intelligence analysts. May 19-20 at Lions Gate Hotel in McClellan Airfield Park, Sacramento, CA. Contact: Jim West (

Malden AFB, Mo., all personnel. Sept. 18-20. Contact: R. Thorpe, 6616 E. Buss Rd., Clinton, WI 53525 (608-676-4925) (

Pennsylvania AACS alumni. July 15-17 at the Hampton Inn in DuBois, PA. Contact: Ed Rutkowski (814-371-7167).

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.


On deployment to Iraq, ANG Lt. Col. Edythe McGoff stands in front of a concrete T-barrier that protected her office there. McGoff is a Northern Shenandoah Valley Chapter (Va.) member. She spoke to a recent chapter meeting about her four-month 2007 deployment to Iraq as chief nurse with the 332nd AEOT.

Dann Mattiza, president of the Hurlburt Chapter (Fla.), speaks about AFA to the AFROTC cadet corps at the University of West Florida. He then presented chapter scholarships.

Contributions to “AFA National Report” should be sent to Air Force Magazine, 1501 Lee Highway, Arlington, VA 22209-1198. Phone: (703) 247-5828. Fax: (703) 247-5855. E-mail: Digital images submitted for consideration should have a minimum pixel count of 900 by 1,500 pixels.