AFA National Report

May 1, 2010

The Wall That Heals

A half-scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C, will travel to Fort Walton Beach, Fla., next month, but the Eglin Chapter (Fla.) has already begun pitching in to help with expenses incurred by the visit.

Through its education foundation, the chapter has donated $2,500 to the Heritage Museum of Northwest Florida, the primary host for the June 17-20 visit of the replica.

The chapter has pledged further help, too. In February, for example, the chapter held a wine and cheese social. Guests were encouraged to make a $25 donation to attend.

The replica of the polished black granite monument is called “The Wall That Heals” and is sponsored by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, the group responsible for the original wall.

AFA Board Chairman Joe Sutter addresses the guests at the AFA reception in Arlington, Va., for foreign air attachés stationed in Washington, D.C. Australian Air Commodore David Steele, dean of the attaché corps, headed a guest list of military representatives from more than 30 countries. (Staff photo by Darcy Harris)

The replica is made of 24 powder-coated aluminum panels, each containing six columns of names. The panels join together to form a structure nearly 250 feet wide.

The Wall That Heals was dedicated in 1996 and has visited more than 300 locations since then. It is scheduled for stops at some 20 US sites this year. The traveling wall exhibit includes nine display windows with biographical information on some of the more than 58,000 people whose names are on the wall. It also features items, such as dog tags and boots, that have been left at the original memorial by visitors.

Eglin Chapter President Jeffrey L. Fanto said the replica wall is visiting the area as part of the celebration for the 75th anniversary of Eglin Air Force Base’s dedication.

Enola Gay Commemorated

On a visit to the Altamonte Springs City Library in Florida last year, local resident Stephen K. Gilliland checked out a copy of the book Flight of the Enola Gay.

The 1989 autobiography was written by Paul W. Tibbets Jr., pilot of the B-29 that dropped the atom bomb on Hiroshima in August 1945, bringing World War II to an end.

Gilliland discovered that the library’s copy was autographed by Tibbets, Thomas W. Ferebee, the Enola Gay’s bombardier, and Theodore J. Van Kirk, the navigator.

A history buff reading up on World War II, Gilliland recognized the importance of this and asked the Central Florida Chapter for help in preserving the book for display at the library. Chapter officials gave him the go-ahead to assemble a shadow box holding the softback book and other items, such as copies of photos of Tibbets’ mother, Enola Gay Tibbets, the bomber’s crew, and the mission.

On Feb. 23, the anniversary of Paul Tibbets’ birth in 1915, Chapter President William A. Yucuis, Aerospace Education VP Richard A. Ortega, and Gilliland presented the shadow box to Diana Long, director of the library.

Tibbets, a retired brigadier general, died in November 2007. Ferebee, a retired colonel, died in 2000. Van Kirk is a retired chemical engineer.

The library displays the shadow box in its lobby, and a replacement copy of the book, purchased with chapter funds, is on the shelves for circulation.

Cadets Tyre Hill (left) and Christina Brooks take part in an AFA wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery’s Tomb of the Unknowns. They were on a Tidewater Chapter-sponsored field trip to Washington, D.C.

Minnesota in Wisconsin

The Richard I. Bong Chapter, based in Minnesota, held its awards banquet at the Richard I. Bong Veterans Historical Center in Wisconsin. The awards honored a Minnesota Air National Guard unit.

This sort of back-and-forth geography happens because the “Twin Port Cities” of Duluth, Minn., and Superior, Wis., lie a mere 1.5 miles across the water from each other at the western end of Lake Superior.

At this awards ceremony, several members of the 148th Fighter Wing, based at Duluth Airport, were recognized: Capt. Scott Cheslak, 2nd Lt. Ryan Blazevic, MSgt. Michael J. Hawkinson, MSgt. William J. Hawley, TSgt. Reginald E. Saxton, TSgt. Julie M. Tomaska, and SrA. Anna Carlson.

Guest speakers were Brian Ryks, executive director of the Duluth Airport Authority, and Col. John Spencer, the wing commander.

P-38 pilot and Medal of Honor recipient Richard Bong was “America’s Ace of Aces,” credited with 40 aerial victories in World War II. Bong grew up in Superior and Poplar, Wis. He joined the Army Air Corps in 1941 and flew in the Pacific Theater, racking up so many air-to-air victories that he was ordered back to the States for his own safety. He died in August 1945 while test flying a P-80 jet fighter in California.

Field Trip!

If it’s spring, it’s time for Chesapeake, Va., area AFJROTC cadets to visit Washington, D.C. The Tidewater Chapter of Virginia sponsors the day-long field trip, with a truly hands-on effort.

As he has before, Chapter Secretary Gordon Strong, who also heads the Grassfield High School AFJROTC unit in Chesapeake, organized the project.

AFJROTC instructors from all six Junior ROTC programs in the Tidewater area selected 190 cadets for the excursion. The chapter raised funds through an AFA chapter matching grant, a Virginia state AFA grant, and a huge pancake breakfast that fed several hundred guests.

The chapter hired four buses and, in March, loaded them up for a Saturday in the nation’s capital.

Several chapter members went along as chaperones: Chapter President Allan G. Berg, Treasurer Robert C. Hudson, Membership VP William M. Cuthriell, and Brian Maki. Also lending a hand: Catherine Bacon, from the Langley Chapter (Va.).

The cadets first went to Arlington National Cemetery to lay an AFA wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns. Retired SMSgt. Dwayne Hillard, an AFJROTC instructor at Grassfield, commented, “Just being at Arlington and walking around is a humbling experience, but having the cadets participate in a formal ceremony is an experience all the cadets will remember for a long time.”

The students visited the National Air and Space Museum, then completed their field trip by taking in the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Korean War Veterans Memorial, and the Lincoln Memorial.

At an AFA Florida meeting, Lt. Gen. Loren Reno (front row, second from right), USAF deputy chief of staff for logistics, installations, and mission support, spoke about the “State of the Fleet.” With him are several guests, Red Tail Memorial Chapter President Mike Emig (back row, center), and next to him, Region President Jim Connors.

Evening in Fort Wayne

The flight surgeon for 122nd Fighter Wing, Indiana Air National Guard, addressed the Fort Wayne (Ind.) Chapter’s awards banquet in January, describing his tour of duty in Iraq.

Col. William W. Pond related his experiences as commander of a military hospital in Baghdad in 2008, as well as his work last year as a medical investigating officer for military aircraft accidents in Afghanistan.

The chapter’s program, held at a local hotel, began with an invocation by Chapter Government Relations VP Samuel Conte and a Civil Air Patrol honor guard presenting the colors.

During the evening’s awards presentations, AFA national-level 2009 awards went to Chapter VP Brandon M. Monticue, who received a Medal of Merit, and Marjorie A. Feeback, honored with an Exceptional Service Award.

The chapter named John Kirkwood, its newly elected president, as Member of the Year. Past President Cynthia A. Joyce received the Distinguished Service Award. A Community Partner Gold Award went to Hyrle A. Ivy Jr. Three former chapter board members received Special Recognition Chapter Citations: Everitt Padgitt, longtime chapter treasurer; Jeanne T. Hissem, state and chapter secretary for many years; and Feeback, a past chapter secretary. CAP cadet Tyler Lee received the Civil Air Patrol Scholarship.

Joint-Service Meeting

The L. D. Bell-Niagara Frontier Chapter in New York held its chapter meeting at the Buffalo Yacht Club, an unusual location for an Air Force group but the regular meeting place for the local Navy League group with whom they joined forces for a March meeting.

Guest speaker was AFRC Col. Mark P. Murphy, vice commander of the 914th Airlift Wing, Niagara Falls Arpt., N.Y.

Chapter President Richard H. Waring reported that Murphy spoke about the background of the unit, including the versatility of its C-130s on deployments where they had to land on short, unimproved sites.

Murphy covered the base’s status, a matter of concern to his listeners since the Air Reserve Station had been targeted for closure by BRAC 2005. Today, construction is finishing up on the base’s large new Army Reserve Center that consolidates several smaller centers scattered in the state.

The audience at this luncheon meeting even included Coast Guardsmen, said Waring, underscoring its jointness.

Rocking Rockets

“Rocket and Roll” headlined the March meeting of the Lewis E. Lyle Chapter in Hot Springs, Ark.

Allen Saylor, a science teacher at Lake Hamilton Junior High School in Pearcy, spoke to the group about aerospace programs at his school and the Rocket and Roll project in particular.

The 8th grade class of 340 students is divided into groups of three and tasked with constructing model rockets from a kit and two engines.

In the course of the project, the students learn the basics of Newton’s laws of motion, propulsion, acceleration, and calculations for speed and height.

Chapter member Steven Wozniak had originally learned about this project, and its need for funding, while delivering a copy of the Air Force Magazine to the school’s library. He contacted George T. Carrithers, the chapter’s aerospace education VP, who arranged for an AFA $250 Educator Grant. The chapter matched it to help Saylor offset the project’s cost of more than $1,500 a year.

Morris Cash, chapter secretary, noted that the rocket project is funded solely by donations, and that the students have had to help pay for their supplies.

More Chapter News

Members of the Orange County/Gen. Curtis E. LeMay Chapter (Calif.) gathered at the Planes of Fame Air Museum at Chino Airport for a meeting in March. The museum covers the history of manned flight and has more than 150 aircraft, some 50 of them still flyable. “Those attending truly enjoyed the tour of the aircraft,” commented Chapter President Bryan Roland.

At its quarterly meeting in February, the Denton Chapter in Texas hosted the first induction ceremony for the local high school’s Kitty Hawk Air Society. The chapter, headed by Peter B. Lane, now not only sponsors the Denton High School AFJROTC unit but also its honor society. The Kitty Hawk Air Society stresses academic excellence, community service, and development of leadership skills. The first members of the school’s society are Kyle Anderson, Jacob Atkins, Cameron Brown, Marvin Cardona, Hector Delgado, Jacob Long, and Pratichhya Baruwal.

The Blue Ridge Chapter in North Carolina has provided subscriptions to Air Force Magazine for three county public libraries in the western part of the state. In February, they arranged for the magazine to go to the Haywood and McDowell County Libraries, and in March, they added the Transylvania County Library to the list. Chapter President Kenneth Walters said the chapter will review its finances and would like to arrange subscriptions for more libraries.

Hawaii Chapter President Nora Ruebrook represented AFA at an Air Force Advisory Council reception in December 2009 for Secretary of the Air Force Michael B. Donley. USAF’s top civilian leader was on a six-base tour of Pacific Air Forces sites. PACAF commander Gen. Gary L. North and the Hawaii Air National Guard commander, Maj. Gen. Darryll D. M. Wong, a Hawaii Chapter member, were among the VIPs at the reception. The council is chaired by Hawaii Chapter member Heidi K. Wild.

**Membership Dues To Increase

On Sept. 13, 2009, AFA convention delegates approved the first association dues increase since 2001. (Previous increases were in 1993 and 1997.) One-year membership will increase to $45; three-year membership to $110; and life membership to $600. The increase will be implemented for all categories on July 1. The delegates also directed a review of the dues structure. The review will begin in 2012.


Royal Australian Air Force Air Commodore David Steele addresses AFA’s foreign air attache reception. Steele is the dean of the foreign air attache corps. (Staff photo by Darcy Harris)

Maj. Gen. Timothy Byers, Jack Catton Jr., and Maj. Gen. James Poss (l-r) were guests at AFA’s foreign air attache reception. (Staff photo by Darcy Harris)

Air Force Secretary Michael Donley addresses the foreign air attaches at the AFA reception in Arlington, Va., in April. (Staff photo by Darcy Harris)

Central Florida Chapter Aerospace Education VP Richard Ortega (l) and Chapter President William Yucuis present a display of a Paul Tibbets Jr. book to Altamonte Springs Library Director Diana Long.

Air attaches from 36 countries attended the annual AFA reception in their honor. (Staff photo by Darcy Harris)

Denton Chapter President Peter Lane (far left) and retired Lt. Col. Bob West flank Denton High School cadets inducted into an AFJROTC honor society.

Unit Reunions

27th Air Transport Gp, including 310th, 311th, 312th, 325th Ferrying Sqs; 86th, 87th, 320th, 321st Transport Sqs; 519th, 520th Service Sqs. Sept. 30-Oct. 3 in Las Vegas. Contact: Fred Garcia, 6533 W. Altadena Ave., Glendale, AZ 85304 (623-878-7007).

48th FS, FIS, & FTS. Sept. 28-Oct. 2 in Dayton, OH. Contact: Joe Onesty, 455 Galleon Way, Seal Branch, CA 90740 (562-431-2901)(

92nd USAAF-USAF Memorial Assn. July 22-24 at the Northern Quest Resort & Casino in Airway Heights, WA. Contact: Wayne Reece, PO Box 1109, Carlton, OR 97111 (503-852-9523) (

394th BG. Sept. 9-12 in Minneapolis. Contacts: Elden Shook (937-864-2983) ( or Julie Murphy (651-456-9400) (

511th Aircraft Control & Warning Sq, including 613th, 847th, 848th. Sept. 22-26 in Branson, MO. Contact: Don Simmons, 704 S. Grove Rd., Richardson, TX 75081 (972-231-6518) (

548th Recon Tech Gp & 548th RTS. July 8-10 at Hope Hotel & Conference Center in Dayton, OH. Contact: Bill Forsyth, PO Box 75549, Kapolei, HI 96707 (

603rd ACWS. Sept. 29-Oct. 4 in Los Alamos, NM. Contact: Al Cabral, PO Box 4552, Albuquerque, NM 87196 (

ABCCC. Oct. 7-10 at the Ramada Plaza in Dayton, OH. Contact: Ken Witkin (301-758-8365) (

AC-119 & AC-47 Gunships, including 17th, 18th, and 71st Special Ops, and 3rd and 4th Air Commandos. Sept. 17-19 in Fairfield, CA. Contact: Wayne Laessig (707-592-4492)(

AF Comm. & ATC Assoc. Sept. 23-26 at the Hilton Myrtle Beach Resort, SC. Contact: Bill Bethea (540-349-4803).

Air Weather Assn. Aug. 11-15 in Colorado Springs, CO. Contact: Kevin Lavin (434-296-2832) (

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.