AFA National Report

Sept. 1, 2010

Utah’s Focus on Defense

Air Force Association Chairman of the Board Joseph E. Sutter attended the 31st annual Focus on Defense symposium in Utah in June. The state’s three AFA chapters—the Northern Utah Chapter, Salt Lake Chapter, and Ute-Rocky Mountain Chapter—co-sponsored the day-long event.

Held at a conference center in Ogden near Hill Air Force Base, the June 16 symposium threw a spotlight on the new Air Force Global Strike Command, with its chief, Lt. Gen. Frank G. Klotz from Barksdale AFB, La., as keynote speaker.

“Being the steward of two-thirds of the United States’ operational nuclear triad is a special trust and responsibility,” he told the audience of more than 350 attendees. “Our partners in the ICBM sustainment and modernization enterprise at Hill Air Force Base will continue to have a critically important mission and critically important work to perform.”

Retired Maj. Gen. Thomas Deppe (left), former vice commander of Air Force Space Command, chatted with AFA Board Chairman Joe Sutter at an informal event during the Focus on Defense symposium in Utah. Sutter spoke briefly at the conference, noting USAF’s renewed attention to the nuclear enterprise.

Other speakers on the roster included Lt. Gen. Loren M. Reno, deputy chief of staff for logistics, installations, and mission support; Dennis A. Muilenburg, president and CEO of Boeing Defense, Space, and Security; and Robert C. Hinson, Northrop Grumman vice president of government programs.

Walter Saeger Jr., Utah state VP, and Kevin J. Sullivan, a former commander of Ogden Air Logistics Center, were chairmen of the symposium.

The chapters hosted a salmon barbecue at the end of the conference, and the next day, two days of golf got under way to raise funds for the state AFA aerospace education foundation.The tournament included a “Midcourse Correction” party at the end of the first day of play and an awards banquet at the end of the tournament.

Honoring WASPs

Hosted by the Gold Coast Chapter in Fort Lauderdale in July, the Florida State Convention honored four World War II-era Women Airforce Service Pilots who live in the area.

Florine Maloney, Shirley Kruse, Tex Meachem, and Helen Snapp were special guests at the convention’s evening banquet.

As WASPs, they were among the first female military pilots, eventually numbering more than 1,100, who volunteered for World War II and flew every aircraft in the inventory.

In March, the Women Airforce Service Pilots—some 290 of whom are still alive—received the Congressional Gold Medal in a ceremony at the US Capitol. It is the highest award Congress can award to a civilian. The original Gold Medal went to the Smithsonian Institution for its “Women in Aviation” display, but each WASP received a smaller version of the medal to keep. Some of the WASPs brought these bronze versions to the Florida state convention.

According to Fran C. Shaw, Gold Coast Chapter government relations VP, the WASP guests were “fun, funny, informative, told great stories, and they were given a standing ovation at the end.”

Brian A. Maher, president of the Joint Special Operations University at Hurlburt Field, Fla., also spoke at the evening’s banquet.

The convention’s all-day business meeting included a luncheon where USAF Col. Phil Locklear, chief of staff for Special Operations Command South, addressed the attendees. SOCSOUTH, at Homestead ARB, Fla., is a subunified command of US Southern Command and serves as the functional component for special operation missions in the Caribbean and Central and South America. Among topics Locklear covered: the Haitian earthquake relief effort.

Pacific Northwest Pilot for a Day

The McChord Chapter in Lakewood, Wash., recently helped a six-year-old girl put aside, for a while, the burden of a serious illness and enjoy a day at an Air Force base.

Kaylie Bergen, who had been diagnosed with a brain stem tumor, became a “Pilot for a Day” at JB Lewis-McChord in May.

The Pilot for a Day program originated in 1994 with Capt. Rory Blackburn of the 560th Flying Training Squadron, Randolph AFB, Tex., who created it as a way to give children a respite from their medical treatments.

At McChord, the 4th Airlift Squadron takes the lead for Pilot for a Day, with all funding provided by the McChord Chapter, in particular, its Community Partners. The chapter’s Robert Branscomb heads the fund-raising effort.

For Kaylie, Pilot for a Day actually began the night before, when her 4th AS hosts presented her with a helmet bag filled with a personalized flight suit, scarf, nametag, and unit patches.

The next day, Kaylie, now in uniform, embarked on a base tour: At an explosive ordnance disposal demonstration, an EOD robot extended an “arm” with a pink gift bag dangling from it. Ajax, a military working dog at the security forces squadron, put on a K-9 demonstration.

Then came lunch at the Combined Club with members of the McChord Chapter, headed by President Tommy L. Carson. The afternoon was devoted to the base’s C-17s. Kaylie watched one of the transports perform a touch-and- go, then walked through one that was on static display.

“We are hoping that the entire day will never be forgotten by her,” commented Carson.

Space Briefing for the Shooting Star

A teacher who spent a week at space camp gave a full report in May to the Shooting Star Chapter of northern New Jersey.

Valerie Finneran, a seventh-grade special education instructor from Randolph (N.J.) Middle School, was selected last year for the Honeywell Educator @ Space Academy program. The company paid all expenses for her and 287 other teachers to travel to Huntsville, Ala., and attend the US Space & Rocket Center’s 45-hour professional development course.

Shooting Star Chapter President Howard Leach Jr. reported that Finneran brought to the chapter meeting photos of her fellow teachers and of the astronauts who served as their mentors during the program of classroom, lab, and field training. She also displayed some of the educational material that she learned about at the camp, aimed at improving classroom teaching through new, innovative techniques.

Amos Chalif, chapter Community Partners VP, noted that Finneran took part this past school year in the AFA-USA Today newspaper’s Visions of Exploration program. Visions encourages the study of math, science, and aerospace technology by providing the USA Today newspaper for students, as well as lesson plans and resources for teachers.

The Landing on the Hudson

A retired airline pilot spoke to the Columbus-Bakalar Chapter in Columbus, Ind., in May, about one of the most memorable moments in commercial aviation history: the Jan. 15, 2009 US Airways airplane landing on the Hudson River.

Hometown native and Air Force veteran Tony Patterson retired from Northwest Airlines in 2001, after flying, among other aircraft, the Airbus A320.

US Airways pilot Chesley B. Sullenberger III was flying the same kind of aircraft last year, when less than a minute into the flight from New York’s La Guardia Airport, a flock of birds flew into the engines, disabling them. Sullenberger had no time to head for the nearest airport. Instead, he guided the airplane over the George Washington Bridge and landed it on the river. All 155 people on board survived, leading New York Gov. David Paterson to call it “a miracle on the Hudson.”

Columbus Chapter guest speaker Patterson, like Sullenberger, was an Air Force veteran. Patterson earned a commission from Ball State University in Indiana and flew F-4 Phantoms before serving as a forward air controller in O-2s for the 4th Infantry Division in Pleiku, South Vietnam. After leaving the Air Force in 1972, he became a Northwest Airlines pilot.

Chapter President Robert J. Goedl wrote in an e-mail that, in his talk to the chapter, Patterson covered his USAF and commercial aviation years quickly before turning to the topic of the Hudson River landing. Because of Patterson’s experience with the A320, he was able to virtually “put us right into the pilot’s seat” of the US Airways flight, Goedl said. “We felt like we actually helped land that plane.”

Return Engagement

In July, Col. Michael F. Canders returned to the Iron Gate Chapter in New York City for a second speaking engagement. The Air National Guardsman had first stepped up to Iron Gate’s podium in 2006, back when he commanded the 106th Rescue Wing, based at Francis S. Gabreski Arpt., N.Y.

This time, he spoke about his experiences as both commander of the 447th Air Expeditionary Group, Baghdad, Iraq, and Air Force commander of Sather Air Base. During his six months there, he was responsible for 1,500 service personnel, as well as thousands transiting the gateway. He also led negotiations for the 2011 transfer of the base to the Iraqi Air Force.

Chapter President Frank Hayes said some of the 73 guests in the audience—which included more than a dozen New York City firemen—came from as far as Washington, D.C., Hartford, Conn., and Wilmington, Del., for Canders’ presentation.

Empire State’s Education Awards

In New York, US Rep. Peter T. King (R-N.Y.) was among the special guests at the Long Island Chapter’s annual education awards luncheon in June.

The ranking member of the House Homeland Security Committee, King received the Outstanding Community Leadership award, presented by the chapter’s aerospace education VP, Alphonse Parise.

Other awards highlights: High school seniors Samantha Carey and Christina D’Agostino each received $1,000 scholarships that are named for the late Col. Francis S. Gabreski. The two-war ace earned 34.5 aerial victories in World War II and the Korean War and was a chapter member before his death in 2002.

Joe Castelli, who teaches technology at Jonas E. Salk Middle School in Levittown, received the Chapter Teacher of the Year award at the luncheon. Chapter President William Stratemeier made the presentation with New York Assemblyman Joseph S. Saladino. It was announced at the luncheon that Castelli had been named the State Teacher of the Year, as well. His state-level awards included $500, a Certificate of Excellence, a personalized jacket, and a Civil Air Patrol aerospace education membership.

Jason Horowitz, a teacher and Science Department chairman at Salk Middle School, received the chapter’s Visions of Exploration Teacher award for best use of the program in motivating his students.

Salk Middle School students Matthew Appel and Jessica Keane wrote winning papers for a Visions of Exploration essay contest. They received tickets to the Cradle of Aviation Museum on Long Island and $50 gift cards for an electronics store.

More Chapter News

In June, the Lewis E. Lyle Chapter (Ark.) heard a firsthand account of the World War II Normandy Invasion from someone who took part in the largest amphibious landing in history. A. J. Simpson, a native of Hot Springs, Ark., recounted how he joined the Army in spring 1942. On D-Day, June 6, 1944, he and the other 49 men in his unit cleared the way for troops coming ashore at Omaha Beach. At the end of two days, there were only 13 men left from his company. According to Morris D. Cash, Lyle Chapter secretary, Simpson said that as a young man, he wasn’t especially religious, but the war changed him and he became a minister.

At a ceremony marking 60 years since the Korean War began, Jack Murphy, Hawaii Chapter VP for awards, represented the chapter, joining veterans Al Guarino and Dan Carvalho in presenting an AFA wreath. The annual Korean War remembrance service took place at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu on June 25.

The Carl Vinson Memorial Chapter in Warner Robins, Ga., hosted a luncheon in June for the commander of Air Force Materiel Command, Gen. Donald J. Hoffman. As reported in the Macon Telegraph, the next day, Hoffman warned that budget belt-tightening was on the horizon for Warner Robins Air Logistics Center. WRALC Commander Maj. Gen. Polly A. Peyer was among the 150 people in what Chapter President Timothy P. Callahan called “a sellout crowd.”


AFA Chairman of the Board Joe Sutter holds up a copy of Air Force Magazine as he addresses the annual Focus on Defense symposium in Ogden, Utah.

The Florida State Convention’s guests of honor were Women Airforce Service Pilots Florine Maloney, Shirley Kruse, Tex Meacham, and Helen Snapp (seated, l-r). Behind them are Gold Coast Government Relations VP Fran Shaw (center) and her granddaughters Samantha Thomason and Callie Thomason.

Long Island Chapter President Bill Stratemeier (right) helps Joe Castelli display some of the awards the latter received as Chapter Teacher of the Year.

US Rep. Peter King (R) holds a memento presented by Long Island Chapter Aerospace Education VP Al Parise (left). At right is New York State Assemblyman Joseph Saladino (R).

Samantha Carey, a Francis S. Gabreski Scholastic Grant winner, holds a citation presented by Long Island Chapter President Bill Stratemeier (second from right). With them are Samantha’s parents, Tracey Carey and Lt. Col. Bart Carey.

At a Carl Vinson Memorial Chapter meeting are (l-r): Guest speaker Gen. Donald Hoffman, Air Force Materiel Command commander; Chuck Shaheen, Warner Robins mayor; Timothy Callahan, chapter president; and Maj. Gen. Polly Peyer, Warner Robins Air Logistics Center commander.

Shooting Star Chapter Treasurer Amos Chalif and chapter guest speaker Valerie Finneran, a teacher from Randolph Middle School.

Hawaii Chapter’s Jack Murphy (left) waits with Korean War veterans Daniel Carvalho (center) and Al Guarino to present the AFA wreath at the Korean War remembrance service, held in June at the National Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu.

The AFA Hawaii wreath is third from bottom in the lineup of wreaths awaiting presentation at the Korean War remembrance service.

Retired Northwest Airlines pilot Tony Patterson speaks to the Columbus-Bakalar Chapter in Indiana.


19th AREFS, SAC. Homestead & Otis AFB, all personnel welcome. Oct. 10-13 at the Doubletree Guest Suites in Charleston, SC. Contact: Dave Callis, 120 Quail Croft Dr., Goldsboro, NC 27534 (919-778-4886) (

450th BG (WWII). Oct. 6-10 at the Doubletree Suites Hotel in Omaha, NE. Contact: Al Goodman (847-543-8381) (

Distinguished Flying Cross Society. Oct. 24-27 at March ARB, CA. Contact: John Appel (

USAF Pararescue. Oct. 6-10 at the Speedway Radisson Hotel in Tucson, AZ. Contact: Bill Preble (520-252-0633).

Westover AFB AF Spec. Projects Production Facility, including former members of 8th Recon Tech. Sq, 497th Recon Tech. Gp, 6594th Test Sq, 7405th Support Gp, and 7499th Support Gp. Oct. 11-15 at the Hilton Garden Inn-Midtown, Savannah, GA. Contact: Dick Temple (703-786-4743) (