AFA National Report

Oct. 1, 2008

Picnicking With the Senator

US Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) attended the Red River Valley Chapter’s summer picnic in August at Grand Forks AFB, N.D.

More than 250 airmen, Air Force civilians, AFAers, and local community leaders turned out to hear Conrad’s remarks and to honor several award recipients from Grand Forks.

“I see a bright future for this base and this community,” said Conrad, who is chairman of the Senate Budget Committee. “It is all due to the outstanding military men and women of this base, community leaders who are active in their support of the base, as well as strong leadership.”

Conrad joined SMSgt. Daniel J. Becker, the chapter president, in recognizing the 906th Air Refueling Squadron, which flew 800 combat sorties in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom at a 98 percent mission effectiveness rate. The unit had been selected for the AFA national-level David C. Schilling Award and was to receive it formally at the Air Force Association National Convention in September, but many of the squadron’s airmen attended the picnic to enjoy the early recognition from local supporters.

Air Force civilian William Rone (second from right) receives the Gen. Lewis Brereton Award at the Florida State Convention. Presenting the award are (l-r) Sandy Schlitt, AFA Vice Chairman of the Board for Aerospace Education; Tim Brock, Florida state president; and Joe Sutter, then AFA Vice Chairman of the Board for Field Operations.

At the picnic, Conrad and Becker made a formal presentation of an AFA 2008 Spouse Scholarship to Angela Bell, who is earning a doctorate in education. Bell is one of eight winners of the $2,500 AFA national scholarships. Her husband is Chapter Vice President Maj. Anthony W. Bell, from the 319th Air Refueling Wing’s judge advocate general office.

Becker said afterward that the chapter landed Conrad as their VIP picnic guest through the efforts of John D. Hanson, a chapter VP and a member of two veterans affairs committees. Hanson keeps in regular contact with the state’s representatives, Becker explained. “He has them on speed dial.” Through Hanson’s connections, the chapter was able to invite Conrad and schedule its Monday afternoon picnic to take place during the Senator’s visit to the base.

Cyber Symposium

The Paul Revere Chapter co-hosted the Air Force Cyberspace Symposium in Marlborough, Mass., in June, with the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff as a headline speaker.

Marine Corps Gen. James E. Cartwright spoke about the need for individual services to work more closely, so critical information reaches the joint warfighter. “We fight joint, we fight as a coalition, we fight as a government, not as services,” he said. He went on to praise the Air Force and other services for organizing and training cyber forces “in such a way that they can present those forces to combatant commanders.”

Air Force senior leaders who spoke at the symposium included Lt. Gen. Robert J. Elder Jr., 8th Air Force commander, and Maj. Gen. William T. Lord, head of Air Force Cyberspace Command (Provisional).

Elder also leads US Strategic Command’s air component headquarters, with responsibilities encompassing cyberspace operations and the security of USAF’s global computer enterprise network. He told the audience, “If you are not a cyber operator, you are going to fail,” and if the systems are not prepared to handle cyber attacks, “you will not be successful as a military operator.”

Lord spoke about the reason for standing up a cyber command and its focus on Air Force networks.

Electronics System Center, at Hanscom AFB, Mass., and AFCYBER (Provisional) co-sponsored the symposium with the Revere Chapter, led by Angela M. Dupont.

It was the second one that has focused on USAF’s offensive and defensive cyberspace capabilities; the first was held in November 2007.

SMSgt. Daniel Becker, president of the Red River Valley Chapter, and Sen. Kent Conrad (right) confer at the chapter’s picnic and awards ceremony. Conrad was the guest of honor at this event. (USAF photo by SrA. Tiffany Colburn)

California Convention

“Edwards Air Force Base is where it all comes together,” said Maj. Gen. David J. Eichhorn, commander of the Air Force Flight Test Center.

As keynote speaker for the California State Convention military awards gala, he was describing the center’s mission and achievements, but he could just as well have been talking about representatives from the state’s 19 chapters gathering together, hosted by the William J. “Pete” Knight Chapter.

After Eichhorn delivered his update on Edwards, he received the first award for the evening: California AFA Person of the Year. Joseph E. Sutter, then AFA Vice Chairman of the Board for Field Operations; Michael J. Peters, Far West Region president; and Martin W. Ledwitz, California state president, presented the award.

Other military awards went to SrA. Kali D. Kappes, as Airman of the Year, and TSgt. Jeanna L. Irby, named NCO of the Year.

The president of the host chapter, Randolph H. Kelly, reported that about 150 guests attended this black-tie event.

At an awards dinner held the night before at the base’s Club Muroc, AFA members took home association honors: Frank D. Walterscheid of the Maj. Gen. Charles I. Bennett Jr. Chapter was named Member of the Year, and Richard C. Taubinger from the C. Farinha Gold Rush Chapter got the Golden Bear Award. Other awardees included: Nancy Driscoll of the Bob Hope Chapter, Lee Greer of the C. Farinha Chapter, Arthur F. Trost of the Golden Gate Chapter, and Kelly.

Brig. Gen. James R. Hogue was the guest speaker for this AFA awards dinner. He spoke to the audience about his role as director of the joint Flight Test Center-NASA Dryden space shuttle recovery team.

Capt. Michael Zink (in brown T-shirt), VP of the John C. Stennis Chapter, checks the plans for marking the blacktop at an Ocean Springs, Miss., elementary school playground. His volunteers for this project came from nearby Keesler Air Force Base. (USAF photo by Kemberly Groue)

Community Service

After being flooded out by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the John C. Stennis Chapter at Keesler AFB, Miss., got back on its feet only five months ago. It continued its “recovery” in August with a community service project in nearby Ocean Springs, a city that suffered severe hurricane damage.

Capt. Michael P. Zink, chapter VP, led a crew of volunteers in renovating a playground section at Pecan Park Elementary School. They designed the layout and painted white lines on an asphalt area that the school calls a “combo court.” Now, the students can play basketball, volleyball, and tennis on this all-in-one blacktop.

The chapter donated more than $200 for the paint and supplies needed for the project.

Zink rounded up the volunteers from the 332nd Training Squadron, where he is the metrology training flight commander. Zink said his volunteers “were excited about doing this project,” showing up to start work at 6 a.m. on one of their days off.

The volunteers were: MSgt. Michael Babbitt, TSgt. Joel Desjardin, TSgt. Jesse Goodwin, MSgt. Chad Heilman, and TSgt. James Malone, all instructors with the unit. Also pitching in: Petty Officer 1st Class Youssef Saab from the Center for Naval Aviation Technical Training Unit.

Their efforts were publicized on Keesler’s Web site and in its base newspaper and earned a colorful, big thank you—illustrated with photos—on Pecan Park Elementary School’s home page.

In the Texoma Region

The Central Oklahoma (Gerrity) Chapter hosted the Texoma Region conference in Oklahoma City in July, attended by more than 100 people.

Host Chapter President James F. Diehl reported that the highlights were presentations by luncheon guest speaker Maj. Gen. Loren M. Reno and dinner guest speaker retired Col. Charles B. DeBellevue.

Reno, who commands Oklahoma Air Logistics Center, spoke about the service’s role in the War on Terror.

DeBellevue is the leading USAF ace from the Vietnam War, with six aerial victories. He spoke about one of his combat missions and about how the Air Force’s core values related to his sorties over North Vietnam.

AFA officials who attended the convention included Buster Horlen, Edward W. Garland, and James R. Lauducci, who are AFA national directors.

Among the other convention activities were a golf tournament to raise funds for aerospace education activities and a tour of a 17-acre botanical garden and tropical conservatory located in the middle of Oklahoma City.

Lt. Gen. Robert Elder Jr., 8th Air Force commander, addresses the Air Force’s second annual Cyberspace Symposium, cohosted by the Paul Revere Chapter and Electronic Systems Center in June. (USAF photo by Rick Berry )

More Chapter News

At the Florida State Convention, hosted by the Cape Canaveral Chapter at Cocoa Beach in July, the spotlight was on the state’s Teacher of the Year and the outstanding Air Force civilian. Leo F. Murphy—who would later be selected as AFA’s National Aerospace Teacher of the Year—received the state-level award for his work in the Okaloosa County School District, establishing an aviation- and aerospace education-oriented program. Florida State President John Timothy Brock wrote: “Due directly to his efforts, last year, 13 of his seniors were accepted to Embry Riddle Aeronautical University.” Also at the state convention, William S. Rone received the General Lewis H. Brereton Award as the civilian who made an outstanding contribution to airpower. Rone is director of financial management at Air Force Special Operations Command. He has 36 years of federal service.

Two local residents took top awards at the annual Georgia State Convention held at Warner Robins in August. Indeed, retired SMSgt. Antoine Jackson—named State Teacher of the Year—and Thomas Byrd—awarded Outstanding AFJROTC Cadet of the Year—even hailed from the same school: Warner Robins High School. AFA’s Joe Sutter presented the awards, along with State President Greg Bricker. The Carl Vinson Memorial Chapter hosted the state convention.

In Anchorage, Alaska, the Edward J. Monaghan Chapter had a high-profile position at an Association of the US Army luncheon in August: President Kara G. Moriarty sat at the head table. The chapter also sponsored two tables of junior enlisted personnel and had arranged for the entertainment, the Alaska Brass from the US Air Force Band of the Pacific. At the luncheon, where Sen. Ted Steven (R-Alaska) was guest speaker, several junior enlisted from different services were given memberships in military associations. A1C Jose Camacho from the 3rd Wing and A1C Tiffany Olivares from the 19th Fighter Squadron received AFA memberships. They both come from Elmendorf Air Force Base. Chapter Secretary-Treasurer Jenny Skeen also attended the luncheon.

In the Vietnam War, he was a Green Beret. In August, he was the guest speaker for the Columbus-Bakalar Chapter (Ind.). Bob Culp enlisted in the Army right after high school and served two tours in Vietnam, first in the Quang Ngai area (1965-66) and then in the Tam Ky area (1968-69). He earned more than a dozen military medals. His remarks to the chapter meeting in Columbus, Ind., covered his Army service—which resulted in a 40 percent disability rating—and how he completed his education with an MBA and went on to a successful civilian career.

Unit Reunions

63rd TCW (MATS), Donaldson AFB, SC (1953-63). November. Contact: Shirley Holmquist (864-226-6869) (

435th Aerial Port Sq, Rhein Main AB, Germany. Oct. 31-Nov 3 in San Antonio. Contact: Paul Erlewein (210-653-7708) (

612th TFS, Torrejon AB, Spain (1973-77). May 8-10, 2009 at the Opryland Hotel in Nashville, TN. Contact: Skip Beasley, 208 Vantage Way, Franklin, TN 37067 (615-591-9112) (

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.


At the Georgia State Convention, Joe Sutter, then AFA Vice Chairman of the Board for Field Operations (left), and Greg Bricker, Georgia state president (right), present the state Outstanding AFJROTC Cadet of the Year award to Thomas Byrd.

Vietnam War ace Charles DeBellevue (front row, second from right) shakes hands with Alamo Chapter President Gary Copsey at the Texoma Region meeting. James Diehl (front row, left) is president of the host Central Oklahoma (Gerrity) Chapter.