AFA National Report

Dec. 1, 2010

Looking for Jimmy Stewart

The Air Force Association’s field leaders gathered in Arlington, Va., in late October for two days of information sessions on AFA’s latest strategy, operations, and procedures.

The association’s top leaders who took part in the meetings, workshops, and presentations were as new to the job as many of the attendees. AFA vice chairman of the board for field operations, Justin M. Faiferlick, opened the session by welcoming an audience that included six new region presidents and just over a dozen new state presidents.

In his remarks, AFA Chairman of the Board S. Sanford Schlitt said many changes were already under way, though he and Faiferlick had only been elected a few weeks before at September’s National Convention. Schlitt said establishing at least one new entity, an Air Force council centered on families, is under consideration.

A new group formed for Project Loudspeaker has been charged with, as Schlitt put it, “looking for the next Jimmy Stewart”—someone who can advocate for AFA in the same way the Academy Award-winning actor did as a founding father of the association.

AFA Chairman of the Board Sandy Schlitt (second from right) discusses the agenda before the Region and State Presidents meeting in October in Arlington, Va. Clockwise from left: Bill Grider, Joe Hardy, Paul Lyons, Schlitt, and Kelly Jones. (Staff photo by Eric Chang Lee)

Following Schlitt’s overview of AFA initiatives, the region and state presidents listened to briefings from the association’s department directors.

In a first for these orientation meetings, field leaders took in professional-development presentations: Rebecca Grant, of AFA’s Mitchell Institute, spoke on “Losing Air Dominance and the Vanishing Arsenal of Airpower” in an afternoon session. Retired Lt. Gen. David A. Deptula, former deputy chief of staff for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance, served as dinner speaker. The next day, motivational speaker Mike Abrashoff, a former Navy commander and book author, gave a presentation on grassroots leadership.

Science Fair on the National Mall

Since they were already in Washington, D.C., Schlitt suggested the field leaders visit the AFA booth at the USA Science and Engineering Festival, held on the National Mall, in front of the US Capitol, on Oct. 23 and 24. Lockheed Martin hosted the festival, which took place in conjunction with the first White House Science Fair.

William Yucuis, the Central Florida Chapter president, represented AFA at the booth on opening day. The next day, others from AFA—a festival partner—and Sarah Giese of USA TODAY newspaper, pitched in. They provided information on the CyberPatriot program and on AFA-USA TODAY’s Visions of Exploration program. Visions provides newspapers to classrooms to encourage the study of science, technology, engineering, and math.

Yucuis came up with the idea of drawing visitors to the booth by assembling paper “rockets” and “launching” them with soda straws. When he began shooting the four-inch-long paper rockets into the air, youngsters began crowding his booth. From then on, “there were kids at my table 100 percent of the time,” he said.

An aerospace engineering teacher, Yucuis uses the same paper rockets, as well as the Visions program, in his classroom at Lyman High School in Longwood, Fla. Fifteen visitors to the AFA booth asked for a copy of his lesson plan on paper rockets.

The festival included some 1,000 booths and displays, with activities spilling over into nearby areas, including the off-site auditorium where the AFA booth was set up. It could have been an overlooked location, except that it shared space with a star attraction: Lockheed Martin’s F-35 flight simulator. This drew a crowd that stretched out the door and down the block.

Some half-million people visited this first USA Science and Engineering Festival, according to the White House Office of Science and Technology.

How To Win a Grant

In October, the Wright Memorial Chapter in Ohio sponsored two grant-writing workshops, guiding teachers in applying for AFA Educator Grants.

The grants promote aerospace education in K-12 classrooms by providing up to $250 per academic year for activities that otherwise go unfunded.

“The grant process is competitive,” explained Chapter Executive VP Shiela Wallace, and teachers are “terrified” of having to apply for one. Wallace, a retired elementary schoolteacher, said, “I’ve seen people cry, I’ve seen people get sick, I’ve seen people get hives” when their school principal asks them to apply for a grant.

The Wright Chapter tackles this problem through its Educators Action Team: Wallace and chapter members Julie Livingston, a junior high school librarian, and Sharon M. Murner, a retired teacher. The team conducts grant workshops several times a year.

The attendees show up, armed with catalogues, state standards of learning, and other information. They open an AFA grant application online, and the Wright team takes them through it step by step. Visualize what the judges are looking for, they tell the teachers. They also proofread the applications. At the workshop’s end, the teachers can hit the “submit” button and send in the form.

Fifty educators from public, private, charter, and parochial schools in eight counties attended the October workshops, one conducted on a Friday night and the second one held the next day. Ohio State President Kent D. Owsley and Chapter President Jeff A. Liffick were on hand to welcome the teachers.

The Educators Action Team’s two other workshops this year took place in February—in conjunction with Dayton’s family oriented technology festival—and in April. The October classes took place at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

Do they have an impact? The list for 2010 shows that AFA awarded Educator Grants to 17 Ohio teachers. Only Florida, with 30 recipients, secured more of the total 115 grants that AFA offered.

Wallace said the Ohio workshops have two secrets to success. First, they instill confidence in the teachers’ ability to write grants. The second key lies in the application’s last question. It asks for any information that might help the judges make up their minds. Here’s where the teachers should pull out all the stops, Wallace tells them. “Yank on the judges’ heart strings.”

In Alabama, the Tennessee Valley Chapter’s guests fill the room for a celebration of the Air Force’s anniversary in September.

Leadership Training for Cadets

The Mountaineer Cadet Officer Leadership School, founded by a Chuck Yeager Chapter member in West Virginia, noted its 10th anniversary this summer.

Conducted for six days in June at Concord University in Athens, W.Va., MCOLS 2010 trained more than 180 students from five states in leadership skills.

When David F. Slaughter organized the first MCOLS in 2001, some 50 cadets enrolled. Slaughter now belongs to the Gen. Bruce K. Holloway Chapter in Tennessee.

Retired Lt. Col. Elizabeth L. Lassiter, the senior aerospace science instructor at Monticello High School, Charlottesville, Va., and a William A. Jones III Chapter member, served as MCOLS commandant this year.

The Yeager Chapter provided all plaques and trophies, and Chapter President Ira S. Latimer Jr. and Herman N. Nicely II, secretary and treasurer, attended the culmination pass in review and graduation to hand out the awards.

Cadets received honors in nine categories, encompassing everything from academic achievement to best room inspection. The students from E. C. Glass High School in Lynchburg, Va., took home the most hardware: Samuel Crawford for best in personal inspection; Chelsey Cash, best in female physical fitness; and Jordan Moshkowski, outstanding cadre cadet.

Stepping Up for Honor Flight

With coordination by Red Tail Memorial Chapter members, the program called Honor Flight flew 102 veterans from Ocala, Fla., to Washington, D.C., in October.

Honor Flight is a nonprofit group based in Springfield, Ohio. It has been bringing veterans to the Nation’s Capital to visit the World War II Memorial since 2005.

Red Tail Chapter President Michael H. Emig led the Ocala Honor Flight effort, raising $65,000. Chapter member Morrey M. Deen chaired the local committee. Other chapter members helping out were Jennifer Deen and Leah R. Fletcher. US Rep. Clifford Stearns (R-Fla.) lent his support.

Emig had lined up some 30 volunteers and medical staff for the trip, but his group included 40 people in wheelchairs. So he asked Kevin R. Lewis, external affairs VP for the Donald W. Steele Sr. Memorial Chapter (Va.), to find more volunteers in Washington to move the guests from place to place. Destinations included the Air Force Memorial and Arlington National Cemetery.

“The Steele Chapter got the easy task,” Lewis said. Within days, he had 14 volunteers, including fellow chapter member John Kiecana.

Emig asked other area AFA chapters for volunteers, too: the York-Lancaster Chapter in Pennsylvania, the Nation’s Capital Chapter in D.C., and from Maryland, the Thomas W. Anthony Chapter and the Baltimore Chapter.

It wasn’t the first time the Steele Chapter came through for the vets. Last year, Emig organized a similar Honor Flight. At the last minute, however, the escorts bowed out. Emig issued a desperate call to action to contacts in the area, including the Steele Chapter. Then, as now, Lewis led the chapter’s response, and in the end, the Florida veterans were greeted by some 40 volunteers, including Stearns, who welcomed the group again this year at the World War II Memorial.

Air Force Birthday

The Tennessee Valley Chapter in Alabama hosted a birthday celebration in September, to mark 63 years since the establishment of the Department of the Air Force.

Retired Maj. Gen. Robert Chedister, commander of Air Armament Center at Eglin AFB, Fla., from 2003 until 2006, was guest speaker. He covered some USAF history and, in particular, aviation in Alabama. It turns out, Wilbur Wright personally chose the warmer climate of Montgomery, Ala., as the site for the nation’s first civilian flight school. The school operated from March to May 1910, before returning to the Wright brothers’ hometown area, Dayton, Ohio.

The chapter birthday celebration included awards presentations. The inaugural Outstanding Airman of North Alabama award went to SSgt. Bruce M. Evans, 280th Combat Communications Squadron (ANG). An infrastructure technician, Evans is deployed, so Chapter President Frederick Driesbach presented the award to Evans’ wife, Amanda, and son, Caleb. The SNCO Outstanding Airman Award went to MSgt. Matthew D. Strube, flight chief in the Sensor Analysis Division at the Missile and Space Intelligence Center, Redstone Arsenal, Ala.

Chapter Education VP John R. Phillip presented the Teacher of the Year award to Sonya Hester, a kindergarten teacher from Boaz (Ala.) Elementary School. AFJROTC scholarship winners and the Huntsville High School AFJROTC CyberPatriot II team also received honors. The team had reached the semifinals in AFA’s national cyber defense competition in 2009.

More Chapter News

Col. Blaine D. Holt spoke at the October luncheon of the Iron Gate Chapter in New York City about his assignment as commander of the 376th Air Expeditionary Wing at Transit Center Manas, Kyrgyzstan. Just before he arrived in June 2009, the country’s parliament voted to close Manas to the American military (later agreeing to keep it open). In April, President Kurmanbek Bakiyev was ousted, accused of corruption and election rigging. In June, ethnic rioting erupted in the south. According to Chapter President Frank T. Hayes, Holt led US airmen in providing medical care and humanitarian aid to local residents, working to strengthen partnerships in Manas despite the turbulent year. His account of his assignment in Kyrgyzstan had “everyone on the edge of their seats,” commented Hayes. Holt is now a Council on Foreign Relations military fellow.

The Golden Triangle Chapter in Mississippi hosted an AFA table at Columbus Air Force Base’s Retiree Appreciation Day on Sept. 25. The event provided military retirees with information on everything from base agencies and the local community to the Tricare health care system. Chapter President Rick T. Johnson, Treasurer Michael A. Counihan, and member Jim Prouty manned the table. More than 100 retirees—some from hundreds of miles away, according to a news release—toured the base and had lunch at the Columbus Club.

The Fort Worth Chapter sent M. N. Dan Heth, AFA Texas VP for the North Area, to the 26th annual POW/MIA Remembrance Ceremony, hosted by cadets of Texas Christian University’s AFROTC Det. 845 in Fort Worth, Tex. The cadets performed what Heth called “a stirring flag ceremony” at the base of the university’s flagpole, with the entire unit in formation. They presented a US flag to retired Lt. Col. Jerry A. Singleton, who was keynote speaker for the ceremony. Singleton had been a CH-3C pilot, assigned to the 38th Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Squadron, Udorn AB, Thailand, in 1965, when he was shot down. He was a POW in North Vietnam until 1973. He is a member of the Fort Worth Chapter.


Before the Region and State Presidents Meeting gets under way, AFA Board Chairman Sandy Schlitt (right) has breakfast with (l-r) Texoma Region President David Dietsch and New England Region President John Hasson.

In the front row at the Region and State Presidents Meeting, Maryland State President Joe Hardy and AFA Board Chairman Sandy Schlitt take notes.

AFA Board Chairman Schlitt addresses the Region and State Presidents. Front row (l-r): Arizona State President Ross Lampert, Southeast Region President David Klinkicht, and North Carolina State President Louis Emond. Second row (l-r): New Jersey State President Jared Kleiman, Texoma Region President David Dietsch, and Texas State President Kelly Jones.

The AFA-USA Today booth before the kids began crowding around it, at the USA Science and Engineering Festival in Washington, D.C.

Teachers Sarah Shivadecker and Nikisha Adams (l-r) from the Kettering, Ohio, school district, work on an online application at the Wright Memorial Chapter’s AFA Educator Grant workshop.

Teacher Teresa Leo, from Longfellow Alternative School in Dayton, Ohio, fills in an AFA Educator Grant application. Wright Memorial Chapter’s Educators Action Team held the workshop at Wight-Patterson AFB, Ohio.

Getting organized at the Tennessee Valley Chapter’s Air Force anniversary party are (l-r): John Phillip, Chapter President Frederick Driesbach, and Gary Connor. The event took place in the atrium of the Redstone Federal Credit Union, a chapter Community Partner.

Howard Christiansen, a World War II B-17 pilot, comes forward to join several others in cutting the Air Force 63rd-anniversary cake at the Tennessee Valley Chapter’s celebration.

Golden Triangle Chapter President Rick Johnson holds an AFA brochure at Retiree Appreciation Day at Columbus AFB, Miss. With him are (l-r) Jim Prouty and Mike Counihan. (USAF photo by SSgt. Jacob Corbin)

Unit Reunions

522nd TFS (1972-80). Feb. 25-27, 2011, in Tucson, AZ. Contact: Tim Tarris, (520-275-3726) (

601st & 615th AC&WS, Germany. May 1-6, 2011, in Biloxi, MS. Contact: Francis Gosselin (352-588-9295)

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.