Air Force MSgt. Mandy Mueller, 39th Medical Operations Squadron medical services flight chief, reads a holiday letter on Dec. 11, 2019, at Incirlik AB, Turkey. SSgt. Joshua Magbanua
Photo Caption & Credits


March 23, 2022

We love letters! Write to us at To be published, letters should be timely, relevant and concise. Include your name and location. Letters may be edited for space and the editors have final say on which are published.

Air Sick

As a former 30-year naval aviator in helicopters, jets and turboprops (and gliders, as a test pilot at Pax River), I have covered the entire spectrum of military aviation.
The focus of the study of cancer restricted to only fighter pilots is perhaps myopic [“Air Sick,” January/ February, p. 46]—but data mining, in light of recent confluence of scientific,  political, and legal (i.e., class action suits) “interpretations,” is perilous, but still necessary.

The scientific method offers lots of ways to actually narrow the search—I would recommend reporting on other aspects that might lead you to actually assist this study, such as demographic and genetic marking, however sensitive it might be.
Military aviators were NOT a diverse group, but reacted differently based on their current psychological state. A flight surgeon author stated that physical and mental traits of aviators were extremely uniform down to the majority profiled by birth order (majority are firstborn) as per his report on “Sex and the Naval Aviator.”
If you help broaden the scope of aviator analysis, beyond typical radioactive or toxin exposure, one might find the real correlation, which may be surprisingly genetic … or not.

Capt. Vinny Lamolinara, 
USN (Ret.) 
Patuxent River, Md.

Your January/February 2022 article caused me to consider the cause of my prostrate cancer. I served in the late 1960s, TAC, flight line refueling F-100 aircraft. I was certainly exposed to jet fuel and jet fumes. In those years we did not wear face masks. So I will follow-up with the VA as you suggest. One correction is noted. The aircraft on page 46 are not F-4s, they are F-100Ds.

David K. Ribbe
Pres. AFA Chapter 251
Westborough, Mass.

Editor’s Note: Thank you. The aircraft have been updated in the online version.

Thank you for the excellent summary of where DOD stands with respect to tracking down chronic military related illnesses in both Active duty and retired personnel. Seems like things are still in the “study” stage and will be for quite some time, though. Having straddled an APG-63 for 2,306 flight hours, I don’t need another study to know why I got prostate cancer 15 to 20 years before I expected to. Thankfully an early diagnosis and aggressive treatment stopped the cancer before spreading in my case.  Concrete action by DOD cannot come soon enough.  

James D. “Tony” Mahoney 
Las Vegas

Back to Basics

I am an “old” Air Force, Vietnam/Cold War-era veteran, and I consider myself a stakeholder in the Air Force and the United States of America. After reading my January/February Air Force Magazine, specifically the editorial, “Russia, China, and Air Power Politics,” and several articles “USAF Aircraft Availability On Long Downward Trend;” “Unapproved Religious Exemptions Could Force Out Up to 10,000;” and “Pentagon Releases New Rules to Control ‘Extremist’ Activity,”  I became increasingly upset.

How can the Air Force (and other military services) afford to undertake a “great (mandated, woke ideological) transformation” and departure from its heritage, traditions, and martial values when we are confronted by peer-to-peer, superpower competition and potential armed conflict with Russia and Communist China? What is the point of focusing on notional, “feel good” stuff like diversity, inclusion, and equality, and hyper-vigilance to root out military extremists, when the No. 1 priority should be preparation for a war that promises to be radically different from the “sandboxes” of Iraq and Afghanistan?

As far as I recall, during the 45-year Cold War, our armed forces were on their A-game as the defense of the United States, and preservation of our way of life was paramount because of the ever-present threat of a nuclear exchange with the Soviet Union. “Fly, Fight, Win” was the mission and focus of the Air Force. This became more clear when I was assigned to SAC; the legacy of Gen. Curtis E. LeMay lived on in terms of standards, discipline, uniformity, and cohesion. There was no forgetting that “Peace is Our Profession” and that it was a byproduct of “Peace Through Strength.”

I visited and saw where the Air Force unveiled a new mission statement in April 2021. The addition of “air power, anytime, anywhere” to the original “Fly, Fight, and win” statement will likely not deter Russian or Communist Chinese aggression if they don’t believe that a balance of power really exists.

Author Aidan McCullen, paraphrasing the ancient Chinese proverb, cautioned us that in order to “Bleed less in war, use peacetime wisely and build capability before you need it.” Therefore, the time for the Air Force to square up for the coming fight is now.

MSgt. Mark A. Bernhardt, 
USAF (Ret.)
Orlando, Fla.

Balls and Strikes

Glad to see that our magazine’s Letters column has recently taken a more interactive approach. In the February 2022 edition not only did readers provide feedback to other letter writers but even the editors jumped in. The latter provided a dictionary definition for a routinely used but often misrepresented word (insurrection) that has dominated the media landscape for the last year. For the editor to excuse any “political motivation” to its use ignores the extremely divisive political times we exist in. 

It’s certainly not as simple as “You say tomato, I say tomahto,” but as the title of David Richardson’s letter indicates, words have meanings (plural).  The spirit and intent of word selection is critical to the narrative. Politicians and journalists know that and craft their presentations accordingly.

To call the Jan. 6 Capitol storming an insurrection when none of the hundreds detained have been so charged is a bit of a head-scratcher.  That, recently, sedition charges have been filed against some adds still another abstract term to the descriptor pile for everyone’s use and abuse.

As the editors so aptly stated, “Those who write these early drafts of history are like umpires, who “call ‘em as they see ‘em.”  The problem with that, unlike in professional baseball where videotape allows for instantaneous reality checks by replay, in our current climate Americans are at the mercy of word selection from politicians and media. We can only hope that those will be factual and unbiased and not tainted by the presenters. Case in point, the firestorm caused by just one newspaper journalist’s attempt to (re)write American history with The 1619 Project.  

Col. Bill Malec, 
USAF (Ret.)
O’Fallon, Ill.

Your use of the baseball umpire metaphor in the editors’ reply to David M. Richardson’s letter in the January/February Air Force Magazine [“Words Have Meanings,” p. 3] is very revealing, because umpires do not always get it right. I know, I’m one. Regrettably, sometimes umpire bias is difficult to overcome, and we can forget that home plate is only 17 inches wide instead of 29 inches. Many an umpire wanted the next pitch to be just close enough to legitimize a called third strike without being sufficiently close to compel the batter to swing.  And 6 inches off the plate was plenty close to “ring him up.”

Technically, you are correct.  But use of the term “insurrection” in relation to the events of Jan. 6, 2021, is not a reflection of impartial and objective media reporting.  In today’s highly charged political environment it comes across as shilling for the sole political party using, it’s contrary to the definition you provide. I hope Air Force Magazine remains committed to unbiased, objective reporting.

Thank you and may God bless the United States of America.

Maj. Patrick J. Hoy, 
USAF (Ret.)
Billings, Mont.

UN Blather

“Something We Can Agree On,” [Verbatim, p. 8, January/February] quotes a joint statement signed Jan. 3 by the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council: Britain, China, France, Russia, and the United States: “We believe strongly that the further spread of such weapons must be prevented.  We affirm that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.”  

I believe the Security Council wasted an opportunity to stop any further expansion of nuclear weapons by posting such a useless political statement. What it should have said is that, “While we do not advocate any expansion of nuclear weapons, the use of such weapons as a threat or to fight a war will be met by all holders or any current holder of such weapons with a retaliation as a punishment for its use.”

Lt. Col. Russel A. Noguchi,
USAF (Ret.)
Pearl City, Hawaii 

Future World

Amanda Miller’s report on Artificial Intelligence (AI) [“Turning Up the Heat on AI,” January/February, p. 39] is a good report on the state of AI in DOD, but for some meaningful detail about a few of those “600-plus AI projects” mentioned by Secretary [Lloyd J.]Austin, the reader should check out the article found in a most unlikely source: “Flying Aces,” The New Yorker, Jan. 24, p. 18.

In that piece, author Sue Halpern provides eye-watering examples of real-life (funded) projects that could affect USAF operations in the not-too-distant future. For example, did you know that DARPA engineers are working on—and have had considerable success with—an unprecedented design for “a plane that can … engage in aerial combat … without a human pilot operating it.” This is part of DARPA’s Air Combat Evolution (ACE) program.
Decades ago, while stationed at the Pentagon, I attended several presentations by so-called “futurists.” Afterward, I shook my head in quiet disbelief as I rushed off to the next crisis-of-the-day. These days, the science and technology predicted by those “futurists” have come true and will dramatically affect all military operations. Wonder what present-day “futurists” are currently dreaming up? 

Col. Evan Parrott,
USAF (Ret.)
Ashburn, Va