Friday, May 30, 2014

Colorado Springs Memorial Day Wreath-Laying

From the Lance P. Sijan Chapter:

The Lance P. Sijan Chapter of AFA traditionally lays a wreath in honor of the Air Force fallen heroes in the Colorado Springs Memorial Day Ceremony. Like many cities, participation in the Memorial Ceremony is dominated by family members and veterans from every engagement from WWII to the current conflicts. In keeping with this year’s effort to involve the youth of the community, the Sijan Chapter sent recent high school graduates Kyle Shiller and Avery Austin as their representatives to lay the wreath. Both of the young men were anxious to help out when they learned of the opportunity, and feedback from the event organizers and the ovation from the crowd of about 150 made it very clear they all strongly approved.

Shiller and Austin preparing to lay the wreath.

Both Shiller and Austin just graduated from Rampart High School in Colorado Springs the week before the Memorial Day Ceremony. Both come from military families, with Kyle Shiller headed off to Air Force ROTC at Purdue University in the fall, and Avery Austin headed to the US Military Academy at West Point. The local newspaper, the Colorado Springs Gazette, interviewed the young men immediately afterwards, citing “what Austin and Shiller lacked in years, they made up for in respect for those who came before them.”

“I feel very honored to just be in a room with so many people that have made so many sacrifices for their nation," said Austin, whose parents were Army officers.

Shiller at the Air Force Memorial
in Colorado Springs's Memorial Park.
Shiller added that his father, a retired Air Force colonel, and President of the Sijan Chapter, had always impressed upon him a deep respect for the men and women of the military and the sacrifices made.

Carmen Pesek, the event organizer for the Pikes Peak Veteran’s Council, said afterwards, “Everyone who was there yesterday left with joy in their hearts for our younger generation and their promise of a better future for all of us.”

For Shiller, it is also a natural follow-on to the Eagle Scout Project he completed in the fall of 2013, renovating the Air Force Memorial in the City’s Memorial Park. The Memorial had fallen into disrepair over the years and Kyle, working in conjunction with AFA Sijan Chapter and a great group of volunteers from his troop, made the rust and concrete repairs, added fresh paint, fixed the lights, and cleaned up the surrounding landscaping. The finished product caught the attention of Air Force Space Command who posted it on their Facebook and Twitter feeds to thousands of followers, with a strong positive response.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Day

Observing Memorial Day helps us keep in memory the service and sacrifice of thousands. Many of the nation’s servicemen and women have given their lives in the name of freedom and liberty. While the nation has hundreds of statues erected in memory of outstanding individuals, there are millions more unmarked graves and stones not engraved – never capable of adequately telling the tales of sacrifice, courage, and valor.

Together, this Memorial Day, let us take a moment to pause and reflect on the many that have served and sacrificed for this country. The valor of those fallen is forever inscribed in the story of America’s success. AFA gives thanks to their unyielding dedication and faithful service.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

70th Anniversary of D-Day Commemorative Concert at the Air Force Memorial

The Air Force Memorial will host a day-long concert series, presented by Music Celebrations International (MCI), over Memorial Day weekend in commemoration of the 70th Anniversary of the Battle of Normandy, the Allied invasion during World War II that marked the beginning of the end of a tyrannical regime in Europe.

On Sunday, May 25, 2014, several musical ensembles from across the country will perform at the Air Force Memorial starting at 11:00am. Prior to the first performance, the Air Force Honor Guard will open the ceremony, followed by a wreath laying in honor of the many men and women who’ve paid the ultimate sacrifice in service to this nation.

To see the full line-up of performances for this event, click here.

Located in Arlington, Virginia, the Air Force Memorial honors the service of America’s airmen. The Memorial is the scene for more than 250 activities each year to include Honor Flight and student tours, wreath-laying ceremonies, and other special events.

This particular event is part of MCI’s D-Day 70 Concerts, a series of musical performances taking place throughout 2014 in France and Washington, D.C., to memorialize the anniversary. This exclusive concert series will also feature outstanding musical performances by choirs, concert bands, and orchestras at the National World War II Memorial, the Thomas Jefferson Memorial, and the United States Air Force Memorial.

To learn more about the Air Force Memorial, including parking and directions, visit or

MCI aims to provide life-changing experiences that raise the level of musicianship and dedication to the performing arts around the globe. Learn more about their D-Day 70 Concerts at

Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Panel Discussion with Wounded Warriors

AFA's Wound Airman Program will host a panel discussion on June 6, 2014, featuring wounded airmen participating in the 2014 Air Force Association Cycling Classic (AFACC).

The AFACC, held in partnership with Arlington Sports, Inc., is the region’s premier cycling event, held June 7-8, throughout Arlington, Va.

The panel discussion will take place at the Key Bridge Marriott in Arlington, Va., from 12:00pm to 1:00pm. The panel will include three airmen who will discuss their journey to recovery, from injury or illness to rehabilitation – and how cycling and other adaptive sports have been a part of it. Attendance and lunch is complimentary. Click here to register.
"I feel incredibly fortunate to be competing in this event (the Air Force Association Cycling Classic) with my fellow wounded, military, and community of supporters," said Capt. Mitch Kieffer, one of the panelists who also is a Purple Heart recipient for Traumatic Brain Injury. "Organizations like AFA's Wounded Airman Program and the Air Force Wounded Warrior Program have supported me and improved my quality of life in ways that modern medical treatment could not."

Additionally, a representative from the Air Force Wounded Warrior Program will participate on the panel, sharing with attendees how the U.S. Air Force is taking care of wounded, ill, and injured airmen.

Meet the Panelists

SSgt. Daniel Crane joined the Air Force in November 2007 and graduated from the Security Forces Tech School in April 2008. In 2011, he was assigned to the Contingency Response Group at Andersen AFB, Guam. Nine months after being stationed there, he was targeted by an anti-U.S. military local from Guam who shot him while off-duty. He was MEDEVAC’d off the island and has undergone numerous surgeries to save his arm. He medically retired from the military February 25, 2014, due to loss of function in his right arm and hand. In 2013 SouthWest Valor Games, Crane earned a gold medalist in both air pistol and archery and earned a silver medal in air rifle.

SSgt. Melissa Garcia is currently the Independent Duty Medical Technician (IDMT) at the Flight Medicine Clinic in Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz. While assigned to Lackland AFB, Texas, she worked in the plastic and neurosurgery clinic, where she had the chance to work with breast cancer survivors during their reconstruction as well as with military members who were disfigured in combat. Sometime later, in February 2012, she was assigned to Davis-Monthan AFB. Since being stationed at Davis-Monthan she has deployed once and was diagnosed with breast cancer while on the deployment. For her work, she has been awarded the Air Force Commendation Medal in 2011 and 2013.

Capt. Mitchell Kieffer is currently Active Duty Air Force stationed at Langley AFB, Va., serving as an Operations Research Analyst for Air Combat Command. He started his career at Eglin AFB, Fla., serving as an Analytical Scientist, then later as a test engineer. He volunteered as a single augmentee and deployed to Iraq in a joint assignment in efforts to rebuild the country. His team came under attack in a complex ambush while returning from a site near Baghdad when he was wounded. Capt Kieffer is a Purple Heart recipient for Traumatic Brain Injury. Kieffer is a 2013 Warrior Games Ultimate Champion, the first-ever Air Force recipient of this award.

The Air Force Association Cycling Classic and Wounded Airman Program

The AFACC will take place June 7-8 throughout Arlington, Va. The event encourages cyclists of all abilities to participate in its various events, which include two days of riding and racing – from professionals and amateurs to enthusiastic adults and kids! AFA’s Wounded Airman Program (WAP) will be the sole official beneficiary and will receive a portion of the funds raised from the event. WAP supports the work of the Air Force Wounded Warrior office and directly helps seriously ill and injured airmen, and their caregivers, financially and with adapted equipment and lifestyle items.

To learn more about the AFA Cycling Classic, please visit
To learn more about the Wounded Airman Program, and to donate, please visit

Friday, May 16, 2014

Note from AFA: FY15 House Armed Services Committee National Defense Authorization Act

Last week the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) passed its version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), and the bill will likely be taken up by the full House next week. In its current form HR 4435 (bill and report) would keep the Air Force from adapting to smaller future budgets in several ways. Broadly speaking the HASC bill does so by retaining force structure while cutting Operations and Maintenance accounts to pay for other committee priorities to the tune of approximately $1.5 billion in fiscal 2015.
Here is a summary of top USAF issues in the bill:
  • Personnel: The Committee rejected administration proposals to increase TRICARE fees, reduce the commissary subsidy and to reduce the Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) for active duty members. The Committee was silent on the President's Budget proposal to support a 1 percent pay raise, as opposed to the Employment Cost Index (ECI) rate of 1.8 percent. Current law allows the President to implement a pay raise alternative to ECI, an authority he exercised last year, to limit the raise to 1 percent. Other key personnel-related provisions include: a pay freeze for flag and general officers in FY 2015, improving sexual assault prevention and prosecution, $45 million for behavioral and mental health programs for Special Forces, a report on child custody for deployed service members and a study on suicide in the military.
  • A-10: Chairman Buck McKeon's (R-CA) original mark up proposed putting the 283 aircraft in the A-10 fleet in type 1000 storage, which would allow for later return to service. Congressman Ron Barber (D-AZ) offered an amendment prohibiting any A-10 retirements in FY15, and paid for the year's cost by redirecting $635 million from Overseas Contingency Operations accounts. Despite the Chairman and Ranking Member's opposition, the amendment passed 41-20.
  • U-2: The bill prohibits retirement of the U-2.
  • E-3 AWACS: Congressman Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) offered, and the committee adopted, an amendment prohibiting retiring more than four AWACS by taking $39 million from Operations and Maintenance accounts, and calling on the Air Force to certify how it will meet Command and Control requirements.
  • BRAC: The bill prohibits any activities for a future BRAC. Ranking member Adam Smith (D-WA) introduced and then withdrew an amendment allowing the Department of Defense to do a BRAC in 2017. That amendment will be considered when the bill goes to the House floor.
Agreed upon priorities
  • KC-10: Although there were no plans to cut KC-10s this year, Congressman John Garamendi (D-CA) pushed through an amendment prohibiting KC-10 retirements in FY15.
  • The HASC NDAA fully funds the administration's F-35 request at 26 aircraft for the Air Force; Long Range Strike is also fully funded at $916 million.
  • The bill cuts $226 million from the KC-46 tanker program for first production lot of 7 aircraft – down to 6. Several amendments attempted to restore tanker to full funding, but failed.
Other items
  • Cyber directives: The HASC states there is significant confusion about Air Force investment in cyber capabilities, and directs the service, in coordination with the Director of the NSA, to provide the defense and intelligence committees with a report "that captures the aggregate of Air Force investment in cyber, laying out where the various elements of Air Force cyber are nested, and how those elements are integrated within the overall Air Force and DoD cyber enterprise."
  • Space
    • Launch: Directs the last of several old (1990s technology) weather satellites be put on the launch manifest for the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle, and that an additional launch for a future, to-be-decided payload, be competed and acquired in FY15; adds $135 million for that launch.
    • Requires work to begin on finding a replacement for the Russian-made RD-180 rocket engine by adding $220 million.
The Senate Armed Services Committee is scheduled to begin its own NDAA mark up deliberations next week, and as is often the case, it is expected to differ widely from the proposals and priorities put forward by the HASC bill.
Stand by for further updates on these and other congressional developments.

Monday, May 12, 2014

AFROTC Awards at the University of Florida

What a great show of community support! Below is a picture of the Arnold Air Society (AAS) cadets at the University of Florida with the AFA Red Tail Memorial Chapter.

Pictured on the far left is Lt. Col. Kevin Crocco, Operations Officer for Det. 150 AFROTC at the University of Florida. On Crocco's left is Mike Emig, Red Tail Memorial Chapter 136 President. Pictured third from the right is Col. (Ret.) Michael Hare, Red Tail Memorial Chapter 136 Vice President of Aerospace Education.
The University of Florida’s Air Force ROTC Det. 150 hosted their annual AFROTC Awards Program lats month. At this event, the AFA Red Tail Memorial Chapter presents an AFA Award to a deserving cadet. This year’s award went to Cadet Richard Crumrine.

Many of UF’s AAS cadets attend the chapter’s monthly meetings and help with the chapter’s many veterans and Junior ROTC programs in the five-county community, said chapter president Mike Emig. This group has also been the recipient of the Lemay-Ohio Award, he added.

The LeMay-Ohio Award was established by the General Curtis E. LeMay Squadron of The Ohio State University. The award recognizes the squadron best displaying ability, effort, and enthusiasm in supporting their local AFA chapter(s). The award consists of a permanent plaque.

“This is a great bunch of cadets,” Emig said. “[They are] our leaders of tomorrow.”

Friday, May 9, 2014

Participate in the Annual Air Force Association Cycling Classic (AFACC)

Join us June 7-8 for the annual Air Force Association Cycling Classic, a weekend of community and cycling benefiting AFA's Wounded Airman Program! There are plenty of opportunities to get involved.

You can ...



There are many opportunities to volunteer time, from registration to hydration stations and medal distribution.


Our goal is to raise $25,000 for our Wounded Airman Program and we need your help! Donate or support a rider here:

[NOTE: Donations over $100 will receive a special Wounded Airman Program coin, to be picked up at the Air Force Memorial on Saturday night, June 7.]


Help celebrate our wounded warriors by attending the Salute to Wounded Warriors Concert! The concert will be held at the Air Force Memorial Saturday night, June 7! For more information:

AFA's Wounded Airman Program partners with the Air Force to help support more than 3,000 airmen who are seriously ill or injured. AFA helps where the DOD programs, TRICARE, and the VA fall short, providing direct financial assistance to wounded airmen and their caretakers. Our support isn't limited to financial assistance as AFA chapters around the country have visited airmen in hospitals, volunteered at adaptive sporting events like the Warrior Games, provided equipment and adapted lifestyle items, provided support for caregivers, and continue to look at ways to help wounded airmen and their families during transition.

Learn more at!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Memorial Day Remembrance Card

Participate in our 2014 Memorial Day Remembrance Card Campaign!

Sign our card and help honor our fallen heroes this Memorial Day.

Print the card, sign it, and return it by May 15, and we’ll place the card on display at the Air Force Memorial during our annual Wreath-laying Ceremony on Memorial Day, May 26, 2014. You can find the card here:

Two attendees view the display of Memorial Day cards
mailed in for the 2013 Memorial Day Celebration
Let your card serve as a tribute to the men and women who gave their lives defending our freedom. This is a tradition we began last year. Hundreds of cards were on display during our 2013 Memorial Day Ceremony – a powerful reminder to all present that as Americans – despite our differences – we are united as we pause to honor those patriots who made the ultimate sacrifice to keep our nation safe and free.

And when you return your card, we hope you will also include a special contribution of $25, $35, $50, $100, or more to the Air Force Memorial. Your gift will keep our Air Force Memorial programs going strong – programs that honor our airmen, preserve our heritage, and inspire our nation’s young people to serve in a cause greater than themselves.

Simply print out the card, sign your name, and please consider supporting Memorial programs with a donation. Please send the card and donation to:

Air Force Memorial Foundation
P.O. Box 97026
Washington, D.C. 20077-7193 

If you’re in the DC area on Memorial Day, please join us at our Wreath-laying Ceremony. It begins at 9:00 a.m., and is open to all! Please go to our Memorial website at for directions and parking information.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Letter to AFA from AAS/SW

Last month, the Arnold Air Society and Silver Wings (AAS/SW), professional honorary service organizations, held their National Conclave in Washington, DC. Many of the students were able to attend because AFA field chapters helped with financial support. Further, four AFA Chapters in the MD/DC/VA area supported by leading a fundraising effort that brought 1,170 cadets and members of Silver Wings to an exclusive mixer at the National Air and Space Museum. Dan Woodward, the executive director of AAS/SW, sent a heartfelt thanks to AFA Membership, recognizing them for their support.

Thank you AFA!

Recently, nearly 1,200 Arnold Air Society and Silver Wings members, all AFA members as well, assembled in Washington DC for our 66th annual National Conclave. Many AFA Chapters and individual AFA members around the country, along with the AFA National Staff, contributed funds or other support to make this event a tremendous success. Thank you!

If you ever doubt the impact you have in supporting Arnold Air Society and Silver Wings as members of the AFA, I suggest you visit the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum where you will be able to hear the echo's of 1,200 cadets and college students chanting "U.S.A." in unison. Or take a moment to walk into the great Ballroom at the Wardman Park where you will find the echos of 1,200 of our youngest AFA members singing all verses of the Air Force song following an address by the Chief. Or stroll through the reception area at the same hotel where you will feel the energy of every Conclave attendee as the Chief stood for nearly two hours with them until 1000 pictures were taken and 1,200 hands were shook. You made this happen!

Every AFA member helped make this year's Conclave a lifelong memory for some of America's very best and brightest. As Executive Director of Arnold Air Society and Silver Wings, I am truly grateful for your support. Thank you!

Emerging Leaders Program

AFA recently made a call for nominations for next year's Emerging Leaders Program.

AFA began an Emerging Leaders Program in 2013 as an avenue to secure AFA's future. The purpose of the program is to identify, motivate, develop, and encourage emerging leaders to serve actively in AFA by providing hands-on experience and unique insights into how AFA operates and is governed. Emerging Leaders volunteer for a year. With guidance from a mentor, they participate on a national-level council, attend national leader orientations, and serve as National Convention delegates.

The due date for the Region nominations to AFA National is May 16. Contact your Region President for more information!

For the past several months, AFA's Air Force Magazine profiled the current leaders. Read about a few of them here:

Monday, May 5, 2014

May is Better Hearing & Speech Month

Did you know that AFA offers discounts related to hearing health?
Photo from Wikipedia
May is Better Hearing & Speech Month and a perfect time to have your hearing checked!

AFA has a full campaign underway this month, highlighting hearing discounts offered to members. So check your mailbox and email inbox for material to help you utilize your AFA membership this month!

As a member of the Air Force Association, you and your family are eligible for American Hearing Benefits (AHB). AHB aims to provide its members with access to free hearing consultations and discounts on hearing aids through a nationwide network of hearing professionals.

Learn more about the hearing health benefits offered to AFA members here:

Additionally, for each person who calls during May and makes an appointment (and attends that appointment no later than June 20th), AHB will donate $25 to AFA’s Wounded Airman Program (WAP). Through this program, AFA has partnered with the Air Force to help support more than 3,000 airmen who are seriously ill or injured. AFA helps where the DOD programs, TRICARE, and the VA fall short, providing direct financial assistance to wounded airmen and their caretakers. Our support isn’t limited to financial assistance as AFA chapters around the country have visited airmen in hospitals, volunteered at adaptive sporting events like the Warrior Games, provided equipment and adapted lifestyle items, and continue to look at ways to help wounded airmen and their families during transition.

Friday, May 2, 2014

The Distinguished Flying Cross Society

A piece from guest blogger Col J. Bruce Huffman, U.S. Army Reserve (Ret.), Master Army Aviator

The Distinguished Flying Cross Society 
The Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) is our nation’s highest award for aerial achievement. As a valor decoration, it ranks fourth in order of precedence, and is awarded to recipients for heroism or extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight. The DFC has been awarded to pilots and air crew in all five of our services (United States Army, United States Navy, United States Marine Corps, United States Air Force and the United States Coast Guard). Recipients represent a diversity of backgrounds, ethnicity, rank and gender whose aerial achievements were chronicled from the chaos of combat, to epic rescues, out to the very edges of space.

The Distinguished Flying Cross medal was established by an Act of Congress on July 2, 1926 to recognize the heroism of World War I pilots. However, the first Distinguished Flying Cross citations were presented to civilian Pan American Flight crews on 2 May, 1927 by President Calvin Coolidge, for their five ship, 22,000 mile flight. President Coolidge presented the first Distinguished Flying Cross medal, on 11 June, 1927, to then Captain Charles A. Lindbergh of the Army Air Corps Reserve, for his solo flight of 33 ½ hours and 3600 statute miles; beginning from Long Island, NY and landing in Paris, France. Lindbergh, the ‘Lone Eagle’, is a legacy member of The Distinguished Flying Cross Society.

The Distinguished Flying Cross Society itself (DFCS) was founded in 1994, as a 501(c) (19) nonprofit organization, headquartered in San Diego, CA, and is made up of those men and women who were awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and their relatives. The Society currently has more than 6,000 members and was founded on the fraternity and fellowship among military fliers. It seeks to preserve the rich heritage and historical narratives of those who are recipients of the DFC and to educate the general public, especially the youth of America, on the values of courage, patriotism and character; those very characteristics upon which America was founded. By doing so it elevates the awareness of the award itself and demonstrates to the public that a very small cross section of ordinary Americans can and have accomplished extraordinary things under extremely difficult conditions while in flight.

The DFCS recently published “On Heroic Wings: Stories of the Distinguished Flying Cross”, with the Foreword written by President George H. W. Bush and the Introduction written by Captain Jim Lovell; both recipients and members. The book is based on oral history accounts, Distinguished Flying Cross citations and other associated primary source documentation. Visual images gathered from personal collections and archives illuminate the comprehensive content of this volume. While the acquisition of the factual data was essential, capturing the personal feelings and perspectives of American aviation heroes added to the richness of the publication.

The DFCS is also moving forward to produce a syndicated film documentary on the Distinguished Flying Cross that will honor the legacy of the award as well that of its recipients. The Character Development Program (CDP), produced by the Medal of Honor Foundation as an educational outreach, has recently been recognized by the DFCS as an extremely worthy cause and efforts are underway to lend the support of our membership toward that effort. An active scholarship program exists for the descendents of DFCS members.

The Distinguished Flying Cross Society recognizes the strong historical connection between its origins and those of the United States Air Force and its predecessor, the U. S. Army Air Corps. The DFCS looks toward the ranks of the Air Force Association and those members who are recipients of the Distinguished Flying Cross to join with them in the preservation of their personal histories and to assist us to further our educational goals. We are making a special appeal to the current generation of heroes who have served since the first Gulf War as well as all others who may have been awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. As Kenny Chesney said in his 2007 hit ‘Don’t Blink’, “Trust me friend a hundred years goes faster than you think; so “don't blink”, act today!

If you are a DFC recipient and would like to see the historical narrative of your award preserved to serve as an inspiration for future generations, go to the DFCS website at ( for information and requirements for joining our ranks. Families of a deceased DFC recipient are also encouraged to enroll their loved one posthumously and become an Associate member. For additional information, call our Toll-free number at 1- 866-332-6332.

J. Bruce Huffman
Col. USAR (Ret.)
Master Army Aviator