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May 2012
In This Issue
A Note from Field Operations
Nominating Committee Results
A Note from the President
CAP Educator Grants
AFA Welcoms New Chapter
CP Contact Change
The Benefits of Membership
Region Review: North Central

AFA National Report 

Huachuca Air Force Base Sign

Fort Huachuca, Arizona: Army or Air Force? Learn about this quirky sign in the upcoming May edition of "AFA National Report" in Air Force Magazine, also online at


Important Dates

12 May
Field and Aerospace Education Excellence Awards Nominations Due

28 May
Memorial Day Wreath-Laying
at Air Force Memorial

14 June
Awards Committee Meeting

15 June
Strategic Oversight Council Meeting

25-26 June
Audit Committee Meeting


A Note from Field Operations


As most of you know, I feel very lucky to be able to work in a job each day to support all of our hard working Field volunteers such as yourself. As with anything in life, there will be days where we feel overwhelmed or question whether all the efforts we are trying to make are actually doing any good. I am extremely lucky to get constant reminders of all the good in the world when I hear the great stories of work that you are all doing in your chapters.  


I would like to share two stories I heard recently that both left me with misty eyes and a great reminder of how wonderful our chapters and our great association is. The first came from Bob Hale, SW Region President, at our Denver Region Presidents' Meeting. He forwarded me the article below by Chapter President, Bob Cunningham. The second great story came from recent talks with Kevin Lewis and Kip Hanson of the DW Steele, Sr. Memorial and Nation's Capital Chapters. I will let these dedicated volunteers tell their stories in their own words below.


Kari Lynn Hahn

Director of Membership and Field Operations

Air Force Association 




Thunderbird Chapter President's Note


Every once in a while something, or someone, comes to our attention that really makes us think and reflect on our view of things important. This is one of those stories. 


There is Tom Plasterer, a young, Air Force (now former) Lieutenant who is facing death from cancer, but is remembering his roots in success and will make a difference-no matter what.


You see, in July of 2010, while on active duty, Tom was diagnosed with grade 4 brain cancer called glioblastoma multiforme. It is an aggressive and deadly cancer with a very low survival rate. It formed in a part of his motor cortex such that the surgery to remove it disabled the left hand and arm of this young, skilled Air Force KC-135 pilot, resulting in 100% disability separation from his budding Air Force career. One could resent such a turn of fate, but instead, Tom wants to pay back. 


Tom Plasterer is a 2003 graduate of our own Las Vegas Rancho High School aviation magnet school program. While there, gaining his private pilot's license was so important to him that he worked at a Wal-Mart during the summers and school year to earn his own flying lesson funds that the Clark County School District could not cover. At the same time, he also earned a full-ride scholarship at Embry-Riddle for electrical engineering. A real catch for our Air Force, upon college graduation in 2007, Tom completed pilot training in October 2008 before upgrading to the KC-135 Stratotanker. He was living his dream to fly.


Today, after a drastically shortened Air Force career, and facing the probable shortened life with his beautiful wife, Alicia, herself a Rancho medical program graduate and Air Force officer completing her internship as a psychologist at Wilford Hall in San Antonio, Tom wants to give back. He has offered to pay for the last flying hours for a deserving student in the Rancho aviation program.


Perhaps we should consider joining Tom in that cause. These are young people that so often go on to make a difference for our nation - the same as motivated our quest to join and serve. 


--Bob Cunningham, President, Thunderbird Chapter AFA


Chapter Members Help Advance the AFA Wounded Airman Program


Kip Hansen, VP Government Relations, DRS Technologies and Kevin Lewis, VP Aviation Programs, DRS Technologies traveled to Colorado Spring CO on Sunday the 22nd of April to present a competition wheelchair to MSgt "Aggie" Aguilera.  Both Kip and Kevin were also representing the Nation's Capital Chapter and DW Steele Memorial Chapter AFA respectively.  Arriving on Sunday afternoon, we met Mr. Jack Ladley, Aggie's USAF Recovery Care Coordinator who introduced us to Aggie.  That evening we took Aggie and 5 other Wounded Airman to dinner.  What struck me was how Aggie has recovered from his injuries.  On the surface he seems perfectly healthy but I'm sure there are struggles both physically and emotionally which he will deal with for a long time.  While not physically imposing, Aggie's spirit is imposing and he exudes the confidence of a warrior.  He is upbeat and appears ready and able to take on any challenge. I was also impressed with how these airman look out for each other.  Bottom-line, we had a terrific time at dinner and our spirits were encouraged by their confidence, sense of humor, and positive outlooks.  With young people like this, America should have no worries about our national defense.


On 23 April, Kip and Kevin met to make the formal presentation at the USAF Academy Track and Field training facility where the Wounded Warriors from all the services are training for the 2012 Warrior Games.  The $3,000 wheelchair was purchased by AFA National, the DW Steele Chapter AFA and the Nation's Capital Chapter AFA chapters made possible in part by a $2,500.00 donation form DRS Technologies' Charitable Foundation.  DRS Technologies is a defense contractor in Defense Electronics Sector. Aggie will be competing in the Warrior Games in both track and field and on the wheelchair basketball team.  Up to this point Aggie has been practicing with borrowed equipment.  Aggie's reaction to the wheelchair was one of deep appreciation and gratitude.   I'm sure Aggie will compete and likely dominate in his events at the Warrior Games.  Finally, both Kip and Kevin walked away from this experience encouraged and inspired by the Wounded Airman who will compete in the 2012 Warrior Games.   As the United States continues to produce young people like Aggie, we need not worry about our Nation's defense.  These young people and those who follow in their footsteps are up to the challenge of defending this great republic.     


--Kip Hansen, NCC and Kevin Lewis, DW Steele Memorial Chapter, AFA


2012 National Convention and Air & Space Conference Registration Now Open 


On May 2, the registration page for the 2012 National Convention and Air & Space Conference and Technology  Exposition went live.  Both will once again be held at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center.  The National Convention will be September 15-16 and the A&S Conference and Tech Expo will be September 17-19.  Please note that some of the pre-conference meetings have changed on the schedule this year. 


For more information about the Convention and Conference, and instructions on how to register, click here.  

Nominating Committee Releases Candidate Slate  



The AFA Nominating Committee met in Denver, CO, on 21 April 2012.  The Committee is forwarding the following slate of candidates for office to the Delegates:


Chairman of the Board: 

George Muellner (CA)


Vice Chairman, Field Ops: 

Dave Dietsch (TX)

Scott VanCleef (VA)


Vice Chairman, AE: 

Louis Emond (NC)

Jerry White (CO)


National Secretary: 

Ed Garland (TX)


National Treasurer: 

Len Vernamonti (MS)


National Director At Large:

Bill Grider (IN)

Gil Petrina (VA)

Kurt Vogel (MD)


National Director - West Area:

Steve Lundgren (AK)

Nora Ruebrook (HI)

A Reminder from the President of AFA


"AFA leaders, to remind you ... the Air Force Association is a 501(c)(3) non profit.  In that category of non profit, we cannot endorse ANY candidate for ANY governmental office at ANY level.  While we, as individuals, can do so, we cannot do so with our AFA hats on or imply that AFA supports a particular candidate's election.


The penalty for doing this is the so-called "black death" ruling.  If the IRS determines we broke this rule, they can remove our not-for-profit status ... and there is no appeal.


Please share this note with your Chapters and emphasize that we can support issues like more defense spending or more funds for the Air Force, but we have to stay out of politics. 


Thanks in advance.


Michael M. Dunn
Air Force Association

Civil Air Patrol Educator Grants Awarded

On April 19, AFA and CAP HQ awarded twenty educators with CAP Educator Grants.  The grants, worth up to $250 each, are given to educators who are members of either AFA or CAP in order to promote aerospace education by funding classroom activities and materials. 
AFA Welcomes New Chapter

We would like to welcome the Sarasota - Manatee Chapter to the AFA. In just eight months, it progressed from a wisp of an idea to be the first new chapter established in Florida after years of downsizing and retrenchment -- a chapter with approximately 300 members and a dynamic program of activities designed to promote the Air Force Association's mission - Educate, Advocate and Support.


The initiative to form a chapter on the West-Central coast of Florida began with AFA Chairman of the Board Sandy Schlitt -- a Sarasota resident. He enlisted Mike Richardson -- a recent arrival to Sarasota -- to take on the task of organizing the chapter. AFA National provided Richardson a summary of members living in the five county area surrounding Sarasota; and -- after an initial review -- Richardson pared down the proposed chapter's geographic area to two counties -- Sarasota and Manatee. The Florida Region endorsed the initiative and provided funding to conduct a survey to ascertain the member's interest in a local chapter. Based on the survey results, the chapter initiative pressed on with great speed.  


Within days of submitting their charter application in November, the chapter partnered with the Sarasota Herald Tribute and the New College of Florida to present a Defense Issues Forum focusing on "The Budget Crisis and It's Impact on the Military". They have had two "Guest Columnist" articles on Air Force issues published in the Sarasota Herald Tribune. In January, the chapter recognized two students entered in the Lockheed Martin Manatee Regional Science and Engineering Fair for their Aeronautical and Space themed projects. They have held their first General Membership meeting, recruited several new members and signed up their first Community Partner. Their Veteran Relations committee has reached out to the Sarasota National Cemetery and -- to date -- provided two volunteers to support its activities.

Their activities have already been cited twice in the Air Force Magazine.

They are off to a great start. Welcome aboard.
New Community Partners Program Contact at National

The Community Partner (CP) program has a new point of contact at National Headquarters.  Seth Paltzer is taking over the daily tasks of coordinating with chapters to process new and renewing Community Partners.  He can be contacted at or at 1-800-727-3337 ext. 4882. 

Don't forget that the CP program is a great way to increase your chapter's revenue while involving businesses in your community.

For more information about how to improve your CP efforts, click here. 

Member Benefits Highlight   

Callaway Golf ... and other premium product discounts


Many premium quality product manufacturers have special discount programs for military and law enforcement that are not public and can not be found online without special access.

Through AFA's agreement with GovX, AFA members have access to many of these special discount programs.  More than 50 premium apparel, equipment and tactical product merchants participate including Callaway, Alpinestars, SPY, Von Zipper and more! 

View a complete list of merchants and sign up by clicking here. 


Region Review: North Central Region


We have two chapters in Minnesota. The Richard I Bong Chapter is located in Duluth, Minnesota, and the EW Rawlings Chapter is located in Minneapolis. The Bong Chapter has 202 members and the Rawlings Chapter has 878. There is no active AF Base in Minnesota, but the Bong Chapter works closely with the Minnesota Air National Guard 148th Fighter Wing at the Duluth Airport.


Each year, the Bong Chapter has an annual Awards Dinner to recognize AFROTC Cadets at the University of Minnesota Duluth as well as outstanding performers of the 148th Fighter Wing. Recently, five members and chapter leaders drove 125 miles each way to take part in a special session in Minneapolis with AFA Chairman Schlitt prior to the Rawlings Chapter Awards Dinner. A few months before, the State Officers and Rawlings President made the trip to Duluth for a State Chapter Meeting and sharing information from special items and ideas learned at the Region/State Presidents Meeting in October.


The Rawlings Chapter has been a strong supporter of Aerospace Education. For more than 24 years by supporting 100+ Visions of Exploration Classrooms each year. In addition, the Chapter has supported AFROTC Cadets at both the University Minnesota and University Saint Thomas. Many Chapter members volunteer time to provide Cadets with mentoring programs to help in sharing what the Air Force was like for them.


The Rawlings Chapter continues to support the 934th AF Reserve Wing and 133rd Air National Guard Wing by recognizing outstanding Airmen and Women. Recognition for CAP, AFROTC, JROTC, Teacher of the Year, and Cyber Award recognizes outstanding performers with financial awards and membership.


In Montana we have two chapters. The Big Sky chapter in located in Great Falls and has 238 members. They support the 341st Missile Wing and the 120th Fighter Wing, MT ANG. They are working diligently to "Brand" AFA as the unit has had leadership challenges in the past, but have a bright future ahead. They are currently working on developing new leaders, presenting Airmen Leadership Awards, and setting up recruiting booths at some of Malmstrom AFB outdoor events this summer.


Our second chapter is in the process of being approved. It is located in Bozeman and will support the Montana State University AFROTC program. They plan to recruit new members at the Bozeman summer fair and the Three Forks Air Show. They are working on getting a professor to assist with CyberPatriot this fall. They support the "Wounded Warrior Wednesday" program. The Chapter works closely with the Cadets at MSU and is coordinating a possible visit from a member of congress. They are also working with the American Legion, and plan on participating in the Memorial Day parade.


Wisconsin is supported by our Billy Mitchell Chapter in Milwaukee with 651 members. They have been busy supporting local Civil Air Patrol Squadrons with grants for trips to a planetarium. They are planning a corn roast this spring. They also help local ROTC units with trips to Whiteman AFB. Chapter President Vic Johnson has been traveling around the states presenting awards to both JROTC and ROTC cadets.


North Dakota has three Chapters. The Happy Hooligan Chapter, with 109 members, supports the 119th Wing ND ANG. They raise revenue by participating in the Fargo Air Show by operating booths and parking cars. They support the AFJROTC program at Fargo South High School and the AFROTC program at North Dakota State University in Fargo. They also support veterans in the local VA hospital in Fargo.


The Red River Chapter in Grand Forks has 111 members. They support the 319th Wing at Grand Forks AFB. They also support the cadets at the University of North Dakota AFROTC. Some of their highlights include sponsoring a summer picnic on the base, handing out flags to persons entering base each Flag Day and supporting the Veterans at their home in Lisbon, ND.


The David C. Jones Chapter in Minot with 179 members supports the 91st Missile Wing and the 5th Bomb Wing. They are active at the base with sponsoring CCAF graduations, presenting Pitsenbarger Awards, providing meals to the families of deployed airmen and supporting the veterans in the area. Their largest event of the year is sponsoring their 31st Annual Awards Banquet where they provided a plaque and a meal to over 40 winners representing each squadron and group on base, to include the local CAP, JROTC and US Air Force Recruiter. Over 270 people attended recently, and the guest speaker was US Representative Rick Berg.


South Dakota has two chapters. The Rushmore Chapter with 198 members supports the 28th Bomb Wing at Ellsworth AFB. The Dacotah Chapter in Sioux Falls with 239 members supports the 114th Fighter Wing.






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