Region Review: Northeast Region
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The Northeast Region (NeR) is comprised of New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania. There is a state organization for each state with currently seven chapters in both NJ and NY. Since my last report fourteen months ago, PA had to close two chapters and now has 10 active chapters. Total region membership is about 5,500. Chapter size ranges from a few small chapters of 40 to 60 members to the largest chapter #202, Long Island, with about 660 members.
The Region has a limited active military service presence near AFA chapters with JB McGuire in NJ, West Point in NY, and the Carlisle Barracks in PA, home to the Army War College. Chapters in each state actively support their respective ANG and Reserve units where available. However, the majority of chapter activities are focused on support of cadets, veterans, aerospace education, Air Force heritage and Community activities. The following will highlight just some of the chapter programs being conducted:
State President: Howard Leach
State VP Aerospace Education: Jerry Iacona
The Sal Capriglione Chapter 190, led by Anthony Devino,primarily supports the AFROTC Detachment 490 at NJ Institute of Technology, Newark, NJ. They continue to provide cadets with cash and membership awards. In the past, they have provided new furniture for the cadet lounge. Further, during the holidays, chapter members have set up a display table to honor and remember POW/MIAs at a Home Depot store holiday party.
The Hangar One Chapter 192, led by Nick Mullaney selected Amanda Galante as Chapter Teacher of the Year for her work as mentor to the CyberPatriot III Open Division winning team at Red Bank Regional High School, Little Silver, NJ. She was subsequently selected as the State Teacher of the Year and is being nominated this year for National Teacher of the Year. Further, they supported Alexander Scott's Eagle Scout project with funding to identify and record about 400 veterans in a cemetery in Neptune, NJ, the oldest veteran dating to the War of 1812. He used the AFA and other funding to erect a sign with the veterans' names engraved on aluminum sheets along with a roof to protect it from the weather. For more details, see "So That We Won't Overlook a Vet" article, AF Magazine, March 2012, under National Report, p. 81 or online at: http://www.airforce-magazine.com/MagazineArchive/Pages/2012/March%202012/0312NatRep.aspx .
The Shooting Star Chapter 195 is named after the "Shooting Stars" emblem of the WWI 22nd Aero Squadron commanded by then 1st Lt Arthur Raymond Brooks. Brooks was a long-time member of the Chapter. At the March meeting a special program was conducted to recognize the chapter's aviation heritage. Susan Loricchio, Chapter VP of Government Affairs, a private pilot, and 99, gave a presentation on Aline Rhonie - a 1930's aviatrix and painter. Ms. Rhonie painted a fresco mural "Timeline of Aviation" in a hangar at Roosevelt Field, Long Island, NY. It was 109 feet long and included all planes and famous pilots from 1909 to 1927. It was professionally removed and is currently in storage with plans to restore it at Vaughn College of Aeronautics and Technology, Queens, NY. The Chapter sponsors a Teacher of the Year, a Visions program, promotes CyberPatriot Open Division with entry fees, and presents yearly Aerospace Education awards to two CAP squadrons. The Chapter received a 2010-2011 Community Partner Achievement Award due to the efforts of long-time Treasurer and Community Partner VP Amos Chalif.
The Mercer County Chapter 293, led by Steve LaPoint, is one of the most active chapters, holding monthly breakfast and dinner meetings. They support community events including Toys for Tots, placing flags on vets' graves for Memorial Day, and the "Secondwind.org" veterans program that allows those at the Veteran's Home, Vineland, NJ, to receive a "wish" of an item or activity. Last year, they gave an 88-year-old WW II veteran a plane ride and another veteran an official USAF leather jacket. They will grant another vet a plane ride wish this year. The Chapter was a 2011 Community Partner Member Gold Award recipient. With an eye to expanding support for STEM, Jerry Iacona, Chapter and NJ Aerospace Education VP and Executive Director of the NJ Aviation Education Council, held a teacher workshop on incorporating aviation into the classroom at Mercer County College, Windsor, NJ, on April 28th.
The General Fred Castle Chapter 310, led by George Filer, is named after Brigadier General Frederick Walker Castle, a West Point graduate, who was the recipient of the Medal of Honor for service in WWII. The chapter's primary efforts are in support of the Air Victory Museum, Medford, NJ. They also have been active with local JROTC and CAP units.
The High Point Chapter 374, led by Chaplain Richard "Doc" Ball, US Army, participated in an annual veterans fund raiser sponsored by the Armed Forces Relief Committee. It raises funds for a number of local veteran organizations' donations providing $250 to each of multiple beneficiaries including the AFA HQ Wounded Airman Project. The chapter also supports the local Picatinny CAP Squadron with awards and cadet memberships. They are planning a trip to the USS Intrepid, NYC, and working to get NJ AFA custom license plates as another revenue producing activity.
The Thomas B. McGuire, Jr. Chapter 360, led by Capt Jennifer Condon-Pracht, organized and hosted last year's New Jersey State Convention at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, NJ. Attendees included New Jersey's Teacher of the Year, mentor to the CyberPatriot III Open Division championship team, along with the team members and classmates. The convention provided tours of the C-17A and KC-10 and a moving speech by Major John D. Foy of the 621st Contingency Response Wing. The event was hailed as the "best State Convention this organization has seen in a long time" by an attendee, and was a fun and educational event for all. The Chapter sponsored four Visions STEM teacher programs, had six CyberPatriot teams competing within its area, and presented Pitsenbarger Awards to CCAF Graduates. It also supports the Warm Heart spouse program for active, ANG, and Reservist service members on deployment. Members also laid "Wreaths Across America" wreaths on graves at the Arlington National Cemetery in mid December. Finally, they sponsored the Blended Wing senior design project of Christopher Handy, a Rutgers University engineering student, with $1,000 in funding from Chapter, State and national matching funds. See an article and picture (online only) in AF Magazine, April 2012, under National Report, p.74 or online at http://www.airforce-magazine.com/MagazineArchive/Pages/2012/April%202012/0412NatRep.aspx .
State President: Maxine Rauch
Staten VP Aerospace Education: Michael Szymczak
Remembering Pearl Harbor continues to be a major event for Long Island Chapter 202. President Fred Di Fabio organizes "The Dropping of the Roses" at Long Island's Airpower Museum in Farmingdale. On December 7, 2011, the ceremony commemorated the 70th anniversary of the attack with 70 red roses, one for each year since 1941. The roses were loaded on an AT-6 and flown to the Statue of Liberty where the roses were dropped into the water at exactly 12:55 PM. This event was transmitted live to a TV news program in New York City. For more information on this event see Air Force Magazine article http://www.airforce-magazine.com/MagazineArchive/Pages/2012/February%202012/0212NatRep.aspx
The Chapter continues to recognize veterans with its special Jubilee of Liberty Medal Ceremony, which honors veterans who fought during the Normandy Invasion on June 6, 1944. This is accomplished in conjunction with the chapter's Education Recognition and Awards Luncheon to honor the chapter's selection of a Long Island Teacher of the Year, a Community Leader, a Visions of Exploration Teacher, Visions of Exploration Student Essay Winners and a high school student for the $1,000 scholarship award in memory of WW II Ace Col. Francis S. Gabreski.
Iron Gate Chapter 275 celebrated its 50th Anniversary on July 28th, 2011 after a year of hard and detailed planning. The chapter continues to meet at the renowned and prestigious Manhattan "21" Club where the AFA founders originally met. Chapter President Frank Hays stated that the celebration honored Chief of Staff General Norton A. Schwartz, USAF and General J. Stanley Holtoner, known as the "The Father of Edwards Air Force Base" with H.H. Arnold Fellows Awards and paid homage to Colonel Maxwell "Mac" Kriendler, Iron Gate's Founder. For more details see the Air Force magazine article http://www.airforce-magazine.com/MagazineArchive/Pages/2011/October%202011/1011NatRep.aspx
The chapter continues to excel in its commitment to aerospace education by granting ten Jimmy Doolittle Education Fellowships at $1,000 each and supporting the Tuskegee Airmen Heritage Essay Contest, to name just a few programs.
Genesee Valley Chapter 308 in Rochester continues to host the Air Force Academy Hockey Team when it travels to play RIT (Rochester Institute of Technology). The chapter coordinates a night of fun and fellowship with Air Force supporters, which includes the Parents Group and other Air Force organizations in Western New York State. Chapter President Al Smith has stated that the chapter has been working with the Veterans memorial and Executive Council for more than ten years to help conduct the yearly legislative breakfast, the four chaplains service and the Memorial Day parade.
The Albany-Hudson Valley Chapter 197 led by Chapter President Michael Szymczak has been active in the Air Power Advocate Program by writing several articles for local newspapers. The chapter continues to support "Salute to Veterans" programs in the local area. In addition, the chapter participated in events where they could provide AFA positions on Defense and Veterans issues to local Congressmen and their legislative aides. Members of the Chapter also provided similar information through outreach to non-AFA audiences. Most notably, Chapter 197 provided continued support to AFROTC Detachment 550 at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York, by providing financial support to the Arnold Air Society as well as awarding the Brother Leo Merriman Award for leadership to a deserving cadet.
The smallest in the state, Chatauqua Chapter 338 led byPresident Steve Kockler held a special meeting to honor one of its own charter members. The Chapter Treasurer, John Householder, at 95 is still going strong. The dinner meeting was to honor his more than 40 years of dedicated service to AFA.
State President Robert Rutledge
State VP Aerospace Education Thomas G. Baker
Lt. Col. B.D. "Buzz" Wagner Chapter 221 is the recipient of the 2011 Unit Exceptional Service Award - Veterans Affairs. The award was for the re-internment ceremonyofrecently discovered remains of Lt. Col. Wagner. See the Air Force Magazine article for more details. http://www.airforce-magazine.com/MagazineArchive/Pages/2011/January%202011/0111NatRep.aspx
The current project builds on that effort and was started in the summer of 2011 to exhibit Buzz Wagner artifacts at the Johnstown Heritage Discovery Center. The center gets approx. 50,000 visitors over any given year, so the exposure to local history and AFA has been expanded. The exhibit is ongoing as newly acquired artifacts are received. The chapter has also started a project to erect a P-40 Warhawk replica at the local airport and is also taking steps to have the airport road honorably designated Buzz Wagner Highway. The chapter will also honor two local CyberPatriot teams for their accomplishments in the recent competition with banners for display in the gymnasiums.
The Liberty Bell Chapter 223 led by President Bud Hamman, is the largest chapter in the state and is located in Philadelphia - naturally! The chapter has sponsored Trophies for the top two AFJROTC units in the City Wide Drill Competition that involves 15 Junior ROTC units of all services. Drastic changes in the Philadelphia School District Headquarters resulted in the chapter not being able to support the effort this past February. On a happier note, the chapter's Teacher of the Year won the State Teacher of the Year. This is the second year in a row that the chapter's candidate has won the state honor.
The chapter continues to support the 111th TFW PA-ANG at Willow Grove. The BRAC eliminated the A-10 flying mission and for over a year the unit did not have a new mission. In February it was announced that the unit would have an MQ-1/9 mission. The chapter will evaluate options for supporting the wing as it transitions.
Lehigh Valley Chapter 274 President Gerald Still participates and supports the Lehigh Valley Military Affairs Council and the Lehigh Valley Veterans Roundtable with the recording of WWII veterans' histories. The chapter, along with chapter member CAP Major Maurice Connor, plays a lead role at the Civil Air Patrol Hawk Mountain Training School near Allentown, PA.
Total Force Chapter 329 provides support to local JROTC and CAP awards programs. In previous years, chapter president Lee Niehaus and other chapter members manned an informational booth at The Wings Over Pittsburgh Air Show. Chapter members are also deeply involved with the Western Pennsylvania Military Coalition and are currently supporting its effort to save the 911th Air Lift Wing, Air Force Reserve, in Pittsburgh.
Pocono North East Chapter 354 primarilyfocuses on veterans. Every December President Joe Sylvester and other chapter members along with Santa Claus visit the Gino Merli Veterans Center and the VA hospital and distribute gifts to the residents. Also, at various times during the year, the chapter takes a number of residents of the VA home out to breakfast to a local restaurant. The chapter also participates in annual Veterans Day and Memorial Day parades and other veterans associated events in the Wilkes-Barre- Scranton area.
Altoona Chapter 350, ledby Thomas Baker,the smallest chapter in the state, is involved in Armed Forces Day activities at the James E. Van Zandt VA Medical Center each May. The chapter, along with the Civil Air Patrol of Altoona, set up a booth to educate the public about the Air Force Association. Chapter members also serve on the Armed Forces Day Committee representing the Air Force.
Each year the chapter conducts the Cadet of the Year Board for the Civil Air Patrol Squadron in Altoona area and presents the outstanding cadet with a plaque. Last November, the chapter also conducted the board for Area 5 of the CAP in State College and presented two awards for squadrons in State College and Phillipsburg. The chapter has conducted programs for veterans in area nursing homes on Valentine's Day and Veterans Day.
Joe Walker Chapter 388 alsoplays an active role in the annual Wings Over Pittsburgh Air Show at the 911th Airlift Wing, Greater Pittsburgh International Airport. Chapter President Doug May and other chapter members combined with members from Chapter 329, support an AFA information booth at the air show as well as providing support to the air show staff. The chapter also participates annually in the Veterans Day Parade in Charleroi PA. According to past chapter president Jim Cain, they march along with the TREA and their float. The chapter supplies a car with the AFA signs on it for the parade. The chapter also participates in the 4th of July parade in Latrobe, PA. Chapter members are also deeply involved with the Western Pennsylvania Military Coalition and are currently supporting its efforts to save the 911th Air Lift Wing, Air Force Reserve, in Pittsburgh.