The Alumni of the Year that attended the last Snowball standing with Col. Sovada
This page is still under construction.
We are still looking for some documentation.
Frank S. Calenda
2016 ALUMNI OF THE YEAR
Frank started his Air Force career in August 1955 and was in one of the last flights to complete the 3
month basic training at Sampson AFB in upstate New York. He attended a year long school at Lowry
Air Force Base to become a Nuclear Weapons Technician, working on some of the earliest Strategic weapons in
America's arsenal. In 1960, he progressed to working with the nuclear warheads on the Atlas missiles at Offutt Air Force
Base and Titan missiles at Larson Air Force Base. In 1964, he was selected to attend AFTAC's year long "Q" systems class at Lowry. That was
followed with an assignment to the installations shop at McClellan. There, he installed "Q" equipment at several classified locations around the
world. In 1967, he left to become the Maintenance Technician at the remote Navy site H2 in northern
Iceland. The following year, he and his family were assigned to John Hay Air Base at Baguio City in the
Philippines. He was the Assistant Chief Operator at that location. In 1970, they left for an assignment to
Headquarters AFTAC in Alexandria where he worked in the Operations Directorate as the
Supervisor of the Q data terminal. The year 1972 brought the move of AFTAC to Patrick Air Force Base.
Frank joined the advance party in Florida and his task was to set-up the QSystem.
Shortly thereafter, Frank and his family were assigned to Det 422 at Misawa, Japan. Frank became
the “I” System Chief Operator at this location. The following year, they were sent to a classified OL
where he performed advisory duties for two years. In 1976, he was reassigned to AFTAC headquarters at
Patrick as the Superintendent of the Satellite Terminal until his retirement in April of 1978.
Following USAF retirement, Frank attended Brevard Community College where he attained an
Associate of Science degree in Bio Engineering and was immediately hired by the then Holmes Regional
Medical center in Melbourne as a medical equipment technician. He worked there for 10 years progressing
to the Director of the BioMedical department with prime duties in the Radiology Department. Because
of his experience with maintaining the cancer radiation treatment machine (a linear accelerator) he was
offered a position with Varian Associates Medical Division in Palo Alto, California. He completed his
BioMedical training with Varian through courses from Stanford University. He worked for Varian installing
the Accelerators at various medical facilities around the United States and Japan. Frank retired from the
work force in 1998.
Frank was married to his wife Edna in June 1959 in Hampton, New Hampshire. They have two boys.
Tony, their oldest son, graduated from Satellite High and joined AFTAC for his entire 22 year Air Force
career. Michael is an Associate Professor of Culinary Arts at Johnson and Wales University in Charlotte,
Frank, with the close support of Edna, has been a member of the AFTAC Alumni Association since 1978
when it was first formed by a small group of AFTAC retirees. Membership was around 40 members and
was then a venue for comradery and friendship. During General Clappers command of the
organization a number of years later, the formal Alumni Association was formed and members of the
initial group were awarded lifetime memberships for their initial efforts. Because of his extensive traveling
with his company early on, Frank’s involvement with the Association was minimal. Since his full retirement,
he has become quite active with our present organization involving himself in many active duty
functions in support of the Booster Club and other Alumni functions. Frank was the chair for the financial
database and overall registration for the 2015 Worldwide Reunion, not to mention his forming a
mini-reunion for Detachment 418 during the Denver, Colorado Worldwide Reunion in 2014. Frank is a
go-to guy and we salute his selection as the AOY.
Very Well Deserved!!
2016 ALUMNI OF THE YEAR
Sean stepped up in September, 2009, to offer his services as the Chapter Secretary for the FY2010 Board and has continued in that
position since. We spotlighted him in PM2010.04 so you’d know him a little better and since that time we
have learned just how invaluable he can be. In that issue we wrote, “By the way, nice picture,” we made sure we could do the same here.
Since becoming our Secretary, Sean has helped in innumerable ways, time and again, not only keeping the minutes of our minutes and distributing them, but
keeping the association on track and making arrangements for our meeting locations and times.
This has included meetings we have in the 'Headquarters Building' and our off-site meetings at the
‘Tides,’ ‘Golf-Course Clubhouse,’ ‘Marina & Yacht Club,’ and the ‘Riverside Dining Facility.’ This includes
last minute changes of dates and times and special meetings for the several events the association sponsors
and the upcoming ‘WorldWide 2015’ Reunion.’
Sean has stepped up more than once to help with our major annual event, ‘SnowBall,’ and was the
‘Major Arranger’ for the most recent in 2014.’ He also assisted with this years ‘Center Annual Spring Picnic.’
Finally, Sean recently added another board position, ‘Publicity,’ to his resume and has redefined that position
in a most positive manner. --Thank you, Sean, we salute you for the outstanding service you provide Alumni, and before that the Air
Force, 1982-2008, and AFTAC, 1998-2008.
Alumni of the year, 2013
MSgt (Ret) Lonnie Gibbons
Col Parker, AFTAC/CV, presents the ‘Space Coin’ Certificate of
Recognition and John Horsch the ‘Traditional T.’ Below, Ginny joins
Lonnie in this honor. Write-up below from nomination submission.
Lonnie and wife, Ginny, have
been active members of this
chapter since its establishment
in 1991. Lonnie has participated
in practically every membership
meeting and served on numerous
chapter event working committees
during the last twentytwo
years. His work especially
assisting with arranging and coordinating social events
including annual picnics and dinners, golf outings, and
worldwide reunions held here in Colorado, has greatly
contributed to sustaining this chapter’s longevity. For
many years he has been the key person obtaining refreshments,
ice, coolers and other supplies, and then
hauling them and setting up at picnics and ) reunions. He has
been the focal point for organizing and successfully
managing the hospitality rooms at several of our hosted
alumni reunions and especially the 2013 worldwide
reunion here in Aurora, Colorado. When the calls go
out for assistance, whether they be for help putting up
decorations for the chapter’s annual Veteran’s Day
dinner, providing food and refreshments after a golf
outing, or any activity, Lonnie & Ginny consistently answer
these calls - true AFTAC alumni team members.
Lonnie began his Air Force career in the administrative
field enlisting in 1956. His first assignment out of
basic training was a 12-month tour of duty in South
Korea. This was followed by another hardship assignment
lasting five years at the USAF Security Service
Language School at Indiana State University. During
this assignment he married Ginny and started a family.
He got his introduction to AFTAC when he was assigned
to SPINSTRA at Lowry AFB in 1964. This was
followed by an overseas assignment to Detachment
418, then back to Lowry AFB in 1968 being assigned
to Detachment 57. He served one more AFTAC overseas
assignment at Detachment 333 during the 1974- 75 timeframe prior to being assigned to Air Force Logistics
Command at Wright-Patterson AFB in Ohio.
After only a short time he was reassigned to Peterson
AFB in Colorado Springs and then back to Lowry AFB
where he retired from active duty in 1977. Lonnie
signed on with the Defense Investigative Service in
1982 and is now living the life of a retired civil servant.
Alumni of the year, 2012
MSgt (Ret) Gene and Dee Mechior
Gene and Dee accept the ‘Space Coin’ Certificate from our President,
Terry Hammond, following his announcement of their selection.
Picture by Judy Milam-Henderson
A highlight of our annual SnowBall gathering was our President, Terry Hammond, announcing Gene and Dee Melchoior were selected for this honor
by their peers of the years before. Gene and Dee's unflagging devotion to alumni, and the alumni assn, has been cumulative over the years and they have
never failed to be major supporters of this annual event and many others. They were presented our 'Space Coin' plaque and Gene the 'Traditional T.'
Other notable events of the evening were the invocation by Sean Ryan, our Secretary, who preceded his prayer by naming Sages, and Spouses, who have deceased
since last year’s Snowball, we had comments from AFTAC CC, Col Worley, and an exceptional Detachment 402 briefing by the Detachment
Chief, SMSgt John Shank, (who was here for the Center's Commander's Conference). Det 402 was honored at this event as our 'newest Det,' and 'Japan'
was our theme (Gene and Dee had the club-house decorated accordingly with many items from their travels and fellow colleague sages who donated items).
Dee made a short 'thank you' speech and Gene gave us a shout!! Later they wrote, "We totally enjoyed last night’s Snowball and to say the least, it was a wonderful
surprise to be given the award! Our association has so much shared history. It is our pleasure to be a part of the group! We thank everyone for this honor."
Gene, joined by Dee, accepts the ‘Alumni of the Year, 2012’ trophy
from Col Worley/CC and Chief Neri/CCS. Photo by Bob Wiley
Gene and Dee were also honored at the 'Center Annual Award Banquet' the following Tuesday evening (02.12) with a trophy bearing the 'Alumni
of the Year, 2012' Selection. (pictured above) NOTE 2: Gene and Dee had made ‘origami doves’ for the tables.
Later they sent note writing, “Please put the website listed below in the PoMo. Some folks at the SnowBall want to try the paper folding
Alumni of the year, 2011
This year's SnowBall was one of the best ever; food was great, Chief Nederhoed's Detachment 460 briefing was right on target, entertainment "rocked," and
having our 2011 ‘Alumni of the Year (AOY),’ Dale Klug, and spouse Rose, (pictured) travel from CA, rounded out the program.
We had sufficient time to socialize with all our alumni, active-duty and with a wonderful assortment of Hors d'oeuvres before our program
started. Bob Wiley treated us to a slide show featuring past SnowBall performances and a montage of activities in which
alumni members participated during the past year.
Chapter President, Terry Hammond, opened by introducing our dignitaries attending; Vice Commander Col Roberts,
Chief Scientist Dr. O'Brien, Director of Staff Mr. Whidden, Superintendent CMSgt Nederhoed, Historian Mr. Young, Inspector General
CMSgt Revels, Materials Director Dr. DeForest, Atmos/Space Directorate Lt Col Wingate, and Dale and Rose Klug. The Center's 'Commander's Conference'
had been delayed so we were not graced by Detachment 460 Commander’s, Major Johnson, attendance this year ... maybe we'll be back on track next year.
Then Rebecca Lehnerz performed the National Anthem acapella (great job). Following that Sean Ryan, our Chapter Secretary, led us in an invocation.
Dinner followed with a buffet that was excellent; the Grilled Salmon, Chicken Marsala, and Prime Rib were abundant with all the trimmings. The staff really did a
great job preparing and serving dinner. Their choice of dessert was perfect with a Vanilla Ice Cream Raspberry
Parfait to top off a scrumptious meal. I saw a lot of guests trying to get that last bit of ice cream from the
bottom of the parfait glass. No one went home hungry!
Chief Nederhoed gave us an excellent briefing on "A day at Det 460." He showed the diversity of the challenges
the detachment members face each day as they maintain the array of seismic equipment; from terrain, weather, wildlife, and giant mosquitoes. Having been
stationed at the detachment, Chief Nederhoed was an exceptional stand-in for the detachment commander.
At the shank of the evening Terry re-presented the 'Space Coin' ‘Alumni of the Year 2011’ plaque to Dale Klug; it had been presented initially when Dale's AOY
selection was announced at the California Chapter 'WorldWide Reunion' in May of last year. Dale had a few words of thanks and presented the Center with several
artifacts for the 'Hall of Heritage,' a plaque from now closed 'Technical Operations Division,' and a real
surprise when he donated an original coffee cup used by recently deceased (Aug), and beloved Center Icon, Mary Welch. She had asked him to hold the cup while
he was visiting with her at the HQ many years back and Dale had held on to it for all the ensuing years.
Keeping with the theme of this event, we then played several 'Alaska' knowledge quizzes-prizes were awarded by Gene and Dee Melchoir to the person who answered
the most questions correctly. Seems we had a tie between Sean Ryan (our own Chapter Secretary) and Dr. DeForest (TM Director). They both received
dinner gift cards. Many of us remained for much longer to enjoy the great music provided by Entertainer, Billy
Lee, and dancing that followed. At the end of the evening, most attendee's thought the music set just the right tone giving us mellow background music during the
meal and then stepping it up several notches afterward. Some admitted staying so late the South Gate was closed when they left and they had to make a Uturn
for the trek to the main gate!!
ALUMNI OF THE YEAR, 2010
Jack accepts trophy from Col Prupas, with Lloyd French, Alumni
President and John Nederhoed in attendance.
Wow, what a six-day period we had, Feb 05-10! It started
‘rollin’ with the ‘SnowBall’ and marched forward to
the ‘Center Annual Awards Banquet.’ These are annual
events made very special this year when our ‘Alumni of
the Year, 2010,’ Jack Smith, CO Chapter President,
showed his considerable respect for this once in a lifetime
honor. He, and his wife, Helen, traveled from their
home in the Denver area to be here in person to express
their unbrideled appreciation and humility for this
Jack and Helen started the recognition period by moving
into base dig’s right on the ocean arranged by
CMSgt John Nederhoed/CCS, with assistance from
CMSgt Dave Melton/TM, our assn vice. They were also
treated to a HQ Building and ‘Hall of Heritage’ tour by
CMSgt Steve Revels/IG. These experiences were just
the beginning as they were recognized at both the
‘SnowBall’ and the ‘Awards Banquet in a grand style.
A portion of the well attended ‘SnowBall’ (02.05) was
dedicated to Jack’s accomplishments and he had time
to speak to the group about what the honor meant to
him. It was very moving to hear him speak, meaning all
the more because of their efforts to be here. (much more
on the ‘SnowBall,’ with pictures, later in the issue, ‘Alumni Events’)
Jack, and others to be honored, made a grand entrance
into the ‘Center Awards Banquet’ on the following
Thursday by entering the room though ‘Arched Sabers,’
Other military ceremonies
prior to dining was
the ‘Presentation of
Colors’ by the
‘Honor Guard’ and
Table’ ceremony …
are made all
the more special as they are being done by our successor’s,
those currently serving AFTAC’s mission. There
was also an invocation by Chaplain Capt Williams and
the ‘National Anthem’ by Ms Rebecca Lehnerz, a member
of the ’Greenlight Band’ who has performed at numerous
AFTAC and Alumni events.
Walter ‘Jack’ Jackson
ALUMNI OF THE YEAR, 2009
Jack’s selection as our 15th AOY was announced on Jan 30th at SnowBall XII. Here we see him accepting
the ’Traditional T’ and our ’Space Coin’ plaque from Assn President, Lloyd French. In making the announcement,
Lloyd spoke of Jack’s accomplishments for the assn (see editorial), and his involvement with
veterans everywhere. For this ‘Salute,’ we asked Jack to provide information about himself. As you read
what follows, you will come to fully understand Jack’s selection for this honor.
Jack was born and raised in Philadelphia. After graduating from high school, he entered the Air Force,
completed basic training and received his first assignment as an Air Policeman at Craig AFB, Selma, Alabama.
After this assignment, he served at Bitburg Air Base Germany, George AFB, Victorville, California,
Danang Air Base Republic of South Vietnam, Langley AFB, Kusan Air Base, Korea and Patrick
While serving his country, Jack had the opportunity to do a lot of traveling and was in 13 countries around
the world. He was active in sports playing football in Germany and softball as a pitcher. He was also on the
Air Training Command swimming team in 1959 finishing third place in the 100 yard back stroke.
After retiring from the Air Force, Jack worked as a Veterans Employment Representative with the state
of Florida. After 22 years he called it quits and is now enjoying his retirement.
He is a member of the Vietnam Veterans of Brevard color guard, Paralyzed Veterans of America, Disabled
Americans, American Legion, VFW, Veterans Memorial Center, Brevard Veterans Council and the AFTAC
Alumni Association (being one of the first to join).
Jack is on the VVB Reunion Committee for the Vietnam Memorial Traveling Wall. He brought Stand
Down for homeless veterans to Brevard County. He also worked as a County Service Officer and was a
National Service Officer for the American Legion.
Jack is the proud father of two girls and two granddaughters. Unfortunately his wife of three years
passed away in November of 2009. He is proud to have served his country and enjoys volunteering
wherever needed and enjoys retirement to the fullest.
Robert ‘Bob’ Wiley
Alumni Of The Year, 2008!!
Bob is presented the traditional AOY ‘T’ by the
Florida Alumni Assn President, Lloyd French..
Bob was also recognized at the ‘Center Annual Awards Banquet’ in February, and will be again at the May
‘WorldWide Reunion.’ He has been a member of the association since his retirement in 1985. Over the years
he has been a mainstay contributing articles and photographs of the alumni activities for the Post-Monitor and
was association President, FY2007/08. During this time, he completed action for an LRD 50th Anniversary Commemorative
coin to ‘fly in space.’ This coin will be presented to the Center for display in the ‘Hall of Heritage,’
and the few remaining coins in this series will be presented to deserving alumni. Bob also took the lead in
encouraging additional participation in association management and increasing membership. He is Chair of the
2009 WorldWide Reunion Committee.
2007 ALUMNI OF THE YEAR
WILLIAM "BILL" SCHMIED
In a first for the association, the AOY selection
was made in May (usually, Dec-Jan), and announced
prior to the annual SnowBall (Jan-Feb).
We broke precedent to recognize a most deserving
individual in front of peers he serves so well
and at an event with a large, varied audience, the
2007 Colorado sponsored, WorldWide reunion.
The Colorado Chapter President, Jack Smith,
in a ceremony during the reunion banquet (6/10),
noted the many accomplishments Bill rendered
as a member and in serving on the board.
“He is a member of both the Colorado and Florida
chapters, where he is a Lifetime member. He
joined the CO chapter even before he retired in
1991 and since that time has served our chapter
very actively and has been a board member for
almost 15-years. He has been critical in the success
of our chapter since he first signed on and
has been deeply involved in every reunion, to include
this one, and every other facet of our chapters
The ceremony concluded with the AFTAC Commander,
Col Westergren, making the actual announcement
of Bill’s selection and presenting the
Other AOY’s in attendance included Frank Hall (98),
John Horsch (99), Joe Johnson (02), and Ginger
Vlassick representing Ben (00, deceased).
2006 ALUMNI OF THE YEAR
Congratulations Deborah for this important recognition during SnowBall IX. The highlight of the
annual event, the announcement recognizes the many contributions Deborah has made to supporting
alumni and the association-especially in the areas of reviewing portions of this publication
and her management of the annual SnowBalls.
Spotlighted in the September Post-Monitor last year, her alumni association peers selected her
for this honor. Her many accomplishments are detailed in that issue. Thank you Deborah and
we look forward to your continuing assistance. Additionally, Deborah was
recognized at the Center Annual Awards event. More on that, and a picture, in the ‘Center Annual Awards’ article
that follows and in the ‘Prez Sez’ column.
2005 ALUMNI OF THE YEAR
Mike accepting ‘AOY’ shirt from assn president, Carol Snyder
Mike is the associations’ original and continuing webmaster (www.aftacalumni.org). His selection
was announced at the SnowBall on January 28th, and he was also recognized at the Center
Annual Awards Banquet on March 2.
Mike’s service to the Air Force started in October, 1972. and to AFTAC in June, 1981, where
he served until his retirement in August, 1992. His AF assignments took him to Lowry, Eglin,
Aviano and Tyndall AFB’s, and his AFTAC duties were in Advanced Technology (with a side-trip to
TN) at the headquarters.
Mike joined the alumni at retirement and in
1996 he and two other members, Clark Creery, Mike Black, the association’s ‘Alumni Of The
Year,’ was among those honored; his wife, Toni,
was also there to enjoy the occasion.
Among the association members in attendance
were the President, Carol Snyder, past-Vice, Pat
Snyder, Dave O’Brien and wife, PJ, Chuck
McBrearty and wife Linda, John Loftis, John
Carson, Gary Killian, Dennis Gilroy and our
Post-Monitor rovin’ reporter and digipic photographer,
Bob Wiley and his wife Judith.
The Center Commander, Col. Turner, and Superintendent,
Chief French (both association
members), presided and presented the trophies.
Mike was recognized for his continuing contributions
to the Center and to the alumni (see the
page 1 ‘Salute’ for details).
The alumni attending were honored and rewarded
by being seated with the AFTAC Squadron
Commander, Maj Trevillin, and his First Sergeant,
SMSgt Parkhill, and at a table near the
dais with a clear view of the ceremonies and the
band stand . "Full Spectrum", the Band of the
USAF Reserve, from Warner-Robins provided
music for dining and a short program before the awards presentation. Following the presentations,
the ‘Green Light Band’ raised everyone's
spirits with a couple of rousing patriotic songs.
Col Tuner closed the presentations with a recap
of 2005 highlights on newcomers, transfers, retirements,
mission accomplishments, etc. He finished
with a recitation of what he called a "ditty",
"I Love AFTAC" (see active-duty pages).
Other alumni still serving AFTAC as Civil Service
who were honored included Gary Killian
and John Carson.
2004 ALUMNI OF THE YEAR
Your selection recognizes
time and service. And
this service has been long in
tenure and broad and deep
Joe began attending association
meeting even before
he retired, starting in 1991.
He currently serves as our treasurer and, in 1999,
served as our Vice President.
During this period Joe has never failed to step forward
to help in whatever endeavor the association
was involved in. He has personally managed several
golf tournaments, and was ‘Joe on the spot’ for
reunions and other association matters. He has
been a member since 1991.
Joe was born in North Carolina in 1949 and joined
the Air Force in Jan, 1968. He served in AFTAC
from 4/68 to 7/74 and 7/75 to 9/91. His final assignment
in AFTAC was as Manager, Treaty
Monitoring Operations Program. Joe retired as a
MSgt in September 1991. Joe's assignments include
American Samoa, Mindinao Philippines,
Wonju Korea, and several tours at Denver and
the various Headquarters locations. Joe was
one of the first AFTACers to perform Treaty directed
inspections on Soviet missiles.
Thanks Joe, for your service to this country, AFTAC,
and now the association. Your contributions
are truly appreciated. Congratulations again on
your selection as our 'Alumni of The Year, 2004.'
Joe’s selection was announced at the association’s
annual SnowBall on Feb 5th and he was
again recognized at the Center’s Annual Award
Banquet on March 3rd.
2001 ALUMNI OF THE YEAR
The highlight of our annual association Snow- Ball on February 18th was the announcement of the selection of Jim Payne as the '2001 Alumni of the Year.' He received a special coin that flew on the Shuttle Orbiter 'Atlantis' on the occasion of the Air Force, and AFTAC's, 50th anniversary (Sep-Oct '97). Jim will also be honored at the AFTAC Command Award ceremony on April 24th at the PAFB NCO Club, come on out and show your support (info. page 19).
At the presentation, Joe Marshall, Association President, noted that Jim began his Air Force career in October, '52. He first served in Ground Radio at Japan, NJ, and MS. In May '62, he was assigned to AFTAC initially serving in the 'R' technique. Jim worked at several detachments as well as at Denver, Germany and California. In 1981, Cot. 'Meis' selected him to the organization's highest enlisted post, 'Senior Enlisted Advisor,' and he served in this capacity until his retirement in '83.
Along the way. Jim earned a Master of Science degree in Management and was decorated with the Meritorious Medal and the Air Force Commendation Medal with one oak leaf cluster.
He has been an active supporter and lifetime member of the Alumni Association since the first year of its existence in 1985. In 1999, he accepted the Membership chair and has made notable contributions in that position.
Jim has implemented procedures and changed the membership data from a hardcopy status to a computer generated product, and at the same time linking the Worldwide Directory, Membership Directory and the individual data of 4000 records.
Jim has also established procedures to contact individuals who register on the web page and any member who 'overlooks' their dues. He makes them aware of the advantages of staying with, or joining, the alumni association in a very informal, friendly manner. Jim also handles all requests (letters, emails, packages), and ships any items ordered from the association's 'Shop.'
All in all, Jim does an outstanding service for your association. Thank you Jim, for your continuing service to the Air Force, AFTAC, and the Long-Range Detection Alumni Association.