Good Hits: 26891

Next Meeting: 12/12/2016
1130 - 1230 Hrs
Beef O'Brady's Restaurant, Satellite Beach


NOTICE: This is a Private Organization. It is not part of the Department of Defense or any of its components and it has no governmental status.

The 'AFTAC Alumni Association' provides a forum for those wishing to maintain a relationship with the center and its people, active-duty and retired. Membership is open to past/present employees of all organizations associated with Long Range Detection, (AFMSW-1, 1009th SWS, AFOAT-1, 1035th FAG, 1035th TOG, LRDAA and AFTAC), and any subordinate field detachment.

Winter Social Flier
Winter Social
Winter Social
Winter Social

Please be patient.
Sometimes it take a while to download a video

Video by Frank Calenda

Please be patient.
Sometimes it take a while to download a video

Video by Judy Henderson

Please be patient.
Sometimes it take a while to download a video

Video by Clark Creery

Please be patient.
Sometimes it take a while to download a video

Video by Clark Creery

Please be patient.
Sometimes it take a while to download a video

Video by Clark Creery

History of AFTAC Alumni Association
On March 12, 1985, the AFTAC Commander, Colonel James R. Clapper invited a group of retired and active duty AFTAC’ers to meet with him. He requested that they form an AFTAC Alumni Association (AFTACAA). It was established at that time, a Board of Directors was elected and it was chartered in 1986

This association was established to provide a forum for members wishing to maintain a relationship with AFTAC and its people, both active duty and retired. The membership is open to all those who serve and who have served with the mission of this organization and its field detachments since its inception. This is to include all ancillary support venues such as Security Police, Administrative, Personnel and Civilians.

We function as three independent groups. Besides our association, they include the California and the Colorado chapters.
Florida Alumni Association
Dues are $10 yearly (1 October through 30 September)
Lifetime membership $75
Monthly meetings are designated to be held the second Monday of each month at 1600hrs. They are generally held at the AFTAC Headquarters but can be scheduled for other locations. Dates, times and venues are subject to change and can be found on this website’s menu item “Calendar of Events” Mailing address is:
    Po Box 254892
    Patrick AFB, Fl 32925-0892

We have several communications resources:
    Post Monitor Newsletter (PoMo):
        Namesake of the prior active duty “Monitor” Publication
    An active website containing:
        Breaking News, job offers, event photos and much more.
    An instant email notification:
        Service to all members with important news. Acronym
is “eAll”

Our Board of Directors quinquennials (5 or more years in one or several
offices )
    Clark Creery
        Newsletter, 1985/1989 through 1995 (7 years)
        President, 1994 through 1995 (1 year)
        Webpage/Membership, 2001 through 2016 (15 years)
    Frank Hall
        President/Vice President, 1989 through 1998 (9 years)
    Judy Milam
        President, 2004 (1 year)
        Secretary, 1989 through 2006 (17 years)
        Hospitality, From 2001 to Present (15 years)
    Eunice Harris
        Hospitality, 1989 through 2000 (11 years)
    Mary Welch
        Membership, 1991 through 1999 (8 years) (Deceased)
    Carl Gailey
        Treasurer, 1991 through 1999 (8 years) (Deceased)
    Swede Swansen
        Publications, 1993 through 2006 (13 years)
    John and Chris Horsch
        Post Monitor Newsletter, 1996 to Present (20 years) (Chris Deceased)
    Pat Snyder
        Insider/Sage Shop, 1996 through 2010 (14 years)
        Vice President, 2004 (1 year)
    Mike Black
        Webmaster, 1996 through 2010 (14 years)
    Jim Payne
        Membership, 1999 through 2004 (5 years)
    Joe Goldian
        Treasurer, 2003 to Present (13 years)
    Randy Vlassick
        Membership 2004 through 2009 (5 years)
    Sean Ryan
        Secretary, 2009 through 2015 (6 years)
        Social Events, 2010 through Present (6 years)
    Steve Revels
        Sage Shop, 2010 through 2016 (6 years)
California Chapter
Formed in 1999
Dues are $10– Lifetime membership $75
Publish a newsletter – Depot Fallout
For more information click here or email: tod.alumni@aftaccc.org
Postal Mailing address:
    Alumni Association
    PO Box 3974
    Citrus Heights, CA 95611-3974

Colorado Chapter
Formed in 1986
Dues are $5 per year
Publish a newsletter – Echoes
General membership meetings are normally scheduled twice per year usually in the first and third calendar quarters
Several social events are held each year
For more information click here or email: aftacco.org

World wide reunions are held every two years in a rotation between chapters. Information on these reunions will be initially sent in an eAll and followed by articles in the PoMo’s, the chapter newsletters and articles in this website.

The Air Force Technical Applications Center (AFTAC) provides national authorities quality technical measurements to monitor nuclear treaty compliance and develops advanced proliferation monitoring technologies to preserve our nation’s security. It is the sole organization in the federal government whose mission is to detect and report technical data from foreign nuclear explosions.

Consisting of more than 3,600 sensors worldwide, AFTAC operates and maintains a global network of nuclear event detection equipment called the U.S. Atomic Energy Detection Systems (USAEDS), the largest sensor network in the U.S. Air Force. Once a disturbance is detected underground, underwater, in the atmosphere or in space, the event is analyzed for nuclear identification, and the findings are reported to national command authorities.

AFTAC’s nuclear event detection mission is directly linked to its nuclear treaty monitoring mission. AFTAC monitors signatory countries’ compliance with the 1963 Limited Test Ban Treaty. This treaty prohibits nuclear testing anywhere but underground and prohibits the venting of nuclear debris or radiation from those tests into the atmosphere outside the country’s national borders. AFTAC also monitors the Threshold Test Ban Treaty of 1974 and the Peaceful Nuclear Explosion Treaty of 1976. The 1974 treaty limits the size of underground nuclear tests to 150 kilotons, while the 1976 treaty prohibits the testing of nuclear devices outside of agreed treaty sites.

AFTAC is on the leading edge of technological research and the evaluation of verification technologies for current and future treaties involving weapons of mass destruction which threaten our national security. In 2014, AFTAC supplemented its extensive network of contracted laboratories by opening its state-of-the-art Ciambrone Radiochemistry Lab to analyze and assess compliance with nuclear weapons testing in support of USAEDS and AFTAC’s Nuclear Debris Collection and Analysis Program. The 38,000 square foot lab filled a void created when the center’s central laboratory at McClellan AFB, Calif. closed after the 1995 Base Realignment and Closure actions.

AFTAC employs more than 1,000 personnel and boasts a highly educated force possessing 171 associate degrees, 121 bachelor’s degrees, 214 master’s degrees and 63 doctorate degrees.

AFTAC is a surveillance organization subordinate to 25th Air Force, an Air Combat Command Numbered Air Force, located at Lackland AFB, Texas. AFTAC is located at Patrick AFB on Florida’s east coast, less than 30 miles south of the Kennedy Space Center. AFTAC includes nine detachments, six operating locations and more than 60 unmanned equipment locations around the world supporting AFTAC’s long range nuclear detection mission. In addition, AFTAC manages 11 world-class laboratories to assist the International Atomic Energy Agency with the promotion of safe, secure and peaceful use of nuclear technologies. In 2015, AFTAC became a wing-level organization within the Air Force, paving the way for partial unitization with the establishment of squadrons. This organizational restructure better reflects the center’s global mission importance. Since becoming a wing equivalent, AFTAC activated five newly-designated squadrons in October 2015 to better align with the wing structure. The new squadrons are the Technical Surveillance Squadron, the Technical Operations Squadron, the Technical Support Squadron, the Technical Sustainment Squadron, and the Cyber Capabilities Squadron.

Soon after the end of World War II, Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower recognized the need to monitor nuclear programs. In 1947 he directed the Army Air Forces to develop technologies capable of detecting “atomic explosions anywhere in the world.” In 1949, a particulate sampler aboard an Air Weather Service modified B-29 flying between Alaska and Japan detected debris from the first Russian atomic test – an event experts predicted could not happen until the mid-1950s.

As the Air Force activated AFTAC in 1959 to prepare to monitor compliance with the Limited Test Ban Treaty (LTBT), AFTAC assumed some responsibilities for the USAEDS and the advancement of Long Range Detection capabilities. Over time, AFTAC’s various programs evolved into a unique resource system monitoring compliance with nuclear treaties; supporting our nation’s space program; and helping to protect citizens during emergencies involving nuclear materials.

Over the years, the Air Force tasked the nuclear treaty monitoring center to conduct short-notice collection operations. In April 1986, AFTAC responded to the Ukrainian nuclear accident at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in the former Soviet Union. In total, AFTAC flew 55 sorties compiling 502 flying hours, and AFTAC’s McClellan Central Laboratory processed 354 samples and logged more than 2,500 man-hours.

In October 2006, AFTAC detected an event associated with North Korea’s claim of a nuclear test and later provided verification of the nuclear event to national authorities.

More recently, the center supported Operation Tomodachi, the U.S. government’s response to the 9.0 earthquake and subsequent tsunami that hit Japan. The Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant experienced a nuclear meltdown in three of the plant’s six nuclear reactors. AFTAC personnel flew nine nuclear debris collection sorties, processing 342 seismic events, and analyzed 660 samples from the affected Pacific peninsula.

In the summer of 2015, AFTAC led the removal of 10 Radioactive Thermoelectric Generators, or RTGs, from Alaska, which were no longer required to power AFTAC’s seismic array. The power source was the Air Force’s largest source of sensitive radioactive material. This endeavor safely and successfully removed nuclear radiation from the environment and eliminated a potential source of material for use by terrorists in improvised radiological explosive devices or dirty bombs.

In December 2015, the IAEA released its final assessment on “Past and Present Outstanding Issues” regarding Iran’s nuclear program. AFTAC provided trace forensic analysis of samples supporting the IAEA’s mission to monitor Iranian compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. As a major component of the IAEA’s network of analytical labs, AFTAC’s analysis was foundational to the report.

AFTAC is also on the forefront of protecting the homeland as it establishes an array of sensors across the United States as part of the National Technical Nuclear Forensics program. This program is designed to collect forensic analysis after detonations to aid the Federal Bureau of Investigation in attributing attacks on U.S. soil to foreign governments or terrorist entities to swiftly bring those responsible to justice. AFTAC’s efforts are making the Department of Defense’s vision to protect U.S. personnel and interests from the threat of a domestic nuclear detonation a reality.

Today, AFTAC continues to improve the USAEDS. As the nation’s caretaker of USAEDS, AFTAC works closely with the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization in Vienna, Austria. Together, both parties are significantly improving the International Monitoring System (IMS). In fact, AFTAC now contributes six of its U.S.-based USAEDS seismic monitoring stations to the IMS.

(Current as of March 2016)

Point of Contact
AFTAC Public Affairs
(321) 494-7688

Minutes of Last Meeting

AFTAC Alumni Association: The monthly meeting of the AFTAC Alumni Association was held on Oct 11th at AFTAC in the lobby conference room at 4:00. Members present were Lou Seiler, Ed Lindsay, Frank Calenda, Joe Goldian, Gene Melchior, Dee Melchior, Bob Wiley, John Howorth, Terry Hammond, Judy Henderson, Eilean Best, John Horsch, Sean Ryan and Arlin Massey.

New Members/Guest: None.

Approval of Minutes: With no changes to the minutes noted, John Horsch made the motion that they be approved as presented. Lou Seiler seconded. Motion carried.

Comments by AFTAC CC/CV: AFTAC CC/CV not present.

AFTAC Command Chief: Command Chief not present. However Chief Howorth did say that the base clinic would be closed until further notice.

Treasurers Report: Joe Goldian reported we have $4690.54 in checking. With no changes to the treasurer’s report, Sean Ryan made the motion that it be approved as presented. John Horsch seconded. Motion carried. (OPEN)

Membership Report: Although Michael Steskal was unable to attend, he provided his report via email. He sent an eALL to 55 members notifying them that their dues were pending. Since the eAll, 16 dues were received with 2 of those being life time. With no changes to the minutes noted, Joe Goldian made the motion that they be approved as submitted. Lou Seiler seconded. Motion carried. (OPEN)

Post Monitor: John Horsch discussed adding all past PoMo’s to the new web site and the need for them to be converted to PDF (Portable Document Format) first. (OPEN)

Historian: Dr. Mike Young not present.

Heritage Committee: Bob Wiley said he has 2 complete nominations and a third could be submitted with supporting documentation.

SAGE Shop: MSgt Aaron Trudel was not present. Steve Revels was contacted and he said he used an excel ledger and he has no funds remaining, and apparently, none are due him. MSgt Trudel is still looking for a replacement for himself within the building. (OPEN)

IT Committee: After a short discussion we agreed to change the committee title to website vice IT. Discussion about availability of the new website in the bldg. Not likely since the current website isn’t available in the bldg. Also since Pete Gilbert is receiving an over whelming number of emails, he will create a new email address specifically for the new web site. John Horsch made a motion that the report be approved as presented. Arlin Massey second. Motion carried. (OPEN)

AFTAC Cares Program: Sean Ryan said the next meeting is Nov 3rd. (OPEN)

2017 Snow Ball: Sean Ryan reported that the price will be $30 per person with tickets going on sale Dec 14th. Entrees will consist of Chicken Champagne, Pork Loin, and Vegetable Pasta Primavera. Additional information is available in the current PoMo and the Active Duty/AFTAC Association Calendar of Events. After a short discussion concerning decorations, Judy Henderson volunteered to head up decorating. John Horsch made a motion that $200 be allocated for decorating, Joe Goldian seconded. Motion carried. (OPEN)

Toilet Bowl: Cancelled due to hurricane Matthew. A new date is currently TBD. (OPEN)

Winter Social: There is a planning meeting scheduled on October 12th to discuss the details of the Winter Social on Dec 9th at the Hilton.
2016 Holiday basket: Discussion concerning how much we want to spend on the holiday basket, seed money, selling tickets and building our own basket. Judy Henderson made a motion that we provide $300 toward the holiday basket/winter social. Sean Ryan seconded. Motion Passed. (OPEN)

2016 Annual Fall Golf N’Get Together: The event is set for November 4th at the Manatee Cove Golf Course, Patrick AFB. See the PoMo and calendar of events for details. Items from the floor: Ed Lindsay provided donor/sponsor letters that can be given to business who we think may make a contribution.

AOY: Lou Seiler discussed the AOY coin being produced so that the recipient’s name can be engraved on the coin vice producing the coin with a name. (OPEN)
Adjournment: With no further business, Goldian made a motion that we adjourn. Judy Henderson seconded. Motion Carried.

Next Meeting: The next AFTAC Alumni Association meeting will be held on Monday, November 14th at 4:00, at AFTAC in the lobby conference room.

Arlin Massey Secretary,
AFTAC Alumni Association

Agenda for Next Meeting

New Members/Guests Present
Minutes of Meeting on 11 October 2016
Comments by AFTAC CC/CV
Comments by AFTAC Command Chief
Treasurer's Report
Membership Report
Post Monitor Report
Website Committee Report
AFTAC Historian
Heritage Committee

Old Business
    AFTAC CARES Program
    2017 Snowball
    2016 Winter Social
    2016 Holiday Gift Basket
    2016 Toilet bowl wrap up
    2016 Fall Golf N’GetTogether update

New Business
    Next Meeting
        Monday 12 December 2016
        Beef O'Bradys, Satellite Beach
        11:30 Meeting (have room from 11:00)

For the Good of the Association – All
20 Year Wall Honorees
  • Ace, Jerry A.
  • Alexander, William N.
  • Amerena, Joe D.
  • Aning, Harm F.
  • Baker, Harold M.
  • Balentine, Robert A.
  • Blau, Robert O.
  • Breitweieser, Kenneth
  • Butler, Charles A.
  • Calenda, Anthony R.
  • Ciambrone, Thomas W.
  • Cronin, George E.
  • Dahlgren, Arthur L.
  • Davis, James C.
  • DeMarco, Anthony S.
  • DeSrosier, Charles P.
  • Draper, Reginald A.
  • Fish, Norman A.
  • Fuhr, William R.
  • Gailey, Carl W.
  • Gardiner, Edward T.
  • Gonzales, George A.
  • Harris, Eunice
  • Horsch, John T.
  • Huhs, Harold L.
  • Iske, Margaret A.
  • Johnson, Joseph M.
  • Jones, Robert H.
  • Klug, Dale E.
  • LaBarre, Gerald R.
  • Lucas, James S.
  • Magness, John H.
  • McBrearty, Charles
  • McGettigan, John W.
  • Milam, Judithe E.
  • Mirda, George M.
  • Murray, Gregory A.
  • Myers, Kenneth L.
  • Noe, Steve
  • Nolan, Dennis P.
  • O'Brien, David F.
  • Olmsted, George B.
  • Osborne, William
  • Ovitsky, Felix W.
  • Paquette, David W.
  • Pavik, A. L.
  • Phillips, Richard S.
  • Post, Robert A.
  • Secoy, Jon B.
  • Silhanek, Larry D.
  • Snelgrove, Robert B.
  • Stack, Paul V.
  • Sullivan, Thomas D.
  • Sykes, Teddie E.
  • Vlassick, Benjamin P.
  • Vlassick, Randall
  • Warfield, Carol
Wall of Honor WallofHonor.png
  • Walter Singlevich
  • Doyle Northrup
  • Frank Pilotte
  • Charles McBrearty
  • Marvin Owen
  • Marcel Kniedler
  • Tom Ciambrone
  • Delbi Solari
  • Carl Romney
  • Kathy Leggett
  • Thomas Niquette
  • Howard Hayden
  • Michael Harkins
  • Charles Butler
  • Gerald Leies
Alumni of the Year
  • Frank Calenda-2015 *
  • Sean Ryan-2014 *
  • Lonnie Gibbons-2013 *
  • Gene & Dee Melchior-2012 *
  • Dale Klug-2011 *
  • Jack Smith-2010 *
  • Jack Jackson-2009 *
  • Bob Wiley-2008 *
  • Bill Schmied-2007 *
  • Deborah Carson-2006 *
  • Mike Black-2005 *
  • Joe Goldian-2004 *
  • Pat Snyder-2003
  • Joe Johnson-2002
  • Jim Payne-2001 *
  • Ben Vlassick-2000
  • John & Christel Horsch-1999
  • Frank Hall-1998
  • Judy Milam-1997
  • Carl Gailey-1996
  • Clark Creery-1995
Some AOY

The Alumni of the Year that attended the last Snowball standing with Col. Sovada

Not Included

This page is still under construction.
We are still looking for some documentation.

Frank S. Calenda

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 Frank Calenda 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, North Carolina.

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!!

Sean Ryan

Sean stepped up in September, 2009, to offer his services as the Chapter Secretary for the FY2010 Board and has continued in that ryan.png 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.

gibbons1.png 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 art. Thanks.”

Alumni of the year, 2011
Dale Klug

klug.png 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!!

Jack Smith


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 selection.

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,’ pictured here. Other military ceremonies performed prior to dining was the ‘Presentation of Colors’ by the ‘Honor Guard’ and the ‘POW/MIA Table’ ceremony … these presentation’s 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

Jack’s selection as our 15th AOY was announced on Jan 30th at SnowBall XII. Here we see him accepting Jacson.png 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 AFB, Florida.

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.



In a first for the association, the AOY selection schmied2.png 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 operation.”

The ceremony concluded with the AFTAC Commander, Col Westergren, making the actual announcement of Bill’s selection and presenting the ’Traditional T.’

Other AOY’s in attendance included Frank Hall (98), John Horsch (99), Joe Johnson (02), and Ginger Vlassick representing Ben (00, deceased).



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.



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.



Congratulations Joe. Your selection recognizes your extensive time and service. And this service has been long in tenure and broad and deep in application.

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.



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.

GOLF OUTING Reported By Ed Lindsay

Long story...I am still alive and was not drawn and quartered by the angry mob. It all worked itself out in the end and did not hear any negative feedback (probably whispered in hushed voices. Thank you so much for all of you that came out to help and make this a successful event.

Golf Picture1
Registration table with all the helpers..Frank & Edna Calenda, John Horsch, Carol Snyder, Gene and Dee Melchior
Golf Picture2
Current AFTAC  Commander, Colonel Dyball

Frank Hall, Frank and Edna Calenda, Gene and Dee Melchior for putting the goodie bags together. Frank Hall, Frank and Edna Calenda, Gene and Dee Melchior, John Horsch, and Carol Snyder for ensuring that the registration and sign up process went smoothly.

Golf Picture3
Bad weather looming

Bob Wiley for taking all the photos...even on the course with rain looming..can't wait to see those. All of you that helped pick the door prize tickets and place them out for the players to collect. Frank C. for keeping the cash box safe and Joe Goldian for settling up the bill.

You all made my part so much easier and there is no way we could have pulled it off without everyone chipping in (pun intended).

The winners are:

Third Place

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3rd place----Brian Stillwell, Bruce Snelgrove, Brad Neihart, Don Gilbert 

Second Place

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2nd place---Aaron DeGraaf, Alice Chan, Darcy Cannon, Evan Carlson  

First Place

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1st place---Joe Hauser, Bob Callahan, Sonny Ziegler, Don Capps (not pictured)  

Colorado Fall Breakfast

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Colorado Fall Diner

We sincerely hope you had a great time Saturday at our Fall dinner. We had 40 in attendance with Alumni and current active duty members from Det 45, Det 46, and OL-GT. It was great to see members with their spouses and families, and we hope you all enjoyed the dinner. Cindy and her team at the Tin Cup always do a wonderful job.

Thanks to all who helped make the dinner a success, from decorations (Joncee and Glen), the invocation (Ken), organizing (Bill), the Missing Man table and reading (Bryce and Darrel), leading the Pledge of Allegiance (MSgt Cobarruviaz), our active duty updates (Maj Fulton, Maj Dalton, Maj Martin) and every one of you who were able to attend. It would not be a success without you. I'd also like to thank my son Zac who figured out the Bluetooth stereo thing, so we could play the National Anthem.

OK, I guess that snow can start to show a little. Just a little.
Steve Clark
CO AFTAC Alumni Pres.

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Show Photos in a Slide Show.

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What an interesting evening this year even if we were slightly upstaged by the HQ Awards Ceremony where we let the cat out of the bag as to the Alumni of the Year 2015. Our goal was to make it a total SB1 surprise and it actually was. We then followed that ceremony with the Alumni Snowball on the 20th of Feb 2016. Our advertising only brought forth 64 alumni to the Holiday Inn of Viera, Florida. The hotel did a bang-up job setting up the tables and serving Chicken Marsala, Roast Beef or a Vegetable Plate depending on your individual order.

The evening began with a slide show of the 2015 Alumni Activities running in the background while members networked and renewed old friendships. That is the beauty of such an event. Once the assignments are served, folks move, retire or just decide to go their own ways, the Snowball event is one that brings us back together for a few hours. A full bar was set-up in the ballroom and that gave us access to the refreshments. The evening was opened by our President Lou Seiler who welcomed all, recognized members of the senior staff in attendance and led us in a pledge of allegiance to the flag as well as a song by Rebecca Lehnerz. Invocation by Sean Ryan followed and dinner was served. We had a slight hick-up with the presentation of names of those who have passed since our last Snowball. Folks took that in stride and Lou Seiler stepped in and read the names so folks might know who has passed.

Following the meal we took a short break before the main Speaker had agreed to brief the Alumni. SB2Colonel Jennifer P. Sovada, Commander, Air Force Technical Applications Center, graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1994 addressed our group. The Colonel is a career intelligence officer who has commanded an intelligence squadron and served at the squadron, center, major command, joint, interagency levels.

Colonel Sovada gave us a briefing on where we were, where we are going, and how we now fit into SB3the 25th Air Force as a Wing. This was quite interesting and her grouping of 7 slides certainly showed us graphically just how we are serving the country in our very important mission. Those who missed the Colonel’s briefing certainly missed quite an interesting twist on how AFTAC has and is improving as a necessary intelligence arm in our country.

Following the Colonel’s briefing, our President called John Horsch to the podium who announced that, yes – Frank Calenda was selected as the 2015 AOY.
SB5Frank was presented the traditional ‘T’ and copy of the silver coin that he will be presented once a slight glitch can be rectified at the jewelers. The presentation was made by Colonel Sovada and CMSgt Brown. Frank was asked to say a few words and once he was at the podium he announced that his speech would be very short. Then he pulled out a stack of notes about 5 inches thick. Frank is often not a man of few words, but this was a joke for effect……Good Job Frank.


Past AOY’s were asked to assemble for a photograph and those present came forward and said “cheese”. The presentation culminated a very great evening and that was supported by many Alumni Volunteers, specifically Lou Seiler, Sean Ryan, Carol Snyder and Ruth Creery…Thanks to all of you…….


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AFTAC Airmen honored with Larson Awards - Posted Nov 22, 2016


Maj. Gen. Bradford J. “BJ” Shwedo (left), commander of 25th Air Force, along with Lee Anthony, executive council representative from the Freedom Through Vigilance Association and 25th AF Command Chief Master Sgt. Roger A. Towberman, presents a gold medal plaque to Staff Sgt. David Pettinelli, a noncommissioned officer-in-charge at the Air Force Technical Applications Center at Patrick AFB, Fla. Pettinelli was recognized as a 2016 Maj. Gen. Doyle E. Larson Award winner as best scientific applications specialist in 25th AF. (U.S. Air Force photo by William B. Belcher)

By Susan A. Romano, AFTAC Public Affairs PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.
Three members of the Air Force Technical Applications Center here are Larson Award medalists for 2016.

Maj. Gen. Bradford J. “BJ” Shwedo, commander of 25th Air Force, recognized Staff Sergeant David Pettinelli, Tech. Sgt. Ryan McLain and Tech. Sgt. Dustin Hoffman as the best scientific applications specialists in the Numbered Air Force.

The Larson Award is named after Maj. Gen. Doyle E. Larson, the first commander of Electronic Security Command, a predecessor organization of the Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Agency (now 25th AF). The award recognizes the best enlisted technicians in the NAF whose accomplishments in 20 different career fields are vital to the ISR mission.

More than 19,000 ISR Airmen in the grades of E-1 through E-6 were eligible to compete for this year’s recognition, and each applicant was required to take a knowledge- and experience-based exam as part of the competition. Winners are awarded gold, silver and bronze medals for their achievements.

There were 36 exceptional Airmen recognized for 2016.

“Eighty percent of our NAF is enlisted,” said Shwedo, “and the winners of this award are the best and brightest of those Airmen.”

The AFTAC technicians traveled to San Antonio with AFTAC Commander Col. Steven M. Gorski and Command Chief Master Sgt. Michael Joseph to receive their awards at a 25th AF-hosted ceremony Nov. 2, 2016.

Pettinelli, AFTAC’s noncommissioned officer-in-charge of alpha-beta measurements in the center’s Ciambrone Radiochemistry Lab, was surprised at his selection.

“I am very honored to be named one of the winners for 2016,” said Pettinelli. “Our career field is highly competitive in entry requirements, and diverse working knowledge is essential to the many realms in which we function.”

He continued, “I want to thank the leadership at 25th Air Force and especially their command chief, Chief Master Sgt. Roger Towberman, for pushing to make this awards program even more respected. The many bright and motivated leaders and co-workers I’ve had over the past five-plus years at AFTAC, including my supervisors, superintendents, branch chiefs and commanders, all played a huge role in guiding me to learn as much as possible about our mission and skills required to perform to the best of my ability.”

Pettinelli is a repeat Larson award competitor and winner; in 2013 and 2014 he competed but didn’t advance past the second round of testing. Last year, he was a silver medalist. This year, he collared the gold.

“Occasionally, repeat winners have a chance to ‘three-peat,’ which automatically retires them from further competition. My goal is to have several ‘Larson Award retirees’ here at AFTAC in the future.” said Joseph.

Hoffman, a laboratory measurements flight chief and 2016 bronze medalist for AFTAC, humorously pondered about how he was selected as a Larson Award winner.

“Earning this award matters to me for one of two reasons: either it shows me that my technical growth over my career has proven to be one of the best in our career field; or that I’m an exceptional guesser on tests. I can take pride in either truth! All kidding aside, it feels good. The best part was the time we spent at Lackland AFB. As part of the experience, Maj. Gen. Shwedo tasked us with a problem-solving mission, and when we presented our solution, it was an honor to truly be heard by him and his wing commanders.”

Hoffman added, “To my fellow 9S100s, make sure you test next year; don’t let me win two years in a row!”

Gorski had nothing but praise for his AFTAC winners.

“As a commander, nothing makes me more proud than to see our Airmen recognized for their incredible hard work and dedication to the mission,” said Gorski. “Prestigious programs like the Larson Award give us the opportunity to reemphasize the importance of what our Airmen do and reaffirms our commitment to them. There are a little more than 300 9S100s throughout the Air Force, and three of the best are right here at AFTAC. They should be enormously proud of their accomplishments.”

Airmen WOW school children with science - Posted Nov 8, 2016


1st Lt. Pamela Zhang, a member of the Air Force Technical Applications Center at Patrick AFB, Fla., illustrates the effects of a vacuum chamber on miniature marshmallows to students from Endeavour Elementary School during the school’s annual Math and Science Night. Zhang was one of several AFTAC Airmen who volunteered their time to showcase various aspects of science to Brevard County’s first Community School. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)

By Susan A. Romano, AFTAC Public Affairs PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.
From Tesla coils to 3-D printers, vacuum chambers to infrared cameras, Airmen from the Air Force Technical Applications Center came armed with 21st century technology to showcase at Endeavour Elementary School’s annual Math and Science Night Nov. 3, 2016.

AFTAC has been a community partner with Endeavour since May 2015 when the center entered into an agreement with the school to provide science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) mentors to the classrooms. As a Title I facility, the school receives funds to bridge the gap between low-income students and other students to meet the needs of those at risk or living near the poverty line, but the funding stream is limited, which makes AFTAC’s involvement even more valuable to the teachers and the students.

AFTAC participated in the event last year, and it was such a resounding success that Endeavour Principal Rachad Wilson requested to have the center’s Airmen return again this year.

“We had probably the best turn out we’ve ever had in an after-school program at last year’s Math and Science Night,” said Wilson. “I wanted to capitalize on that success, and the best way to do that was to ensure AFTAC had their state-of-the-art science gear on display for our students to observe and learn from. This is a priceless partnership we have with the Air Force, and we truly appreciate the relationship and experiences they provide our babies and their families.”

The nuclear treaty monitoring specialists demonstrated various aspects of science, illustrating how much radiation occurs in everyday objects; how airflow can affect the velocity and direction of a ball; how vacuum chambers work; how to operate a 3-D printers; and how fire plays a role in launching weather balloons, just to name a few.

The highlight of the evening came when Staff Sgt. Josh Hurtley demonstrated how a Tesla coil works. As the students and family members gathered in the school’s cafetorium, Hurtley dimmed the lights and drew the crowd’s attention to the stage where the Tesla coil was on display. He gave a quick explanation of what they were about to see, and ZAP! Bolts of high-voltage/low-current electricity lit up the room as the kids and grown-ups alike gasped and giggled. An added bonus was when Hurtley synched the coil’s lightning bolts to music, much to the delight of the attendees.

Shylin Helmick, a 2nd grader in Ms. Janelle Shepard’s class, was practically uncontainable with excitement upon entering the cafetorium.

“Wow! This is so cool!” she exclaimed. “I just love science and I couldn’t wait for this night to finally get here! I like being challenged and being able to learn more about science and experiments and fun stuff like this. It’s all so scientific!”

Shylin’s step-mom Oriana was thrilled at her daughter’s exuberance. “Our kids have been talking about this event all week,” she said. “As a parent, it’s always exciting to see our kids so enthusiastic and interested in both math and science. We really appreciate the Air Force being here tonight.”

In January 2016, Endeavour Elementary School became Brevard County’s first community school, and the first elementary-level community school for the State of Florida. The concept of the program is to form a partnership between the school and its surrounding community, pooling resources and integrating opportunities to strengthen and enrich the students’ learning environment.

Endeavour’s assistant principal, Christy Meraz, was quite pleased with the parent turnout and student interaction.

“Our goal for the Math and Science night is twofold – to bring the community together for an evening of fun, and to educate them on aspects of STEM that we may not have the time or resources to do so during regular school hours. I knew this year was going to be even more special because since the beginning of the school year, the kids have been asking when we’re having Math and Science Night!”

She added, “One of the best parts of holding an event like this is that it brings us together as a community. The kids are so engaged by the innovation and they get so excited when they see the Airmen in their military uniforms. Their facial expressions say it all – their excitement, enthusiasm and enjoyment.”

Maj. Michael Myers, this year’s program coordinator, reflected on the work that went into planning and executing the event.

“Originally, the Math and Science Night was scheduled for Oct. 6, but it had to be cancelled due to Hurricane Matthew,” said Myers. “A lot of us were very disappointed because we really look forward to meeting with the kids and showcasing what we do for a living at AFTAC. But the school was able to find another evening on the calendar, and here we are. I think the students and the parents were pretty fired up over our displays, especially the Tesla coil and the floating lantern. I can’t thank all our volunteers enough for putting in the effort to help the kids of Endeavour. We’ve got a great team here.”

Myers and his fellow Airmen hope to continue the tradition in the future.

Boy Scouts earn merit badge with help from AFTAC Airmen - Posted Oct 31, 2016


Staff Sgt. Leland La Kemper, a radiochemistry lab technician with the Air Force Technical Applications Center, displays an ion chamber to a group of Boy Scouts who visited AFTAC Oct. 22 to earn their Nuclear Science Merit Badge. La Kemper explained the importance of ‘as low as reasonably achievable’ – better known as ALARA -- safety measures to the scouts during their tour of AFTAC’s Ciambrone Radiochemistry Lab at Patrick AFB, Fla. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)

By Susan A. Romano, AFTAC Public Affairs PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.
Boy Scouts from across Brevard County traveled here Oct. 22 to earn their Nuclear Science Merit Badge with the help of Airmen from the Air Force Technical Applications Center.

Eleven troops, 52 young men and 21 scoutmasters and leaders came to Patrick AFB early Saturday morning for a full day of immersion into the field of nuclear science.

The badge, formerly known as the Atomic Energy Merit Badge, is highly sought after by scouts, and is one of more than a hundred scouts can earn as members of the national organization that helps youth build character and become responsible and productive citizens.

Col. Richard Goodman, director of AFTAC’s Ciambrone Radiochemistry Lab and an Eagle Scout himself, delivered AFTAC’s mission briefing to the group, describing the center’s worldwide nuclear treaty monitoring role. After listening to other presentations about nuclear science and taking notes in their scout workbooks – a critical part of earning the badge – the boys then went on to create some hands-on projects. The group constructed a 3-D model of an element and its isotopes using colorful jellied candies and toothpicks. From there, they built a cloud chamber made out of plastic Petri dishes, felt, black construction paper and fabric fasteners, which they later used to visualize the condensation trails left by ionizing radiation.

The scouts were given the opportunity to pose questions to AFTAC experts Dr. Alison Tamasi, Dr. Dan Mackney and 1st Lt. Joshua Hall, as well as respond to questions posed to them to get their creative juices flowing.

Troop 524’s David Allaire, 14, deftly answered challenging scientific questions the instructors asked. The Viera High School freshman showed a genuine interest in the program.

“It is very important to understand all aspects of STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) to supplement what I’m learning at school,” Allaire said. “I have a real love of science, and I learn so much more when I’m able to use my hands and apply what I’m learning. That’s why I’m so excited to be here today because I know we’re going to be doing hands-on experiments. If I can actually see how something works, it really helps me understand the concept.”

After the boys completed the classroom aspect of the training, they enjoyed a barbeque lunch in AFTAC’s outdoor courtyard before heading off to different areas of the center’s treaty monitoring center.

Airmen showcased the center’s radiochemistry lab, giving the boys the chance to tour a nuclear count room and a sample receipt room

Dylan Coney, an 11th grader at Odyssey Charter School in Malabar, came with his fellow scouts from Troop 323 and was serving as their senior patrol leader.

“This has been a really fun experience,” Dylan said. “I am really interested in science, especially since I want to be a mechanical engineer in the future. But I’m pretty shocked at what a lot of these younger kids here today know about science. They already have knowledge about science that I’m just learning about now in my chemistry class – it’s amazing!”

Mackney, a senior nuclear chemist with AFTAC, volunteered for the second year in a row to help the boys learn about nuclear science.

“I became involved in this program because I really enjoy helping kids,” he said. “And I am consistently amazed at their level of knowledge and what they know. They have a grasp of concepts that I never even heard of until I was an adult! It’s extremely rewarding to be a part of this great program.”

Eagle Scout Cody Villarreal, a 16-year-old junior from Edgewood Junior/Senior High School, was particularly interested in earning this highly sought-after badge.

“I earned Eagle Scout when I was 15, but I still have my sights set on earning more Eagle Palms (awards earned for merit after achieving Eagle Scout), and being here today is going to help a lot,” said Cody. “I’m very interested in nuclear science and I’m really looking forward to conducting all the experiments they have planned for us.”

Hall, an AFTAC physicist, was the overall project officer for this year’s program, and was pleased with the outcome.

“I have such a passion for my job and for science in general,” he said, “so anytime I have the opportunity to share my passion with others – especially up-and-coming future scientists – I jump at it. I hope the boys had as much fun participating in our program as I did. I’m looking forward to being a part of it again next year.”

Marc G. Filion, Scoutmaster for Troop 323 in Melbourne, was impressed with AFTAC’s robust program they set up for the boys.

“This is a great opportunity for our scouts to participate in an event like this,” he said. “They’re being exposed to aspects of science on a military base that most of the general population never gets to see while getting to observe the work that’s being done at AFTAC. It’s a big deal for our group. In our troop, we held a lottery to see who’d get to attend since we were limited to just five slots. Believe me when I tell you the boys who are participating today are very happy to be here!”

AFTAC is the Department of Defense’s sole organization dedicated to nuclear treaty monitoring and nuclear event detection. This is the fifth year AFTAC has hosted local scouts to help them earn this merit badge.

U.S. National Data Center team reopens channels with Spain - Posted Oct 17, 2016


David Merker, Senior Executive Service Director of the U.S. National Data Center (center right, gesturing), explains how the USNDC uses seismic data to monitor nuclear treaties to senior members of Instituto Geográfico Nacional, a multi-faceted agency in Madrid responsible for many aspects of research and development, including geophysics, seismometry and regional volcanic activity analysis, as well as cartography and astrophysics. Merker and his team of seismic experts traveled to Spain.

By Susan A. Romano, AFTAC Public Affairs PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.
MADRID -- Among the ancient walls from the era of King Alfonso VI in the shadow of the famous medieval Alcázar fortress high atop the city of Toledo, a group of 21st century scientists from the Air Force Technical Applications Center traveled to Spain to meet with seismic experts Sept. 19-22.

The team, led by Senior Executive Service Director of the U.S. National Data Center Dave Merker, met with members of the Instituto Geográfico Nacional to discuss the possibility of future information sharing on the 20th anniversary of AFTAC’s transfer of Detachment 313 Sonseca Seismic Station to the IGN.

IGN senior officials welcomed the American visitors to tour their facilities, some of which were under the operational control of AFTAC prior to 1996. One of AFTAC’s diverse missions includes monitoring signatories to nuclear treaties. A large portion of that work is accomplished through analyzing seismic activity around the world.

Merker, along with veteran AFTAC geophysicist Jorge Román-Nieves, AFTAC’s chief of International Affairs Robert McLaughlin, and AFTAC’s chief of Systems Control George Mirda, conferred with Mónica Groba López, Secretary General of the Ministry of Development, Dr. Emilio Carreño Herrero, director of IGN’s National Seismic Network, José Manuel Martínez Solares, chief of IGN’s area of geophysics, and José Manuel Tordesillas García-Lillo, chief of IGN’s geomagnetic observatory.

Carreño showcased his renowned headquarters building in the heart of Madrid, giving the U.S. entourage a unique opportunity to observe IGN’s seismic analysis and collection capabilities. The institute, a Spanish government entity of the Ministry of Development and Public Works, is a multi-faceted agency responsible for many aspects of research and development, including geophysics, seismometry and regional volcanic activity analysis, as well as cartography and astrophysics.

At their introductory meeting, Carreño said, “For the past 20 years, we have taken a holiday on our relationship. But today, we are very happy to reunite with our American friends for continued cooperation on our seismic work at Sonseca.”

Merker responded. “It’s important for us – myself included – to look at the possibility of rekindling a relationship with our Spanish partners, especially since a few of us with continuity of our past partnership are getting close to retirement. Several of us know each other personally from the days of AFTAC’s Detachment 313 at Sonseca, and culturally, it’s always beneficial to leverage those cultural and familiar relationships.”

From 1957 until its closure in 1996, Det 313 provided exceptional teleseismic nuclear test site monitoring data to U.S. authorities. Merker served as the detachment commander from 1994 to 1996, while Mirda served as the station superintendent from 1992 to 1994. Combined, their knowledge, planning and interface with the IGN, the Spanish Air Force and other diplomatic establishments from both countries led to a flawless transition of the det to the government of Spain.

A resource-driven removal of seismic equipment in 2010 was cause for some consternation between AFTAC and the IGN, which somewhat weakened many years of positive relationships between the two organizations. Merker and Mirda realized that the 20th anniversary of the transfer could serve as a springboard for invigorating a new era of scientific cooperation and pursued possibilities to revisit with IGN officials.

“One of my focus points of this trip was to reopen relationships with Spain from a scientific standpoint,” said Merker. “Fostering an active partnership with European Union members with common goals is something we strive for in reducing nuclear proliferation. It also helps us bond international objectives.”

Merker and members of his USNDC staff have forged close relationships with allies and colleagues at the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization in Vienna. Those bonds have strengthened AFTAC’s approach to its treaty monitoring mission and has enhanced vital negotiations.

“From a technical standing, data sharing and cooperative research and development efforts contributes to both nations’ abilities to effectively monitor and measure underground explosions in order to discriminate them from natural seismic activity,” said Mirda.

In addition to visiting the IGN HQ in Madrid, the AFTAC team toured several IGN seismic sites in the province of Toledo, as well as the towns of Sonseca and San Pablo, about 70 and 100 miles, respectively, south of the Spanish capital city.

For Merker and Mirda (who was also assigned to Det 313), the highlight of the trip was visiting IGN’s substation in Toledo where all of the detachment’s seismic collection of analog film records have been meticulously preserved and archived by IGN scientists.

“I was absolutely amazed to see the care Marina Lopéz Muga and the other IGN cartographers have taken to maintain this incredibly important seismic information,” said Mirda. “When we handed over the det in 1996, I was present for the closing ceremonies and it was difficult because there was a part of me that thought the data might never be seen or used again. But seeing the archival data so carefully stored and recorded made this trip for me enormously worthwhile. There’s a potential for future use of the data to refine historic subsurface events as well.”

Back in Madrid, the two groups worked together to hammer out specific action items and prioritize them for maximum benefit. Mirda and Roman-Nieves, both fluent in Spanish, exchanged interpreter duties.

“Communication flowed smoothly,” said Román-Nieves. “George and I learned a variety of new terms in our own language. Technology and science are never stagnant, so vocabulary has to keep up!”

José Manuel Martínez Solares, chief of geophysics for the IGN, agreed wholeheartedly with Merker’s assessment.

“Our goals of working again with AFTAC are four simple things,” he said. “We would like to collaborate on joint research projects, attend conferences together, publish together, and look at joint venture research and development opportunities. Achieving those goals will help our junior seismic researchers build their portfolio and it’s definitely something we at the IGN are very interested in pursuing.”

Merker added, “Another benefit of opening channels between us and Spain is our ability to connect IGN scientists with the CTBTO and expand their reach among other international seismic partners,” said Merker. The scientific world relies heavily on published works, and I’d really like to see IGN members co-author research papers with my USNDC experts. It’s mutually beneficial to form a closer partnership that ultimately helps the international community as a whole.”

While the two organizations may not have a direct one-on-one partnership at this time, they do share information collected by the CTBTO’s International Monitoring System.

The IMS is a worldwide network of more than 300 observational technology that assists with verifying compliance and confirming violations of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. The system uses four technologies to support the CTBT: seismological, radionuclide, hydroacoustic and infrasound. Since both Spain and the United States operate IMS stations, they are able to share each other’s data that’s sent to the International Data Center.

“As with any international collaborative effort, there are several measured steps that need to be taken and coordinated upon with the U.S. Department of State, the Department of Defense and Headquarters Air Force,” said McLaughlin. “It’s a relatively slow-moving process, but I’m pleased we’re taking the first necessary and important steps towards rekindling a relationship with our Spanish counterparts.”

Important Message from AFTAC Commander: - Posted Oct 9, 2016

NOTE: This was passed along by AFTAC/PA Susan A Romano for dissemination thru out network, Thank you, Susan)
gorski Dear AFTAC Alumni, If you're reading this message, I hope it's because you have full power to your home and you've recovered safely from Hurricane Matthew! I'm very happy to report that other than some minor "landscaping" damage and a moisture issue in our Ciambrone Radiochemistry Lab, AFTAC came out of this storm relatively unscathed. We definitely dodged a bullet, and I for one am grateful the storm stayed far enough off shore. Had the eye moved any further west, we may have faced far more catastrophic circumstances.

I commended our workforce for the enormous efforts they undertook both pre-storm as well as post storm, from securing loose equipment to preparing the building for a full shut down. We rapidly sent our Contingency Operations Team to its alternate location to ensure ZERO disruption to our 24/7 mission. And when it came time to bring the building back up to workable standards, we had dozens of AFTACers come in on a federal holiday to get our computers and equipment back up and running.

I also extended my thanks to our host wing, the 45th Space Wing, for their around-the-clock information flow so Airmen and their families could stay informed with up-to-the-minute updates about base closures, potential dangers and recovery operations.

And now I'd like to show my appreciation to our Alumni to make sure you know we're thinking of you with gratitude. Many of you reached out to the folks here at the HQ Building to see if there was anything you could do to assist fellow AFTACers. I don't think I've ever been a part of an organization that has such an incredibly involved and engaged Alumni Association. I can't thank you enough for being a part of the AFTAC team!

We'll send out a few photos of some of the minimal damage we incurred as soon as they're downloaded; I pray the rest of those on the east coast who have felt Matthew's impact get the help they need. Again, I hope you and your families survived the Storm of 2016, and if there is anything we can do to help with your own recovery efforts, please let us know! Thanks so much...Steven M. Gorski, AFTAC Commander

Despite storm threat, treaty monitoring mission continued, uninterrupted - Posted Oct 9, 2016


John Loftis and Mickey Ruehs, both members of the Air Force Technical Applications' contingency operations team, review checklists at AFTAC's alternate facility in Texas. The duo was part of a group of Airmen who deployed to the center's 24/7 alternate location to transfer AFTAC's nuclear treaty monitoring mission from Patrick AFB, Fla., as the base prepared to evacuate for Hurricane Matthew that barreled up Florida's east coast Oct. 7, 2016. (Photo courtesy of the U.S. Air Force)

By Susan A. Romano, AFTAC Public Affairs PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.
As Hurricane Matthew churned into a Category 4 storm off Florida’s southeast coast, members of the Air Force Technical Applications Center here set evacuation plans in motion to ensure the center’s critical mission continued uninterrupted.

AFTAC, the Department of Defense’s sole organization dedicated to nuclear treaty monitoring and nuclear event detection, marshaled its contingency operations team Oct. 4 to deploy to its alternate operating facility in Texas. Nearly 50 Airmen departed the area to ensure the secondary location was up-and-running prior the base’s 100 percent shut down of power and digital connectivity.

“As we watched the storm strengthen in the Caribbean, we knew we needed to take steps to set up our alternate location as quickly as possible,” said Col. Steven M. Gorski, AFTAC commander. “Our national decision makers rely on us and our ability to provide uninterrupted 24/7 access to potential nuclear events around the world, and we go to great lengths to ensure we provide and deliver those capabilities to our senior leaders.”

Once the team fully established communication lines with its seismic systems and equipment, Gorski directed a complete evacuation of his staff.

Prior to the evacuation, Gorski activated two critical teams: a hurricane response team and a facilities recovery team. The teams were comprised of various subject matter experts who served as post-storm first responders once the wing commander deemed it safe to proceed. Members included experts from civil engineering, safety, facilities management, security, and numerous mission operators.

The hurricane remained a few miles east of AFTAC’s headquarters building as it traveled north during the early morning hours of Oct. 7. Winds were clocked as high as 120 mph, yet the treaty monitoring center sustained only minimal damage compared to the rest of Florida’s northeast coast.

“AFTAC’s Ciambrone Radiochemistry Lab took on water, and because of the requirement to turn off the HVAC system, the clean room experienced abnormally high humidity levels -- something we take steps to avoid to maintain the precision and integrity of the facility,” said Gorski. “We also had several trees uprooted and some roof damage to the lab, but the most important outcome from the storm was our entire workforce and their families remained unharmed. The safety of our people is always the number one goal.”

After the storm passed and base engineers deemed it safe to enter facilities, AFTAC’s response teams returned to the center to regenerate power and reconnect dormant computer terminals and servers.

“It takes a great deal of effort to start systems back up,” said Col. Kathy Craver, AFTAC’s director of Mission Support. “We had a team of 18 people come in on the Columbus Day holiday to get our information technology equipment running for everyone who returned to work on Tuesday. I’m extremely pleased with what they were able to accomplish in 11 short hours. It’s no easy task, yet they did it with success and professionalism.”

Gorski also had nothing but praise across the board.

“When a contingency like this occurs – in this case, a major hurricane – success cannot be achieved without a great deal of teamwork. I’m extremely proud of AFTAC’s performance, and I’m particularly grateful for the support and dedication of our host wing, the 45th Space Wing. (Brig.) Gen. (Wayne) Monteith and his folks should be commended for going above and beyond to ensure the safety of all our Airmen – military, civilians and our family members. We can’t thank them enough.”

AFTAC’s contingency team is expected to return by the end of the week.

'The honor was all mine' - Posted Sept 12, 2016


Ralph Casey (left), a World War II veteran from Brevard County, Fla., is escorted by Jim Whidden, director of staff for the Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick AFB, Fla., during a recent Space Coast Honor Flight. Whidden served as Casey’s guardian to visit the memorials in Washington, D.C. (Courtesy photo)

By Susan A. Romano, AFTAC Public Affairs PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.
They have been called the greatest generation, and while their numbers are dwindling at an astronomical pace, their supporters outnumber them by the thousands.

World War II veterans from Central Florida were given an all-expenses paid trip to Washington, D.C., to visit war memorials at the National Mall as part of the Space Coast Honor Flight program.

Established in 2005, the Honor Flight Network was formed to fulfill the dream of many World War II veterans of traveling to the nation’s capital to see the memorial that was erected in their honor in 2004.

The program was the brainchild of retired Air Force captain Earl Morse. Morse wanted to honor the veterans he had taken care of throughout his career, but realized many of the veterans weren’t financially or physically able to make the trip themselves.

Space Coast Honor Flight, the local chapter here in Brevard County, flew its 1,000 veteran on the chapter’s 39th trip to the District of Columbia Sept. 10. SCHF was the 93rd club to form as part of the national network, and there are 130 hubs in 42 states, including nine in Florida alone.

Jim Whidden, director of staff for the Air Force Technical Applications Center here, traveled on his first honor flight as an escort for a World War II veteran. Known as “guardians” when accompanying their respective veteran, these men and women serve as traveling companions to give each veteran one-on-one attention and share in the experience with them. Guardians pay their own expenses and are required to undergo mandatory training prior to becoming an escort.

Whidden, the son of an Air Force Vietnam veteran, had attended numerous send-off ceremonies, but until the September trip, he hadn’t yet volunteered as a guardian.

“My brother served as an escort and it was a very good experience for him,” said Whidden. “But the main reason I wanted to do this stems from the tremendous respect I have for the veterans of these conflicts, the sacrifices they endured, and the positive difference their service made to our country and our values as a nation.”

He added, “They are heroes who have set examples I’ve always admired and tried to emulate when I served on active duty.”

The process begins at ‘oh-dark-thirty’ on a Saturday morning. Veterans gather for roll call and after everyone is present and accounted for, the group departs under an honor guard’s saber arch among the cheers and applause of grateful send-off volunteers. Oftentimes, the bus is escorted to the airport by law enforcement vehicles and volunteer motorcycle groups.

Whidden escorted Army veteran Ralph Casey, a World War II M-4 Sherman tank gunner. Casey was deployed to Europe in the Alsace-Lorraine region near the Rhine River during the winter of 1945. During a particularly fierce battle, Ralph and his tanker crew had been cornered by a German Tiger unit and were ultimately captured. He spent the last four months of the war in a German Stalag prisoner-of-war camp. He was only 21 years old.

After the war, Casey worked for Pan Am for 25 years. He met his wife, Sigi, in Munich during an Oktoberfest celebration. This was his first visit to the Washington memorials.

“This can be an exhausting experience for these elderly veterans,” said Whidden, “but I think they each fed off each other’s pride, adrenalin and camaraderie, and that propelled them through the grueling 20-hour whirlwind trip.”

The flight visited the Air Force, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Iwo Jima and Women’s memorials, and they had the opportunity to visit Arlington National Cemetery to witness the Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown.

A special highlight of the trip occurred when the group had stopped for some shade after touring the World War II memorial. Senator Bob Dole, a World War II veteran and two-time Purple Heart recipient, came by to pay his respects to the members of the Honor Flight and took time to pose for photos with the Space Coast vets.

“Watching veterans interact with Senator Dole was simply one of those moments you don’t get to see every day or experience in person, and it’s one I know I will never forget,” said Whidden. “The honor was all mine.”

He encouraged others to consider volunteering as a guardian.

“I served 10 years of my active duty career in Washington, D.C., and I’ve visited the memorials countless times,” said Whidden. “But doing it with a veteran invokes a reverence and a perspective you don’t get otherwise. Before my father succumbed to cancer, I took him to the Vietnam Memorial. We were both teary-eyed as I watched him search and find the names of friends he flew with engraved on the wall.”

To date, the Honor Flight Network has safely transported more than 82,000 veterans across the country. For more information on how to become involved in the Honor Flight Network, visit their website at www.spacecoasthonorflight.org or call (888) 750-2522.


Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James listens to Col. Steven M. Gorski, commander of the Air Force Technical Applications Center, discuss the actions AFTAC has taken with regard to North Korea's purported nuclear test Sept. 9, 2016. James was visiting Patrick AFB, Fla., to witness the launch of an Atlas V rocket and took time out of her schedule to get briefed by Gorski and his nuclear treaty monitoring experts about how the center measures seismic activity and compliance with nuclear treaties. The secretary was also briefed about the capabilities of the WC-135 Constant Phoenix, AFTAC's atmospheric collection aircraft that has been deployed to the region to collect accurate information on levels of potential radiation in the area of concern. Pictured at the table from left to right: Dr. Jarris Taylor, James' deputy assistant on Strategic Diversity Integration, James, Gorski, and Chief Master Sgt. Michael Joseph, AFTAC's Command Chief. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)

By Susan A. Romano, AFTAC Public Affairs PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.
Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick AFB, Florida -- Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James listens to Col. Steven M. Gorski, commander of the Air Force Technical Applications Center, discuss the actions AFTAC has taken with regard to North Korea's purported nuclear test Sept. 9, 2016. James was visiting Patrick AFB, Fla., to witness the launch of an Atlas V rocket and took time out of her schedule to get briefed by Gorski and his nuclear treaty monitoring experts about how the center measures seismic activity and compliance with nuclear treaties. The secretary was also briefed about the capabilities of the WC-135 Constant Phoenix, AFTAC's atmospheric collection aircraft that has been deployed to the region to collect accurate information on levels of potential radiation in the area of concern. Pictured at the table from left to right: Dr. Jarris Taylor, James' deputy assistant on Strategic Diversity Integration, James, Gorski, and Chief Master Sgt. Michael Joseph, AFTAC's Command Chief. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)

4-star returns to 1st assignment for WiSE keynote address - Posted Sept 7, 2016


Gen. Ellen M. Pawlikowski, commander of Air Force Materiel Command, delivers the keynote address at the 2016 Women in Science and Engineering Symposium at Patrick AFB, Fla., Sept. 7, 2016. Pawlikowski was invited by the Air Force Technical Applications Center to address the 250-plus crowd to discuss diversity in the workplace, especially tailored to women in science, technology, engineering and math. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ben Thacker)

By Susan A. Romano, AFTAC Public Affairs PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.
The U.S. Air Force’s third-ever female 4-star general returned to her first assignment to deliver keynote remarks at the Air Force Technical Applications Center’s Women in Science and Engineering Symposium Sept. 7, 2016.

Gen. Ellen M. Pawlikowski, commander of Air Force Materiel Command, opened the 3-day symposium with a speech that reflected on her time as an engineer, dating back to her high school days in 1972 and leading up to her first assignment as the chief of mass spectrometry for AFTAC in 1984.

“When I was in high school, my dad made me take a drafting class and encouraged me to pursue a degree in engineering,” said Pawlikowski. “I’ll be honest with you – if you’ve never had to take a drafting course, you’re lucky. Of all the classes I’ve ever taken, drafting is not on my list of favorites!”

After high school, Pawlikowski earned her bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering in 1978 from the New Jersey Institute of Technology, a school very close to where she grew up. While she was on the path to both academic and professional success, she discussed the uphill climb she had in a field dominated by men.

“As many of my school girlfriends were taking music and chorus and home economics classes, I was in a class with all men. I felt very alone and isolated, and oftentimes not welcome. My girlfriends and I would meet up at lunchtime in the cafeteria and I wouldn’t be able to share in their conversations. It was tough for me. It wasn’t until I got to college and joined ROTC (Reserve Officer Training Corps) that I truly felt part of a team, part of something big, and part of something that made me feel like I really belonged.”

AFTAC leadership extended an invitation to the AFMC commander to serve as the WiSE keynote speaker not only because of her background and expertise in engineering, but also because of her connection to the nuclear treaty monitoring center.

“I was thrilled when I learned I received an assignment to AFTAC’s McClellan Central Lab in California,” the general said. “Here I was, a very young lieutenant, given the chance to put my T-square and blueprints expertise to work! And what made it even more gratifying was the fact that I was part of an exciting, vitally important mission.”

AFTAC’s WiSE Symposium is in its third year and has grown from 14 speakers and panelists its first year to 34 in its third. The event encourages diversity in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) by providing inspirational presenters and engaging discussions for both women and men in and outside the federal government.

Much to the delight of symposium attendees, an unexpected speaker surprised the audience on day three of the event. Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James, who was in town visiting the 45th Space Wing to observe the launch of the Atlas V, treated the guests to some words of wisdom and encouragement.

“I’d like to share a few lessons I’ve learned on how to be successful,” James said to the standing-room-only crowd. “The first is to be ethical. While as a leader I am comfortable making a decision based on an 80 percent solution, I will never compromise my ethics. That has to be 100 percent all the time. The second is the importance of a mentor. I encourage you to seek out a good mentor; invite someone you respect to have a cup of coffee. You’ll find most people love talking about the subject they care most – themselves! The Air Force has a great program called ‘MyVector’ where you can be paired up with leaders who share your passion and interests. But do you best to seek diversity in your network.”

Other distinguished speakers included Sue Gordon, deputy director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency; Kay Spears, vice president of Strategy and Business Development for Lockheed Martin; Lt. Gen. Arnold Bunch, military deputy for the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition; Maj. Gen. Heidi Brown, director of Global Operations, U.S. Strategic Command; Maj. Gen. (ret.) Amy Courter, former National Commander and Chief Executive Officer of Civil Air Patrol; and Dr. Jarris Taylor, deputy assistant secretary for Air Force Strategic Diversity Integration.

This year’s theme, “Breaking the Norm,” was created to help guide the symposium’s numerous discussions and breakout sessions in the direction of how professionals can work to dispel myths and outdated mores that women are not ‘normally’ found in STEM fields.

Dr. Alison Tamasi, a radiochemistry team lead in AFTAC’s Ciambrone Radiochemistry Lab, volunteered as a moderator, helped craft questions for a panel, and attended several presentations and breakout sessions.

“I truly enjoyed the whole symposium,” she said. “The networking opportunities were world-class, but it was also amazing to meet women I looked up to and hear that they faced some of the same difficulties I have. Supporting women in STEM is something that everyone needs to have a vested interest in, not just women; otherwise the culture will never change.”

According to AFTAC’s WiSE program coordinator, the symposium planning team that put it together had multi-faceted objectives the group wanted to achieve.

“We need to inspire diversity of thought through STEM outreach,” said Maj. Mandi Fuller, a space program manager with AFTAC and program coordinator for the 3-day event. “As an organization, we also need to gain an international perspective and leverage global strengths in STEM fields and replicate them. By doing so, it will give us the ability to establish mentoring and networking opportunities to future support career growth in these highly technical and demanding career fields.”

Fuller added, “As women, we need to share success stories and lessons learned from women and men, particularly those in education and industry, which in turn will help shape the future of the STEM career fields within the Department of Defense. I’m extremely pleased with what we have been able to achieve with this year’s event!”

More than 250 people attended the 2016 WiSE Symposium, and AFTAC plans to continue to host the event for years to come.

Senior Pentagon leaders visit AFTAC’s community school - Posted Sept 7, 2016


Ed Lee, program coordinator for historically black colleges, universities and minority-serving institutions, looks over classwork with Clayton Hovik, a 5th grader in Stephanie Lay’s science class at Endeavour Elementary School in Cocoa Fla., Sept. 7, 2016. Lee visited the Title I facility to observe the partnership between the school and the Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick AFB, Fla. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)

By Susan A. Romano, AFTAC Public Affairs PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.
Senior officials from the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force (Manpower and Reserve Affairs) toured Endeavour Elementary School in Cocoa, Fla., Brevard County’s first and the State of Florida’s only elementary-level community school during their visit to the Air Force Technical Applications Center Sept. 7, 2016 for the center’s annual Women in Science and Engineering Symposium. Dr. Jarris L. Taylor Jr., Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Strategic Diversity Integration, Col. Angela Giddings and Maj. Denisha Darcus, both with the Air Force Diversity and Inclusion office, and Ed Lee, program coordinator for historically black colleges, universities and minority-serving institutions, traveled to the school, with which AFTAC has had a community partnership since May 2015. The quartet, accompanied by AFTAC’s human resources program manager Rose Day, met with Endeavour’s principal and assistant principals, Rachad Wilson, Doreen Carlo-Coryell and Christy Meraz. Also in attendance was Michele Scott, planning director for Children’s Home Society.

After pleasantries and introductions were exchanged, the group sat down in Wilson’s office to discuss specifics of Endeavour’s community school program and to answer questions the visitors had about AFTAC’s mentorship and the school’s demographics.

“Two things come to my mind when I think about AFTAC and the impact they’ve had on us as a school,” Wilson said. “The first thing is last year’s Math and Science Night. We had the largest turnout of both parents and students for as far back as anyone here can remember. It went beyond our expectations and we couldn’t have done it without the folks from AFTAC making it as interactive, educational and entertaining as they did.”

Wilson continued. “The second thing is the opportunity AFTAC gave us by taking ‘our babies’ to the Science Bowl in Orlando. They restored faith in these kids by bringing home the point that just because our students come from poverty doesn’t mean they lack great minds.”

After discussing various aspects of the community school concept, Wilson and his staff brought the group on a tour of the campus, including a visit to two math classrooms and the school science lab. They also stopped by Endeavour’s “Responsibility Room,” a portable trailer where students who are struggling with behavior issues can come to re-vector their thoughts and cool down before returning to their classroom.

The Responsibility Room is also where children receive needed items that have been donated, such as uniform shirts, gym shoes, school supplies, backpacks, and even healthy snacks. Several of AFTAC’s private organizations have contributed to the cause with various donations.

Jackie Nichols oversees the room and takes great pride in the assistance she provides to the students.

“Many of our kids just need a little extra help since their families might not be able to afford simple things like pencils and notebooks,” she said. “We also offer weekend meals to certain children who might have to go home to an empty refrigerator. Little things like that really make a difference.”

Taylor requested to visit the school to see the work being undertaken between AFTAC and Endeavour, specifically from his vantage point as the Air Force’s senior official responsible for oversight of all programs affecting diversity integration and outreach in the Air Force. And while he had heard and read about the partnership, he was quite surprised to see for himself the depth of their program.

“As I look around and see what’s being accomplished here, I realize this is precisely the kind of program I want to see benchmarked throughout the Air Force,” said Taylor. “Airmen are volunteers by nature, and dedicated to service. This partnership is something that needs to be replicated, and I hope my office can play a role in spreading the word about this enormous success story.”

With seconds remaining, AFTAC hockey club knots the score - Posted Aug 7 2016


Jesse Hall, member of the Athletes for Teamwork and Charity hockey club, celebrates his tying goal during a game against the Orlando Fire Department Aug. 6, 2016 at the Space Coast Iceplex in Rockledge, Fla. Hall and his teammates from the Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick AFB, Fla., played in the charity match to raise money for Pawsitive Action Foundation, a non-profit organization that provides assistance dogs to veterans. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)

By Susan A. Romano, AFTAC Public Affairs PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.
In a game filled with end-to-end action, members of Athletes for Teamwork and Charity (AFTAC) battled the Orlando Fire Department in a hockey match Aug. 6 to benefit Pawsitive Action Foundation, a non-profit organization that provides assistance dogs to veterans.

The teams squared off at the Space Coast Iceplex in Rockledge, Fla., with fans of both teams filling the stands. It was a gentlemen’s match where all the standard rules of the game applied, minus hip checks and heavy hits.

Team AFTAC is comprised of members from the Air Force Technical Applications Center, the Department of Defense’s sole organization responsible for nuclear treaty monitoring at Patrick AFB, Fla. Other players from Patrick’s host wing, the 45th Space Wing, are also on the roster.

Before the first faceoff, members of AFTAC’s choral group, Atomic Blue, sang the National Anthem; from there, a ceremonial puck drop occurred at center ice, and then the stage was set for three periods of exciting hockey.

Team captains Bill Hungate and Aaron Trudel formed the team as a means to raise funds for people and charities in need. Since the team’s inception in 2015, they’ve been able to raise more than $20,000 for various causes.

“We aim to support people and organizations that have some kind of connection to the Air Force and the military in general,” said Hungate. “The Orlando firefighters have made the trip to Brevard County on several occasions to support our charities, so this game was a great way for us to help them out with a charity that’s near and dear to their hearts. It’s even more rewarding knowing Pawsitive Action enhances the lives of veterans with disabilities.”

Back and forth scoring seemed to dominate the game, but at one point OFD pulled ahead by three goals.

“I got a bit dejected mid-way through the 2nd period when the score got to 5-2,” said Trudel. “But in true AFTAC fashion, we kept at it, and with just 24 seconds left in the 3rd period, Jesse Hall scored the tying goal. We nearly pulled out the win in the last few seconds of the game, but the OPD goalie made an incredible save as the buzzer sounded. We had him standing on his head for much of the 3rd period!”

The game ended in a 7-7 tie, but more importantly, the teams were able to raise $1,600 through donations, ticket sales and souvenir purchases.

“The Orlando Fire Department hockey team is a class act and we modeled our team after theirs,” said Hungate. “They have a deep and talented roster and it is truly an honor to skate on the same ice with them. I just want to thank the OFD team for making the trip for this great game and great cause, and to all of the fans who carved time out of their schedule to support us. We’re looking forward to making this an annual game on our schedule!”

AFTAC CGOC awards scholarship to local teen - Posted July 30, 2016


Col. Jeffrey W. Dyball, vice commander of the Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick AFB, Fla., presents a certification of recognition to Madison Zook, recipient of AFTAC Company Grade Officer Council’s annual scholarship. Zook, a recent Edgewood Jr./Sr. High School graduate, received the $500 award July 29, 2016 for her essay on business analytics. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)

By Susan A. Romano, AFTAC Public Affairs PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.
When she’s not executing her stickhandling skills on the lacrosse field, you might find Madison Zook helping grade school students improve their literacy, volunteering as a Relay for Life captain, or taking the stage with her fellow thespians at her high school.

And if that’s not enough, you might also find her spending time at her church working on various community service projects or attending Future Business Leaders of America meetings – all while balancing an eye-watering 4.3 grade point average.

So it stands to reason that the recent Edgewood Junior/Senior High School graduate received a $500 scholarship from the Air Force Technical Applications Center’s Company Grade Officers Council for her outstanding achievements July 29, 2016 at a ceremony held at the nuclear treaty monitoring center at Patrick AFB.

The council reached out to Brevard County schools to advertise the scholarship to high school students in the area. Criteria for eligibility included a minimum 3.0 GPA, graduating/graduated from a Brevard County high school, and accepted into a 4-year institution of higher learning.

AFTAC’s CGOC is an alliance of company grade officers (lieutenant through captain) whose charter is to promote the development of CGOs throughout the Air Force; develop and maintain an informational network to enhance professional development; encourage community service and camaraderie; and provide a communication structure to deliver the pulse of the CGOs to Air Force senior management.

The CGOC board presented Madison with the council’s annual scholarship that recognizes local students who are pursuing degrees in science, technology, engineering or math (STEM). Applicants were required to submit a resume, a list of community service involvement, all organizational memberships, and a 2-page essay on one of the four aspects of STEM.

Madison’s essay was entitled, “The Significance of Data Science” and it focused on a topic that is close to her heart: business analytics.

“I am pursuing my bachelor’s degree in business and I thought I’d focus my essay on that subject,” she said. “Part of the essay question asked about what I felt the lasting effects will be in my selected field of study, and I stated that business analytics will have the largest impact in the next decade on the medical field, the military, intelligence agencies and the business world, primarily because they’re all driven by scientific questions, technological innovation and societal demands.”

Madison’s parents Lee and Rhonda were present when AFTAC’s vice commander, Col. Jeffrey W. Dyball, presented her with a certificate of recognition for her efforts.

“We are extremely proud of her,” said Rhonda. “As the youngest of our three children, she has always been the competitive one. Last summer she attended the U.S. Naval Academy Summer Program at Annapolis, which was a very competitive program. We know she’s going to do well with whatever career path she chooses.”

AFTAC’s CGOC sifted through several applications and found all the submissions to be top quality.

“It was tough for us to narrow down the winner to just one person,” said 1st Lt. Michael Duff, CGOC STEM scholarship chairman. “But Madison’s definitely stood out, especially with the amount of accolades, honors and community service she’s performed throughout her high school years. We’re proud to present her with the $500 scholarship. It was definitely well earned.”

Madison is headed to Auburn University in the fall and hopes to someday own a cosmetics company, where she can apply every aspect of her business analytics degree.


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Recent Obituaries

Peggy Tidwell Tabeling - 10/16/2016

tabeling.jpg Peggy Tidwell Tabeling, age 90, joined the Lord in heaven on Sunday morning, October 16, 2016, after a brief bout with cancer. She passed peacefully in her sleep at home with her family.

Peggy, a devoted mother, grandmother, and great grandmother, was born in 1926 in Lucy, Tennessee, where her parents, Rudolph and Amanda Tidwell, lived on a farm on a road named after her mother's family, Rankin Branch Avenue, just north of Memphis. There she learned to love the land and the Lord, and became a beautiful, classy Southern gentlewoman. She always displayed the finest manners and would never say an unkind word about anyone.

As a Navy wife, she moved her young family around the country every few years before her husband, Commander Roy H. Tabeling, retired from the Navy in Cocoa Beach, Florida. Once settled in Cocoa Beach, Peggy tirelessly aided her children enjoy all of their activities, always driving them wherever they wanted to go, and spent endless hours at swim meets, surfing contests, and horse shows. She selflessly began working with the Civil Service on Patrick Air Force Base to help her children enjoy their many activities.

After Peggy's children graduated from high school, she requested an oversees transfer and spent the next 23 years living in Germany working on our Air Force bases. Her adventurous spirit led her to travel Europe playing golf and sightseeing with friends and family. Upon retiring Peggy moved back to Florida. After living in Tallahassee for a few years, she moved to the beautiful woods of Havana, where she spent years tending her yard and garden. Yearning for warmer winters, she moved back to Brevard County and lived her last few years in Titusville. There she greatly appreciated the aid of her son-in-law, Mark Schroettinger, to keep her yard tended.

Peggy is survived by her brother Duane (Paula) Tidwell, her daughters Patricia (Mark) Tabeling and LynnAnn Tabeling, 6 grandchildren and one great-grandson. She was preceded in death by Roy H. Tabeling, her brother Joseph Tidwell, and her son Michael B. Tabeling.

Peggy was able to spend her last few weeks at home with family and the tender care of Hospice of St. Francis in Titusville. During those weeks, she was comforted with the prayers of her neighbors and congregation of Christ Community Church.

All friends are invited to celebrate her long, wonderful life with Pastor Dan Thompson on Saturday, October 29, at 1:00 pm, at Christ Community Church, 4295 Garden Street, Titusville, Florida. In lieu of flowers, please consider a contribution to Christ Community Church, Hospice of St. Francis, or in Peggy's name.

Published in FLORIDA TODAY on Oct. 20, 2016

Hubert 'Rusty' Ridens, Jr. - 9/8/2016

Born in Indianapolis, Indiana on September 17, 1943. Departed on September 8, 2016 in Melbourne, Florida. Rusty retired CMSGT US Air Force and after Air Force retirement he retired after 20 years with Boeing. Hubert is survived by his wife, Donna of 54 years; Son and daughter in law, Kevin and Michelle Ridens; and grandchildren Stephanie and Stevie. A graveside service will be on Monday, September 19, at 1:30pm at Cape Canaveral National Cemetery. In Leiu of flowers please make a donation to The Wounded Warrior Project in his Name.

Mike McClellan later added, "Sorry to say that Rusty passed away at 5AM on September 8, 2016. He was a great friend, CSMGT, and inspiration! He will be deeply missed. We had the chance to be at the hospital on the evening of the 7th to say our farewells. I swear he knew we were there!.."

Mike wrote again, adding, "I don't know where to start with my relationship with Rusty! We were in a car pool from Palm Bay to Patrick every day with Wayne Pulliam, Rusty, And Jeff Bartow for several years. The trips are what made most of our days bearable after work. Rusty had a great sense of humor all the way to the point where he had me thinking I had a flat tire and needed to pull over, only to find out it was him pounding on the side of my car in rhythm with the rotation of my tires! While I was going to college, Rusty was instrumental in keeping me on track and continuing to finish my degree! Several times I was at the point where I thought I had enough and wanted to quit, but Rusty was always there convincing me to continue? When I finally graduated, Rusty gave me the famous "now that's what I'm talking about"! I'm going to seriously miss him and will always love him!"

Tom Eddleman provides the link to the obituary (Clark's update above) with the 'Guest Book,'

William Hemp Clarke - 8/29/2016

Col. William Hemp Clarke, (retired USAF) age 84, of San Antonio, TX passed away August 29, 2016. He was a 1954 graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point. After retirement from the USAF he worked for Lockheed at The Kennedy Space Center in Florida from 1984-1994. Survivors include his wife, Shirley Clarke of San Antonio: children and their spouses, Karen and BrigGen Sean Murphy of Virginia, Steven and Deborah (Arevalos) Clarke of Virginia; and 4 grandchildren. He will be buried at West Point. - See more here.

Jacqueline Ann Ballard Hopkins - 8/24/2016

Jacqueline Ann Ballard Hopkins, daughter of Janice Marea Price Ballard and Arthur Herbert Ballard, II entered into life on July 21, 1935 in Springfield, MA. She went home to the Lord, peacefully in her sleep on August 24, 2016 after battling cancer for 7 years. She grew up in West Hartford, CT. Most of her life she worked as a bookkeeper, retiring in 2004 from H & R Block. She was a life member of the Air Force Sergeants Association Auxiliary. She served as international president of the Auxiliary for two years. Jacqueline is survived by her husband of 62 years, TSgt, Retired, Marvin Gilbert Hopkins, 5 children, Mark Arthur Hopkins, Keith Timothy Hopkins, Russell Alan Hopkins, Allison Marie Hopkins Rathburn), and Scott Andrew Hopkins, also by her brother, Arthur Herbert Ballard, III, nine grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. She had many friends in AFSA, the Air Force, and her church Christ Community Church in Carmichael.

Alex DiSanto - 8/15/2016

Alexander John DiSANTO Colonel, USAF, Retired, who was a B17 navigator in WWII and Disanto.jpg a B29 navigator in the Korean War, died August 15, 2016 at his home in New Market, VA after a long illness. He was born in Clyde, NY on February 5, 1922 and was raised in Newark, New York. He enlisted in the US Army in July 1940, was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in July 1944. From 1944 to 1945 Colonel DiSanto flew 30 combat missions over Germany in B17s and received the Distinguished Flying Cross for heroism and the Air Medal with five Oak Leaf Clusters. In February 1949 he re-enlisted in the US Air Force, and flew 39 combat missions over North Korea as a B29 Navigator. He was awarded four additional Air Medals for his combat service. During the 1950s He flew with the Strategic Air Command on B29, B36, and KC135 aircraft. Later he served as a commander and staff officer in AFTAC, and was stationed in the US and overseas. He retired from the US Air Force in June 1973. Following retirement, he did volunteer work for many years at for his church in Fairfax City, VA; he moved to Florida in later years and volunteered at the Veterans Clinic in Viera, Florida. Colonel DiSanto was an avid golfer, a champion bowler and stained glass artist. He produced many exquisite works of stained glass art over the years for family and friends. He was predeceased by his beloved wife of 52 years, Betty Smith DiSanto in October 1997. He is survived by his wife, Laurie DiSanto (nee Bailey) of Melbourne FL; two daughters, Suzanne Ewing (Gerald) of Orlando, FL and Nancy Staples (Wyatt) of Fort Valley, VA; a son, John Michael DiSanto (Patti) of New Market, VA; eight grandchildren, 15 great-grandchildren and three great-great-grandchildren. Also survived by many nieces, nephews and their children, and many wonderful friends all over the world. With sadness we're informing you and the AFTAC organization that Alex died this past Monday, August 15, 2016 at home after a long illness. Click here for the Obituary. He was 94. He was so proud to be associated with the AFTAC organization, and while we were not able to attend very many of the events since his decline in health, he read the Afterburner with interest and enjoyed keeping up with the group even though most of his peers have long passed. Thank you for helping him receive his newsletter. Kindest Regards, Laurie DiSanto

William Richard Osteen - 8/1/2016

William Richard Osteen, 83, died Monday, August 1, 2016 at Shannon Medical Center Osteen.jpg surrounded by his loving family. Mr. Osteen is survived by his wife of 56 years, Dolores, two children: Diane Janzen from Fredericksburg, TX, and Renée Beale and son-in-law Joe Recchia from Austin, TX. He also leaves behind two grandchildren, Autumn (JB) Byerly of Indiana, Lauren (Shay) Wilde of San Angelo, TX, along with two great grandchildren, Brooklyn and Brynn Byerly; his brother, Gene Osteen and two nieces, Marsha and Angie. Mr. Osteen was born April 5, 1933 and raised in Bloomingdale, Georgia. William, better known as “Richard” was retired Master Sergeant in the United States Air Force, where he worked as an electrician, in radio and transmitters, with the Air Force Technical Applications Center, and Air Force recruiting. While spending the early part of his career at Goodfellow Air Force Base, he met his wife Dolores. They spent the first 33 years of their marriage in Aurora, Colorado, where in the high mountains of Colorado, Richard’s love for the outdoors became his passion. He was an avid fisherman and hunter. Both he and his wife moved to San Angelo, TX in 1996 after his retirement from the military. When Richard wasn’t spending time with family, or casting a line into the Concho River, he was volunteering his time with the San Angelo State Park, and was a member of the West Side Lions Club where much of his charitable work and easy smile will be sorely missed.

On behalf of my mother, sister, and myself, we would like to thank you. We are so proud to know my father was part of a wonderfully supportive network with such kind and generous people. Your assistance during this difficult time has been appreciated. With much friendship, Renée Beale

Bob Schley - 6/5/2016

Steve McDonald just called from Texas with information that Bob Schley passed away on June 5th with a fatal heart attack." It was later reported, " ... (verified) Bob passed away on the 5th and they have already cremated him. No obituary was published and they are not sure if the family is going to have a service or not." NOTE: No more informtion is known at this time.

Arthur Sullivan Reinhart - 5/23/2016

reinhart.jpg Arthur Sullivan Reinhart was born in the home of his great uncle and great aunt in the small west Texas town of Sabinal, Texas on December 1, 1919. He was proud of being a Texan by birth since one of his great grandparents had lived in Texas while it was still a Republic. His father owned a grocery story, and his mother taught school---he often rode to school with his mother in a horse and buggy. He attended school in Sabinal for two years, then moved with his parents to Del Rio, Texas. After graduating from high school as valedictorian, he attended Texas Tech University at 16. On receiving a degree in Chemical engineering and a commission from the U S Army, he was immediately called to active duty with the Army Air Corps at Fort Logan Colorado, and was on active duty there when Pearl Harbor was attacked and World War II began. He remained on duty with the Army Air Corps, serving primarily in the Air Training Command, and become director of the Army Air Corps School of Photography before going overseas to the Central Pacific and Okinawa.

He returned to the US in early 1946 and was employed as a hydraulic engineer by the Bureau of Reclamation Laboratories in Denver, specializing in spillway design. He met lovely Hilma Ruuttila in 1946 and they were married in 1947.

With the outbreak of the Korean war he was recalled to active duty with what had become the United States Air Force. He was one of the first officers assigned to Mountain Home Air Force base when it was reopened, and his oldest son Kevin was the first boy born in the re-opened base hospital. He competed for and was selected for a commission in the Regular Air Force in 1957 and remained on active duty until his retirement in 1974, serving overseas in the arctic and in the Middle East, primarily in photography and Special Activities (When the photographic unit he commanded went to Thule, Greenland in 1953, he and his unit were personally welcomed, by name, by "Moscow Molly" on Radio Moscow!)

He retired from active duty in 1974, and he and Hilma moved to Boise where they had bought a home. He enrolled in the BSU program in Aviation Management, and received that degree in 1977. He was active in community programs, serving on the first Ada County Air Quality Board, and later as president of the Mayor's Transit Advisory Committee. He was also chairman of the Boise Committee on Foreign Relations.

After retiring, he took up golf with enthusiasm, serving as president of the Eagle Hills Men's Golf Association and being selected twice by that organization as sportsman of the year. He joined the Idaho Golf Association and played in tournaments throughout the valley.

He and Hilma bought 25 acres on a small stream near Elk City and spent many weeks there, fishing and just observing the wildlife. They had a pickup camper, and they drove it to and from Alaska twice, as well as over much of the Northwest and southern Canada.

He and Hilma were cross-country skiers and skied regularly for many winters in the mountains around Boise.

He and Hilma also traveled widely, having been in all 50 states, in Canada, and in Europe, the Middle East, North Africa, and South America. He was also a dedicated photographer, and his collection of slides of his family and his travels occupied a large cabinet in his office. A highlight of their post-retirement travels was India, where he and Hilma celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in the former summer palace of the Maharajah of Jaipur.

His beloved Hilma passed away in 2000.

He continued to remain an active member of the community, participating in local organizations such as Kiwanis, and continuing to travel. He met Jan Manning in 2001, and they later became very special friends, traveling together throughout the US, Canada and Europe, as well as throughout the West, visiting friends and family members.

In addition to the two degrees mentioned above, he earned a master's degree in International Relations from George Washington University, he was a graduate of both The Air War College, and Industrial College of the Armed Forces, and was selected for, inaugurated and completed a professional program with the Air Force Institute of Technology. He was listed in three editions of Who's Who in the West, and was also proud of being a Mason.

He passed away on May 23, 2016 and is survived by: Kevin (Marlene) of Hanover New Hampshire, Lauri Anne of Reno Nevada, Robin Accinelli (Steve) now living in Dubuque Iowa, and Brian (Vivian) now living in Singapore. There are three grandchildren: Ben Accinelli (Brigit); Larkin Accinelli, and Kirsten Reinhart. There are also two 'new arrivals,' his great-granddaughters Amelia Accinelli and Anabelle Accinelli.

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SAGE SHOP Enter Sage Shop

The ordering information has been updated as follows:
Mail orders, unless otherwise instructed, to:

AFTAC Alumni Assn,
ATTN: Sage Shop, MSgt Aaron Trudel
Box 254892, Patrick AFB FL, 32925-0892

Phone 321-494-3456
Email: C5jetmech81@gmail.com

Add $5.00 for shipping/handling of 1 Item & $1.50 for each additional. (no shipping cost for Logo pins)


Active Duty / AFTAC Alumni Association
Current Calendar of Events

Show Calendar

Review these events periodically. Many are designed for you. Plan to attend them if you can.

If there are any questions please email our Publicity Chairman, Sean Ryan

Elected Board

  • Ed Linsey
    Ed Lindsay
  • John Howorth
    CMSgt John Howorth
    (Vice President)
  • Arlin Massey
    Arlin Massey
  • Head Outline
    Joe Goldian

Appointed Board

  • Chief Joseph
    CMSgt Michael Joseph
  • John Horsch
    John Horsch
    (AOY Coordinator and
    Post Monitor/Web)
  • Head Outline
    Mike Young
    (Hall of Heritage)
  • Bob Wiley
    Bob Wiley
    (Hall of Heritage)
  • Judy Henderson
    Judy Henderson
  • Frank Calenda
    Frank Calenda
    (Webpage Services)
  • Michael Steskal
    Michael Steskal
  • Sean Ryan
    Sean Ryan
  • Aaron Trudel
    MSgt Aaron Trudel
    (Sage Shop)
AFTAC Symbol
'AFTAC Cares' for Deployed 2016.06.15 Posting. We have nine deployed.
AFTAC Symbol
Under Construction

Check back for a future update.

In 2007 The AFTAC Spouses started 'AFTAC CARES,' a program to send 'care' packages to deployed AFTACers and family members/friends.
Contact AFTAC Spouses for information.

Website Editor's Note: The Alumni Association actively supports 'AFTAC Cares' and asks that all Sages be involved. "Thank You's" are encouraged and can be sent to AFTAC Spouses

AFTAC Spouses Notice: Help with the packing is appreciated. Contact the The AFTAC Spouses or the 'Calendar of Events,' on this website, for date and location information. Feel free to send a 'Friend Request' to 'AFTAC Spouse' or join the AFTAC Spouse Group by clicking the following link, HERE.


On May 2007, five care packages were sent to our deployed personnel containing many items suggested by those recently returning. Many packages have been sent since that time.

Some suggested items are, but not limited to:

  • Socks
  • Baby wipes
  • Gold Bond powder
  • Individual microwaveable brownies
  • Drink mixes

Magazines should be sent in a flat rate priority mail box. This ensures that the packages would proceed directly to the military member and not be held up in a processing center.

Other items should be small to keep the mailing costs down and should be items that are useful in a remote location and not frivolous (i.e. a minion doll)


We are continually in the process of preparing care packages and collecting the names and addresses of our deployed family members. Volunteer help is greatly appreciated.

Monetary donations, both mailed and in person, have been received and are very much appreciated. If mailing, please send them to the following:

AFTAC Alumni Association
P.O. Box 254892
Patrick AFB, FL 32925-0892

Mark them, 'AFTAC Cares Program,' and direct their use, if you desire. That PO Box is checked on a regular basis. If writing a check, please make out to Diane Widden since the spouses are not an official organization in any way. She will make sure the funds are used as you direct.