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When you receive this newsletter, hopefully, old man winter will have expended his fury and retired to rest until the end of the year. But as I write this item, there are reports of more than two feet of snow in the nation's Capitol and yet more in other East Coast cities. Even San Antonio got down to the freezing mark and experienced a slight dusting of the white stuff this winter. I trust y'all survived the elements and stayed warm. Come on, spring.

On a more serious note, this winter also brought us a national tragedy when the spacecraft Columbia was lost and the seven brave souls aboard perished. We mourn their loss and our hearts go out to the families of those gallant men and women. As the fascinating space program has generally progressed without a noticeable hitch for over a decade, we probably began, again, to take it for granted, disregarding the potential dangers our astronauts faced and expecting everything to go as planned. But, a tragedy like the loss of Columbia makes us once again appreciate the highly talented and sophisticated team that directs a most amazingly high tech and complex system that at any moment can be so fragile. We lament the loss of our intrepid space pioneers, but applaud the resolve of the N.A.S.A. leadership to determine the cause of the failure, take steps to prevent recurrence and press on with the space program. And, on the heels of the Columbia tragedy, hundreds of thousands of troops and massive amounts of equipment have been deployed to the Middle East to be prepared to launch an attack on Saddam Hussein, the Iraqi infrastructure and contain their weapons of mass destruction. AIA resources and other elements of Air Force intelligence are involved and will play a key role in any such action. Once again, our comrades in arms will be placed in harm's way. Please keep them and all of our men and women in uniform, in your thoughts and prayers.

Speaking of comrades in arms, many of us had the privilege recently of attending the retirement ceremony and celebration of service for a long time FTVA member and supporter, Mr. Dennis Alvey. Denny finally signed off his safe for the last time after forty years of service in Air Force intelligence as an active duty officer, an Air Force civilian employee, member of the Senior Executive Service and, upon his retirement, Executive Director of the Air Intelligence Agency. Folks literally traveled from all over the country to be present for his retirement ceremony and testimonial dinner. Denny was a vital member of the command staff and the Air Force Intelligence brain trust. He was a genuine command asset and will be missed. But, he's staying close by in San Antonio and will no doubt be available for consultation as need be. We know he will remain in touch.

As for remaining in touch, plans are already underway for the FTVA 2003 Annual Reunion. The AIA staff, with direction from the commander and close oversight by Colonel Chris Cook, will be playing an expanded role as host for the event. That should take some of the load off of several of our stalwarts like Grover McMakin, Bob Cope, Bill Ballard and Bob Baert, just to name a few. Additionally, the broader involvement of the command in the Reunion should, hopefully, generate more participation by the active duty force in the festivities. We're working closely with the AIA team to make this year's reunion even better than last year's event. So, mark your calendars now for September 25 thru 27 for the FTVA Annual Reunion.

Thanks for staying involved. Keep those cards, letters and emails coming. Say a prayer for our troops.

And, remain in touch.

// Signed //

John Worthington

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Freedom Through Vigilance Association
PO Box 691616
San Antonio, TX 78269-1616

File last updated: March 21, 2013 8:18:04 PM CDT