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President's Corner - December 2002


What a weekend! For the hundreds of FTVA members who converged on Lackland AFB and Security Hill in September there were many opportunities to renew old friendships, make new ones, quaff a refreshing beverage and get an update on the command and its outstanding troops. The weather gods smiled on us and provided a great climate for the entire reunion weekend.

Events started off with the annual golf tournament ably orchestrated by Joe Hurst and Dennis Buxton (see additional info on the tournament elsewhere in this newsletter). We understand that they are working on plans to improve the tournament for next year, and we appreciate their efforts as our new golf tournament gurus.

The annual remembrance ceremony has to be one of the most moving occasions I have ever experienced. It was made even more poignant with the presence of SSgt Shane Kimmett's widow, Emily, and her participation in the event. Maj Gen Lebras presented Emily with a plaque commemorating the service of her husband and his death in the line of duty. The plaque is to be a permanent fixture in the Hall of Honor. After FTVA members present called out names of fallen eagles in the tradition of the ceremony, the Honor Guard fired a 21 gun salute, the Alfazar Shrine Highlander Pipe Band played "Amazing Grace" and precisely on the last strains of the musical tribute, four F-16s from the 149th ANG Tactical Fighter Squadron performed a "Missing Man" fly-by with the break-off jet corkscrewing up into the heavens. It was truly an awe-inspiring moment that touched everyone in attendance. Our thanks to the Command staff who helped make it all possible, especially Col Chris Cook, who oversaw this ceremony and all the reunion's activities to ensure proper command support and to help us overcome some bureaucratic hurdles.

The annual Command picnic was well attended. There was food and drink and lots good fellowship. Special thanks to Grover McMakin for honchoing the logistics and insuring that we got ample liquid refreshments and music for the afternoon. Also, Bob Baert went above and beyond manning the membership table and arranging for tee shirts and mouse pads for sale. Commemorative items have proved to be popular items at our reunions, and we will plan to continue making them available in the future. For next year and future reunions, we'll be asking for volunteers to help man several activities associated with the picnic. If you can spare an hour or two, let us know.

Saturday morning saw another inspiring ceremony as we formally inducted 12 new members into the Hall of Honor, eight selectees from 2001, and four selectees from 2002. Their biographical summaries are testament to their talents, initiative, dedication and achievement...well deserved recognition for the best of the best. Thanks to Bill Ballard and his selection committee for another job well done. Following the ceremony, Maj Gen Lebras gave a comprehensive update on the command and the new alignment under Air Combat Command. His rundown on AIA troops and their key role in the Information Operations mission again demonstrated the superior quality of the command's people and their commitment to the mission. The annual membership meeting was brief and to the point highlighting the business of the Association, authorizing some administrative changes to our By-laws and receiving reports from some of our regional chapters.

Saturday evening's banquet saw over 400 folks in attendance. Again, Grover McMakin was our mainstay for this event, orchestrating all the details and following up to ensure that all had an enjoyable evening. Our guest speaker, Maj Gen Lebras, made the command's heritage his theme and touched on key events in the command's history and reinforced the importance of maintaining an awareness of our past and educating those who follow of the proud heritage that they are charged to carry on. Following the formal portion of the evening, many stayed to "trip the light fantastic" on the dance floor or to have a nightcap with old comrades.

I want to express our sincere appreciation to Maj Gen Paul Lebras for carving time out of his very hectic schedule to participate, along with his charming wife, Kris, in the reunion activities. He has articulated on numerous occasions his concern that the command's heritage be preserved and passed on to new generations of AIA airmen now and in the future. He is a strong supporter (and member) of your Association, and we are most fortunate to have him as the AIA commander.

With the war on terrorism continuing, and the possibility of another armed engagement with Iraq looming, our silent warriors continue to play a vital role in the fight. Their mission is more important than ever these days and will continue to be so. As we enjoy the holidays this year, let's be sure to keep the command's people, and all our men and women in uniform, in our thoughts and prayers.

Happy Holidays...and remain in touch.

John Worthington
President, FTVA
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File last updated: March 21, 2013 8:18:16 PM CDT