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President's Corner - December 2008

December 2008

We enjoyed a wonderful 60th USAFSS Anniversary Reunion in September. The weather was perfect and, as usual, all events were well executed and attended. As a result we remembered, recognized, and relaxed while enjoying the camaraderie of friends. Once again, we took advantage of the Alsatian Golf Club, in Castroville for our reunion golf tournament. They provided a great a venue and made it easy for our members to enjoy the fellowship this event is designed to provide. And the barbecue was good too! Colonel (Retired) Joe Hurst did a great job in planning and executing the tournament and the meal that followed. Thanks again Joe.

The Remembrance Ceremony held at the EC-47 memorial in front of the AF ISR Agency headquarters provided a chance to reflect on past events and associations with colleagues present and absent. AF ISR Agency Vice Commander, Colonel Jon Kimminau delivered a very memorable address on the command's mission, the commitment of our people, and the need to preserve the sense of heritage connecting our past with current operations. The ceremony included a moving performance by the Alzafar Shrine Highlander Pipe Band and an F-16 flyover. FTVA members called out the names of Fallen Eagles who died during the past year, followed by a 21-gun salute fired by the AF ISR Agency Honor Guard. Senior Master Sergeant (Ret) Red Haire, Colonel Wayne Fau, and Mrs Betty McMakin received special recognition. The association appreciates the extraordinary efforts of the command staff and the reunion/anniversary team led by Lieutenant Colonel Tim Woliver in making this and the other events a success.

The picnic that followed the Remembrance Ceremony was fun for those who attended. Now in his fourth year, Chief Master Sergeant (Retired) A.J. Harrison was the driving force behind making the afternoon so enjoyable. His 60th Anniversary commemorative beer mugs went over well. A dedicated group of AF ISR Agency folks manned the booths providing food and drink for those in attendance. The membership table (led by Chief Master Sergeant (Retired) Kenny O'Neal) did a brisk business in signing up members for another year and offering command-related mementos, including (thanks to Chief Master Sergeant (Retired) Bob Crabtree) our special commemorative anniversary ball caps, and (thanks to Master Sergeant (Retired) John Knotts) our anniversary commemorative coins. And our DJ once again, provided an afternoon of outstanding "picnic music."

Saturday's events began with the Hall of Honor induction ceremony adding four distinguished members, including - Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) Howard Bunton, Chief Master Sergeant (Retired) Gerry Gething, Chief Master Sergeant (Retired) Tom Giroir, and Chief Master Sergeant (Retired) Jim Sickich. Chief Master Sergeant (Retired) Bob Sherwood has done an outstanding job in guiding the efforts of our Hall of Honor committee. He deserves a big "Thank You" for his dedication and diligence in guiding Hall of Honor activities. Once again, well done Bob! Next, Colonel Kimminau provided an update on the command's organization and operation, with emphasis on the significant role AF ISR Agency is playing in the global war on terrorism. These annual updates provide an outstanding link between how things worked in the past and the evolving command mission and tools in use today. We are deeply indebted to Major General Koziol and his staff for the time and care they have expended in preparing these presentations. Following the command presentation, a brief FTVA business meeting announced the election of new officers and concluded with reports from several association officers.

The 60th Anniversary banquet held on Saturday evening at the Lackland Gateway Club was enjoyed by the 320 people who attended. In his after-dinner speech, Lieutenant General (Retired) James R. Clapper, Under Secretary of Defense (Intelligence), gave a very interesting account of Air Force Security Service and the outstanding performance of the AF ISR Agency, over the sixty-plus year history of our US Air Force. We are very grateful for General Clapper's attendance. We also owe a large debt of gratitude to Mr. Ken Williams, our Social Chairman for flawlessly orchestrating a mountain of details associated with a very large dinner. Thanks, Ken!!

Each year, the annual reunion marks a time of transition in our association as new officers take their places on the association's board of directors. This year's meeting was marked by the reelection of Colonel (Retired) Bob Cope as our Treasurer and Senior Master Sergeant (Retired) Phred Sevening as our Secretary. In addition, I am grateful for the significant contribution and hard work of all our board members who continue to serve the FTVA membership and our organization. I'd like to thank Colonel (Retired) Jim Hilliard for his dedicated leadership of our Vigilant Partner program. As of October, Colonel (Retired) Jim McLendon has stepped in to replace him in that role. In addition, I owe Chief Master Sergeant (Retired) Marco Aldaz a note of thanks. Marco has served as our Historian for the last four years. He'll be replaced by Chief Master Sergeant (Retired) Lee Anthony.

Since the reunion took place in September, your FTVA leadership has participated in the SENSOR OLYMPICS celebration, allowing "alumni" of the command another opportunity to meet and get to know their successors now serving on active duty and sharing with them the importance of their work and our collective heritage.

Over the next year, I will continue to work -- with your help -- to make FTVA an even stronger organization than it is today. My hope is to bring the organization into even closer relationship with the AF ISR Agency as a means of attracting a steady infusion of "new blood" in the form of active duty and recently retired/separated people who share our association's values. We need to continue to get the word out to the current members of AF ISR Agency that they are welcome to become members of FTVA. Current and past members of USAFSS, ESC, AFIC, AIA, and AF ISR Agency can join the FTVA. I urge every FTVA member to join in this endeavor. As we approach the holiday season, best wishes to you and your families. And as the war on terrorism continues, let us join in thoughts and prayers for the safety of all Americans, particularly those wearing our country's uniform.

Remain in touch,

Chris Cook
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File last updated: August 12, 2013 8:41:03 PM CDT