By Mrs. Sherri Hayes
ACA Civilian Advisor
Salutations Air Commandos,
Hope you all had a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! I wanted to share a quick note about some of the ways your Air Commando Association supports Air Commandos and their families. You will be pleased to know the ethos of the original Air Commandos of World War II of making things happen when others do not even try is being sustained today.
First the awards program. Let us start with a little background on the ACA awards program. In 2010, Lt Gen Donny Wurster had an idea about how to get ACA more involved with the active duty force. As a result, the Squadron Commander Leadership awards were the first AFSOC level awards sponsored by the ACA. Since that time the list has grown to encompass even more operational specialties across the command. We work hand-in-hand with amazing teammates at AFSOC/A1, specifically Mr. Jeff Greenberg and Mr. Kyle Ingram, to bring recognition to AFSOC Airmen.
Awards normally presented to outstanding Air Commandos during the October ACA Annual Award Banquet include:
• Squadron Commander Leadership Award - 20 squadrons
• SRA Julian S. Scholten ISR Operator of the Year
• Hap Lutz Medic of the Year
• Heart of the Team
• Special Tactics Officer of the Year
• Special Tactics Enlisted of the Year
• Deployed Aircraft Ground Response Element (DAGRE)
• Operational Squadron of the Year
SPECIAL ACTIVITY AWARDS:
• AF JROTC
• Hoyt/Tunner Outstanding Aircrew Awards
• Red Erwin Outstanding Enlisted Aircrew of the Year Award
• Levitow Awards for Airman Leadership School at both Hurlburt and Cannon
In the last SITREP, Mr. Bill Rone mentioned the Air Commando Foundation (ACF) was established in 2012 to fund unmet needs for Air Commandos and families in need. The ACA, through the Foundation, continues to provide support to Air Commando families around the world. In 2019 the ACF assisted 21 families in the amount of $39,637.66 and we expect to assist another 15 families in 2020 with approximately $21,504.65. The amazing part in this, is all requests were reviewed, validated, and approved, and funds released in hours versus weeks that is normally seen from larger organizations.
For example, we had an Airman in ICU with severe liver failure being transported to University of Florida Shands Hospital in Gainesville. The USSOCOM Care Coalition reached out for assistance because the Airman’s mother had limited income and could not afford hotel costs. In a matter of hours, the ACA approved funds to cover at least a week’s hotel for the mom – estimated to be around $840 to $1,000.
Your ACA was also represented at the 2020 Emerald Coast Honor Games “Ruck 22” on 7 November, in Destin, FL. The Honor Games support five local charities with the objective of sharing awareness of veteran suicide. The ACA sold over 100 tickets for the event and our own Mr. Steve Connelly won one of the raffle prizes. Another major win is the ACA was one of the five charities presented with a check for $4,000 at the Honor Games ceremony on 11 November!!!
Finally, I want to send a heartfelt thank you from the Commando Quilters. Our quilt group was founded in 2014 by local quilters whose mission is to bring comfort to AFSOC wounded, ill, or injured warriors. Due to your contributions and generosity in purchasing raffle tickets each year during the ACA Annual Awards Banquet, you have enabled us to make 73 quilts! Sixty-five quilts have been delivered to KIA families and wounded, ill, or injured Air Commandos, and eight were made for fund raising efforts that each of you graciously supported. Of special note, we were able to make and deliver 12 quilts this year, despite COVID-19. Thank you for believing in our mission and supporting our fundraising efforts. Finally, on behalf of the Commando Quilters, Cathy, Laura, Janet, Donna, Tammy, Lynnette, Betty, CeCe, and myself, please accept our deepest gratitude and thank you for your service to our country.
It is an honor serving and look forward to seeing all of you in 2021.