PO Box 7, Mary Esther, FL 32569  •  850.581.0099  •  info@aircommando.org

Bonwit Family’s Generosity

Lt Col Barry Lee Bonwit, passed away on April 20, 2022 and his beloved wife and family sent a very substantial donation to the ACA in his name. Colonel Bonwit, whose member number was #103, loved the Air Commando Association and served with honor and distinction as a “Quiet Professional” anytime-anywhere. The ACA is truly grateful to the Bonwit Family.


Lt. Col. Barry Lee Bonwit, age 95, passed away peacefully at his home on Perdido Bay on April 20, 2022 of natural causes. He is predeceased by a son, Mark Christian and leaves behind his beloved wife of 52 years Roberta Ann; a son, Christopher Lee (wife Chanjira); daughter, Lisa Lee; two grandchildren, Katie and William, and a favorite niece, Renee Zahourek (Jon). Colonel Bonwit was born May 13, 1926 in Baltimore, Maryland. He grew up on Miami Beach, Florida and at the age of 16 he enlisted in the Air Force October 1943. He served as a B-17 tail gunner during the latter part of World War II. In July 1946, he was honorably discharged, only to return and gain admission to the Aviation Cadet Program. On October 12, 1950, he graduated and was assigned to the Air Rescue Service where he spent the next seven years navigating amphibious aircraft in Saudi Arabia and Hawaii. Concluding this tour of duty, in 1957, Colonel Bonwit attended Stanford University under the Air Force Institute of Technology, earning a degree in International Relations. B-52 Bombardment training in 1959 blossomed into a navigator assignment at Eglin Air Force Base until 1961, and a radar navigator position at Homestead AFB, FL flying B-52H aircraft until 1966. He attended A-26 navigator training school and was assigned to the 609 Air Commando Wing in Thailand. Colonel Bonwit was later stationed at Maxwell AFB in 1971 researching the VietNam war. In October 19711, he was assigned radar navigator on the B-52 in the 46th Bomb Squadron and 3 years later he became the Air Weapons officer until his retirement in August 1975. In the course of his career, Colonel Bonwit has flown a total of 212 combat missions 75 of which were staged over North Vietnam. 4 operations were flown over Hanoi as part of Linebacker II. He accrued over 7,700 flying hours in aircraft including the B-36, A-26, SA16, B-52, B-29, B-17. Colonel Bonwit also gained counter insurgency experience in SE Asia. Among numerous awards Colonel Bonwit wore the Distinguished Flying Cross with two oak leaf clusters, the Meritorius Service Medal, Combat Readiness Medal, the Presidential Unit Citation, the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award and the Vietnam Service Medal with one battlestar. Upon retiring to Perdido Bay near Pensacola, Colonel Bonwit and his wife Roberta, traveled all over the globe. He also received a Masters in International Relations from Troy University. His favorite organizations were the Air Commando Association, the Air Rescue Association, Stanford Alumni Association, Air Force Navigators Association and Friends of Perdido Bay. A service and burial will be held at a later date. Remembrances may be sent to the Air Commando Association, P.O. Box 7, Mary Esther, FL 32569-0007.

Published in Pensacola News Journal – Posted online on September 02, 2022

Maj Gen Bob Patterson Flies West

We would like to share a beautiful tribute to Maj Gen Patterson by our friends in the Airlift Tanker Association. It highlights his huge contribution to the stand up of AFSOC as well as his long and dedicated career in the Air Force. Gen Patterson was inducted into the Air Commando Hall of Fame in 2012. Blessings to his family and RIP Air Commando.


In Memory of Our Members Nov 2022

In a final salute to our members who have recently passed away in 2022, the Air Commando Association and all who answered the call of our nation: we salute you!

Kenneth C Anderson
Barry L Bonwit
James Edwards
Owen Haddock
Ben Kraljev Jr.
Robert Patterson
Edward Reed
Howard Sanders

Kenneth C. Anderson

With great sadness for our loss, but even more gratitude for his life, we announce the passing of our beloved husband, father, and grandfather, Kenneth (Ken) C. Anderson. Born July 18, 1935, to Roy and Bel (Kwapil) Anderson in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, Ken passed from death into life eternal with his Lord Jesus on April 6, 2022, following a long battle with diabetes, strokes, and dementia. On December 10, 1983, Ken married Jean Veldey VanKeuren. Memories of growing up in Door County include helping his dad in the boat and bait business, plus working to buy his clothes and save for college. After graduation from St. Olaf College, Ken served his country for 20 years in the U.S. Air Force. Highlights include training in an Air Commando unit, earning a graduate degree in business and earning medals. Ken’s service took him to Viet Nam, Thailand, Panama, Guam, England and stateside duty that included the Pentagon. Post retirement, he worked at Oshkosh Truck Corporation in defense program management. Further applying his education and experience, Ken next enjoyed teaching at Fox Valley Technical College. After full retirement, his all-time favorite job was volunteering in kindergarten. A devoted Christian, he served at Oshkosh Community Church. Favorite pastimes included reading, fishing, flying as a private pilot, going to Door County, and visiting family. He’ll be fondly remembered for his faith, intellect, sense of humor, love of family and his many pets.

Ken is survived by and his memory will be cherished by his wife, Jean and sons, Eric (Kelley) Anderson, Jon (Dolly Piette) VanKeuren and Chris (Jenny) VanKeuren, plus six grandchildren: Jake, Ashley, Faith, Crystal, Maddy and Andy. He is further survived by his brother,Wayne (Nancy); sisters-in-law: Carol Veldey (Carlton Peterson), Kate Connors, and Evie (Tim) Kane, nieces and nephews plus former daughters-in-law Kris Behm and Sarah Van Keuren. Preceding him in death are his parents and son, Mark Anderson.

Funeral services for Ken will be held on Saturday, April 9, 2022 at 4 :00 pm in Community Church, 2351 Ryf Road with the Rev. Alan Cleveland officiating. A time of visitation will be held at the church on Saturday from 3:00 pm until the time of service. Full military honors will be accorded by the United Veterans Honor Guard immediately following the service. Burial will be in Riverside Cemetery. In lieu of floral expressions, a memorial fund for charity will be established.

Courtesy of Fiss & Bills-Poklasny Funeral Home

Lt. Col. Donald Moody, USAF (Ret)

Lt. Col. Donald Moody, USAF (Ret) 86, earned his heavenly wings, Tuesday, April 19, 2022.

Memorials: EAPLS (Raven FACs) Scholarship Fund, 507 Rolling Green Dr., Lakeway, TX 78734 or Bear Valley Community Church, 7900 Precinct Line Rd., Colleyville, TX 76034.

Don was born in Burkburnet, Texas on July 13, 1935, to Douglas and Wilma Day Moody. He was a 1953 graduate of Wichita Falls High School and, following graduation, enlisted in the USAF and was accepted into the Aviation Cadet program. After graduation, he flew the F-84 at Luke AFB in Arizona. He then went to Bentwaters RAF in England, and then to Toul Rosiere AFB, France. He then flew the F-100D aircraft at Hahn AB, Germany. Upon his return to the states, Don was posted to Webb AFB, Texas, where he flew the T-38A as an instructor pilot.

Following his tour as a UPT Instructor Pilot, Don reported to Hurlburt Field, Florida, where he began a long and storied career in the USAF Special Operations forces as an Air Commando. He instructed foreign pilots, training them to fly the AT-28D as close air support attack pilots. In 1966, Don was sent to Udorn RTAFB, Thailand, as part of Operation Waterpump, where he trained Laotian and Hmong pilots to become fighter pilots in the Royal Laotian Air Force (RLAF). He then went to Luang Prabang, Laos, (L-54) as the Air Operations Center (AOC) Commander, working for the American Embassy.

In January of 1967, L-54 was overrun by North Vietnamese troops, which resulted in heavy losses of T-28s at the base. Don then had to rebuild the RLAF T-28 capability for the second time in six months.

While in Southeast Asia Don served as a Butterfly FAC, a Raven FAC, and an AOC Commander. He spent 849 days there and flew 446 combat missions.

During his military service, he was awarded the Bronze Star (with OLC), the Distinguished Flying Cross (with OLC), Air Force Legion of Merit, Air Force Meritorious Service Medal (with OLC), Joint Service Commendation Medal by 7th Air Force unit USSAG and other medals.

Prior to retirement, he earned his BS from William Carey University, MS. and his MBA from Northwestern State University in Louisiana. In 1976 he retired from the Air Force at England AFB, Louisiana, flying A-37’s.

After retirement from the Air Force, Don continued his career, first as a banker, and then working for Southern Air Transport, and finally at Simuflite as a Government Compliance Specialist.

Upon retirement from Simuflite , he became a volunteer youth Baseball and Football Coach. This he loved. He finally volunteered as a VIPS (Volunteer in Police Service for the North Richland Hills Police Dept. He loved to do this as well.

In 2003, he was inducted into the Air Commando’s Hall of Fame for his outstanding service and contributions to this nation as an Air Force special operator and Air Commando.

Don was instrumental is forming the “Edgar Allen Poe Literary Society” in 1973, a nonprofit Texas corporation that provides scholarships to deserving Laotian and Hmong students. He has been a valued member of the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors for many years. His presence and guidance there will be greatly missed.

He is survived by his wife of 41 years, Lorraine Garren Moody. Children: Lisa Moody, Kelly Valadez, Jennifer Moody Ogden (Jim), Michael Moody (Staci), Laura Crewe, Lisa Greenfield, Lynette Kithas (Mike) Carl Greenfield and grandchildren whom he loved very much.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Douglas and Wilma Day Moody, Sister, Sharon Moody Brock, and son David Moody.

Don wrote about his experiences during the Laos/ Cambodia conflict. They are published on the Raven website under The Adventures of Bob and Don. The web address is ravens.org.

CMSgt Richard A. Young 1942 – 2022

Richard A. “Dick” Young, 80 of Ft. Walton Beach passed away May 2, 2022, surrounded by family at Sacred Heart of the Emerald Coast in Miramar Beach, Florida.

Dick was born April 2, 1942, in Cincinnati, Ohio, the son of the late William and Lois Young of Masonville, Ohio. He graduated in 1959 from Hiram Johnson Senior High School in Sacramento, California, and immediately entered active duty with the United State Air Force. In 1979 he graduated Magna Cum Laude from Park College in Parkville, Missouri with a bachelor’s degree in Management.

Dick is survived by his wife, Fonda, and daughters Jennifer Nelson (Rick) of Ft. Walton Beach and Joanna Merchant (John) of Crestview, grandchildren Kennedy, of Ft. Walton Beach, Kenneth (Sabrina) of Orlando, Kendall, Brienna, and Lane. He is also survived by a sister, Marty Stockton, of Greenville, Missouri, a brother, Steve Young, and numerous nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents William and Lois.

Dick entered the Air Force in 1959 and served continuously until his retirement as a Chief Master Sergeant in July of 1992 with over 33 years of dedicated and honorable service. Career fields included Aircraft Maintenance, Flight Engineer, and Recruiter. His last ten years were served as the Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Commander of the 834th Airlift Division, Hickam AFB, Hawaii, 1st Special Operations Wing, Hurlburt Field, Florida, and Military Airlift Command, Scott AFB, Illinois.

Chief Young accumulated over 4,800 hours in B-47 and C-130 aircraft of which 950 were combat time, flying 156 missions on a Forward Air Control C-130 Flare Ship, 59 of those missions were over North Viet Nam. He was also a private pilot with over 900 hours in single-engine aircraft, land, and sea. During his military service, he was awarded the Legion of Merit, 4 Meritorious Service Medals, 7 Air Medals, and 2 Air Force Commendation Medals.

After his retirement from the Air Force, Dick was hired at the Air Force Enlisted Village, also known as Bob Hope Village. He retired from the foundation in 2011 as the Deputy Chief Executive Officer. He was a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legion, Disabled American Veterans, Loyal Order of Moose, and many more.

Dick loved his family; especially his grandchildren. He enjoyed socializing and catching up with friends at his favorite spots to have an adult beverage. His companionship and generosity will be missed by those who had the pleasure of knowing him.

The family asks that in lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Air Force Enlisted Village at www.afev.us

A Visitation will take place on Saturday, May 14, 2022, at 2:00 PM at Emerald Coast Funeral Home followed by a funeral with full military honors at 3:00 PM.

Expressions of love and sympathy may be placed and viewed online at www.emeraldcoastfuneralhome.com

Courtesy of Emerald Coast Funeral Home

LeRoy W. Svendsen Jr. 1928-2022

Major General LeRoy W. (Swede) Svendsen, Jr. died on the 14th day of February at the age of 93. General Svendsen is survived by his wife, the former Juanita Boggs. Eight children: Randy, Chicago IL, Lance (Sandra), Charleston SC, daughter Kristi, San Antonio TX; stepsons Jon Boggs (Sue) Houston, Jeffery Boggs (Patty) Gaithersburg, MD.; eight grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

Swede was born in Chicago on the 26th of December 1928 into a working class family and grew up in the Great Depression. Times were tough on the adults, but the children never seemed to realize the economic impact, there was plenty of love in that big family. Grandparents, two of their married children and three grandchildren lived in the same home – there was never any thought about asking for government help.

Swede was approaching his 13th birthday when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. He tried to join the Marine Corps at age 14, but his parents would not give their permission. At age 15 his parents finally agreed, and he enlisted in the Navy as an aerial gunner and radio operator. His mates had trouble with the name Svendsen, so they called him “the Swede”. From that day forth he was known as Swede Svendsen. He was honorably discharged from the US Navy 11 June 1946 after WWII ended. He returned to high school, finishing two years in one semester and completing two years of college in one semester taking end of course exams, most based on training schools he attended in the Navy.

Since grammar school, Swede always wanted to be a fighter pilot. When the US Army Aviation Cadet program opened back up after the war, he joined up in 1947. Flight training began February 1948 at Randolph Field; where he completed Primary and Basic pilot training. Before completing the training, the US Air Force became the new branch for fliers. By 21 years of age he had served his country in the US Navy, US Army, and began a long career in the USAF. He received advanced pilot training at the Fighter School at Williams AFB, AZ, graduating as a Second Lieutenant in February 1949. His first assignment was to the 4th Fighter Group at Langley, AFB, VA, flying F-80’s and then F-86’s.

When the Korean War broke out (June 25th, 1950), he was among the first volunteers to deploy for two combat tours – one with the 25th Infantry Division, 35th Infantry Regiment as a Forward Air Controller and as commander of a Tactical Air Control Party (TACP) during the perimeter campaign in August of 1950.

While in Japan TDY for 3 months, he requested assignment back to his squadron at K- 2 Korea. Major Ben King was the commander who approved the re-assignment. He returned to the 8th Fighter Squadron, 59th Fighter Group, flying F-80C fighter bombers (114 missions) in attacks deep into North Korea, stemming the flow of enemy – Chinese and North Korean forces and equipment. Losses were heavy in the fighter bomber business, and half of his squadron was lost in four months.

Returning to the United States in 1951, Swede served with the 6th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron, Lockbourne Air Force Base, Ohio, then the 62d Fighter-Interceptor Squadron, O’Hare Air Force Base, IL., as fighter pilot, operations officer, flight commander, air commander, and executive officer. In 1956 he flew in three test programs for the F-102 “Delta Dagger” at the U.S. Air Force Flight Test Center. From 1956-1959 he was flight commander and later air operations officer, 323d Fighter-Interceptor Squadron, Truax Field, WS.

He was the Chief for the Fighter- Interceptor Branch, Headquarters Fifth Air Force, Fuchu Air Station, Japan, 1959-62.

He joined Air Force Special Operations shortly after it was formed (1962) Hurlburt Field, Fl. All were volunteers, and he deployed to South Vietnam early in 1963 as commander 6th Fighter Sq, 1st Air Commando Wing in 1963/4 and ran a classified commando operation prior to the introduction of general-purpose forces. He flew the AT-28 fighter bomber (about 100 missions) in sanitized civilian gear and operated with US Army Special Forces on the ground in various war zones. He was also responsible for employment of B-26, A-1E, C-46, C-47, U-10, and Palatus Porter assets. On his second tour in Southeast Asia, Swede was chief of Project 404 in Laos, meaning he managed all USAF programs in country–a covert operation! After this, he completed college and graduated from Florida State University in 1965.

Swede served five years in the Special Operations Command and in 1969 was one of first inductees into the Air Commando Hall of Fame.

Swede would return to Southeast Asia in the closing weeks of our withdrawal from Vietnam in April 1975 as a Brigadier General and Deputy to the US Army commander of residual forces in charge of evacuations. When surrounded by about 15 North Vietnamese Divisions, he personally set about to destroy Bien Hoa, which had the capability of building US-1 “Huey” helicopters and other sophisticated military equipment. As Bien Hoa went up in flames, he set a plan to destroy Long Bin, a supply base of the ARVN, the following day. He evacuated by Air America Helicopter that evening to the command ship, Blueridge, off the coast of Vietnam.

Swede served at the Pentagon, 1966-70, first as a plans officer in Warfare Division, Directorate of Plans, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, and later in the Office of the Secretary of the Air Force as liaison officer for the U.S. House of Representatives. In 1968 he volunteered to pilot the historically famous Pima Paisano B-24 from the desert of Puna, India to the Tucson Air Museum, Arizona.

After graduating from the Army War College in the class of 1971, Swede was assigned to Laredo Air Force Base, Texas, as deputy commander for operations and, later, commander, 38th Flying Training Wing. He was assistant deputy chief of staff for operations, Headquarters Air Training Command, Randolph Air Force Base, 1972-74, and commander, 29th Flying Training Wing, Craig Air Force Base, AL., 1974-75.

Swede was appointed Major General in 1974, and in 1975 was on his way to Egypt as defense attaché, U.S. Embassy in Cairo. He served in that capacity until he assumed his final assignment to Randolph Air Force Base, TX. There he served in dual capacity as assistant deputy chief of staff, Manpower and Personnel Center for Military Personnel Headquarters U.S. Air Force, and commander, Air Force Manpower and Personnel Center, Randolph Air Force Base, TX. Swede retired from the US Air Force May 1980.

Swede was a command pilot with more than 6,000 flying hours, mostly in fighter aircraft, and an airborne parachutist. He flew over 230 logged combat missions in 2 wars. Many other missions were not logged due to their covert nature.

Awards Swede received include the Air Force Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Bronze Star Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Air Medal with silver oak leaf cluster and four bronze oak leaf clusters, the Air Force Commendation Medal with oak leaf cluster, and the Outstanding Unit Award. Swede is also a member of the Order of the Sword.

A service will take place at Arlington National Cemetery at a later date.

Obituary courtesy of Porter Loring Mortuary

Gen Robert Cardenas Flies West

Col Phil Cochran, Maj Gen John Alison, and Gen Robert Cardenas

Gen Robert Cardenas, military legend who co-founded the ACA in 1969 with BGen Harry C. “Heinie” Aderholt, passed away on 10 March 2022. He, along with Johnny Alison and Phil Cochran, dedicated the first Special Operations HQ and presided over the first Air Commando Hall of Fame induction ceremony. Gen Cardenas was a legend and a true quiet professional. The Air Force veteran led World War II bombing missions, helped create Miramar National Cemetery, and so much more.

Read more about the General at San Diego Union-Tribune


Maj Pete Bowman 1934 – 2022


Peter “Pete” Roy Bowman of Fort Walton Beach, Florida passed away on February 17, 2022, at the age of 88. His family was by his side when he drifted off to be with the Lord.

Pete was born to Chester and Helen Bowman on January 26, 1934, in Flushing, New York. After graduating from high school, he joined the Air Force. Soon after enlisting, he met the love of his life, Carol. Pete took great pride in his military career as a navigator. He served in the Vietnam War where he flew an A-26 as co-pilot and C-123 as navigator. Pete’s A-26, which suffered heavy damage and was flown back to base with limited instrumentation, is exhibited at the front entrance of Hurlburt Air Force Base. This display of exceptional courage while engaged in military combat operations awarded Pete the Silver Star.

Pete retired as a Major after 21 years of active duty. His decorations, aside from his Silver Star, include two Distinguished Flying Crosses, Vietnam Cross of Gallantry, Air Medal, and many other commendations awarded during his two decades of selfless service to his country.

During retirement, Pete spent a great deal of his free time volunteering for the veteran’s organization Air Commando Association. In 2000, Pete was inducted into the Air Commando Hall of Fame. Pete faithfully displayed the Stars and Stripes in front of his home. He was a proud American. Pete was also an active member of St. Mary Catholic Church.

Pete is survived by his brother Ken Bowman of Great River, New York; his three sons and their wives John and Gina Bowman of South Bend, Indiana, Jim and Diane Bowman of Franklin, North Carolina, Tom Bowman of Fort Walton Beach, Florida; his daughter and her husband Ellen and Bill Gash of Fort Walton Beach, Florida; 11 grandchildren, and 8 great-grandchildren.

Pete is preceded in death by his devoted wife Carol and three sons Patrick, Peter, and Baby Bowman.

A celebration of life will be held in June. Pete, alongside his wife Carol, will rest at Barrancas National Cemetery.

Contributions in memory of Pete can be made to the Air Commando Association.

(Courtesy of Emerald Coast Funeral Home)

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