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

Maj Gen James Hobson Takes Final Flight

Maj Gen James Hobson Takes Final Flight

ACA is saddened to report that Major Gen (ret) James L. Hobson, Jr. has taken his last flight. Gen Hobson commanded Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC), Hurlburt Field, Florida from July 1994 to July 1997. During his command, AFSOC operated one wing, three flying groups and a Special Tactics Group with more than 100 aircraft and 11,900 personnel assigned worldwide.

As 8th SOS Commander, Gen Hobson courageously led the airfield seizure and rescue of Americans at Point Salines Airport, Grenada in Operation URGENT FURY. His efforts resulted in being awarded the 1983 Mackay Trophy, for the most meritorious flight of the year. Hobson became the Commander of the 8th SOS prior to the crisis in Grenada. After his heroic actions in Operation URGENT FURY, he and others were personally thanked by President Reagan. Gen Hobson also served as the Vice and then Commander of 39th Special Operations Wing at Eglin AFB, FL. After promotion to Brigadier General in 1989, Gen Hobson became the Vice Commander of 23rd AF at Hurlburt Field, and assisted in the planning of the Panama invasion in December 1989. He commanded the 322nd Airlift Division, Ramstein AB, Germany and orchestrated the massive logistical air bridge through Europe in support of Operation DESERT STORM. Next, he commanded the 435th Airlift Wing at Rhein-Main AB, Germany and then became the Director of Operations and Transportation at Air Mobility Command.

Major General James Hobson retired in 1997 as a command pilot with 6,850 military flying hours. He is a member of the Air Commando Hall of Fame and the USSOCOM Commando Hall of Honor. RIP sir and blessings to spouse Diane, family, and friends.

General Hobson’s official Air Force bio

USSOCOM Hall of Honor Citation

  • Hobson fighter jet

  • Hobson trophy

  • USSOCOM Commando Hall of Honor induction ceremony

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Michael Corbett Flies West

Michael F. Corbett: January 27, 1947 – April 23, 2023
Major MICHAEL F. CORBETT (USAF Retired), age 76, passed away peacefully in his home on Sunday, April 23, 2023, with his loved ones at his side. Mike had courageously battled Primary Progressive Aphasia, a rare neurodegenerative disorder characterized by gradual dissolution of the ability to communicate, since 2018.

Mike was born in Brooklyn, New York, on January 27, 1947, the son of the late Leonard Patrick Corbett and Elizabeth (Betty) Miller.

He enlisted in the United States Air Force on 29 September 1967 and started his career as a member of a Special Operations Weather Team and earned the prestigious Honor Graduate award from the Combat Control Training School. Following fourteen years in the enlisted force, Mike completed a Bachelor of Science in Meteorology from Texas A & M University and was commissioned as an officer on 3 December 1981. During his 31-year military career, he served in various weather-related positions, including Forecaster for Air Force One, Staff Weather Officer, Weather Station Commander, and War Planning Officer. Upon retirement from the Air Force, Mike completed his Master of Science in Human Resources and Development at Chapman University. He continued his service career for 13 more years as an Air Force Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps Instructor at Northside High School, guiding and molding hundreds of future leaders.

He is survived by his wife: Ursula Corbett; three children: Lenny Corbett; Katherine Corbett; David Corbett with his wife Christina Corbett and his Mother Linda Smith; his sister Jane and her husband Robert Tatum; his brother William (Bill) and his wife Gloria Howell; his grandchildren: Kyle and Samantha Corbett; and his great-grandson Nathaniel Corbett. Also mourning his passing are extended family members in Florida and New York.

As a lifelong scientist with an interest in contributing to the advancement of research into dementia treatments, Mike donated his brain to the Mayo Clinic. In lieu of flowers, please consider donations to the National Aphasia Association to bring awareness to a disorder affecting more than 2,000,000 Americans.

The family would like to thank the private caregivers and Gentiva Hospice for their service and guidance during his passing.

Joseph B. Paul Jr. Funeral Service is honored to assist the Corbett family.

Victor A Kindurys Remembered

January 1, 1939 ~ April 26, 2023 (age 84)

Victor A. Kindurys croaked on April 26, 2023.  Victor was born on January 1, 1939, in Kaunas, Lithuania.

Vic served 30 years in the Air Force and was proud to have served with the Air Commandos.  He flew a Forward Air Control (FAC) tour and A-1s in two tours in Vietnam and received numerous commendations for his service to our country.

He departed this world in search of a small war in a warm country.  He leaves behind the love of his life, Linda, and his son Mark as well as two grandsons and several great-grandchildren.  He will be sorely missed.

In lieu of flowers please plant a tree or contribute to the VFW, DAV, USO, or NRA.

A memorial service was held at 10:00 AM on May 1, 2023, at McLaughlin Mortuary Chapel located at 17 Chestnut Avenue SE, Fort Walton Beach.  Interment was at at 11:00 AM on May 2, 2023, at Barrancas National Cemetery with full military honors.

Expressions of sympathy may be viewed or submitted online at www.McLaughlinMortuary.com

In Memory of William Cartwright

William Drew (“Bill”) Cartwright, of Gulfport Mississippi (formerly from Tifton Georgia and Denver Colorado) passed away on Monday, October 24, 2022. He had just reached his 101st birthday.

Bill was born September 29, 1921 in Tifton Georgia. He was the only child of Perry Lloyd Cartwright and Cora Jane Hendricks Cartwright.

Bill is survived by his daughters Suzanne Walters and Barbara Cartwright, his grandchildren Karen Walters and David Walters (Brandy), his great-grandchildren Charlotte Elizabeth and Lillian Grace, his niece Elsa Conboy and many other nieces and nephews acquired through his marriage to Del. He is preceded in death by his wife, Deloriese (“Del”) Swindle Cartwright, his son-in-law Wayne Walters, and his niece Teresa Wolfe.

Bill accomplished much and observed much in his 101 years on this earth. He left a lasting legacy and example of hospitality, graciousness, generosity, hard work, integrity, and determination. He visited 42 states and 25 countries over the span of his lifetime and resided in more than 10 of those states. He was devoted to family, committed to his church, enamored with anything mechanical or technical (specifically cars, camera’s, airplanes, TV’s, internet, and Skype) and loved to tell stories to anyone who would listen.

Bill was born and raised in Tifton Georgia and graduated from Tifton High School in 1939. Bill had just started his working life when the United States entered World War II. Bill entered military service with the Army Air Corp on March 16, 1942, and was discharged from service on January 24, 1946. Bill primarily served as a Liaison Pilot in India and the Philippines during his service and was fortunate to not have been in active combat.

WWII Air Commandos at ACA Banquet 2012
WWII Air Commandos at ACA Banquet 2012

After the war, Bill worked as a crop duster pilot for five years. He married Del in 1948 in Lebanon Illinois. He and Del met while Bill was stationed at Scott Air Force Base in Illinois for training during the war. Bill re-entered military service in 1950 and served until his retirement in 1966. This second stint in the Air Force involved two tours overseas including 3 years in England and 3 years on a British RAF base in Germany. Bill and Del became parents with the birth of Suzanne in 1959 and then again in 1964 when Barbara came along.

Following his retirement from the Air Force, Bill took advantage of the G.I. Bill and obtained his Associate Degree in Electronic Technology from Brevard Junior College in Brevard Florida. Then Bill, Dell and the girls relocated to Denver Colorado in 1969 where Bill had previously been stationed twice with the Air Force. At the same time, Del’s sister Lovena, her husband Issac (Jimmy), and twin girls Elsa and Teresa, also relocated from Illinois to Denver to have family support as Jimmy was declining due to Huntington’s Disease. Bill became substitute father to Elsa and Teresa and combined, all his “girls” were called his “harem”.

In Denver, Bill worked for Western Electric for five years, and after being laid off during a recession, once again used the G.I. Bill to attend college and obtain his B.S. degree in Electronic Technology from Metropolitan State College. Bill went on to work for NOAA (the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) in Boulder Colorado for 11 years before retiring in 1987 and making travel his primary occupation.

Bill and Del enjoyed 20 years of retirement life, including annual cross-country trips with their RV, several cruises, and a couple of trips back to England, often visiting people they had made friends with over their years in the military. They also enjoyed several annual camping trips each summer with their two grandchildren.

Bill lost his wife Del in 2007 after 59 years of marriage. Although heartbroken, Bill continued to take an annual winter trip with the RV just as he and Del had been doing for 20 years. In 2009, Bill decided to relocate from Denver Colorado, back to Tifton Georgia, his hometown. He sold the Denver house and bought a 3-bedroom house in Tifton. In this transition, Bill rekindled his friendship with Travelle Morgan, also widowed, whom he and Del had been friends with for many years. Bill’s friendship with Travelle provided many happy times and loving companionship during his 10 years in Tifton. He sorely missed her when he determined it was time to make his next move.

In 2019, Bill made his final relocation to the Armed Forces Retirement Home in Gulfport Mississippi, initially in the Independent Living section, and over his three years there transitioning through assisted living and long-term care. His family was grateful for the respect and care he received during his time there.

Bill impacted many lives during his time on earth and he will be greatly missed by many. He’s now in his final, permanent home in heaven with Jesus.

An in-person Celebration of Life service is being planned which will be held at Corona Presbyterian Church in Denver Colorado.

Obituary courtesy of Riemann Family Funeral Home, Gulfport.

Colonel Wayne D Corder Remembered

Wayne Dennis Corder, 82, of Destin, Florida, passed away on February, 14, 2023, from complications from treatment for Multiple Myeloma. He is survived by the love of his life, Rebecca “Becky” (Ingwersen) Corder and two children from a previous marriage, Wayne “Denny” Corder, Jr. of California and Daphne Corder, of Massachusetts. Wayne was born in Fairhaven, Massachusetts, on April 6, 1940 to Doris Hamer. Wayne’s early years were spent with his maternal grandparents, Bert and Jenny Hamer who were Vaudeville performers, and his Uncle Harry in Fairhaven where he developed his lifelong love for the Boston Red Sox from his family’s tradition of listening to the games over the AM radio as a boy. Wayne later moved with his mother and adoptive father, Colonel Willis Corder, to Orlando, Florida and to other follow-on Army assignments for his middle and high school years. Wayne felt a strong calling to the military and had an appointment to West Point through his father, but Wayne wanted to fly. So after attending the Missouri School of Mines, he received the esteemed “Principal Appointment” placement from Vice President Nixon for the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs where he attended from 1960 to 1964. He later received a Master’s degree from Pepperdine University.

Wayne proudly served his country in the Air Force for 30 years from 1964 to 1994, retiring as a Colonel. As a pilot, he flew T-38s and B-52s for years before becoming a helicopter pilot. He few H3s, HH53s, and Hueys among others in Vietnam and Korea. He served as Squadron Commander, 20th Special Operations Squadron, Hurlburt Field, Florida from 1982 to 1984. During that assignment, he implements “Operation BAT” (Caribbean) which was a drug intervention program with the DEA during the Reagan Administration. Other accomplishments include his years as Director for Operations and Vice Commander, 1550th Special Operations Wing, Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico. He also served as Commander 23rd AF, DET 3 Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii. Wayne also played a role in civilian rescue during the catastrophic fire at MGM Grand in Las Vegas in November 1980, serving as the on-ground commander for military and civilian helicopter rescues that saved over 1,000 lives, rescuing hotel guests from the balconies of the hotel tower during the historic fire.

Wayne’s greatest joy in life came from his lifelong love, Becky, whom he met in Alaska and married on June 8, 1974, in Phoenix, Arizona. Wayne and Becky had a special bond throughout their marriage and enjoyed their balance of active duty with military support activities such as fundraising for scholarships, doing yard work together, their love of all things Hawaiian from their years stationed there, and honoring each other in everything they did. Together they were American patriots, football junkies, and doting parents to their beloved Manx felines, Finley and PP.

Wayne and Becky’s 49 years together were “the two of us against the world” and the two of them at the lively center of their world of close friends. They were known by many for their backyard cookouts and after-dinner social time where the scotch flowed as freely as the stories and laughter. To their closest friends, Mark and Penny, John and Mary, Jan and Chris, Darrin and Jamie, Phil and Judy, and many more, Wayne and Becky were a source of joy, laughter, stories, and fun. Wayne especially enjoyed a little provocation during social times, stirring up the banter with friends.

Wayne’s favorite hobbies included long range rifle shooting, his well-curated library of first edition, author-signed World War II books, his pro football obsession of tracking scores and statistics, and his past-time of sending friends videos of the latest antics of Finley and PP. Wayne lived every day with and for Becky and filled their days with fun – fulfilling his belief that a life well-lived was “running it till the wheels fall off!”

Wayne’s family extends its gratitude to the team at the Emerald Coast Cancer Center, Fort Walton Beach, and Mayo Clinic, Jacksonville, for their exceptional expertise and care. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Fisher House of the Emerald Coast, Eglin Air Force Base.

“So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.” John 16:22

Obituary courtesy of Heritage Gardens Funeral Home in Niceville, Florida.

In Memory of MSgt Ray Bourque

MSgt Ray Bourque Takes His Final Flight

The ACA is deeply saddened to inform our members of the passing of MSgt Ray Bourque. Ray was an ardent supporter of all things Air Commando. His unwavering dedication to the ACA along with his continuous support for veterans groups and humanitarian community efforts was unsurpassed.

A “Cajun Ray Celebration of Life Fish Fry” will be held at the American Legion Post 296, 311 Main Street, Destin, FL. 32541 on February 4, 2023, from 2-5 pm.

In his honor and memory, donations towards an “Outdoor Digital Sign” may be made to the American Legion.
🇺🇸 For God and Country 🇺🇸

We would like to share a sentiment from Ray’s daughter:

When I go to Heaven, I want to depart this world “exactly” as my Dad did.
Pa (Ray Bourque) passed on January 2, 2023. 
Born on Christmas Day in 1929, he was really special and his life reflected that.
He was able to attend his Birthday Party at the American Legion on Dec. 21st with a “full house” of close friends and family!
He was able to have “caring support” from Emerald Coast Hospice.
He was able to pass “pain free” and in his home surrounded by his loving family.
He lived a long and exciting life leaving behind a multitude of friends from all over the world!

Back in 2011, through the generosity of Mr David Krebs, who was a close personal friend of Rays and wanted to highlight Ray’s support of veterans, a scholarship was established in Ray’s name. It is open to senior high school students of the AFJROTC or CAPS who have demonstrated support for veterans groups and humanitarian community efforts.

Volunteering his time not only to a host of ACA efforts, along with veteran and humanitarian programs throughout the community, Ray epitomized the Air Commando ethos of the “Quiet Professional.” 

  • David Krebs Jr, Richard Secord, and Ray Bourque at Two Trees Restaurant in Ft Walton Beach, FL

  • Felix “Sam” Sambogna, Ray Bourque, and Hap Lutz

  • Ray Bourque taking a well deserved break at an ACA event

  • Ray working at the ACA Fish Fry in 2005

  • Mrs Jo Ann Bourque with her husband Ray.

  • Roger Klair with Ray Bourque at ACA Fish Fry

  • ACA-Banquet_2012

  • Ray at ACA Fish Fry

  • ACA-Two-Trees-Social_2013

  • Ray with Mr “T” at Two Trees Restaurant in Ft Walton Beach

  • Maj Gen Dick Secord and Ray during the ACA Banquet in 2013

  • Ray with volunteers at ACA Fish Fry 2004

ACA Blog & Photos

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Joe Kittinger, aka Col Joe, Takes Final Flight

It is with heavy hearts, we say a final farewell to ACA Life Member #51 Colonel Joe Kittinger. Col Joe as he was known, was an original Air Commando, set several world records in aviation, served in Vietnam, was a prisoner of war, was inducted into the Air Commando Hall of Fame in 1969, and was a close friend of the founders of the Air Commando Association including Brig Gen Harry “Heinie” Aderholt.

Joe Kittinger received numerous awards and recognitions, such as: the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum’s Life Time Achievement in Aviation Award. The Life Time in Aviation Accomplishments Award from the National Bi-Plane Association, the Victor A. Prather Award from the American Astronautical Society, and the Living Legends of Aviation award.

We would like to share a message from the National Aviation Hall of Fame on Col Joe’s flying accomplishments.

The National Aviation Hall of Fame reflects on the life of Joe Kittinger

“For his daring courageousness in going where none had gone before to pave the way for the NASA astronaut program, Joseph W. Kittinger is enshrined with highest honors into the National Aviation Hall of Fame.”  – at his presentation for induction in 1997

It is with much sadness and admiration that the National Aviation Hall of Fame (NAHF) reflects on the passing of 1997 Enshrinee Joe Kittinger.

Joe Kittinger, aka Col. Joe, will be missed by many, including fellow Enshrinees, members, and the entire National Aviation Hall of Fame.

“With unmatched dedication, Colonel Joe Kittinger, USAF, leaves a legacy of public service,” said NAHF President and CEO Amy Spowart. “As a USAF Test Pilot, Col. Joe skillfully excelled, and as an extraordinary balloonist with Project Man High and then Project Excelsior, he achieved what many saw as impossible. That he continued these successes with three tours of Vietnam is beyond comprehension and combines for what makes him an American worthy of induction into the NAHF.”

Having been ignited by the aviation bug at age two through an introduction with a Ford Trimotor at his local Orlando airport, Kittinger truly began his aviation career in 1950 in the Aviation Cadet Program. Proving himself a talented pilot, Kittinger was eventually assigned to Holloman Air Force Base, where he flew experimental jet fighters and participated in aerospace medical research. This combination would impact Joe Kittigner’s unique aviation experience and legacy.

“The synthesis of Col. Kittinger’s abilities as a pilot and medical researcher, as learned in part from his work with fellow NAHF Enshrinee John Paul Stapp, made him the ideal choice for Project Man High,” said NAHF Trustee Colonel/Dr. Kathy Hughes, USAF (Ret). “The program served to study cosmic radiation, ascertain the ideal components of astronaut selection, physiological monitoring, and high altitude hardware. Col. Kittinger truly helped pave the way for Project Mercury.”

Following the success of Man High One, Kittinger moved to Project Excelsior to test the human ability to survive extremely high altitude bailouts. In 1959, Kittinger jumped from Excelsior I from an altitude of 76,000 feet. Despite a mishap that caused him to lose consciousness, Col. Kittinger achieved his mission and continued to test the limits.

Perhaps his greatest feat came in 1960 in Excelsior III. From an altitude of 102,800 feet, Joe Kittinger set the World Record for the highest balloon ascent. During the ascent, the glove on his pressure suit did not function properly, and he had to decide whether to risk lifelong injury or abort the mission. Kittinger continued and stepped out of the gondola setting another World Record for the longest parachute freefall, four minutes and thirty -six seconds before his parachute opened at 12,000 feet.

“Col. Kittinger reached a speed over 600 miles per hour during that jump,” said Hughes. “He fell through temperatures as low as -94 F. While his hand swelled to twice its normal size during the fall, Col. Kittinger suffered no permanent damage. He demonstrated enormous courage in the pursuit of advancing aeromedical research.”

The results of Joe Kittinger’s courageousness include the new knowledge that it is possible to put a human into space and that fliers can freefall into the atmosphere from higher than first-believed altitudes. It also gave Project Gemini, NASA’s second human spaceflight program, ejection seats and tested the prototypes of the suits worn by X-15 pilots.

For this, President Dwight D. Eisenhower awarded Kittinger the prestigious Harmon Trophy.

Unsurprisingly, Joe Kittinger was not done. Col. Kittinger went on to serve three tours in Vietnam. As the Commander of the 555th “Triple Nickel” Tactical Fighter Squadron, Kittinger flew F-4s. In 1972, he was shot down over North Vietnam and spent 11 months as a prisoner of war in Hanoi. Following his release in 1973, Kittinger was named Vice Wing Commander of an F-4 fighter wing in England. He retired from the USAF in 1978.

And still, Col. Joe was not done. While serving as the VP of Flight Operations for Rosie O’Grady’s Flying Circus in his home city of Orlando, Kittinger set another record for the longest distance flown in a helium balloon; 2000 miles from Las Vegas, NV to Franklinville, NY. In 1984, Kittinger became the first to fly solo across the Atlantic in a helium balloon, 3,543 miles in a 3,000 cubic meter balloon.

“When people ask what makes a person worthy of induction into the NAHF, I often share moments like Col. Joe’s freefall. How can one person put mission before self so eagerly in the name of progress?” said Spowart. “When we talk about standing on the shoulders of giants, the entire aerospace universe should know that they are on Joe Kittinger’s iconic shoulders. The impact he made on the world of aviation is unfathomable. He is a legend in every way, and he will never be forgotten while the NAHF exists.”

Joe Kittinger was 94.

Remembering John Connors

Remembering John S. Connors

The ACA is sadden to announce we lost one of our longest serving members. Our dear friend and stalwart comrade, John Connors, ACA Life Member #70, has taken his final flight. John was instrumental in the early days of the association, he helped with fund raising for the current headquarters building, served in several positions on the board, kept historical records for the ACA for decades, volunteered for countless activities supporting his fellow Air Commandos. He always had a kind word to say, worked side-by-side with fellow members to get the job done, and was the epitome of the “Quite Professional”.

Photo Tribute to John Connors

John Stephen Connors
November 29, 1932 ~ November 23, 2022 (age 89)

Lt. Col. John Stephen Connors, 89, passed away November 23, 2022, at his residence in Fort Walton Beach, Florida. John was born November 29, 1932, in Newburyport, Massachusetts to his parents, John Stephen Connors and Anna Agnes Connors.

A pilot in the United States Air Force, he also held a bachelor’s degree, and enjoyed collecting stamps and coins, as well as gardening and reading.

Catherine Hogg Connors was John’s bride, whom preceded him in death. John is survived by his stepsons, Robert Murphy with wife, Susan, and James Murphy with wife, Lori; stepdaughter, Jane Wofford; grandsons, Ed Wofford, Matthew Wofford with wife, Hollie, and Preston Murphy; as well as, great granddaughters, Ava and Adley Wofford.

John was a member of the Air Commando Association, Air Force Association, and Reserve Officers’ Association; he was also a member of the American Legion for twenty-five years, the Veterans of Foreign Wars for fourteen years, Daedalians for nine years, Retired Affairs Office for three years, and Military Order of the World Wars for one year. He held officer positions in several of the aforenamed and had TOP SECRET SECURITY Clearance until 1982.

Very active in civic organizations, John was a member of Knights of Columbus for thirty years, United Way of Okaloosa County for three years, Fort Walton Beach Bicentennial Committee (1976), Eglin Armament Museum Board Council of Government (1980-1982), Chamber of Commerce (1980-1982), and March of Dimes (1980-1982), as a representative of the Hurlburt Base Commander.

John held a commercial pilot license, including Helicopter; FCC Radio Telephone; and FAA 2nd Class Medical.

A visitation was held on Friday, December 2, 2022, at 11:00 A.M. in the Davis-Watkins Funeral Home Chapel on Racetrack Road, Fort Walton Beach, Florida, and the funeral service was at 12:00 noon with Chaplain Charles Albertell officiating. John was laid to rest at Beal Cemetery in Fort Walton Beach, Florida immediately afterwards.

Visit www.daviswatkins.com/obituary/John-Connors#obituary to watch a video of the visitation service.

Obituary courtesy of Davis Watkins Funeral Homes & Crematory.

ACA Blog & Photos

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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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