New Job Openings
The Hoplite Group, one of the ACA’s corporate partners, has numerous positions open waiting to be filled by Special Operators! Check out all these jobs on Hurlburt Field!
The Hoplite Group, one of the ACA’s corporate partners, has numerous positions open waiting to be filled by Special Operators! Check out all these jobs on Hurlburt Field!
ACA member John Heisler presented the Air Commando Award to two AF JROTC cadets in West Virginia on behalf of his Air Commando Association.
In John’s his own words, “Thank you so much for this opportunity!”
The ACA encourages every member to reach out to their local high schools to confirm they have an AF JROTC unit and to offer to present the Air Commando award to winners. There are no costs to the members, the high schools have the ribbons and the certificates. The ACA sponsors an Air Commando award to over 800 AF JROTC units around the world and it means a lot to the young cadets to have an Air Commando present the awards.
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.
Attention ACA members and AFA members! Register today for the Joint Professional Luncheon with guest speaker AFSOC Commander Lt Gen Bauernfeind on Tuesday June 20th, 2023 at 11:00 at The Soundside Club, Hurlburt Field.
Important: Please notify our staff if you are NOT a DOD id card holder so we may make arrangements at the gate for entry. As always, we ask all to arrive early and be in place by 1100 hours.
We are proud to announce the winners of the Lt Col Dave Krebs High Flight Scholarship and the Ray Bourque Service Scholarship.
Chase from Freeport, Florida will receive a one time $4,000 dollar Krebs Scholarship. This specific scholarship is targeted at students who are committed to pursuing a career in aviation, specifically pilot training. This scholarship is open to senior high school students who are in good standing of the AFJROTC or CAPS.
Isabela from Jackson, Tennessee, a senior high school AFJROTC student who demonstrated outstanding support for veterans groups and humanitarian community efforts was awarded the Ray Bourque Service Scholarship for $2,000. Ray Bourque was unsurpassed in volunteering his time not only to a host of ACA efforts, but veteran and humanitarian programs throughout the community.
Both scholarships are competitive in nature and judged by a committee of ACA members who have no relationship to the candidates. Deadline for both scholarships each year is 30 March, the winners are announced on 30 April.
For more information on scholarships offered by the Air Commando Association please visit www.aircommando.org
Greetings Air Commandos, I hope each of you and your families are safe and healthy as we struggle to cope with rising costs and increasing interest rates.
Funding is essential to keep any activity viable—government, non-profit, or commercial, and your Air Commando Association is no different. Since my last SITREP a very exciting change has occurred. Retired CMSgt Mike Gilbert and his Warrior Law team successfully led the ACA through a complex IRS process to reclassify the ACA from a 501(c)(19) to a 501(c)(3) non-profit.
What does this mean? By law, 501(c)(19) non-profits are very rigid and administratively challenging for membership verification and record keeping and are more closely scrutinized because many have “posts” that include revenue generating bars, food service, and entertainment areas, etc., and this is why we made the change to a 501(c)(3) non-profit.
The reclassification of the Air Commando Association to a 501(c)(3) is important because many donors who have limited their charitable donations to only 501(c)(3) non-profit charities can now consider donating to the ACA. Another benefit for the ACA reclassification to 501(c)(3) is it opens the door for individuals to make Qualified Charitable Distributions (QCD) from their IRAs to the ACA, free from federal income taxes. When we were a 501(c)(19), donors could not make tax free donations using QCDs…now they can!
The ACA has operated at essentially the same support level to the Air Force Special Operations Forces mission for many years. These two new revenue opportunities have the potential to provide relief and growth potential to the ACA. We can do better and Air Commandos deserve it.
As a 42 year “tight fisted” DoD Comptroller and volunteer “finance guy” for many non-profits, I clearly recognized how lean and efficient the ACA operates—and fights far above its weight class—with only two employees operating out of our small facility west of Hurlburt Field. If you are a commercial business or your employer, or any organization you serve, allows donations to 501(c)(3) non-profits, please consider donating to the Air Commando Association.
If you have reached the wonderful age of 70.5 years, I strongly recommend investigating making QCD contributions from your non-Roth IRAs to the ACA—or any worthy 501(c)(3) non-profit or church; they are federal income tax free. The year you reach age 72, you will be required to take Required Minimum Distributions from your IRAs—or lose 50 percent of those amounts each year to federal tax penalties. QCDs may be a good fit for your family situation.
NOTE: QCDs cannot be made from Thrift Savings Plan accounts. As I approached 70.5, I rolled my TSP to an IRA. I could have made incremental transfers from TSP to my IRA, but elected to simplify and roll 100 percent to my new IRA account.
The QCD process is relatively simple. A QCD must flow directly from your IRA custodian to your designated charity. Your custodian will report that amount to the IRS. When your taxes for that year are prepared, QCDs will be excluded from taxable income. The process is simple but each of you should consult your IRA custodian and tax preparer as you move forward. My wife and I have used QCDs for all donations to 501(c)(3)s and our church for three years. I enjoy avoiding federal income taxes on our withdrawals and the ability to donate 100 percent of my 1990 TSP withholding–plus investment growth to my favorite charities. If you have QCD questions, please contact me through the ACA office at (850) 581-0099 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
I am pleased to report the ACA and our Air Commando Foundation are well funded for current operations and we have accumulated strong reserves for unexpected loss of altitude and air speed. Please see the 2022 ACA Convention financial briefing for a much better recap. I am honored to serve Air Commandos as a volunteer.
Introducing the class of 2022 Air Commando Hall of Fame
By Air Commando Journal Staff
Major General Stephen A. Clark, Retired, United States Air Force, distinguished himself by exceptionally dedicated service to the Air Force and Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) from March 1987 to September 2018. General Clark made extraordinary contributions at the tactical, operational, and strategic levels. In addition to flying combat missions in Somalia, Bosnia, and Haiti, he served in leadership positions in Afghanistan and Iraq. His legacy includes an unparalleled development of future AFSOC leaders, combat leadership during the opening salvo of the Global War on Terror, and a strategic vision in building the SOF force structure of the future at AFSOC, Joint Special Operations Command, and United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM). He served as operations officer and commander of the 4th Special Operations Squadron from 2002 through 2005. This was a particularly challenging and historical time in the AC-130U unit’s history. He commanded Combined Joint Special Operations Air Component-Iraq from July 2006 through August 2007. There he commanded all SOF aviation assets during this brutal period of fighting in Iraq. This period included insurgency against coalition forces and a full-fledged civil war. He is credited by many for bringing the Air Commando’s “voice” to the front of the table. From 2009 to 2011, Maj Gen Clark served as the second AFSOC commander of Cannon AFB. Under his leadership, the wing more than doubled in size and grew to more than 5,000 personnel and 84 aircraft. The singularly distinctive accomplishments of Major General Stephen Clark reflect great credit upon himself, Air Force Special Operations Command, and Air Commandos of every generation.
Lieutenant General Eric E. Fiel’s significant contributions to Air Force Special Operations Forces and the United States Special Operations Command span more than four decades. He has commanded at multiple levels in the United States Air Force and the USSOCOM, culminating his service as the commander of Air Force Special Operations Command. At every level of command, in peacetime and in combat, he received the highest commendations from his commanders and the trust and respect of his superiors, peers, and subordinates. Through sense of duty, strength of character, personal fortitude, and unfaltering commitment to his people and the mission, he endeavored to make positive, lasting contributions to the defense of the United States of America. He airdropped Rangers on Point Salinas during Operation Urgent Fury and led AC-130Us in Allied Force. He was at the tip of the spear after 9/11, leading joint special operations forces during multiple tours of duty. Part of his enduring legacy left behind as the AFSOC commander was the stand-up of the 24th Special Operations Wing and pushing forward as much combat capability as possible to fight and win on the battlefield. To that end, he directed the first beddown of MC-130J Commando II and CV-22 Osprey in Europe General Fiel inspired and empowered those around him to serve to their full potential and to not be afraid to take risks. He worked tirelessly for the nation, the mission, and Air Commandos and their families. He is exceedingly worthy of induction into the Air Commando Hall of Fame. The singularly distinctive accomplishments of Lieutenant General Eric Fiel reflect great credit upon himself, Air Force Special Operations Command, and Air Commandos of every generation.
Chief Master Sergeant Roger D. Maginel, United States Air Force, Retired, has served our nation with honor for almost 45 years, including active-duty, contractor and civil service. He distinguished himself during 25 years with the Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) in squadron, wing, and headquarters positions and epitomizes the saying that “One Man Can Make a Real Difference!” Chief Maginel was an initial cadre MH-60 flight engineer in the 55th SOS, the first H-60 unit in the USAF. He played a critical role for all Air Force MH-60 flight engineers by developing initial qualification courseware and tactics, techniques, and procedures for all enlisted aircrew. He flew on the first NVG night water operation for the 55th SOS. He was also a vital crewmember on the first long-range refueling test of the MH-60G flying two MH-60s non-stop from Eglin AFB, FL to Peterson Field, CO. This ten-hour flight required three aerial refuelings and covered over 1200 nautical miles. Chief Maginel’s expertise was so critical that he was tasked to support HQ Air Rescue and the 542nd Operations Group before returning to HQ AFSOC as Chief Flight Engineer and Enlisted Aircrew Functional Manager. During this tour at HQ, he participated in Operations Allied Force And Enduring Freedom and was current and qualified as a flight engineer on the UH-1N and Mi-8 Hind for the 6th SOS’s foreign internal defense mission. After active-duty retirement, he excelled at HQ AFSOC as a unit deployment manager and air expeditionary force planner. The singularly distinctive accomplishments of Chief Master Sergeant Roger D. Maginel reflect great credit upon himself, Air Force Special Operations Command, and Air Commandos of every generation.
Senior Master Sergeant Michael Rizzuto, United States Air Force, Retired, served for over 33 years within the Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC). SMSgt Rizzuto’s AFSOC career spanned 15 years as an active-duty enlisted member and 18 years as a Department of Defense civilian. A two-time formal training Distinguished Graduate, three-time Life Support Technician of the Year (1993, 1996, 2002), and four-time Special Tactics Squadron NCO and SNCO of the Quarter (1992, 1999, 2001, 2002). His career is highlighted by numerous awards, first-time initiatives, by-name selections, and selfless service. These accomplishments include establishing the first Navy-certified dive locker in the USAF and the first chemical, biological, radioactive, nuclear, and high yield explosives (CBRNE) capability in all of SOF. He was involved in numerous projects designing, building, and fielding equipment for special mission use, and was hand-selected support to support classified operations, including the first combat parachute jump since the Vietnam War. SMSgt Rizzuto directly supported every major force structure event, including initial stand up, of the 724th Special Tactics Group, ensuring each organizational change was operationally validated by the command. As his unit’s unofficial historian he authored every Annual Historical Report since 2008, ensuring the preservation of the unit’s story for future generations. He established a 501 (c)3 non-profit, providing merit-based scholarships and grants to current and former unit members, spouses, and children. This was also used to fund and build a permanent memorial to those who paid the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our great nation. The singularly distinctive accomplishments of Senior Master Sergeant Michael Rizzuto reflect great credit upon himself, Air Force Special Operations Command, and Air Commandos of every generation.
Lieutenant Colonel William O. “Sam” Schism distinguished himself as a 16-year-old flying as a US Navy seaplane radio operator in the World War Two Pacific theater. He further distinguished himself during a 25-year United States Air Force career by exceptional, competent and, professional service as a worldwide airlift, reconnaissance, photo-mapping, and special operations officer and pilot. A gifted leader and manager, he quietly and competently led crews, squadrons, and special projects with great success. During his 9,600-hour USAF flying career, he earned the Distinguished Flying Cross, two Meritorious Service Medals and eleven Air Medals. He commanded AC-130A Spectre gunships during the Vietnam War and distinguished himself in combat flying operations. He then filled key management and leadership positions in the Air Commando community and was chosen as the active-duty lead for the conversion of the 919th SOG, into the gunship weapon system. Assembling a hand-picked team of active duty professionals, he provided excellent and positive leadership to active duty and Reservists alike and did an outstanding job successfully concluding a difficult conversion with decades of lasting impact. After his USAF retirement, the US Government decided not to honor its promise of lifetime medical care for 20-year military veterans. Lt Col Schism sued the Federal Government and along with Brig Gen Bud Day and Maj Robert Reinlie battled for five years until the promise of lifetime medical care for 20-year veterans was set up by Congress itself. As “one of the most important cases the court decided,” Schism v United States led to Tricare for Life, for all services, all ranks, and all Air Commandos. The singularly distinctive accomplishments of Lieutenant Colonel William O. “Sam” Schism reflect great credit upon himself, Air Force Special Operations Command, and Air Commandos of every generation.
Our goal at the ACJ is to tell the Air Commando and USAF Special Operations story, from our beginning to today. We need your help to do that. We seek quality articles, well written, factually based, and reflecting your experiences living the special operations mission in all of its complexities.
We are pleased to share our Corporate Partner, The Hoplite Group is looking for a Maritime / Boat Mechanic with security clearance. Please read carefully and send resume/CV to https://www.thehoplitegroup.com/contact-us
Required: Active Secret Clearance
The Hoplite Group is seeking a Maritime Maintenance SME to provide maritime maintenance, small engine repair, support boat driver operations for dives, AIE’s and deliberate water jumps, troubleshooting, testing, accountability, and management of the following list of equipment (including any future Maritime equipment added or replaced for training requirements): 35-foot aluminum hull boats with triple 300hp engines, Inflatable Wing boats (filling, folding, patching), 40hp Raider Engines, Amphibious Rescue Craft (ARC), Various size boat trailers
This position’s support provided is pivotal to the successful completion of the Advanced Skills Training (AST) mission, ultimately producing combat-ready Special Tactics operators.
Job Type: Full-time
Schedule: Monday to Friday
Ability to commute/relocate: Hurlburt Field, FL 32544: Reliably commute or planning to relocate before starting work (Required)
Experience: Repairing boats/engines: 5 years (Required)
Security clearance: Secret (Preferred)
Work Location: One location
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.
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.”
Russell Bergeron Jr.
Richard Hollinger Jr.
Ruben Ruiz Perez
The ACA recently learned of life member Colonel (Retired) Walter K. Schmidt’s induction into the Georgia Military Veterans Hall of Fame. We congratulate Colonel Schmidt and are please to present the citation content below for our readers:
Walter k Schmidt, Col, USAF, (Ret) has been selected for induction into Georgia Military Veterans Hall of Fame for valor on 5 November in Columbus, GA. The HOF objective is to publicly emphasize the honor brought to the state and nation by the sacrifice of Georgia military veterans and their families. It’s dual purpose is to honor our Georgia vets and educating young people as to who are our real heroes.
Col Schmidt’s career has been nothing but outstanding. He joined the 463rd Troop Carrier Wing at Clark AB flying 10 and then 15 day shuttles out of Tan Son Nhut AB Vietnam from January 1966 to June 1968 flying 481 days in Vietnam. On one of his Air Medals it was noted, he distinguished himself in Phu Yen Province flying day and night combat assault in hostile environment in deploying the 1st Cav, enabling them to trap and demoralize a major hostile force. It was also noted on one of his Distinguished Flying Crosses that he participated in aerial flight near A Loui, A Shau Valley in an extremely hazardous Tactical Emergency airdrop mission under adverse conditions to deliver ammunition to the beleaguered forcées in the valley. The outstanding skill and professionalism displayed by (then) Captain Schmidt in getting the load on target under adverse conditions exemplify the highest standards of tactical airlift. On his second tour at Nha Trang AB 1970-1971 in 15th/90th SpecialOperations Squadrons with Military Assistance Command – Studies and Observation Group (MACSOG); a highly classified multi-service United States special operations unit which conducted covert unconventional warfare operations, strategic reconnaissance, and physiological warfare operations against North Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and South Vietnam. MACSOG was made up of Army Special Forces (green berets), Navy SEALs, Air Force Special Operators, Marine Force Recon and CIA operatives. On this tour Col Schmidt’s total time in country (Vietnam) now is 831 days to include 1801.6 hours combat time, 429 combat missions and 2214 combat sorties. Col Schmidt stayed within the Special Operations community for next 20 years; including a tour as Commander United States Air Forces Europe elite 7th Special Operations Squadron. As 21st AF, Director Special Operations and Special Activities, he was responsible for close hold planning and coordination of MAC airlift forces in night airdrop invasion of Panama. And as CAT director he directed all MAC assets; 12 C-130s deploying Rangers, 80 C-141s deploying 82nd Airborne Brigade and 11 C -5s hauling reinforcement supplies in the invasion of Panama in Operation Just Cause in December 1989, which has been described as most efficient and effective use of airlift in history. Colonel Schmidt is an extremely highly decorated officer to include Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross with 1 cluster, Meritorious Service with 2 clusters, Air Medal with 16 clusters. Air Force Accommodation Medal, Army Accommodation Medal ((Air Liaison Officer to US Army Special Forces (Green Berets) Europe)), Air Force Presidential Award, Navy/Marine Presidential Award (26th Marines with a landing at Khe Sahn), Army Presidential Award (MACSOG), plus numerous other medals. Colonel Schmidt is also a parachutist, which he is very proud of, with 38 jumps, to include 6 as a Captain, 23 as a Major, 1 as a Lieutenant Colonel and 8 as a Colonel. Colonel Schmidt’s entire period of service of 28 years in the United States Air Force was nothing but professional in every aspect. These distinct accomplishments and professional competence, aerial skill, airmanship and devotion to duty displayed by Colonel Schmidt reflect great credit upon himself and United States Air Force. Colonel Schmidt has been married for 52 years to Monique (née Flocon) Schmidt. They have five children; Eric, Chantal, Annick, Brigitte, and Darya. Colonel and Mrs Schmidt have been extremely active in their local community affairs for all of their tours. He was inducted in to the Air Commando ( Special Operations) Hall of Fame in 2010. And this induction into Georgia Military Veterans Hall of Fame is the pinnacle of his career. Colonel Schmidt taught AF Junior ROTC at Cherokee High School for 12 years upon his retirement from the AF in 1990. He and his wife reside in the Soleil sub-division of Canton, GA.
On Saturday, Oct. 29. 2022, a memorial service was held to honor the lives of 12 men – 30 years to the day after they died. Oct. 29, 1992, an MH-60G Pave Hawk chopper crashed into the Great Salt Lake, claiming the lives of 12 of the 13 men on board during what the Air Force called a routine training mission.
ACA members along with family, friends, and service members from our military community gathered on a cold October day to remember their fallen loved ones and to re-dedicate the memorial in their honor. The ACA is proud to have been a part of this remembrance and honored to have participated in the restoration of the memorial.
For the complete story visit: https://www.abc4.com/news/florida-man-mission-restore-memorial-12-fallen-soldiers-antelope-island/
To see all the photos from the Rededication visit: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/ups5qdqwrd7jkqk/AAB4O87kzaJJxS-kM6RY0ghpa?dl=0
The Hoplite Group, a growing veteran-owned small business, is seeking a Program/Admin Specialist to support our Defense U.S. Government customers and DoD programs, responsible for administrative and operational support. This is a fantastic opportunity for an individual with a get things done mindset, energetic and ready to seize an opportunity for growth potential. While this is a mid-level position, the successful candidate for this position should have a skill set which would allow them to progress to more senior management roles as they gain more experience.
Ideally located in the Tampa to work remotely, or in the Panhandle/Destin area to work from Hoplite Group’s headquarters
START : Immediate Start
LOCATION : Destin or Tampa – Florida (Possibility of Remote Support)
– Maintain ongoing day to day interaction as needed with corporate management, subcontractors, prime customers, and employees or consultants on contracts regarding administrative issues, operational matters, billing questions, contractors’ hours, project reports, invoicing etc.
– Administers oversight of FTEs positions and engages with strategic partners and prime/sub-contractor management.
– Prepares monthly invoices, including payroll reports, and organizing invoice supporting documentation for the Finance Department.
– Manages requests and updates for contractual requirements and insurance, including DBA.
– Submits contract data items such as periodic progress/performance reports, or other contractually required documentation.
– Facilitates operations and support of staffing, logistics, and mobilization of personnel – CONUS and OCONUS.
– Travel accommodations and reimbursement
– Acts as SPOT administrator.
QUALIFICATIONS & IDEAL BACKGROUND
– Bachelor’s Degree, ideally in business administration or management.
– At least three years of experience in government contracting admin/program management work.
– Ideally, experience/understanding of SOF environment
– Familiarity with the Fly America Act and international travel management
– Holds an active Secret Clearance with Department of Defense. Desired but not required.
– Proficient with Microsoft Office, and Google suite.
– Able to produce clear and concise communications.
– Extremely well organized and a get things done attitude.
We are very excited to share all the photos which were taken by ACA life member Scott Schaeffler of Scott Photo Works. Scott was a helicopter pilot by trade (flew the Pavelow in the 20th SOS 1994-97 and ended his military career flying Hueys with the 6th SOS). His company is based in Northwest Florida and offers an array of professional photography services from real estate to events. The ACA is incredibly fortunate to have such a generous and talented member be our official photographer! Thank you Scott!
Please join us as the Special Operations Community commemorates the 12 lives lost in the helicopter crash on 29 October 1992 near Antelope Island and rededicate the memorial in their honor. 29 Oct 2022 from 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM at Antelope Island Rd, Syracuse, UT 84075 Visit https://combatcontrol.team/event-4978067 for more information.
Former Pave Low gunner, retired MSgt Andy Reed was in dire need of a liver transplant. The good news is he was fortunate to receive a donor liver and had his surgery on 10 July. The Air Commando Foundation (ACF) is assisting with fundraising on Andy’s behalf for his aftercare that could take up to six months and $15,000 or more.
ACF already contributed $1,200 to his pre-surgery support and will provide the first $5,000 of his post-surgery recovery for things that Tricare will not cover.
Your donations to ACF for this specific cause will allow additional support. Any funds not used for this effort will remain in the general ACF account for future unmet needs of Air Commandos and their families. ACF is a 501(c)(3) benevolent organization, and all donations are tax deductible.
Thank you for your continued support of our Air Commandos and their families!
Lt Gen (Retired) & Mrs Brad Webb represented all Air Commandos during the 2022 Memorial Day Ceremony held at the National Museum of the Pacific War in Fredericksburg, TX this past Monday. General & Mrs Webb are shown at the First Air Commando Plaque at the Memorial Wall. visit www.pacificwarmuseum.org to learn more about the National Museum of the Pacific War.
If you’ve been part of AFSOC in the last 20 years, Afghanistan is almost certainly part of you. I spent the middle third of my career in and out of there between 2002 and 2011, with all the attendant highs and lows. From the very beginning to the very present, I have been responsible for sending countless Airmen into harm’s way there, not all of whom returned to their families. In November 2003, I sent home the remains of my teammates and friends in the aftermath of the first fatalities I experienced as a commander. In May of 2011, we killed Osama bin Laden. Highs and lows…lows and highs…I’ve felt it all.
Like many, I struggle to make sense of it all. There will be history books written about everything from our tactics to our strategy and a host of unanswered questions swirling around in all our minds…all of it will be dissected under the cold, unforgiving light of retrospective assessment. I think I’m still way, way too close to be able to opine on any of this with any degree of certainty. However, there are a few things of which I’m certain.
First, the Airmen of AFSOC have done what they were asked to do magnificently. Valor. Sacrifice. Duty. All of it. I wake up every morning with a profound sense of gratitude to be associated with this command and the Airmen who comprise it. Even today, AFSOC forces continue to answer the call and loyally do the things they’re asked to do in these chaotic, turbulent times. From Medal of Honor recipient MSgt John Chapman to the still-serving squadron commander currently on his 19th deployment, AFSOC Airmen have done their duty magnificently.
Second, there will be many hard days…months…years…ahead for many of us as we reflect–often with with deep ambivalence–on how we feel about our experiences in Afghanistan. We’ll process this all while continuing to deal with the physical wounds, the neurocognitive wounds, the psychological wounds, and the moral wounds we’ve suffered along the way.
If, like me, you find yourself trying to put your own experiences into some context which will allow you to move forward positively and productively, I urge you to talk about it. For our still-serving Airmen and families, you can start with chaplains, psychologists, and physicians. For our teammates who have separated or retired since 9/11, there are resources available for you as well. While there is no “one size fits all” answer, there is a size which fits. If you can’t find resources through the Preservation of the Force and Families program, the Veteran Affairs Administration, the local Chapel, the Mental Health clinic at your servicing Medical Group, the Airman and Family Readiness Center, or Military OneSource, ask your chain of command or message me directly and let us help you find the right avenue. We’ve been through too much together as an AFSOC team to try to process these very complex things on our own.
I expect I’m not alone in being reminded of the famous opening lines of “A Tale of Two Cities.”
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”
I don’t know what it all means. But for now, the knowledge that doing one’s duty is its own reward will have to be enough.
Thank you to all who supported and participated in the 2021 Emerald Coast Honor Games! Good spirited competition among amazing athletes, strong community support, and of course our Air Commandos – Any Time Any Place!
Thank you ACA Emerald Coast Chapter Ruck 22 team: Andrew Malinowski, Justin Bresser, Aliyah Pogue, Lauren Flores, and Cecil Moran
I spent 30 magnificent months with Project 404 (Det 1 606 ACS/Det 1 56 ACW/Det 1 56 SOW. Did the daily shuttle from Udorn to Vientiane and the assigned to L-54. In my 6 years in SEA there was no finer organization … PERIOD! I commemorated that association with personalized license plates over the ensuing years, starting with ‘404’, ‘LAOS’, ‘AT28D’, and adding ‘RLAF’ today.
ACA Lifetime Member #768
It has been 42 years since the tragic November 1978 mass suicide/murder of American citizens at the Peoples Temple Agricultural Settlement in Jonestown, Guyana. In the intervening four decades, so much has happened to US special operations forces and the US Air Force, brought about in large part by world events that demonstrated the unquestionable need for fully resourced, trained, and ready joint special operations forces.
This monograph tells the heretofore untold story of what the Airmen who would, a few years later, form the nucleus of Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC), did to help recover the victims’ bodies – a special air operation that pushed the limits of what their training and previous combat experiences had prepared them
ACA Director Hollis Tompkins put together a great team of volunteers along with our generous event sponsors for the 2021 ACA 5k FUN RUN. Our Spirit Award went to the active duty or Guard and Reserve unit with the most runners. Our inaugural award went to HQ AFSOC’s team led by Command Chief Corey Olson. The trophy will be a traveling trophy and we look for even greater competition in the future.