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

Air Commando in Need

ACA friends,

As you may have heard, former Pave Low Gunner, Andy Reed, is currently in ICU at Shands hospital Gainesville, FL in critical condition. He is getting essential treatment but needs a liver transplant. He won’t be able to get one until he has recovered sufficiently and has assurance of 24/7 support for ~six months after the transplant (to include weekly visits to Shands for follow up care).

Andy and “Scooter” Kerwood, were very close when Scooter died in the Pave crash in 2003. After that tragedy, Andy was a great source of support for Scooter’s family and widow, Kara. They have remained friends since and Kara is in Gainesville trying to coordinate medical care for him. Andy’s immediate family is his brother in New York. He is helping as much as he can but Shands insists that Andy’s care be maintained at Shands if he is to get a transplant there.

Andy will need personal support. We aren’t sure what level yet. Again, if he gets the transplant, he will need 24/7 care at some level for six months and Shands won’t do the surgery until they know he’ll have that support. Kara is working with CMSgt (Ret) Randy and M.K. Andersen on a possible VA option in the Gainesville area to shorten Andy’s travel. If Andy returns home to Navarre, he’ll need skilled nursing care and weekly trips to Shands (staying for ~24 hours minimum).

If you can help or have good ideas of a support network for Andy, please contact M.K. Andersen by emailing the ACA at info@aircommando.org or call our office at 850-581-0099.

Air Commandos Remembered on Memorial Day

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.

LtGen Slife Reflecting On Conflict in Afghanistan

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.


Please note: The AFSOC Commander’s message originally appeared on FaceBook.

Air Commandos Support ECHG

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

My ‘Project 404’ legacy on wheels

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.

Steve Herberth
ACA Lifetime Member #768

Valor Untold Available Now

US military personnel and volunteers offload the remains of Jonestown victims from a 55th Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Squadron HH-53 Jolly Green Giant helicopter. The bodies will be placed in coffins for transport to Dover Air Force Base, Delaware.

For the first time ever, ACA Press brings you the untold story of Air Commandos responding to the Jonestown Massacre.

Valor Untold: Air Commandos During the Jonestown Massacre Recovery, 1978
By Richard D. Newton

Published by: Air Commando Association Press, 2021, 38 pages

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
for.

Order your copy now!


Price includes shipping and handling.

$

If you want to order additional copies of Valor Untold please contact ACA at info@aircommando.org or call us at 850-581-0099 Mon-Fri from 9am-4pm.

AFSOC wins Spirit Award for ACA 5k FUN RUN

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.


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