The events over the past few months have been many. The AFA from 14-16 September, the AWCF/RRVA summit on 2 October, and the Wild Weasel 50th anniversary reunion in Dayton, OH, were the major events.
The AFA, as usual, was a big success. The visibility afforded to both the AWCF and RRVA helped a lot of people understand more thoroughly the missions of each. We were even able to sign up a WW II P-51 pilot, Jerry Yellin, who flew the last P-51 mission of that war. My thanks to the folks who helped do the booth duty. They are in the pictures with this article. We even had Lt. Gen. Darryl Roberson do a short stint for us. He was a former member of the DC area local pack and is now the Commander of AETC. Not pictured is Quizmo Brown who was off doing something when the pics were taken.
Left to Right: Dave Brog, Brigitte Steiner, Jerry Yellin, Rich “Robo” Leonard, Roz Knapp and Dick “Nobody” Guild.
Left to right: Brian Domian, Dave Brog. George Acree, Brigitte Steiner, Darryl Roberson (new CC of AETC) and Roz Knapp.
A key meeting took place on 2 October in Crystal City, VA, to plan how the AWCF and the RRVA can move forward in mutual support. It was a very successful meeting with some great cooperation coming out of it. Major areas of cooperation that came out of the meeting were:(1) The RRVA would lead the effort in working with the world wide units of all services, including active, Guard, and Reserve, to establish the 529s that the AWCF provides to the children of aircrew killed in combat or other conditions. The AWCF would set them up, provide the financing and operate them until they are ready to be turned over to the surviving parent. Even after that occurs, the AWCF would continue to receive the incoming donations and apply them to the 529s. (2) The RRVA will continue to administer the scholarship program and the AWCF will provide supplementary financial support when required. (3) The synergy of the missions of both the AWCF and the RRVA will be an incentive for current active duty aircrew to join the River Rats and help continue the legacy.
In addition to the above major areas of cooperation, we plan to reach out to ROTC units around the country and, where we have available River Rats, to tell the story to those just entering the various services. This has been successful in Oklahoma with Mike Sloniker, Bill Schwerfeger, Chuck DeBellevue, and Roger Locher leading the effort. It is something that can be done all over the country. We are finding that these young folks are eager to learn the history of what went before them and to see how "we care for our own." This approach has been successful at pilot training bases as well.
The full agreement will be available for all to read on the web sites. The picture of the group is below.