Next Alumni Meeting

Monday 11 December
Meeting: 1130 - 1230;
Yankee Swap: 1230 - 1330.
(Yankee Swap is Optional.)
Beef O'Brady's Grill and Bar, Satellite Beach (South Patrick Drive.)


  • AFTAC Ladies Luncheon

  • Organizational Excellence Award

  • 2018 Tricare Changes

  • AFTAC 70th Anniversary - Dining Out

  • AFTAC's Last 70 Years

  • Disney Military Discounts for 2018


  • AFTACAA Holiday Luncheon 12/11/2017

  • AFTAC Open House 12/22/2017

  • AFTAC Winter Social 1/12/2018.

  • 2018 AFTACAA Snowball XX 1/20/2018

  • 2018 AFTACAA Golf N' Get Together 5/4/2018

NOTICE: This is a Private Organization. It is not part of the Department of Defense or any of its components and it has no governmental status.

The 'AFTAC Alumni Association' provides a forum for those wishing to maintain a relationship with the center and its people, active-duty and retired. Membership is open to past/present employees of all organizations associated with Long Range Detection, (AFMSW-1, 1009th SWS, AFOAT-1, 1035th FAG, 1035th TOG, LRDAA and AFTAC), and any subordinate field detachment.

AFTAC Commanders Message on the Organizational Excellence Award

It is an honor to recognize the Air Force Technical Applications Center's recent achievement of the Air Force Organizational Excellence Award from 1 Jun 15 - 31 May 17.

Over the past two years, AFTAC has done a tremendous job maintaining mission focus and supporting the fight around the globe. National Agencies, Combatant Commands, and Staffs constantly rely on our hard work and expertise to enforce our national deterrence strategy and shape our national policies. As Commander, I have reiterated many times that AFTAC's actions are constantly being noticed by those outside this building - today is no different.

Congratulations AFTAC, on achieving another Air Force Organizational Excellence Award! We were 1 of 10 organizations within Air Combat Command chosen to receive this honor, and it is no doubt due solely to our professional workforce's commitment to the mission and dedication in service to our Nation.

AFTAC Ladies Christmas Luncheon
By Judy Henderson

_Photos/LadiesLunch/LL1.jpg Following a long tradition (which started when AFTAC was located in Virginia) of having an AFTAC Ladies Christmas Luncheon, a handful of AFTAC ladies (active and retired) gathered at Beef O’Brady’s in Satellite Beach, FL, on 6 December.

As usual, there was a lot of chatter among the attendees to catch up on news of what everyone is doing these days and to see pictures of a new grandbaby and to talk about everyone’s family and health.

_Photos/LadiesLunch/LL2.jpg Part of our tradition for the last several years is to bring a donation for TOYS FOR TOTS, and we had a great collection to donate to the cause this year.

Ladies, if you’re interested in attending next year, watch the AFTAC Alumni Web site or Email Judy Henderson at to be placed on the list of those who receive a direct invitation.

70th Anniversary of AFTAC
By Judy (Milam) Henderson,
AFTAC Alumni (1965 to 1999)

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It seemed like a strange place to hold the 70th AFTAC Anniversary Dining Out, but nothing about this anniversary was routine. The location of the Dining Out seemed slightly strange – in an airplane hangar at the Warbirds Aviation Museum in Titusville, FL – but this proved to be an ideal location, with a static display of airplanes related to the AFTAC mission. When you work for AFTAC, you expect things to be planned and carried out with the utmost efficiency, but it seemed like this might not be the case with the Dining Out, through no fault of the organizers. Originally scheduled to be held in September, Hurricane Irma left many Brevard County FL residents without power for several days to more than a week, resulting in the delay of the activities until the third week of October. The Honorable James R. Clapper was scheduled to be the speaker, but he had to cancel at the last minute for personal reasons, so the AFTAC Historian, Dr. Mike Young, stepped in and gave a briefing about the 70-year history. With all the setbacks, and the need to plan the Dining Out twice because of Hurricane Irma, the venue was appropriate, the evening was entertaining, the food was wonderful, and the speaker was knowledgeable and interesting. Kudos go to the 70th Anniversary committee.

The Dining Out began with a wonderful selection of hors d’oeuvres served to the guests as they viewed the displays and listened to the music. When the dinner chimes sounded, attendees proceeded to their seats and the formal program began, followed by the delicious dinner, and then the speaker’s presentation, interspersed by visits to the Grog Bowl.

If you’ve never attended a Dining Out, you may not know that the Grog Bowl is a focal point of the evening. Many members were required to visit the Grog Bowl to atone for infractions of the rules, including the Commander, Col Steven Gorski and his wife, Trisha. The Grog bowl is filled with a variety of libations that one would not normally mix together and drink. Fortunately, there were several designated drivers, in case someone made too many trips to the Grog Bowl.

Toward the end of the program, the cake cutting ceremony took place using sabers before the “Closing of the Mess,” at which time the music and dancing began. It was a wonderful evening of military regimen mixed with laughter and an opportunity to get to know some of the active-duty members.

AFTAC's Last 70 Years

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Wunderground Weather

This site is produced by The Weather Company, and IBM Business and, in the past, has proven quite accurate for path projection. It is NOT provided on this website for use as a planning tool. Information from your local city emergency center should be used for planning purposes.

  1. Clicking on the link below will open a page with a map and below that a series of access to information on current storms.
  2. Scrolling down you will find the names of Tropical Depressions and active Hurricanes.
  3. Below each listing is a tab, “Storm Details”.
  4. By clicking on that, the particular storm will be detailed with a large map showing it’s current position and a projected path.
  5. Below that map are smaller maps that will show the indicated data. For example, clicking on “Computer Models”, the larger map will change depicting projected path as determined by weather computers.
  6. Clicking on the other small maps will change the larger map to show that indicated data.

There are other options on this site that can be explored for additional information on world-wide storms and weather in your area. Don’t hesitate to explore this site.

Wunderground Weather

National Hurricane Center

This site is produced by the National Hurricane Center and, in the past, has proven quite accurate for path projection. It is NOT provided on this website for use as a planning tool. Information from your local city emergency center should be used for planning purposes

Instructions for use:

  1. When you click on the link below, you will see a map of the Eastern United States and a portion of the Atlantic that stretches from North Africa, where most hurricanes originate, Westward to the Atlantic coast of the U.S. .
  2. If hurricanes are active, it will show icons of their present location. These icons are explained at the bottom of the map
  3. Projected paths are predicted for storms ranging from a “Tropical Depression” to a “Post Tropical Cyclone”.
  4. Click on any icon within that range and a second map will be loaded showing the projected path.
  5. You will also see a selection of small maps at the top of this page which will provide you other information on that storm.
  6. Selecting the page-back option on your computer will bring you back to the first page where you can view another storm if there is one..

There are other options on this site that can be explored for additional information on world-wide storms and weather in your area. Don’t hesitate to explore this site.

National Hurricane Center

West Coast Chapter Fall Social & Election Of Officers

West Coast Chapter Fall Social & Election Of Officers
Sam's Hof Brau
Sunday, 12 Nov 2017 11:30am-2:30pm

Note: Sign-up is required due to limited seating! (40)
Deadline for receipt of your sign-up information/form is 11/5/2017!!
Click here for Details & Sign-up Form

Wall of Honor Selection Process begins in August

On 16 August, the AFTAC Heritage Committee will begin the five-month process of selecting the next inductees into the AFTAC Wall of Honor. Each year, the committee selects three exceptional AFTAC veterans for this honor. The committee members, delegates from each of the directorates, work within their respective organizations to nominate candidates. Each directorate may nominate three people.

The Heritage Committee, chaired by the vice commander, reviews the nomination packets throughout the fall time frame and votes in early December.

After the commander approves the results, AFTAC holds a formal ceremony in late January or early February. Bob Wiley represents the AFTAC Alumni Association on the committee.

Please contact Bob at with any questions you may have.

AFTAC Booster Club News

1. AFTAC Booster Club is hosting a Golf Tournament on 30 Aug.

2. AFTAC’s Dining out celebrating 70 years of Long Range Detection (LRD) will be a formal event on 22 September @ 1800 @ “Valiant Air Command Warbird Museum” (6600 Tico Rd, Titusville, FL 32780)… yes it’s in a hanger! And yes, former AFTAC Commander, Ret. General Clapper will be our guest of honor/keynote speaker

3. Do you remember the old AFTAC building that was the icon of PAFB since mid-1950s? It stood for nearly 70 years before being demolished in 2015. Lucky for us we kept some momentos. The name of AFTAC can never be demolished, literally. AFTAC Booster Club currently has 28 of the original 35 letters spelling out “Air Force Technical Applications Center”. These metal letters braved many storms and tribulations and are now available to purchase. Proceeds from the fundraiser will be used to benefit the AFTAC airmen and their families serving today. Visit the AFTAC Alumni Website for more information!” (I didn’t get the photos of the letters yet but I confirmed that we have 28 out of 35 letters)

4. AFTAC’s Toilet Bowl is planned for 1 December 2017. Last year’s losers, the Directorate of Operations (DO) will organize this year’s event.

5. AFTAC’s Winter Social will be held at the Brevard Zoo on 12 January. For more information visit the AFTAC Alumni Homepage! (by moving winter social to January we are opening up space for squadrons/units to hold their own winter parties and events)

A Piece of History - by Jack O'Conner

It was September 1955 and I had just completed our roughly three months of training in Tail # 263---our beloved C-47 “Goony Bird”--- and WB-29’s, which had been modified to conduct training and operations for our specialty. I had just been certified to operate solo as a Special Equipment Operator. I was stationed at my first permanent duty assignment: Western Field Office of the 1009th Special Weapons Squadron, McClellan AFB, CA. WB-29’s were also stationed at McClellan AFB, but as the 57th Air Weather Squadron. The SEO would be the eleventh man on the crew. We had no crew position available, so we sat on the floor in the rear compartment with our back against the bomb bay bulkhead between the two scanners. After takeoff, the SEO would take over the right scanner position where our equipment had been pre-positioned and tied down. Looking back upon it, we were the only thing not tied down. We didn’t know any better and we had a job to do on that aircraft, so we didn’t worry about it.

In the WB-29’s, we only had a “honey bucket” which was situated directly behind the left scanner position. All human excretions went into that bucket. You can imagine, though you may not want to, just how bad that thing was smelling after we all had been drinking coffee for awhile in briefings and preflight duties without being able to avail ourselves of the scant facilities in the hangar. The beloved honey bucket was used soon and often. More later about that! It is not germane to this story. Directly behind that was the place where we put the box containing all of our lunches---two per crewmember. Twenty two box lunches. We had no heated lunches back in those days. We didn’t have a means to heat them.

Back SACTO: I was lying there next to my new bride dreaming of a wonderful something or other. We were startled out of our slumber with the shrill ring of our telephone.

“This is Capt. Copeland. Airman O’Connor, a staff car will be in front of your apartment in 30 minutes to pick you up for transport to San Francisco Int’l Airport. I can’t tell you where you are going from there, but be packed and ready for 30 days. We will keep your wife informed on your progress. Others are going with you.”

And, thanks to the originator of our concern and the time difference, our alert always seemed to come at about the same time: 3:00AM, PST. The big problem with this is that we never knew what day it might happen or who and how many SEO’s would be called to go. It varied with each occasion, so we always had a bag packed ready to go.

So started my first TDY. We always had a First Class Ticket in our pocket because there was almost always room back there, even if the rest of the plane was sold out. (The Pan American Clipper had a great lounge down a circular stairway where, if we were first to get there, we could stretch out on the sofas. There was no bar service at 5:00 AM). We always just had to get to our destination ASAP. Positioning was of prime importance. Our own Weather Man from 1009th SWS HQ at Langley AFB was on his way to provide expertise in where we should be flying. We had to hit the ground running and be airborne in a WB-29 within 12 hours. Most times one of us would be airborne within three hours of our arrival at Eielson AFB, AK, if we had a good idea of where we needed to be.

There was no such thing as “Crew Duty Time”. We flew as needed. We learned real fast, that this was the routine method of initiating a TDY for anyone in the Cloud Chasing Business ((or: our type of business)). Capt Buck Copeland and A/1c Guy Davis flew alternating days for over a month. On their “day off”, they manned the desk---monitoring and reporting up the line what was happening in the aircraft. Obviously, neither had any crew rest. They both were burned out by the time the operation concluded.

That was the beginning of six great years with the 1009th SWS and flying as an enlisted Aircrew Member. Initially, we were considered additional Non-Crew Member, which paid us $50.00 per month for “hazardous duty pay”. Most of us just wanted to be able to wear enlisted crewmember wings, but a raise in pay to $55.00 per month would be a welcome increase in our meager pay---as would the designation of flight pay. It was minimal compensation for being separated from wife and baby girl for sudden, and frequent separations from the family. It was especially hard on my wife who did not know what we were doing let alone where we were going or why.

The Aircraft Commanders (AC’s) always were a little curious if we hadn’t flown with him before, because the flying time we logged was “z” time, listed as ‘other”. That was an unusual crewmember designation. He stayed suspicious until we found what we were looking for. Then, I think, he understood.

One of the most amazing aspects to me, and probably most of us, was the ability of an A/2C to tell a Lt Col where to take his modified bomber and tell him when to turn and when to orbit. It was a little scary the first few times, but they had been briefed and I only had one flight when the Aircraft Commander did not follow my instructions and what flight profile I wanted.

B-36 It was during a roughly twenty seven hour RB-36 mission and we were headed back to Travis AFB without any success. Exhausted, I thought I’d take a nap, and though we had 2 engines shut down, we still had 8 engines working so I told the AC to maintain 35,000 ft as long as possible and then make a steep approach to Travis AFB. I went to sleep which was understandable (In addition, RB-36 pre-flight took about 3 hours, so I had been at or in the plane for over 27 hours already). The Aircraft Commander decided to make a long shallow approach to Travis so we lost about 3 hours off of the high altitude profile I had requested. During my “nap time”, I had the radio operator monitor my equipment in the event anything happened.

Upon landing, I gave a long sigh of relief, knowing crew rest and a loving wife was awaiting me at McClellan. Instead, Immediately after engine shutdown, I had a big surprise awaiting my arrival. As I disembarked, I was surprised, shaken and not a little frightened to see our Field Office Commander, Col Griffin, waiting for me along with his secretary. Under the wing of the giant ten engine RB-36, at an improvised desk and chair, the secretary typed as I explained what happened. Two days later, the Aircraft Commander was a Co-Pilot. This was in General Curtis Lemay’s Strategic Air Command. It was amazing how much clout a little airman had in this organization. Of course, this was when the Squadron had a two star General for a commander and we had the number one priority in the Air Force. There were four Full Colonels just in the Western Field Office at McClellan AFB, CA.

Though we had nothing to show for our long flight but flight time logged, it was still a successful mission. Just like hunting or fishing, there would be better results on the next time out!

Elections Meeting

Elections Meeting Location: Manatee Cove Golf Course (MCGC),
(Putter Room). Meeting: 1130 - 1230
Pay-as-You-Go Lunch available from Fairways Snack Bar, before meeting.
For your early dining pleasure, lunch, may be ordered, at 1030.

2017 AFTAC Winter Social

** Friday, 12 January
2017 AFTAC Winter Social
1800 - 2200
Location: Nyami Nyami River Lodge at the Brevard Zoo
8225 North Wickham Road, Melbourne, FL
Social Hour:
Hors d' Oeuvres:
Mini Chicken Empanadas and Shrimp wrapped in Bacon
Dinner Buffet Hour:
Fresh Rolls and Butter
Garden Salad
London Broil
Chicken Scampi
Rice Pilaf
Vegetable Medley
Coffee and Sweet Tea Station
Dress: Military: Safari Attire/Business Casual ; Civilian: Safari Attire/Business Casual.
Ticket Prices: Airmen/GG-1-4 $10;NCO/GG-5-8 $20;SNCO/CGO/GG 9-12 $30;
FGO/GG-13+/other $40
NOTE: Alumni pay's rate for when you retired (unless you're a GG or contractor in the
building). Alumni POC: Ms. Carol Snyder,, 321-494-4402
RSVP: by 5 January 2018
NOTE: The Brevard Zoo offers Adventerous Night Hikes for children 5 to 12 years old.
Cost is $10 per child for pizza and a fun, nighttime trek
POC: Lt Pamela Zhang

2017 AFTACAA Holiday Luncheon

Monday, 11 December
AFTAC Alumni Association Quarterly/Annual Off-Site,
Holiday Luncheon Meeting, and White Elephant/Yankee Swap (Optional)

(Official Rules of a Yankee Swap, are Attached --
"Modified Cost/Gift Idea(s)", is/are Noted Below in hyperlink.
** Note: A $5 to $10 gift, (i.e, gift card, etc., in good taste of course), works well.
It can be used, regifted, or even new. It can also, be a gag gift, in good taste.

Meeting: 1130 - 1230; Yankee Swap: 1230 - 1330. (Yankee Swap is Optional.)
Beef O'Brady's Grill and Bar, Satellite Beach (South Patrick Drive.)
POCs: For Day of Event: Mrs. Dee Melchior; and Mr. Frank Calenda,, Phone: 321-773-2046
POC: Sean Ryan,

2017 AFTAC Holiday Social/Open House

** Friday, 22 December
2017 AFTAC Holiday Social and Open House
1100 - 1430
HQ AFTAC Building
Showtime at Entrance Lobby: NLT 1030. (Escorted/On-Time is Key.)
RSVP: Friday, 8 December 2017 / 1700
Menu: Will be determined once we get the list of folks attending. Cost: Will be based on
the food we are bringing. Right now, leaning toward bringing side dishes.
Once we get the list of those attending, we will contact you with further detail/cost.
If you plan to attend, please email me (Ed Lindsay), at and
provide me with your phone number, so that I can contact you with any changes.

POC: Sean Ryan,

2018 AFTACAA Snowball XX

** Saturday, 20 January
2018 AFTAC Alumni Association Snowball XX
Location: Holiday Inn Melbourne-Viera Conference Center
(8298 North Wickham Road, Melbourne), (I-95, Exit 191).
Social Hour: 5:30 - 6:30; Chimes/Introductions/
National Anthem/POW-MIA Remembrance/Sage Salute/Invocation: 6:35.
Dinner: 7:00. Break: 8:00. Program: 8:15. Theme: Mobile Sensors.
Dress: Florida Casual. Cost: TBD (Check or Cash only). Menu: TBD.
Hotel Room Cost: TBD
RSVP: NLT Friday, 12 January -- 1200
(No Refunds, after 12 January; Exception(s)/Member(s) Pay(s).)
POC: Sean Ryan, Social Committee Chair,
(Save the Date/Further Details Forthcoming)

2018 Golf N' Get Together

Friday, 4 May
AFTAC Alumni Association (AFTACAA)
Annual Spring Golf-n'GetTogether XXXII
Venue: Manatee Cove Golf Course, PAFB. Check-in: 1130;
Shotgun Start: 1300. (Format: 4- Person Scramble).
Cost: $40 (Alumni Members); $45 (Non-Alumni Members).
Fee includes: Golf, Cart, Range Balls, and BBQ from Tides Club, served for Dinner.
Open to: AD Military, Retirees, Civilians, and Contractors.
Mulligan's packages will be on sale: $5 for 1 mulligan, Red Bomb, & Nolan.
Team Mulligan Ball: Available for $10.
POCs: Mr. Ed Lindsay -- -- 321-610-7548 (Unlisted)
Mr. Bruce Snelgrove -- -- 321-494-6166 (Unlisted)

History and Heritage: Similar, yet different Commentary
by Chief Master Sgt. Michael Joseph, AFTAC Command Chief

I would venture to guess that many people use the word “history” and “heritage” interchangeably. I have to admit, I used to think they were synonymous and never gave much thought to the idea that not only are they two separate and distinct words, they are also two separate and distinct concepts.

Let me explain. The textbook definition of the word history is: the study of past events, particularly in human affairs. The definition of the word heritage is: a legacy, tradition or inheritance; something possessed as a result of one’s situation. Different words with different meanings, but inextricably intertwined.

AFTAC’s history is a robust one, filled with ‘firsts’ for our nation from our inception in 1947 until present day. The center’s history is a chronological account of what AFTAC has accomplished for the past 70 years and the compilation of events that define us as an Air Force organization.

Heritage, on the other hand, has a bit of emotion tied to it. It’s about identity and a sense of belonging. Heritage is the “war story” about the people – the faces of AFTAC. It’s the more intangible of the two words, since heritage deals more with the human landscape versus historic relics and artifacts.

Our proud history is reflected in our heritage, and much of that can be attributed to the AFTAC Alumni. Through your tireless efforts, the Alumni Association has gone to great lengths to preserve our past and keep our customs and traditions alive. I want to continue to foster this relationship between the AFTAC Alumni and our current active military and civilian workforce.

History is our past; heritage is a reminder of our past. Or as I like to say, history makes us smarter; heritage makes us prouder.

SnowBall 2017

Show Slide Show

Carol Snyder & Kathy & Karley Herschelman
Carol Snyder AOY
A plate of delicious food
Marybeth & Rich Goodman

The final statement from our AFTAC Alumni Association President SB1.jpg the 2017 AFTAC Alumni Snowball that night was, "The Snowball has melted.", and boy, did it ever. We had a total of 75 attendees, including a table full of VIP's who were enjoying the evening, every bit as much as all others, maybe even a bit more, isn't that right Colonel Rich Goodman? The evening started out with a very enjoyable social hour, where everyone mingled, networked and had the opportunity to speak to fellow Alumni and guests in attendance.

Sean Ryan Carol Warfield
Moira and Tom Eddleman
John Horsch Jim Payne
Dee and Gene Melchoir
Colonel and Mrs. Gorski

Renewing old, friendships and making new ones was the highlight of the night. Possibly even some new AFTAC operational systems were designed that night by our high-tech attendees....who knows? We had the best bartender, "Ryan", who kept everyone happy and didn't seem to mind adding a little "punch" to the drink ordered. Slides of former Snowballs, and golf events, during the year, were continuously shown, on a slide show organized and provided by Bob Wiley, and many people re-lived those good times in seeing it. Salads were served with yummy dressings and crisp lettuce and other little veggies. Then, a delicious and scrumptious dinner was served. All reports were that the Champagne Chicken was tender and juicy. The Pork Loin was just as tender and very flavorful. Veggies were cooked just right, and the dessert of creamy-smooth cheese cake drizzled with strawberry sauce, made for an extremely enjoyable meal. The bell was rung and the evening proceedings were started.

Our National AnthemSB7.jpg was beautifully sung by our perennial singer, Rebecca ("Becky") Lehnerz. Ed Lindsay,SB8.jpg the AFTAC Alumni President, did most of the speaking, adding humor to the evening. Sean Ryan provided some insight to the "POW/MIA" table and some words of what was to come that evening. A video ("SAGE Salute") review of AFTAC'ers who had passed during the year was shown. The inspirational invocation was given by Sean Ryan. After dinner and a brief break, the AFTAC Commander, Colonel Steve Gorski, provided us with a quite detailed briefing of our "AFTAC Today". It was very interesting with a few oohs and aahs from the audience along the way. The following, and most important highlight, which is the main reason for our annual Snowball, was the naming of our Alumni of the Year.

Carol Snyder

This year, Carol Snyder was selected. An honor, that was well earned, deserved, and awarded. Carol has served the Alumni for so many years, never expecting thanks or recognition, for her tireless efforts. She was our "AFTAC Intrepid Insider" for a time longer than many people can remember. Her efforts have always been appreciated. It had been an exciting evening so far, but was not yet to be finished. Suddenly, out popped a troupe of young ladies in Hawaiian costume.


They proceeded to do the cutest Island dances that brought the house down. The applause lasted longer than the dance. This was followed by equally enjoyable dances from places around the Southern Pacific including Tahiti and New Zealand. Provided by the Brevard Hawaiian Dancers, it was all good, it was truly, fabulous. What a night!! Although a number of people were instrumental in organizing this terrific event, Sean Ryan and his wife Michelle, deserve a big "THANK YOU" for their tireless efforts, which provided one of the best Snowballs yet. If you didn't make it, mark your January 2018 calendars, to attend the next one. You, won't be disappointed.

Please be patient.
Sometimes it take a while to download a video

Video by Frank Calenda

Please be patient.
Sometimes it take a while to download a video

Video by Judy Henderson

Please be patient.
Sometimes it take a while to download a video

Video by Clark Creery

Please be patient.
Sometimes it take a while to download a video

Video by Clark Creery

Please be patient.
Sometimes it take a while to download a video

Video by Clark Creery

History of AFTAC Alumni Association
On March 12, 1985, the AFTAC Commander, Colonel James R. Clapper invited a group of retired and active duty AFTAC’ers to meet with him. He requested that they form an AFTAC Alumni Association (AFTACAA). It was established at that time, a Board of Directors was elected and it was chartered in 1986

This association was established to provide a forum for members wishing to maintain a relationship with AFTAC and its people, both active duty and retired. The membership is open to all those who serve and who have served with the mission of this organization and its field detachments since its inception. This is to include all ancillary support venues such as Security Police, Administrative, Personnel and Civilians.

We function as three independent groups. Besides our association, they include the California and the Colorado chapters.
Florida Alumni Association
Dues are $10 yearly (1 October through 30 September)
Lifetime membership $75
Monthly meetings are designated to be held the second Monday of each month at 1600hrs. They are generally held at the AFTAC Headquarters but can be scheduled for other locations. Dates, times and venues are subject to change and can be found on this website’s menu item “Calendar of Events” Mailing address is:
    Po Box 254892
    Patrick AFB, Fl 32925-0892

We have several communications resources:
    Post Monitor Newsletter (PoMo):
        Namesake of the prior active duty “Monitor” Publication
    An active website containing:
        Breaking News, job offers, event photos and much more.
    An instant email notification:
        Service to all members with important news. Acronym
is “eAll”

Our Board of Directors quinquennials (5 or more years in one or several
offices )
    Clark Creery
        Newsletter, 1985/1989 through 1995 (7 years)
        President, 1994 through 1995 (1 year)
        Webpage/Membership, 2001 through 2016 (15 years)
    Frank Hall
        President/Vice President, 1989 through 1998 (9 years)
    Judy Milam
        President, 2004 (1 year)
        Secretary, 1989 through 2006 (17 years)
        Hospitality, From 2001 to Present (15 years)
    Eunice Harris
        Hospitality, 1989 through 2000 (11 years)
    Mary Welch
        Membership, 1991 through 1999 (8 years) (Deceased)
    Carl Gailey
        Treasurer, 1991 through 1999 (8 years) (Deceased)
    Swede Swansen
        Publications, 1993 through 2006 (13 years)
    John and Chris Horsch
        Post Monitor Newsletter, 1996 to Present (20 years) (Chris Deceased)
    Pat Snyder
        Insider/Sage Shop, 1996 through 2010 (14 years)
        Vice President, 2004 (1 year)
    Mike Black
        Webmaster, 1996 through 2010 (14 years)
    Jim Payne
        Membership, 1999 through 2004 (5 years)
    Joe Goldian
        Treasurer, 2003 to Present (13 years) (Deceased)
    Randy Vlassick
        Membership 2004 through 2009 (5 years)
    Sean Ryan
        Secretary, 2009 through 2015 (6 years)
        Social Events, 2010 through Present (6 years)
    Steve Revels
        Sage Shop, 2010 through 2016 (6 years)
California Chapter
Formed in 1999
Dues are $10– Lifetime membership $75
Publish a newsletter – Depot Fallout
For more information click here or email:
Postal Mailing address:
    Alumni Association
    PO Box 3974
    Citrus Heights, CA 95611-3974

Colorado Chapter
Formed in 1986
Dues are $5 per year
Publish a newsletter – Echoes
General membership meetings are normally scheduled twice per year usually in the first and third calendar quarters
Several social events are held each year
For more information click here or email:

World wide reunions are held every two years in a rotation between chapters. Information on these reunions will be initially sent in an eAll and followed by articles in the PoMo’s, the chapter newsletters and articles in this website.

The Air Force Technical Applications Center (AFTAC) provides national authorities quality technical measurements to monitor nuclear treaty compliance and develops advanced proliferation monitoring technologies to preserve our nation’s security. It is the sole organization in the federal government whose mission is to detect and report technical data from foreign nuclear explosions.

Consisting of more than 3,600 sensors worldwide, AFTAC operates and maintains a global network of nuclear event detection equipment called the U.S. Atomic Energy Detection Systems (USAEDS), the largest sensor network in the U.S. Air Force. Once a disturbance is detected underground, underwater, in the atmosphere or in space, the event is analyzed for nuclear identification, and the findings are reported to national command authorities.

AFTAC’s nuclear event detection mission is directly linked to its nuclear treaty monitoring mission. AFTAC monitors signatory countries’ compliance with the 1963 Limited Test Ban Treaty. This treaty prohibits nuclear testing anywhere but underground and prohibits the venting of nuclear debris or radiation from those tests into the atmosphere outside the country’s national borders. AFTAC also monitors the Threshold Test Ban Treaty of 1974 and the Peaceful Nuclear Explosion Treaty of 1976. The 1974 treaty limits the size of underground nuclear tests to 150 kilotons, while the 1976 treaty prohibits the testing of nuclear devices outside of agreed treaty sites.

AFTAC is on the leading edge of technological research and the evaluation of verification technologies for current and future treaties involving weapons of mass destruction which threaten our national security. In 2014, AFTAC supplemented its extensive network of contracted laboratories by opening its state-of-the-art Ciambrone Radiochemistry Lab to analyze and assess compliance with nuclear weapons testing in support of USAEDS and AFTAC’s Nuclear Debris Collection and Analysis Program. The 38,000 square foot lab filled a void created when the center’s central laboratory at McClellan AFB, Calif. closed after the 1995 Base Realignment and Closure actions.

AFTAC employs more than 1,000 personnel and boasts a highly educated force possessing 171 associate degrees, 121 bachelor’s degrees, 214 master’s degrees and 63 doctorate degrees.

AFTAC is a surveillance organization subordinate to 25th Air Force, an Air Combat Command Numbered Air Force, located at Lackland AFB, Texas. AFTAC is located at Patrick AFB on Florida’s east coast, less than 30 miles south of the Kennedy Space Center. AFTAC includes nine detachments, six operating locations and more than 60 unmanned equipment locations around the world supporting AFTAC’s long range nuclear detection mission. In addition, AFTAC manages 11 world-class laboratories to assist the International Atomic Energy Agency with the promotion of safe, secure and peaceful use of nuclear technologies. In 2015, AFTAC became a wing-level organization within the Air Force, paving the way for partial unitization with the establishment of squadrons. This organizational restructure better reflects the center’s global mission importance. Since becoming a wing equivalent, AFTAC activated five newly-designated squadrons in October 2015 to better align with the wing structure. The new squadrons are the Technical Surveillance Squadron, the Technical Operations Squadron, the Technical Support Squadron, the Technical Sustainment Squadron, and the Cyber Capabilities Squadron.

Soon after the end of World War II, Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower recognized the need to monitor nuclear programs. In 1947 he directed the Army Air Forces to develop technologies capable of detecting “atomic explosions anywhere in the world.” In 1949, a particulate sampler aboard an Air Weather Service modified B-29 flying between Alaska and Japan detected debris from the first Russian atomic test – an event experts predicted could not happen until the mid-1950s.

As the Air Force activated AFTAC in 1959 to prepare to monitor compliance with the Limited Test Ban Treaty (LTBT), AFTAC assumed some responsibilities for the USAEDS and the advancement of Long Range Detection capabilities. Over time, AFTAC’s various programs evolved into a unique resource system monitoring compliance with nuclear treaties; supporting our nation’s space program; and helping to protect citizens during emergencies involving nuclear materials.

Over the years, the Air Force tasked the nuclear treaty monitoring center to conduct short-notice collection operations. In April 1986, AFTAC responded to the Ukrainian nuclear accident at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in the former Soviet Union. In total, AFTAC flew 55 sorties compiling 502 flying hours, and AFTAC’s McClellan Central Laboratory processed 354 samples and logged more than 2,500 man-hours.

In October 2006, AFTAC detected an event associated with North Korea’s claim of a nuclear test and later provided verification of the nuclear event to national authorities.

More recently, the center supported Operation Tomodachi, the U.S. government’s response to the 9.0 earthquake and subsequent tsunami that hit Japan. The Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant experienced a nuclear meltdown in three of the plant’s six nuclear reactors. AFTAC personnel flew nine nuclear debris collection sorties, processing 342 seismic events, and analyzed 660 samples from the affected Pacific peninsula.

In the summer of 2015, AFTAC led the removal of 10 Radioactive Thermoelectric Generators, or RTGs, from Alaska, which were no longer required to power AFTAC’s seismic array. The power source was the Air Force’s largest source of sensitive radioactive material. This endeavor safely and successfully removed nuclear radiation from the environment and eliminated a potential source of material for use by terrorists in improvised radiological explosive devices or dirty bombs.

In December 2015, the IAEA released its final assessment on “Past and Present Outstanding Issues” regarding Iran’s nuclear program. AFTAC provided trace forensic analysis of samples supporting the IAEA’s mission to monitor Iranian compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. As a major component of the IAEA’s network of analytical labs, AFTAC’s analysis was foundational to the report.

AFTAC is also on the forefront of protecting the homeland as it establishes an array of sensors across the United States as part of the National Technical Nuclear Forensics program. This program is designed to collect forensic analysis after detonations to aid the Federal Bureau of Investigation in attributing attacks on U.S. soil to foreign governments or terrorist entities to swiftly bring those responsible to justice. AFTAC’s efforts are making the Department of Defense’s vision to protect U.S. personnel and interests from the threat of a domestic nuclear detonation a reality.

Today, AFTAC continues to improve the USAEDS. As the nation’s caretaker of USAEDS, AFTAC works closely with the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization in Vienna, Austria. Together, both parties are significantly improving the International Monitoring System (IMS). In fact, AFTAC now contributes six of its U.S.-based USAEDS seismic monitoring stations to the IMS.

(Current as of March 2016)

Point of Contact
AFTAC Public Affairs
(321) 494-7688

20 Year Wall Honorees
  • Ace, Jerry A.
  • Alexander, William N.
  • Amerena, Joe D.
  • Aning, Harm F.
  • Baker, Harold M.
  • Balentine, Robert A.
  • Blau, Robert O.
  • Breitweieser, Kenneth
  • Butler, Charles A.
  • Calenda, Anthony R.
  • Ciambrone, Thomas W.
  • Cronin, George E.
  • Dahlgren, Arthur L.
  • Davis, James C.
  • DeMarco, Anthony S.
  • DeSrosier, Charles P.
  • Draper, Reginald A.
  • Dunn, Wallace
  • Fish, Norman A.
  • Fuhr, William R.
  • Gailey, Carl W.
  • Gardiner, Edward T.
  • Gonzales, George A.
  • Harris, Eunice
  • Horsch, John T.
  • Huhs, Harold L.
  • Iske, Margaret A.
  • Johnson, Joseph M.
  • Jones, Robert H.
  • Klug, Dale E.
  • LaBarre, Gerald R.
  • Lucas, James S.
  • Magness, John H.
  • Manley, Rickey J.
  • Marshall, Joe D.
  • McBrearty, Charles
  • McGettigan, John W.
  • Milam, Judithe E.
  • Mirda, George M.
  • Murray, Gregory A.
  • Myers, Kenneth L.
  • Noe, Steve
  • Nolan, Dennis P.
  • O'Brien, David F.
  • Olmsted, George B.
  • Osborne, William
  • Ovitsky, Felix W.
  • Paquette, David W.
  • Pavik, A. L.
  • Phillips, Richard S.
  • Post, Robert A.
  • Secoy, Jon B.
  • Silhanek, Larry D.
  • Snelgrove, Robert B.
  • Stack, Paul V.
  • Sullivan, Thomas D.
  • Sykes, Teddie E.
  • Vlassick, Benjamin P.
  • Vlassick, Randall
  • Warfield, Carol
Wall of Honor WallofHonor.png
  • Walter Singlevich
  • Doyle Northrup
  • Frank Pilotte
  • Charles McBrearty
  • Marvin Owen
  • Marcel Kniedler
  • Tom Ciambrone
  • Delbi Solari
  • Carl Romney
  • Kathy Leggett
  • Thomas Niquette
  • Howard Hayden
  • Michael Harkins
  • Charles Butler
  • Gerald Leies
Alumni of the Year
  • John "Butch" Kemna-2017 *
  • Carol Snyder-2016 *
  • Frank Calenda-2015 *
  • Sean Ryan-2014 *
  • Lonnie Gibbons-2013 *
  • Gene & Dee Melchior-2012 *
  • Dale Klug-2011 *
  • Jack Smith-2010 *
  • Jack Jackson-2009 *
  • Bob Wiley-2008 *
  • Bill Schmied-2007 *
  • Deborah Carson-2006 *
  • Mike Black-2005 *
  • Joe Goldian-2004 *
  • Pat Snyder-2003
  • Joe Johnson-2002
  • Jim Payne-2001 *
  • Ben Vlassick-2000
  • John & Christel Horsch-1999
  • Frank Hall-1998
  • Judy Milam-1997
  • Carl Gailey-1996
  • Clark Creery-1995
Some AOY

The Alumni of the Year that attended the last Snowball standing with Col. Sovada

Not Included

This page is still under construction.
We are still looking for some documentation.

John "Butch" Kemna


John "Butch" Kemna was named "AFTAC's 2017 Alumni of the Year" at the AFTAC worldwide reunion banquet held 17 June 2017 Kemna2 at McClellan Park, Ca. Joe Johnson, West Coast Alumni Chapter Vice President is shown presenting Butch with the traditional AOY polo shirt.

I​ ​spent​ ​20​ ​years​ ​in​ ​the​ ​Air​ ​Force,​ ​May​ ​60​ ​–​ ​May​ ​80,​ ​was​ ​assigned​ ​to​ ​AFTAC​ ​​ ​the​ ​whole​ ​time.​ ​​ ​I​ ​was asked​ ​at​ ​Lackland​ ​to​ ​ volunteer​ ​for​ ​a​ ​Special​ ​Weapons​ ​Career​ ​Field,​ ​which​ ​turned​ ​out​ ​to​ ​be​ ​Q-System [99125]​ ​in​ ​AFTAC.​ ​​ ​ One​ ​year​ ​later​ ​I​ ​found​ ​out​ ​what​ ​the​ ​job​ ​was.​ ​​ ​I​ ​spent​ ​time​ ​at​ ​McClellan​ ​and an assignment overseas​ ​in​ ​Q-System.​ ​​ ​When​ ​I​ ​came​ ​back​ ​to​ ​McClellan​ ​I​ ​cross​ ​trained​ ​into​ ​A-System.​ ​​ ​I​ ​spent​ ​17 unbelievable​ ​years,​ ​amassing​ ​over​ ​7,500​ ​hours​ ​of​ ​flight​ ​time​ ​supporting​ ​airborne​ ​sampling​ ​program​ ​all over​ ​the​ ​world.​ ​​ ​The​ ​friends​ ​I​ ​made,​ ​the​ ​places​ ​I​ ​went​ ​and​ ​ the​ ​things​ ​we​ ​did​ ​I​ ​would​ ​not​ ​give​ ​up​ ​for anything.

Carol Snyder


I started at AFTAC in 1996, working for Joe Marshall in TM (Joe is a 2016 Wall of Honor Recipient). I officially joined the Alumni Association in 2001.  For the past 15 years, I've supported the association in various ways -- attending meetings, holding Vice President position for a year, helping to set up Snowball dinners, coordinating efforts between the Alumni, the Booster Club and the Spouses Group, etc.

After Pat Snyder retired in 2010 the baton was passed to me to be the "intrepid insider."  I've tried my best to get the Alumni the answers they've needed (although not necessarily the ones they wanted!). I never would have thought I'd be at AFTAC 20 years after starting the job, but I'm glad to be here and I'm proud to be a part of such an awesome group of Alumni!

I was so surprised when the Commander, Col Gorski, announced my name at the Snowball As the "Intrepid Insider," you guys usually tell me everything...I should have known something was up when you said you had to keep the name "close hold.”  Sneaky people!  It’s an honor I hold very dear.  Thank you for bestowing it on me!

Love you all, Carol.

Frank S. Calenda

Frank started his Air Force career in August 1955 and was in one of the last flights to complete the 3 month basic training at Sampson AFB in upstate New York. He attended a year long school at Lowry Frank Calenda Air Force Base to become a Nuclear Weapons Technician, working on some of the earliest Strategic weapons in America's arsenal. In 1960, he progressed to working with the nuclear warheads on the Atlas missiles at Offutt Air Force Base and Titan missiles at Larson Air Force Base. In 1964, he was selected to attend AFTAC's year long "Q" systems class at Lowry. That was followed with an assignment to the installations shop at McClellan. There, he installed "Q" equipment at several classified locations around the world. In 1967, he left to become the Maintenance Technician at the remote Navy site H2 in northern Iceland. The following year, he and his family were assigned to John Hay Air Base at Baguio City in the Philippines. He was the Assistant Chief Operator at that location. In 1970, they left for an assignment to Headquarters AFTAC in Alexandria where he worked in the Operations Directorate as the Supervisor of the Q data terminal. The year 1972 brought the move of AFTAC to Patrick Air Force Base. Frank joined the advance party in Florida and his task was to set-up the QSystem. Shortly thereafter, Frank and his family were assigned to Det 422 at Misawa, Japan. Frank became the “I” System Chief Operator at this location. The following year, they were sent to a classified OL where he performed advisory duties for two years. In 1976, he was reassigned to AFTAC headquarters at Patrick as the Superintendent of the Satellite Terminal until his retirement in April of 1978.

Following USAF retirement, Frank attended Brevard Community College where he attained an Associate of Science degree in Bio Engineering and was immediately hired by the then Holmes Regional Medical center in Melbourne as a medical equipment technician. He worked there for 10 years progressing to the Director of the BioMedical department with prime duties in the Radiology Department. Because of his experience with maintaining the cancer radiation treatment machine (a linear accelerator) he was offered a position with Varian Associates Medical Division in Palo Alto, California. He completed his BioMedical training with Varian through courses from Stanford University. He worked for Varian installing the Accelerators at various medical facilities around the United States and Japan. Frank retired from the work force in 1998.

Frank was married to his wife Edna in June 1959 in Hampton, New Hampshire. They have two boys. Tony, their oldest son, graduated from Satellite High and joined AFTAC for his entire 22 year Air Force career. Michael is an Associate Professor of Culinary Arts at Johnson and Wales University in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Frank, with the close support of Edna, has been a member of the AFTAC Alumni Association since 1978 when it was first formed by a small group of AFTAC retirees. Membership was around 40 members and was then a venue for comradery and friendship. During General Clappers command of the organization a number of years later, the formal Alumni Association was formed and members of the initial group were awarded lifetime memberships for their initial efforts. Because of his extensive traveling with his company early on, Frank’s involvement with the Association was minimal. Since his full retirement, he has become quite active with our present organization involving himself in many active duty functions in support of the Booster Club and other Alumni functions. Frank was the chair for the financial database and overall registration for the 2015 Worldwide Reunion, not to mention his forming a mini-reunion for Detachment 418 during the Denver, Colorado Worldwide Reunion in 2014. Frank is a go-to guy and we salute his selection as the AOY.

Very Well Deserved!!

Sean Ryan

Sean stepped up in September, 2009, to offer his services as the Chapter Secretary for the FY2010 Board and has continued in that ryan.png position since. We spotlighted him in PM2010.04 so you’d know him a little better and since that time we have learned just how invaluable he can be. In that issue we wrote, “By the way, nice picture,” we made sure we could do the same here.

Since becoming our Secretary, Sean has helped in innumerable ways, time and again, not only keeping the minutes of our minutes and distributing them, but keeping the association on track and making arrangements for our meeting locations and times.

This has included meetings we have in the 'Headquarters Building' and our off-site meetings at the ‘Tides,’ ‘Golf-Course Clubhouse,’ ‘Marina & Yacht Club,’ and the ‘Riverside Dining Facility.’ This includes last minute changes of dates and times and special meetings for the several events the association sponsors and the upcoming ‘WorldWide 2015’ Reunion.’

Sean has stepped up more than once to help with our major annual event, ‘SnowBall,’ and was the ‘Major Arranger’ for the most recent in 2014.’ He also assisted with this years ‘Center Annual Spring Picnic.’

Finally, Sean recently added another board position, ‘Publicity,’ to his resume and has redefined that position in a most positive manner. --Thank you, Sean, we salute you for the outstanding service you provide Alumni, and before that the Air Force, 1982-2008, and AFTAC, 1998-2008.

Alumni of the year, 2013
MSgt (Ret) Lonnie Gibbons


Col Parker, AFTAC/CV, presents the ‘Space Coin’ Certificate of Recognition and John Horsch the ‘Traditional T.’ Below, Ginny joins Lonnie in this honor. Write-up below from nomination submission.

gibbons1.png Lonnie and wife, Ginny, have been active members of this chapter since its establishment in 1991. Lonnie has participated in practically every membership meeting and served on numerous chapter event working committees during the last twentytwo years. His work especially assisting with arranging and coordinating social events including annual picnics and dinners, golf outings, and worldwide reunions held here in Colorado, has greatly contributed to sustaining this chapter’s longevity. For many years he has been the key person obtaining refreshments, ice, coolers and other supplies, and then hauling them and setting up at picnics and ) reunions. He has been the focal point for organizing and successfully managing the hospitality rooms at several of our hosted alumni reunions and especially the 2013 worldwide reunion here in Aurora, Colorado. When the calls go out for assistance, whether they be for help putting up decorations for the chapter’s annual Veteran’s Day dinner, providing food and refreshments after a golf outing, or any activity, Lonnie & Ginny consistently answer these calls - true AFTAC alumni team members.

Lonnie began his Air Force career in the administrative field enlisting in 1956. His first assignment out of basic training was a 12-month tour of duty in South Korea. This was followed by another hardship assignment lasting five years at the USAF Security Service Language School at Indiana State University. During this assignment he married Ginny and started a family. He got his introduction to AFTAC when he was assigned to SPINSTRA at Lowry AFB in 1964. This was followed by an overseas assignment to Detachment 418, then back to Lowry AFB in 1968 being assigned to Detachment 57. He served one more AFTAC overseas assignment at Detachment 333 during the 1974- 75 timeframe prior to being assigned to Air Force Logistics Command at Wright-Patterson AFB in Ohio. After only a short time he was reassigned to Peterson AFB in Colorado Springs and then back to Lowry AFB where he retired from active duty in 1977. Lonnie signed on with the Defense Investigative Service in 1982 and is now living the life of a retired civil servant.

Alumni of the year, 2012
MSgt (Ret) Gene and Dee Mechior


Gene and Dee accept the ‘Space Coin’ Certificate from our President, Terry Hammond, following his announcement of their selection. Picture by Judy Milam-Henderson

A highlight of our annual SnowBall gathering was our President, Terry Hammond, announcing Gene and Dee Melchoior were selected for this honor by their peers of the years before. Gene and Dee's unflagging devotion to alumni, and the alumni assn, has been cumulative over the years and they have never failed to be major supporters of this annual event and many others. They were presented our 'Space Coin' plaque and Gene the 'Traditional T.'

Other notable events of the evening were the invocation by Sean Ryan, our Secretary, who preceded his prayer by naming Sages, and Spouses, who have deceased since last year’s Snowball, we had comments from AFTAC CC, Col Worley, and an exceptional Detachment 402 briefing by the Detachment Chief, SMSgt John Shank, (who was here for the Center's Commander's Conference). Det 402 was honored at this event as our 'newest Det,' and 'Japan' was our theme (Gene and Dee had the club-house decorated accordingly with many items from their travels and fellow colleague sages who donated items).

Dee made a short 'thank you' speech and Gene gave us a shout!! Later they wrote, "We totally enjoyed last night’s Snowball and to say the least, it was a wonderful surprise to be given the award! Our association has so much shared history. It is our pleasure to be a part of the group! We thank everyone for this honor."


Gene, joined by Dee, accepts the ‘Alumni of the Year, 2012’ trophy from Col Worley/CC and Chief Neri/CCS. Photo by Bob Wiley

Gene and Dee were also honored at the 'Center Annual Award Banquet' the following Tuesday evening (02.12) with a trophy bearing the 'Alumni of the Year, 2012' Selection. (pictured above) NOTE 2: Gene and Dee had made ‘origami doves’ for the tables. Later they sent note writing, “Please put the website listed below in the PoMo. Some folks at the SnowBall want to try the paper folding art. Thanks.”

Alumni of the year, 2011
Dale Klug

klug.png This year's SnowBall was one of the best ever; food was great, Chief Nederhoed's Detachment 460 briefing was right on target, entertainment "rocked," and having our 2011 ‘Alumni of the Year (AOY),’ Dale Klug, and spouse Rose, (pictured) travel from CA, rounded out the program.

We had sufficient time to socialize with all our alumni, active-duty and with a wonderful assortment of Hors d'oeuvres before our program started. Bob Wiley treated us to a slide show featuring past SnowBall performances and a montage of activities in which alumni members participated during the past year.

Chapter President, Terry Hammond, opened by introducing our dignitaries attending; Vice Commander Col Roberts, Chief Scientist Dr. O'Brien, Director of Staff Mr. Whidden, Superintendent CMSgt Nederhoed, Historian Mr. Young, Inspector General CMSgt Revels, Materials Director Dr. DeForest, Atmos/Space Directorate Lt Col Wingate, and Dale and Rose Klug. The Center's 'Commander's Conference' had been delayed so we were not graced by Detachment 460 Commander’s, Major Johnson, attendance this year ... maybe we'll be back on track next year.

Then Rebecca Lehnerz performed the National Anthem acapella (great job). Following that Sean Ryan, our Chapter Secretary, led us in an invocation.

Dinner followed with a buffet that was excellent; the Grilled Salmon, Chicken Marsala, and Prime Rib were abundant with all the trimmings. The staff really did a great job preparing and serving dinner. Their choice of dessert was perfect with a Vanilla Ice Cream Raspberry Parfait to top off a scrumptious meal. I saw a lot of guests trying to get that last bit of ice cream from the bottom of the parfait glass. No one went home hungry!

Chief Nederhoed gave us an excellent briefing on "A day at Det 460." He showed the diversity of the challenges the detachment members face each day as they maintain the array of seismic equipment; from terrain, weather, wildlife, and giant mosquitoes. Having been stationed at the detachment, Chief Nederhoed was an exceptional stand-in for the detachment commander.

At the shank of the evening Terry re-presented the 'Space Coin' ‘Alumni of the Year 2011’ plaque to Dale Klug; it had been presented initially when Dale's AOY selection was announced at the California Chapter 'WorldWide Reunion' in May of last year. Dale had a few words of thanks and presented the Center with several artifacts for the 'Hall of Heritage,' a plaque from now closed 'Technical Operations Division,' and a real surprise when he donated an original coffee cup used by recently deceased (Aug), and beloved Center Icon, Mary Welch. She had asked him to hold the cup while he was visiting with her at the HQ many years back and Dale had held on to it for all the ensuing years.

Keeping with the theme of this event, we then played several 'Alaska' knowledge quizzes-prizes were awarded by Gene and Dee Melchoir to the person who answered the most questions correctly. Seems we had a tie between Sean Ryan (our own Chapter Secretary) and Dr. DeForest (TM Director). They both received dinner gift cards. Many of us remained for much longer to enjoy the great music provided by Entertainer, Billy Lee, and dancing that followed. At the end of the evening, most attendee's thought the music set just the right tone giving us mellow background music during the meal and then stepping it up several notches afterward. Some admitted staying so late the South Gate was closed when they left and they had to make a Uturn for the trek to the main gate!!

Jack Smith


Jack accepts trophy from Col Prupas, with Lloyd French, Alumni President and John Nederhoed in attendance.

Wow, what a six-day period we had, Feb 05-10! It started ‘rollin’ with the ‘SnowBall’ and marched forward to the ‘Center Annual Awards Banquet.’ These are annual events made very special this year when our ‘Alumni of the Year, 2010,’ Jack Smith, CO Chapter President, showed his considerable respect for this once in a lifetime honor. He, and his wife, Helen, traveled from their home in the Denver area to be here in person to express their unbrideled appreciation and humility for this selection.

Jack and Helen started the recognition period by moving into base dig’s right on the ocean arranged by CMSgt John Nederhoed/CCS, with assistance from CMSgt Dave Melton/TM, our assn vice. They were also treated to a HQ Building and ‘Hall of Heritage’ tour by CMSgt Steve Revels/IG. These experiences were just the beginning as they were recognized at both the ‘SnowBall’ and the ‘Awards Banquet in a grand style. A portion of the well attended ‘SnowBall’ (02.05) was dedicated to Jack’s accomplishments and he had time to speak to the group about what the honor meant to him. It was very moving to hear him speak, meaning all the more because of their efforts to be here. (much more on the ‘SnowBall,’ with pictures, later in the issue, ‘Alumni Events’)

Jack, and others to be honored, made a grand entrance into the ‘Center Awards Banquet’ on the following Thursday by entering the room though ‘Arched Sabers,’ pictured here. Other military ceremonies performed prior to dining was the ‘Presentation of Colors’ by the ‘Honor Guard’ and the ‘POW/MIA Table’ ceremony … these presentation’s are made all the more special as they are being done by our successor’s, those currently serving AFTAC’s mission. There was also an invocation by Chaplain Capt Williams and the ‘National Anthem’ by Ms Rebecca Lehnerz, a member of the ’Greenlight Band’ who has performed at numerous AFTAC and Alumni events.

Walter ‘Jack’ Jackson

Jack’s selection as our 15th AOY was announced on Jan 30th at SnowBall XII. Here we see him accepting Jacson.png the ’Traditional T’ and our ’Space Coin’ plaque from Assn President, Lloyd French. In making the announcement, Lloyd spoke of Jack’s accomplishments for the assn (see editorial), and his involvement with veterans everywhere. For this ‘Salute,’ we asked Jack to provide information about himself. As you read what follows, you will come to fully understand Jack’s selection for this honor.

Jack was born and raised in Philadelphia. After graduating from high school, he entered the Air Force, completed basic training and received his first assignment as an Air Policeman at Craig AFB, Selma, Alabama. After this assignment, he served at Bitburg Air Base Germany, George AFB, Victorville, California, Danang Air Base Republic of South Vietnam, Langley AFB, Kusan Air Base, Korea and Patrick AFB, Florida.

While serving his country, Jack had the opportunity to do a lot of traveling and was in 13 countries around the world. He was active in sports playing football in Germany and softball as a pitcher. He was also on the Air Training Command swimming team in 1959 finishing third place in the 100 yard back stroke.

After retiring from the Air Force, Jack worked as a Veterans Employment Representative with the state of Florida. After 22 years he called it quits and is now enjoying his retirement.

He is a member of the Vietnam Veterans of Brevard color guard, Paralyzed Veterans of America, Disabled Americans, American Legion, VFW, Veterans Memorial Center, Brevard Veterans Council and the AFTAC Alumni Association (being one of the first to join).

Jack is on the VVB Reunion Committee for the Vietnam Memorial Traveling Wall. He brought Stand Down for homeless veterans to Brevard County. He also worked as a County Service Officer and was a National Service Officer for the American Legion.

Jack is the proud father of two girls and two granddaughters. Unfortunately his wife of three years passed away in November of 2009. He is proud to have served his country and enjoys volunteering wherever needed and enjoys retirement to the fullest.

Robert ‘Bob’ Wiley
Alumni Of The Year, 2008!!


Bob is presented the traditional AOY ‘T’ by the
Florida Alumni Assn President, Lloyd French..

Bob was also recognized at the ‘Center Annual Awards Banquet’ in February, and will be again at the May ‘WorldWide Reunion.’ He has been a member of the association since his retirement in 1985. Over the years he has been a mainstay contributing articles and photographs of the alumni activities for the Post-Monitor and was association President, FY2007/08. During this time, he completed action for an LRD 50th Anniversary Commemorative coin to ‘fly in space.’ This coin will be presented to the Center for display in the ‘Hall of Heritage,’ and the few remaining coins in this series will be presented to deserving alumni. Bob also took the lead in encouraging additional participation in association management and increasing membership. He is Chair of the 2009 WorldWide Reunion Committee.



In a first for the association, the AOY selection schmied2.png was made in May (usually, Dec-Jan), and announced prior to the annual SnowBall (Jan-Feb). We broke precedent to recognize a most deserving individual in front of peers he serves so well and at an event with a large, varied audience, the 2007 Colorado sponsored, WorldWide reunion. The Colorado Chapter President, Jack Smith, in a ceremony during the reunion banquet (6/10), noted the many accomplishments Bill rendered as a member and in serving on the board. “He is a member of both the Colorado and Florida chapters, where he is a Lifetime member. He joined the CO chapter even before he retired in 1991 and since that time has served our chapter very actively and has been a board member for almost 15-years. He has been critical in the success of our chapter since he first signed on and has been deeply involved in every reunion, to include this one, and every other facet of our chapters operation.”

The ceremony concluded with the AFTAC Commander, Col Westergren, making the actual announcement of Bill’s selection and presenting the ’Traditional T.’

Other AOY’s in attendance included Frank Hall (98), John Horsch (99), Joe Johnson (02), and Ginger Vlassick representing Ben (00, deceased).



Congratulations Deborah for this important recognition during SnowBall IX. The highlight of the annual event, the announcement recognizes the many contributions Deborah has made to supporting alumni and the association-especially in the areas of reviewing portions of this publication and her management of the annual SnowBalls.

Spotlighted in the September Post-Monitor last year, her alumni association peers selected her for this honor. Her many accomplishments are detailed in that issue. Thank you Deborah and we look forward to your continuing assistance. Additionally, Deborah was recognized at the Center Annual Awards event. More on that, and a picture, in the ‘Center Annual Awards’ article that follows and in the ‘Prez Sez’ column.



Mike accepting ‘AOY’ shirt from assn president, Carol Snyder

Mike is the associations’ original and continuing webmaster ( His selection was announced at the SnowBall on January 28th, and he was also recognized at the Center Annual Awards Banquet on March 2.

Mike’s service to the Air Force started in October, 1972. and to AFTAC in June, 1981, where he served until his retirement in August, 1992. His AF assignments took him to Lowry, Eglin, Aviano and Tyndall AFB’s, and his AFTAC duties were in Advanced Technology (with a side-trip to TN) at the headquarters.

Mike joined the alumni at retirement and in 1996 he and two other members, Clark Creery, Mike Black, the association’s ‘Alumni Of The Year,’ was among those honored; his wife, Toni, was also there to enjoy the occasion.

Among the association members in attendance were the President, Carol Snyder, past-Vice, Pat Snyder, Dave O’Brien and wife, PJ, Chuck McBrearty and wife Linda, John Loftis, John Carson, Gary Killian, Dennis Gilroy and our Post-Monitor rovin’ reporter and digipic photographer, Bob Wiley and his wife Judith.

The Center Commander, Col. Turner, and Superintendent, Chief French (both association members), presided and presented the trophies. Mike was recognized for his continuing contributions to the Center and to the alumni (see the page 1 ‘Salute’ for details).

The alumni attending were honored and rewarded by being seated with the AFTAC Squadron Commander, Maj Trevillin, and his First Sergeant, SMSgt Parkhill, and at a table near the dais with a clear view of the ceremonies and the band stand . "Full Spectrum", the Band of the USAF Reserve, from Warner-Robins provided music for dining and a short program before the awards presentation. Following the presentations, the ‘Green Light Band’ raised everyone's spirits with a couple of rousing patriotic songs.

Col Tuner closed the presentations with a recap of 2005 highlights on newcomers, transfers, retirements, mission accomplishments, etc. He finished with a recitation of what he called a "ditty", "I Love AFTAC" (see active-duty pages). Other alumni still serving AFTAC as Civil Service who were honored included Gary Killian and John Carson.



Congratulations Joe. Your selection recognizes your extensive time and service. And this service has been long in tenure and broad and deep in application.

Joe began attending association meeting even before he retired, starting in 1991. He currently serves as our treasurer and, in 1999, served as our Vice President. During this period Joe has never failed to step forward to help in whatever endeavor the association was involved in. He has personally managed several golf tournaments, and was ‘Joe on the spot’ for reunions and other association matters. He has been a member since 1991.

Joe was born in North Carolina in 1949 and joined the Air Force in Jan, 1968. He served in AFTAC from 4/68 to 7/74 and 7/75 to 9/91. His final assignment in AFTAC was as Manager, Treaty Monitoring Operations Program. Joe retired as a MSgt in September 1991. Joe's assignments include American Samoa, Mindinao Philippines, Wonju Korea, and several tours at Denver and the various Headquarters locations. Joe was one of the first AFTACers to perform Treaty directed inspections on Soviet missiles.

Thanks Joe, for your service to this country, AFTAC, and now the association. Your contributions are truly appreciated. Congratulations again on your selection as our 'Alumni of The Year, 2004.' Joe’s selection was announced at the association’s annual SnowBall on Feb 5th and he was again recognized at the Center’s Annual Award Banquet on March 3rd.



The highlight of our annual association Snow- Ball on February 18th was the announcement of the selection of Jim Payne as the '2001 Alumni of the Year.' He received a special coin that flew on the Shuttle Orbiter 'Atlantis' on the occasion of the Air Force, and AFTAC's, 50th anniversary (Sep-Oct '97). Jim will also be honored at the AFTAC Command Award ceremony on April 24th at the PAFB NCO Club, come on out and show your support (info. page 19). At the presentation, Joe Marshall, Association President, noted that Jim began his Air Force career in October, '52. He first served in Ground Radio at Japan, NJ, and MS. In May '62, he was assigned to AFTAC initially serving in the 'R' technique. Jim worked at several detachments as well as at Denver, Germany and California. In 1981, Cot. 'Meis' selected him to the organization's highest enlisted post, 'Senior Enlisted Advisor,' and he served in this capacity until his retirement in '83. Along the way. Jim earned a Master of Science degree in Management and was decorated with the Meritorious Medal and the Air Force Commendation Medal with one oak leaf cluster. He has been an active supporter and lifetime member of the Alumni Association since the first year of its existence in 1985. In 1999, he accepted the Membership chair and has made notable contributions in that position.

Jim has implemented procedures and changed the membership data from a hardcopy status to a computer generated product, and at the same time linking the Worldwide Directory, Membership Directory and the individual data of 4000 records.

Jim has also established procedures to contact individuals who register on the web page and any member who 'overlooks' their dues. He makes them aware of the advantages of staying with, or joining, the alumni association in a very informal, friendly manner. Jim also handles all requests (letters, emails, packages), and ships any items ordered from the association's 'Shop.' All in all, Jim does an outstanding service for your association. Thank you Jim, for your continuing service to the Air Force, AFTAC, and the Long-Range Detection Alumni Association.


A contingent of Alumni attended the recent AFTAC Headquarters Open House held on December 21, 2016. In attendance were Dr. Mike Young, Bill and Gail McCune, Frank and Edna Calenda, Joe Goldian, Gene and Dee Melchior, Arlin Massey and Sean Ryan. Looking over the “old” equipment in the Hall of Heritage set up by Dr. Young, brought back so many memories of day’s past. We were visited by many of the organizations active duty personnel and their families. Of course, being old timers, we couldn’t keep from spinning yarns of our past contributions to the mission. We were amazed that they all listened with rapt attention. They even asked questions. How about that? Following that, we dined on yummy food gathered by Sean Ryan and talked amongst ourselves about those same old times. Several escorts arrived and we were off for unclassified briefings in the various squadrons. All of us had that same feeling of knowing what everything was all about but then came to the realization that we really don’t know that much anymore. The visit to the Command Center brought us memories of our large data terminals of yesteryear and put us in awe that the same functions are being handled by one or two people now. Of great interest was the Innovation Laboratory. The displays of the “self-learning computer” and the 3D printer were quite facinating. The Tesla coil that played Christmas music was of considerable interest. That was a big hit for the younger crowd. Actually, we liked it too. We could easily see the pride held by the AFTAC'ers in all the work that they do. It was a great day and we look forward to the invitation for the next open house. If you didn’t attend, you should try to make the next one. You won’t be disappointed.

Golf N’GetTogether Reported By Ed Lindsay

The Fall Golf N’GetTogether was originally scheduled for 30 September. A conflict with the AFTAC Toilet Bowl the following week and possible bad weather caused concern of a low turnout. We did not want the same issues as our Spring GetTogether, with the 2nd half rainout. Plus we had to try to get our tournament in the books before the golf course went to Winter rates. There were many negotiations, changing schedules around, and the golf course being closed for 16 days due to damage from Hurricane Matthew. Finally reached an agreement to hold the GetTogether the Friday before Daylight saving went in to effect.

John H., Eileen B., and Pat S. registering the golfers
Best dressed: Ed Lindsay, Frank Woodard, Pat Murphy, Tony Calenda

On 4 November, 86 men and women gathered to socialize, beat up a defenseless, little ball, and have some adult beverages and food. It was going to be a beautiful day. To start off, John Horsch joined Ed Lindsay to stuff the goodie bags with water, bananas, crackers, slim jims, and other survival supplies. It was a hectic job and these two worked feverishly to get the bags stuffed before the masses showed up. Then on to the registration. Eileen Best showed up to lend a hand and John H jumped right in to help sell Mulligans. Pat Snyder, who was also golfing, asked to helped and jumped right in to get the golfers signed up. Bob Wiley and Judy Henderson arrived and started taking photos. It was a great start, to a great day.

Rene Uzee, the Manatee Golf Course Tournament Director, and ex-AFTACer gathered the players around for a final brief. With all the formal announcements completed, the 22 teams headed to their assigned holes. Bob Wiley could be seen throughout the course snapping photos. While everyone was out chasing the golf balls, Eileen and Judy stayed behind to sort out the Raffle ticket mess that Ed had left them. They did a phenomenal job making sure that everyone that played, received at least on door prize.

As the day progressed, one could hear many cheers and expletives emanating around the course. The rain never came, the course was in great condition, and the weather was awesome. A perfect day for golf with a whole bunch of friends. The teams started to head back to the clubhouse to turn in their scorecards. Then they sat down for a nice catered Bar B Que lunch, catered by the golf course staff. Ed then began to give out the awards.

1st place: Joe H., Bob C., Sonny Z., Donnie C.
2nd place: Gary K., Chad B., Larry S., Larry B.
  • 1st place: Joe Hauser, Bob Callahan, Sonny Zigler, Donnie Coffield.
  • 2nd place: Gary Killian, Chad Brotherton, Larry Silhanek, Larry Brown
  • 3rd place: Troy Lawson, Daneille Turlington, Jason Netz, Jason Klug
  • Closest to the pins: Mike Paglia, Troy Lawson, Marty Urbanski, Devin Dean
  • Long Drive: Women: Pat Snyder   Men: Evan Carlson

And of course we couldn’t have had such a successful event without all of our sponsors. Thank you to Moon Golf, Fiesta Azteca, Beef O’Brady’s, Charlie and Jake’s, U.S. 1 Golf Center, And our $250 sponsors: Space Coast Intelligent Solutions and Andres Yepes from Raymond James, Financial Advisors

TOILET BOWL Reported By Ed Lindsay

Fall of 2016 was a season for many needs for change in AFTAC. So, more of the same. One of these was the need to change the date of the Annual gathering that pits Directorates/Squadrons against each other on the softball field. A windy, blowhard named Matthew visited much of the East coast of the U.S. The initial Toilet Bowl date of 7 October had to be scrubbed three days prior to the event since it appeared that Matthew was looking to do some major damage to the Space Coast.

Matthew passed and now it was time to clean up. But the question still arose, “when is the Toilet Bowl”? AFTACers needed a break from the hustle and bustle, so Nov 10, the day before Veteran’s Day, was the date selected for competition, food, and fun.

The softball competition was a double-elimination format, with 9 teams participating. An 8:00 safety brief was conducted. Then the first games began. It was a very calm, cool day. Perfect for a long day of softball and picnicking. Unlike some of the previous years that were hot, muggy, and rainy at times. The games went on and some teams were eliminated.

Director of Staff, Jim Whidden taking his turn providing beverages

Throughout the day, chances for the Winter Social gift baskets were also being sold. This was a great idea and many were filling up those chance boxes with plenty of tickets.

Bob Wiley, James Griffieth, Ed Lindsay, and Jim Whidden helped man the beer kegs. Beer and cider was flowing and the stories were being told. The championship teams had been determined, but they would have to wait. It was now time for the Home Run Derby and to eat some wonderful pulled pork, hot dogs, and hamburgers that had been prepared by MSgt Chevis Stanley and others.

Colonel Gorski, AFTAC commander, getting a pie in the face for the cause
People getting ready to get a pie in the face. Colonel Gorski on the left.

Also during the day’s events, there was a nominating competition going on to select someone to get a pie in the face. Once the Home Run Derby was finished, the real bidding started. Five individuals were selected, but this author does not know all the recipients. Two of them were AFTAC Commander, Colonel Gorski and SMSgt Chad Madore.

AFTAC Alumni president Ed Lindsay, playing for the winning MS-1 team

After people got cleaned up, the masses met for the final games. Colonel Gorski thanked everyone for attending and the National Anthem was sung by Atomic Blue, the AFTAC chorus. Then Mission Support 1 (MS) and Materials Directorate (TM) faced off. MS-1 had already beat TM in a close game during regular competition. The MS-1 team took it to the TM team hard and only one game was needed to crown MS-1 the winners for the second year straight.

It was a great day to get together, have some friendly competition, many laughs, and get ready for the long weekend. Looking forward to next year’s event and I have heard some murmurings of putting together an AFTAC Alumni team…I know we have some softball players out there and some very crafty ones at that.

Some of the Toilet Bowl trophies and the tournament bracket

NOTE: Unless otherwise requested, we will credit you, by name, for notifying us of information for this page.

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Please forward all queries to: Scott Morgan


AFTAC civilian, Army Reservist selected for promotion to brigadier general 12/5/2017

By Susan A. Romano, AFTAC Public Affairs PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.
Brig. Gen. Donald B. Absher, a civilian physical scientist for AFTAC’s Materials Technology Directorate, was selected for promotion in the Army Reserve, where he has served for almost 30 years. Absher graduated from Officer Candidate School in 1988 after earning a bachelor’s degree in cell biology from California State University, and over the course of his three decades in uniform, he divided his time between active duty, the Army National Guard and the U.S. Army Reserve.

As a civilian physical scientist for the Department of Defense’s sole nuclear treaty monitoring center, Absher is responsible for leading an interdisciplinary scientific technical team that coordinates the materials collection, analysis and data reporting functions supporting the National Technical Nuclear Forensics program.

The newly-minted general officer has held a number of prestigious titles throughout his military career, including operations officer for the Defense Intelligence Agency’s Chemical and Biological Intelligence Support Team, U.S. Transportation Command’s chief of deployment and distribution operations center, and most recently as deputy commander of the 143rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command – the largest sustainment command in the U.S. Army.

A Bronze Star recipient, Absher has deployed numerous times to Iraq, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. During Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm, he served as a platoon leader during for the 24th Infantry Division. From 2007 to 2008, he deployed to Camp Arifjan, Kuwait as the 595th Transportation Brigade’s chief resource management officer. And in 2011, he was the commander of the 1182nd Deployment and Distribution Battalion in Southwest Asia.

With the promotion comes a change of title and increased responsibility. The 1-star is now the vice commander of the Joint Enabling Capabilities Command under U.S. Transportation Command located in Norfolk, Va. JECC is responsible for providing decisive joint communications, planning and public affairs support to joint forces to meet the emerging requirements of Combatant Commands and Joint Task Force-capable headquarters.

The Santa Rosa, Calif., native joined AFTAC in 1994 and has deftly balanced his busy civilian occupation with his demanding military career.

“With family being my first priority, I believe it’s a unique and continuous challenge for many Reserve personnel to appropriately balance civilian career responsibilities with their military obligations,” Absher said. “I’ve been extremely fortunate to have very supportive management here at AFTAC, and that has significantly lowered the associated stresses on my family and myself throughout multiple overseas deployments and extended exercises.”

While he’s humbled at the amount of faith his Army leadership has placed in him as evidenced by his promotion selection, his pride comes tumbling to the forefront when he talks about the military success of his children.

“My son is an Air Force F-16 pilot, and my daughter is married to a Navy nuclear reactor operator,” said Absher. “Taylor is a first lieutenant in Japan and has already participated in several Pacific Air Force-led exercises, including Red Flag in Alaska this past summer. Elizabeth lives in San Diego, and her husband is assigned to the USS Pasadena, a nuclear submarine. She juggles her full time ‘mom’ responsibilities with two young children while she serves as the Family Readiness Coordinator for the USS Pasadena families. Understandably, these responsibilities are both compounded when her husband is out to sea.”

Lt. Col. Ty Miller, chief of AFTAC’s Verification Science Division, is Absher’s civilian supervisor and had nothing but praise for his leadership capabilities.

“It comes as no surprise to me that Don was selected to serve in the general officer ranks,” said Miller. “He is a supremely gifted leader and an extremely dedicated employee. His leadership skills come shining through with every project he works on, and I oftentimes look to him for mentorship on situations that arise in our division.”

Miller joked, “I don’t know many Air Force lieutenant colonels who have the privilege of having an Army brigadier general in their unit, so I’m going to milk that as much as I can!”

AFTAC civilian returns to duty after Hurricane Maria relief efforts 11/30/2017

Claudette Wells, an acquisition program manager for the Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick AFB, Fla., stands near the dock at Frederiksted, St. Croix as she prepares to head out to work as a Federal Emergency Management Agency disaster relief volunteer. Wells was part of FEMA's Surge Capacity Force that helped those affected by Hurricane Maria, a Category 5 storm that barreled through the Caribbean in September 2017. (Courtesy photo)

Fallen power lines and uprooted trees litter the streets of St. Croix where Claudette Wells, an acquisition program manager for the Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick AFB, Fla., volunteered to serve as a disaster relief worker for the Federal Emergency Management Agency after Hurricane Maria impacted the island. "The damage was unimaginable," said Wells. (U.S. Air Force photo by M. Claudette Wells)

The sun slowly rises over the Lesser Antilles as Carnival Cruise Lines' ship, Fascination, can be seen moored at Frederiksted, St. Croix. The docked ship was used to feed and house Federal Emergency Management Agency personnel who volunteered to help with disaster relief efforts after Hurricane Maria impacted the region in October 2017. (U.S. Air Force photo by M. Claudette Wells)

By Susan A. Romano, AFTAC Public Affairs PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.
“They have no power, no running water, limited transportation, little food, and the damage is unimaginable.”

Those are the words of Claudette Wells, an acquisition program manager for the Air Force Technical Applications Center here, speaking about the citizens of St. Croix, a U.S. territory. Wells recently returned from the island nation after volunteering to help with Hurricane Maria disaster relief efforts and spent six weeks on the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Surge Capacity Force.

Shortly after the Category 5 storm barreled through the Caribbean, Greater and Lesser Antilles, the Department of Homeland Security sent a message to all civilian federal employees seeking volunteers to help those affected by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria. Wells jumped at the chance to assist in any way she could.

“I was lucky enough to have an employer who was willing to let me go for 45 days, a desire to help those in need, and a wife who knows what I find rewarding,” said Wells. “After seeing the devastation in Houston after Hurricane Harvey, I knew I had to do something to contribute to the relief efforts that hit so close to home here in Florida.”

Once Wells got the go-ahead from her local chain of command, she flew to Anniston, Ala., where she received what’s called “just-in-time” emergency response training – a condensed course that provided basic information on how to handle the needs of those affected by the catastrophe. She was also issued a laptop and cell phone she would need for the duration of her temporary duty.

From Anniston, Wells flew to St. Croix and landed at Henry E. Rohlsen Airport in Frederiksted on the western tip of the island, where she was met by other FEMA disaster relief personnel. Once on the ground, she was initially tasked with conducting Disability Integration operations – work that involved following up on referrals for citizens with functional disabilities or unmet needs.

“I worked with folks who had vision, hearing, mobility or cognitive disabilities,” she said. “We helped connect them with local agencies that provide a specialized service to those with a particular disability, and we helped identify and distribute the durable medical equipment they needed like canes, walker and wheelchairs.”

After several days of work on the DI team, Wells was transferred to the Individual Assistance group. There, she worked with a small cadre of surge personnel and made more than 1,000 calls to victims who had already filed paperwork with FEMA and needed additional medical assistance. “We usually had to make multiple calls to the same number because of the poor cellular network, and some we just were never able to reach,” she lamented.

Wells also spent time with the Disaster Support Assistance team, which was responsible for canvassing certain geographical areas to make contact with those most impacted by the storm.

“We’d go door-to-door – always in the buddy system – to determine if residents had registered for assistance or not,” she explained. “If they hadn’t, we’d offer to register them right there on the spot. That is, if we had connectivity. If cell service was down, we’d fill out a form and upload it to FEMA’s database when we returned to the ship.”

The ship to which Wells referred was an aging Carnival Cruise Liner, the Fascination. Carnival docked the 2,056 passenger ship in St. Croix after receiving a partnership request from FEMA, and the vessel’s certified crew members provided housing and meals to relief workers.

“It was a bit surreal to spend my days under extremely austere conditions, witnessing the abject conditions the people of St. Croix had to endure, then turn around and return to a luxury cruise liner with great food, air conditioning, running water and electricity. It was very humbling and made me realize just how fortunate I am,” Wells stated.

Wells, a retired U.S. Navy officer who has been with AFTAC since 2003, rates this event as one she will never forget.

“What struck me the most about this entire experience was the patience of the disaster survivors,” she said. “When I arrived at St. Croix, they had already been without power for more than three weeks. Things like clean drinking water and fuel were scarce, but they weren’t out there looting or complaining or rioting. They seemed genuinely grateful for the presence of FEMA and its volunteers, and just about everyone I came in contact with thanked us for being there.”

She added, “I was just a small cog helping a very large machine help people in need. And if my wife Helen hadn’t been willing to make the sacrifice to maintain our household by herself, I’m not sure I would have been able to make the trip. She was totally supportive from the start, and I’m glad I was able to be a part of the effort.”

According to the National Hurricane Center, Maria was the 10th most intense Atlantic hurricane on record and caused catastrophic damage to the islands of Dominica, Guadeloupe, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and recovery efforts are still ongoing.

AFTAC names lab after ‘giant’ of nuclear forensics 11/24/2017

Col. Steven M. Gorski (right), commander of the Air Force Technical Applications Center, and Chief Master Sgt. Michael Joseph, AFTAC’s command chief, pose next to the plaque that officially dedicates the center’s research laboratory after former AFTAC senior scientist, Michael Harkins, at a ceremony at Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station, Colo. Harkins’ official portrait is on the right. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)

Mr. Jeff Moore, director of the Harkins Laboratory Complex at Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station, Colo., reads remarks from Michael Harkins after the research lab was named after Harkins Oct. 24, 2017. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)

Members of the Harkins Laboratory Complex at Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station, Colo., listen to remarks from Col. Steven M. Gorski, commander of the Air Force Technical Applications Center, during the dedication ceremony that named the lab after Michael Harkins, a former AFTAC senior scientist. Harkins’ official portrait is seen in the center of photo. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)

By Susan A. Romano, AFTAC Public Affairs PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.
The Air Force Technical Applications Center dedicated its research laboratory in Colorado after a pioneer of gas analysis techniques at a ceremony held Oct. 24, 2017.

Formerly known as Operating Location GT, the Harkins Laboratory Complex was officially named after Michael Harkins, a nuclear engineer who served as the senior scientist of AFTAC’s Technical Operations Division, Gas Analysis Laboratory, from April 1975 to July 1999.

Harkins pioneered lab methods and technologies that were critical to AFTAC’s global nuclear treaty monitoring mission. Over the course of his distinguished career, he developed ground-breaking approaches to gas analysis and oversaw the design of advanced lab equipment that exponentially increased the lab’s analysis capabilities.

“Mr. Harkins was a giant in the field of nuclear forensics,” said Jeff Moore, director of the Harkins Lab Complex. “I first met him when I was assigned to AFTAC’s gas analysis laboratory in 1989. Mike was the sole civilian in the lab, and over the course of the next six years he taught me so much about gas analysis and AFTAC’s reactor products program. The knowledge he shared with me and the guidance he provided became the foundation for my future, and has had a continued influence to this day.”

The complex operates two research lab facilities to conduct research and development in ultra-low background radiological analysis methods. The nuclear measurements facility is located deep underground in the famed Cheyenne Mountain AFS complex, also home to NORAD and U.S. Northern Command’s hardened alternate command center.

AFTAC scientists capitalize on the 2,000 feet of mountainous granite that provides natural shielding from cosmic radiation, which enables lab personnel to house and operate unique lab equipment and perform low-level radiation detection research that cannot be duplicated at any other lab in the world.

Col. Steven M. Gorski, AFTAC commander, and Chief Master Sgt. Michael Joseph, AFTAC command chief, officiated the ceremony at Cheyenne Mountain. Harkins was unable to attend the dedication, but sent a statement to Moore to share with those in attendance.

“Words hardly seem adequate to express my deep gratitude for this honor,” his letter read. “All I can do is sincerely thank all the people who made this recognition of my service possible. I am very appreciative for this honor, and by association I hope so many others realize they can share in this with me as I have never lacked for support.”

After receiving Air Force approval to name the facility after Harkins, Gorski and his leadership team got the ball rolling to turn the concept into reality.

“Mike Harkins had an incredible impact on how AFTAC conducts business to this day,” said Gorski. “Countries across the globe attempt to avoid or circumvent established international treaties and it’s our job to capitalize on the critical capability of nuclear debris analysis. The Airmen at the Harkins lab do just that, and much of that capability is due to the foundation established by Mike Harkins. It’s a testament to him that is well deserved.”

Moore added, “Mike’s legacy to nuclear science continues today. I was honored to work for him, and I can’t think of anyone more deserving of this prestigious recognition.”

Renaming Ceremony
Acceptance Remarks
For Michael Harkins In Absentia
Oct 24, 2017

Words hardly seem adequate to express my deep gratitude for this honor. All I can do is sincerely thank Colonel Gorski, his staff, and all of the people who made this recognition of my service possible including the much appreciated efforts of Jeff Moore. Given my unavoidable absence I asked for this opportunity to acknowledge those to whom I owe so much. I suppose I should start with the U. S. Air Force as it was their policies that allowed me to acquire the two degrees which, when combined with my initial degree, gave me the tools to accomplish the milestones for which I am being honored. Of course, my contributions would not have been possible without the mentoring I received from such pioneers as Dr. Tony Turkevich, Bob and Helen Bench, Wes Nicholson, and especially Carl Schubauer who was always so generous with his assistance. As both a fellow scientist and a valued friend Carl was always there for me as I nurtured our West Coast facility to technical maturity. I would also like to acknowledge the many bosses I have had (much too many to name) who for the most part kept me free of administrative concerns so that I could apply my full attention to the science; and then trusted my judgement when I pressed for changes in laboratory procedures or equipment design. While they gave me the freedom to do what I thought was necessary none of our advancements would have happened without a great crew of lab personnel. And for that I must give tribute to the personnel system that provided me with some outstanding young troops and talented cross-trainees whose tireless hours produced the highest quality data which in time became the hallmark of our facility. Some came and went in short measure while others like my dearly departed colleague Steve Ellingson had AFTAC in their blood to the very end. Even after my Air Force retirement in 1999 I had the greatest challenge of all when the TBE lab was established from scratch thanks to the dedicated work of a few handpicked lab techs under the leadership of my old lab leadership team of Mike Howard and Brian Kelly. I think that covers just about everyone and yet there were so many more on the fringes who were invaluable to my efforts. In closing let me state once again how very appreciative I am for this honor, and by association I hope so many others realize they can share in this with me as I have never lacked for support. Thank you so much.

Ions and betas and treaties, oh my! 11/8/2017

Claudia Granger, a mass spectrometry operator at the Ciambrone Radiochemistry Lab at Patrick AFB, Fla., loads a filament wheel into a thermal ionization spectrometer, which is used to analyze trace amounts of uranium or plutonium extracted from environmental samples. Granger is one of 60 CRL scientists headquartered at the Air Force Technical Applications Center who executes the Nuclear Debris Collection and Analysis program. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)

Melissa Dawkins (right), a chemist at the Ciambrone Radiochemistry Laboratory, Patrick AFB, Fla., explains to newly-assigned chemists 2nd Lts. Kaleb Mitchell (left) and Jessica Lewer (center) how samples that undergo radiochemical separations are inspected. Scientists from CRL, which is headquartered at the Air Force Technical Applications Center, use analytical chemistry methods to determine if trace levels of radioactive debris are present in environmental samples as part of AFTAC’s nuclear treaty monitoring mission. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)

Airman 1st Class Mitchell Kirkpatrick, a measurements technician at the Ciambrone Radiochemistry Laboratory, Patrick AFB, Fla., carefully places a sample onto a gamma ray detector to check for radioactive debris from an environmental sample. The detector is made up of a 4-inch thick outer shell with a copper lining, which shields the sample and limits natural radioactivity and x-rays emitted from outside sources to prevent interference with low-level analysis. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)

By Susan A. Romano, AFTAC Public Affairs PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.
In a world filled with uncertainty and growing concerns about the global proliferation of nuclear weaponry, there is one organization in the Department of Defense dedicated to identifying debris from possible atomic explosions and analyzing the findings for national decision makers.

The Ciambrone Radiochemistry Laboratory, which opened its doors at Patrick Air Force Base in March 2014, is the sole DoD laboratory dedicated to the analysis of radioactive debris. The 38,000 square foot facility is manned by scientists of varying backgrounds – chemists, physicists, nuclear engineers, radiation safety – and their primary focus is simple: determine if effluents from a potential nuclear explosion are present in environmental samples collected globally by AFTAC personnel.

Simple, yes, but not always easy. It takes a team of highly skilled, technically adept experts to operate high purity germanium, x-ray and gamma-ray detectors, alpha and beta radiation monitoring systems, mass spectrometers and precision analytical chemistry equipment.

Lt. Col. James J. Thomas, director of lab operations for the Air Force Technical Applications Center and trained physicist himself, leads nearly 60 CRL personnel who support the nation’s critical nuclear treaty monitoring mission.

“Our senior leaders rely on our network of labs to assess compliance with nuclear weapons testing in support of the U.S. Atomic Energy Detections System, as well as AFTAC’s Nuclear Debris Collection and Analysis Program,” said Thomas. “Our lab professionals identify radiological or nuclear debris collected from air or ground samples to ensure signatories are complying with established treaties like the Limited Test Ban Treaty.”

The lab was named after Col. Thomas Ciambrone, a career Air Force officer who spent 20 of his 30 active duty years with the nuclear treaty monitoring center. The lab became operational in March 2014 when AFTAC moved into its new $158 million facility. Establishing the Ciambrone Lab at Patrick AFB filled a void created when the center’s central laboratory at McClellan AFB, Calif., closed after the 1995 Base Realignment and Closure actions.

“From 1995 until 2014, AFTAC had to rely solely on another contracted lab to conduct the NDC&A mission,” said Thomas. “Most, if not all, military leaders don’t relish the idea of a single point of failure. In 2011, one of our contracted labs had to evacuate due to a major natural disaster, and that lab’s operations had to be temporarily suspended. Time becomes an issue, especially when we’re dealing with radioactive decay and the importance of preserving perishable evidence. That’s why it was so important for us to have this redundancy.”

The lab has stringent rules, regulations and safety precautions it must take to ensure its environment is free of impurities. It’s vital to their mission.

“Much like a court trial, nations require definitive evidence before accusing another nation of violating a provision of a treaty,” said Thomas. “In some circumstances, the only unambiguous evidence of a treaty violation may be trace amounts of radioactive debris. In these cases, laboratory analysis is required to confirm the presence of nuclear materials from an explosion and distinguish them from naturally-occurring radioactive materials, or releases from peaceful uses of nuclear materials such as medical facilities or nuclear power plants.”

He added, “Because of this critical need and role, our laboratory must be ready at any given time. It is extremely important that samples are rigorously processed and protected from contamination with the environment after being collected. CRL’s environment needs to be free of impurities and pollutants such as dust, particles and vapors that may contain natural radioactivity. Lab personnel take several steps and precautions to ensure the laboratory maintains its pristine atmosphere.”

Thomas, a 2001 Air Force Officer Training School graduate, credits his success and the success of the lab directly to the men and women he works with each and every day.

“I brag on my folks as often as I can because they’re that good,” Thomas said. “We affectionately call each other The Lab Rats, and we’re very proud of the brand we’ve created for ourselves. Morale in our work center is extremely high and everyone goes the extra mile for one another – not just on the job, but also off duty. People look out for each other, and a leader can’t ask for much more than that. It’s like the old saying, ‘Take care of the people, and the people will take care of the mission.’ It certainly is the case here at Ciambrone.”

When asked what his leadership philosophy is, Thomas took no time answering. “It’s so important to lead from the front – always. I will do anything that I ask the men and women of the lab to do. I’ve learned that if you are too big for the small jobs, then you’re probably too small for the big jobs.”

While the Ciambrone Lab is not a squadron, per se, its structure mirrors that of a typical squadron found throughout the Air Force. Gen. David L. Goldfein, Air Force Chief of Staff, referred to squadrons as the “beating heart of the Air Force” and the “engines of innovation and esprit de corps” where standards are set, excellence is fostered and healthy work environments are cultivated.

“We have five branches within the lab that are very similar to flights found in a squadron,” explained Thomas. “Our radiochemistry branch and mass spectrometry branches isolate specific elements brought to the lab. This allows them to remove the relatively large amount of radioactivity from the samples and identify the tiniest amount of nuclear debris. The measurements branch uses high purity germanium detectors and other alpha/beta detectors to capture the radioactivity levels in each sample. Our operations branch analyzes the data and produces a report to NDC&A customers to provide germane information to senior leaders and our higher headquarters. And the support branch makes up the ‘unsung heroes’ of the lab – the folks who keep operations flowing smoothly from personnel issues to computer networks.”

A squadron is also considered to be the USAF’s most basic unit that’s responsible for vital, day-to-day operations. The Ciambrone Radiochemistry Lab certainly meets those criteria. And CRL’s contributions to AFTAC’s nuclear treaty monitoring mission continue to impress the center’s commander.

“The technical analysis performed by the men and women of the Ciambrone lab provides the evidence used and scrutinized at the highest levels of government, often with great urgency,” said Col. Steven M. Gorski, AFTAC commander. “I am continually impressed with the level of expertise and degree of proficiency these scientists and technicians display on a daily basis. We recruit the best of the best in the field of radiochemistry, and that shows in the superior work they perform for our national decision makers.”

AFTAC Airman honored with Valor Award for life-saving actions 9/27/2017

Official photo of U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Jennifer Engblom, a nuclear debris collection and analysis ground systems technician with the Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick AFB, Fla. (U.S. Air Force photo by Phil Sunkel)

The Melbourne Regional Chamber of East Central Florida’s Medal of Valor. The award was presented to Senior Airman Jennifer Engblom, a nuclear debris collection and analysis ground systems technician with the Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick AFB, Fla. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)

By Susan A. Romano, AFTAC Public Affairs PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.
An act of courage and bravery led to an Airman from the Air Force Technical Applications Center here earning the 2017 Valor Award and Life Saving Medal from the Melbourne Regional Chamber of East Central Florida.

Senior Airman Jennifer Engblom, a nuclear debris collection and analysis ground systems technician with AFTAC’s Technical Surveillance Squadron, received the award for her actions in November 2016 when she responded to an automobile accident that involved three vehicles and five severely injured occupants.

Engblom and a co-worker were traveling on the Florida Turnpike on a Sunday evening last fall when they came upon the multi-car wreck. Engblom saw one of the vehicles had caught fire, yet she didn’t see any first responders on scene, so she urged her co-worker to pull over so they could render assistance.

Acting quickly, Engblom took charge of the scene. She treated one occupant for shock while guiding other bystanders in emergency lifesaving procedures. She calmed and reassured the victims and examined each injured person to ensure their immediate medical needs were being met.

As one vehicle became engulfed in raging flames, Engblom realized the injured passengers as well as those rendering assistance were in grave danger of a potential explosion. With a clear head, she directed a bystander to move her SUV between an immobile victim and the flaming car, creating a blast shield between the fiery automobile and the injured passenger on the ground.

After about 30 minutes, paramedics arrived, but Engblom wasn’t done rendering aid. She assisted the medics with placing the injured on stretchers and provided as much vital information as possible to help the EMTs with their initial response efforts.

“I had the honor of representing Jennifer at the Melbourne Chamber’s award ceremony,” said Lt. Col. Edward G. Ferguson, TESS commander. “I sat among some amazing people at this event – firemen, police officers, emergency medical technicians – people who perform life-saving measures nearly every day. And while I was in awe of their actions, I realized Jen was the only person being recognized who was not a fully certified and trained first responder. That spoke volumes to me.”

Every year, the chamber presents three categories of valor awards to eligible Brevard County citizens: a medal of valor, a life-saving medal, and an award of merit. Each is presented for some form of extraordinary or unprecedented behavior or action.

Ferguson said, “The evening was a memorable tribute to members of our community whose selfless acts set them apart. I know Jen would have liked to attend, but her wedding plans needed attention. When I spoke to her before the event, she considered her feat of heroism as ‘no big deal’ and said it was something anyone else would have done under the circumstances. It was a great evening, and I’m incredibly proud to have Airmen like Jen in my squadron.”

Nuclear Treaty Monitoring unit cleans up after Hurricane Irma 9/16/2017

Airmen from the Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick AFB, Fla., pack up equipment in preparation for Hurricane Irma Sept. 7, 2017. Pictured from left to right: Airman 1st Class David Orcasitas, Airman 1st Class Justin McEwen, Airman 1st Class Alexander Lang and Tech. Sgt. Pete Olivieri. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)
Master Sgt. Christopher Gaskill, critical power systems manager, and Randy Pomeroy, facilities manager, both members of the Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick AFB, Fla., verify the status of the center’s high voltage distribution breakers in the wake of Hurricane Irma Sept. 13, 2017. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)
Tech. Sgt. Matthew Lamb, a member of the Air Force Technical Applications Center’s Cyber Capabilities Squadron, starts up network servers at the nuclear treaty monitoring center after Hurricane Irma impacted Patrick AFB, Fla., Sept. 10, 2017. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)
Col. Steven M. Gorski, commander of the Air Force Technical Applications Center, along with his command chief, Chief Master Sgt. Michael Joseph, conduct a Facebook Live session for spouses of AFTAC personnel as the center prepared to evacuate for Hurricane Irma. This was the first time AFTAC senior leaders used the social media platform to communicate real-time information to family members of the nuclear treaty monitoring center at Patrick AFB, Fla. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)
Prior to the arrival of Hurricane Irma, senior leadership from the Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick AFB, Fla., meet to discuss steps necessary to safely evacuate the nuclear treaty monitoring center while ensuring the 24/7 mission continues uninterrupted. Pictured at the table from left to right: Col. Steven M. Gorski, AFTAC commander; Chief Master Sgt. Michael Joseph, AFTAC command chief; and Lt. Col. Joseph Shupert. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)
Members of the Air Force Technical Applications Center at Patrick AFB, Fla., confer with base civil engineers and local contractors in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma that impacted the base Sept. 10, 2017. Pictured left to right: Master Sgt. Michael Sheetz, AFTAC’s HVAC technician; M. Scott Duffy, a contractor with DE HVAC Associates; Raymond Vigil, 45th Civil Engineer Squadron HVAC technician; and Tony Morris, AFTAC’s facility program manager. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)
After Hurricane Irma hit Central Florida, Randy Pomeroy, facilities manager for the Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick AFB, Fla., examines the generators that provide back-up power to the nuclear treaty monitoring center. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)
Airman 1st Class Brian Klemfuss, a member of the Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick AFB, Fla., prepares boxes for early shipment in preparation for Hurricane Irma. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)
Airman 1st Class Christopher Boylston, a member of the Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick AFB, Fla., removes wires from a pole in preparation for Hurricane Irma Sept. 7, 2017. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)
James “Griff” Griffieth and Senior Airman Jimmie Wilson II, both members of the Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick AFB, Fla., wrap and secure information technology equipment in preparation for Hurricane Irma Sept. 7, 2017. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)
Senior Airman Donelle Gibson, a member of the Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick AFB, Fla., processes packages before the nuclear treaty monitoring center evacuated for Hurricane Irma Sept. 7, 2017. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)
Staff Sgt. Steven Milliman, a member of the Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick AFB, Fla., covers valuable nuclear treaty monitoring equipment in preparation for Hurricane Irma’s arrival to Florida’s Space Coast. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)
Lynne Traylor, a member of the Air Force Technical Applications Center, holds the door open for Michael McCabe, an engineer with the 45th Civil Engineer Squadron, Patrick AFB, Fla. McCabe worked on the door after the center was hit by Hurricane Irma Sept. 10, 2017. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)
Members of the Air Force Technical Applications Center take steps to cover and protect documents in the center’s technical library in preparation for Hurricane Irma Sept. 7, 2017. Pictured from left to right: Danielle Turlington, Sabrina Miller, Tech. Sgt. Judy Mehaffy. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)
Downdraft tables are securely wrapped as a precautionary measure in preparation for Hurricane Irma. The Clean Room tables are used in support of the Air Force Technical Applications Center’s nuclear treaty monitoring mission at Patrick AFB, Fla. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)
As a precautionary measure, James Barnett, a contractor with Eaton Electric, inspects the inner workings of an uninterruptable power supply unit in the wake of Hurricane Irma. Barnett was one of several post-storm team members who worked to ensure the Air Force Technical Applications Center at Patrick AFB, Fla., returned to 100 percent capacity. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)
Master Sgt. Michael Scheetz, an HVAC technician for the Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick AFB, Fla., examines heating and cooling panels after Hurricane Irma impacted the base Sept. 10, 2017. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)
Staff Sgt. Frederick Scarber and Senior Airman Shayne Herndon, both members of the Air Force Technical Applications Center’s Cyber Capabilities Squadron at Patrick AFB, Fla., conduct tests to bring the nuclear treaty monitoring organization back to 100 percent connectivity after the center evacuated for Hurricane Irma. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)

By Susan A. Romano, AFTAC Public Affairs PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.
In the wake of a confirmed nuclear test in North Korea Sept. 3, members of the Air Force Technical Applications Center balanced the requirement for its 24/7 no-fail nuclear detection mission to continue with the need to evacuate as Hurricane Irma barreled up Florida’s peninsula.

Four days before the massive Category 3 storm made landfall in south Florida Sept. 10, AFTAC leadership made the decision to relocate its critical operations to its alternate location. Once Airmen were in place and all systems were set up to accept the mission, the headquarters here took the necessary steps to evacuate more than 385 Airmen and nearly 2,000 family members from the area.

Travel experts secured scarce airline tickets for a team of 50+ personnel to make the trip to from Orlando to Texas Sept. 6, and the relocation team had AFTAC’s monitoring system up-and-running within hours.

“The most challenging part of contingency management operations is maintaining the mission with no end in sight,” said Senior Master Sgt. David Maurice, superintendent of AFTAC’s Continuity of Operations. “On most deployments, you know how long you have to perform the mission. Here, we started with uncertainty and have to keep going until they stay stop. But as challenging as it is to transfer the mission from one location to another, it’s even more taxing when we have to leave our families behind to deal with a major hurricane.”

That obstacle was something AFTAC’s commander took very seriously.

“My number one concern is the safety and well-being of AFTAC Airmen and their families,” said Col. Steven M. Gorski. “While our national decision-makers rely on us to provide uninterrupted access to nuclear event detection data, we also must ensure our personnel have all the resources and assistance they need to weather a major storm or evacuate the area. It’s doubly hard on those Airmen who have to relocate prior to the storm – their focus is on the mission, but their hearts are back at home. Thankfully we’ve got an incredible network of people here who consistently look out for each other and come together, even under the most austere and challenging of circumstances.”

One of those Airmen is Senior Airman David Richardson, a defensive cyber operations technician who deployed to Texas, but had to leave his wife Elizabeth behind.

“My wife hunkered down with my co-worker Staff Sgt. (Jonathan) North’s wife in their home, along with two other AFTAC NCOs who didn’t fall under the mandatory evacuation order,” said Richardson. “So with four adults, five dogs and a lot of prayers, everyone came together and combined their resources to include fuel, water and an assortment of canned foods to make it through the storm. Late Sunday they lost power, but luckily they had a generator to keep the refrigerators going so all the food would not spoil.”

Once Irma whipped through Central Florida and the base commander granted permission for first responders to make their initial rounds across the installation, members of AFTAC’s reconstitution team reported to the $158 million facility to assess any damage and determine when additional personnel could return to get the center’s critical networks and systems running again.

Tech. Sgt. Desiree Penn, AFTAC’s hurricane recovery team lead, was one of the first people to arrive at the center to report the status of the building to Gorski.

“The first thing the HRT does is look for any extensive damage that may have occurred,” said Penn. “Once we do a full walk-around of the entire facility, we report any safety hazards or significant problems like downed power lines or major flooding. We also make sure the overall security of the building hasn’t been degraded. I was very relieved that most of the damage we incurred was minor since several tornadoes touched down in the area, and that we had very little water damage considering how close we are to the Atlantic Ocean.”

When the majority of AFTAC personnel returned to work, they had full internet and email connectivity, cooled offices and an undamaged interior work center.

“Returning to a highly-technical, fully-functional facility does not happen by accident,” said Gorski. “It happens as a result of an extremely dedicated work force that goes above and beyond what’s asked of them.”

He added, “We lost a few trees, experienced some damage to our outdoor pavilion and had an HVAC system ripped from one of our warehouses, but overall I’d say the storm had a modest impact on our headquarters building. Through it all, our Airmen continued to analyze the recent North Korea nuclear text while juggling a major weather event. Their performance in the face of the toughest challenges speaks to their professionalism and dedication to the mission. They personify the definition of resilience.”

Gorski took family members into high consideration as storm preparations were underway. He and his command chief, Chief Master Sgt. Michael Joseph, conducted a Facebook Live session for spouses to relay pertinent details to AFTAC families and take questions from viewers who may have had concerns about what plans they should make or actions they should take to prepare for an inbound hurricane.

“From what I understand, this was the first time AFTAC has ever done something like this,” said Louise Goodwin, an AFTAC Key Spouse and wife of Lt. Col. Jeremy Goodwin. “I was so pleased when Colonel Gorski asked me to be a part of it, and I’ve received great feedback from so many spouses about how incredible the communication has been. We have some families who have never been through a hurricane before, so having access to the commander and the command chief was so valued and appreciated.”

Col. Jonathan VanNoord, AFTAC’s Director of Operations and officer-in-charge of the relocation team, stressed the importance of wingmanship and how teamwork played a significant role in transferring the mission.

“In the past year alone, we have twice exercised our ability to move our treaty monitoring mission from our main location to our alternate location,” he said. “Both times, we have been fully successful. That is a testament to the skills and abilities of the Airmen assigned to the center. If North Korea decided to set off another nuclear detonation in the middle of a hurricane coming toward the United States, especially one aimed at Florida, we’d be ready to detect and analyze it. That’s how good this team of experts really is. I couldn’t be more proud of the men and women of AFTAC – they truly made it look easy and seamless.”

Air Force team monitors North Korean nuclear threat 9/16/2017

USA TODAY NETWORKJames Dean, Florida Today Published 9:13 p.m. ET Sept. 6, 2017 | Updated 9:13 p.m. ET Sept. 6, 2017
NOK3.jpg A seismic jolt on the other side of the planet had a team of experts huddled at Patrick Air Force Base before dawn Sunday, alerting U.S. and international leaders of their alarming findings.

A global network of 3,600 sensors monitored around the clock by the Air Force Technical Applications Center, headquartered at Patrick, had picked up North Korea’s underground test of a nuclear bomb.

The center helped confirm that the blast registering 6.3 on the Richter scale was 10 times more powerful than North Korea’s previous nuclear test a year ago, and one of the most powerful nuclear tests detected since a ban took effect more than 20 years ago, Air Force officials told Florida Today.

“It lit up the international network, for sure,” said Glenn Sjoden, the center’s chief scientist. “There’s no mistaking the fact that there was a very large event in North Korea at their nuclear test site.”

As Hurricane Irma approaches Florida, AFTAC, as the center is known, continues to analyze last weekend's test while watching out for any new activity.

A team may soon be dispatched to Texas — to a location unaffected by Hurricane Harvey — to take over the surveillance if Irma forces local personnel to ride out the storm with reduced staffing.

“It doesn’t matter if the hurricane hits us or not, we will have that 24-7 coverage,” said Chief Master Sgt. Michael Joseph. “Wherever we go, we will make sure the mission’s getting done.”

Patrick AFB is best known for the 45th Space Wing, which on Thursday will support SpaceX’s attempt to launch a rocket from Kennedy Space Center. Patrick’s 920th Rescue Wing recently helped rescue more than 230 Harvey victims in Houston.

AFTAC is perhaps a less visible tenant at the base, but its electronic eyes on the ground, under water, in the air and in space play a critical role in reporting nuclear explosions to the Department of Defense and the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization.

Logo embedded in terrazzo entranceway at the Air Force Technical Applications Center at Patrick Air Force Base. (Photo: MALCOLM DENEMARK/FLORIDA TODAY)

The team often detects seismic events that don’t rate as national security concerns, such as earthquakes and mine explosions. One exception was the 2011 the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactor meltdown in Japan, which prompted a major response.

But after Saturday night’s blast in a mountainous region of northeastern North Korea, an AFTAC team briefed leaders on preliminary findings by 2:15 a.m. ET Sunday at Patrick.

“It’s safe to say that we knew very quickly and could characterize that signal very rapidly in order to have a very good idea of what likely occurred,” said Col. Steven Gorski, the AFTAC commander.

Analysis of the test continues, with a WC-135 aircraft sampling international airspace for any radioactive debris released.

The Air Force Technical Applications Center headquarters at Patrick Air Force Base. (Photo: MALCOLM DENEMARK/FLORIDA TODAY)

The test by itself doesn't prove an ability to weaponize such a bomb. But it came on the heels of missile tests that have heightened fears that North Korean missiles might now be able to reach the U.S.

“Everybody should be concerned about North Korea and the threat that they pose to their neighbors and to the United States,” Gorski said.

Now AFTAC, like the rest of the Florida coast, must also contend with a major hurricane's potential arrival in the coming days.

“A hurricane and a North Korean nuclear test in the same week is a significant test, and they’re doing extremely well,” Gorski said of his team.

Sixth generation Sailor, first generation Airman 8/29/2017

U.S Navy Capt. Anthony Aversano (center), renders his final salute on active duty at his retirement from the U.S. Navy. Aversano is the father of U.S. Air Force Capt. Lee Aversano, a certified mission commander aboard the USNS Invincible, a radar system platform operated by the Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick AFB, Fla. (Courtesy photo)

Official photo of U.S. Air Force Capt. Lee Aversano. Aversano is a certified mission commander aboard the USNS Invincible, a radar system platform operated by the Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick AFB, Fla. (U.S. Air Force photo)

By Susan A. Romano, AFTAC Public Affairs PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.
World-renowned oceanographer Jacques Cousteau once said, “The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.”

For the members of one family in particular, there are no truer words.

Capt. Lee Aversano, an Air Force missile operator assigned to the Air Force Technical Applications Center here, comes from a long line of seafarers. Three generations of great grandfathers before him were 19th Century mariners on the Tyrrhenian Sea. His grandfather, Liberato Aversano, was a commercial fisherman who began his maritime career on the small fishing island of Ponza off Italy’s west coast. Liberato immigrated to the United States and worked as a coal miner until he could save enough money to move his family from Italy to California. It was there where Grandpa Aversano bought a fishing vessel and forged a prominent longshoreman presence in San Pedro Harbor, which still exists today.

Aversano’s father, Anthony Aversano, spent many years working on his father’s fishing boats and fell in love with the sea. His father instilled a powerful love of country and appreciation for all America had offered his family, which ultimately propelled Tony to a 23-year career in the U.S. Navy. And when Tony had a son of his own, it seemed like a foregone conclusion that young Lee would ultimately follow in his paternal lineage’s footsteps.

Alas, Lee chose a different route. He applied to the Air Force Officer Training School and earned his commission in 2010. Yet despite the words “U.S. Air Force” emblazoned on his uniform, Lee is, in fact, a naval commander on the high seas.

As a certified mission commander aboard the USNS Invincible and USNS Howard O. Lorenzen, Capt. Aversano is responsible for the overall operation and maintenance of the ship and its radar systems. The MC interacts with the crew to ensure they have the tools and resources available to accomplish their assigned tasks, which may include equipment calibration tests, safety drills, and contingency planning scenarios. The MC must also be keenly aware of his crew’s morale, as it is a big part of the mission’s success.

The USNS Invincible hosts the $400 million Gray Star radar system; the Lorenzen hosts the $1.7 billion Cobra King radar platform. Aversano commands a crew of 80 operators, technicians and engineers from various backgrounds and skill levels who are charged with delivering quality technical data to national decision makers.

“Most people don’t know the Air Force operates two naval ships equipped with radar system platforms that conduct ballistic missile surveillance operations,” said Lee. “Right now I’m immersed in mission commander dual certification training so I’ll have a full toolkit to be able to coordinate with Unified Commands, U.S. Naval Fleets, and other external agencies to ensure our operators, engineers and technicians are fulfilling our collection tasks.”

The ships fall under the direction of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Olympic Titan mission, the Defense Department’s mobile maritime platform foreign missile and space activity operation. The vessels conduct surveillance missions using state-of-the-art radar systems that provide technical measurements to national decision makers.

“When I joined the Air Force, I pictured myself waking up to the smell of jet fuel in the morning,” Lee joked. “My primary career field hasn’t offered me much interaction with airplanes at this point, so when I learned I was selected to broaden my career as a mission commander, I was very intrigued and knew it was definitely a path I’d fully enjoy, given my family history. Now I’ll be waking up to the smell of ocean air every day!”

That family history seems to keep Lee grounded as well as filled with pride.

“My grandfather was a tremendously hard worker,” he said. “He had hands that were so calloused from working the seas, he couldn’t completely make them into a fist. But he had the kindest, most loving nature. Before he began his longshoreman career, he was conscripted into World War I and served as an infantryman. Although my grandpa passed away before I was born, he and I have a lot in common and I feel a connection to him, especially when out to sea.”

He continued, “My father began his naval career on submarines. He actually had the honor of serving aboard the very first Los Angeles class fast-attack submarine to ever be deployed. Throughout his 23-plus years of service, he held a number of exciting roles and positions: nuclear safety engineer, captain of a submarine tender, even a judge advocate general. He was a steely-eyed Cold War warrior and he loved the Navy with all his heart. In many ways, I take after him, and if I can have half the success in my career as he did in his, then I’ll be in great shape.”

The youngest Aversano sailor hopes to make the Air Force a career, but according to him, that goal is not without its own set of challenges.

“I was a bit older than most when I received my commission, and I’ll be in my mid-50s when I reach the 20-year mark,” Lee reflected, “but I’m still young at heart! Fitness demands, stress management and bolstered resilience from adversity continue to serve me well, so as of right now, I hope to make it to full retirement. My squadron commander, Lt. Col. Don Wittenberg, said it best: ‘If you love what you do, why do something else?’ I think that’s a great perspective.”

AFTAC’s newest mission commander also has the responsibility of balancing his demanding work schedule with his family schedule.

“On average, we deploy about 120 days a year on 60-day rotations,” Lee explained. “I have an amazing support network at the center, and we’ve built relationships that make me hopeful that when I go out to sea, my family is in a good place – happy and safe. I have a very strong wife and two resilient children who do a great job of handling the household in my absence. If life gets too overwhelming for them, I know I’ve got my AFTAC brothers and sisters I can rely upon to check on them when I’m at sea.”

Cyberspace domain critical to Nuclear Treaty Monitoring 8/29/2017

Logan Keith, a storage administrator with the Cyber Capabilities Squadron, Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick AFB, Fla., verifies the inventory of tapes and replenishes the tape silo as needed to conduct the center’s nuclear treaty monitoring mission. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)

Hector Velez, a Linux systems administrator with the Cyber Capabilities Squadron, Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick AFB, Fla., troubleshoots a lost connection to a server that keeps AFTAC’s nuclear treaty monitoring mission going strong. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)

By Susan A. Romano, AFTAC Public Affairs PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.
The Air Force Technical Applications Center here is charged with ensuring each and every nation across the globe complies with the ban on nuclear weapons testing, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Members of AFTAC answer that call without fail – monitoring nuclear treaty compliance is their business.

To accomplish this herculean task, the center uses a network of 3,600 worldwide sensors across multiple domains to collect a variety of data critical to revealing magnitude, yield and location of nuclear explosions. Regardless of what corner of the earth the data comes from or how the data are collected, the information must transmitted back to the United States so analysts can transform the information into usable data that our national decision makers can rely on.

While Airmen performing the data analysis are the best in the business, they could not execute their job without the skill and expertise of members of AFTAC’s Cyber Capabilities Squadron. The primary mission of CYCS is to generate, project and sustain cyberspace capabilities by providing mission assurance for AFTAC’s global enterprise. In other words, AFTAC’s treaty monitoring mission cannot be effectively accomplished without unfettered access to cyberspace.

“My squadron supports all information technology services that AFTAC needs to achieve operational success,” said Maj. Nathan Loyd, CYCS commander. “We support the mission through our oversight and sustainment of our servers, long haul communications systems, databases, and hardware/software. AFTAC is responsible for the largest sensor network in the Air Force, and we take that responsibility very seriously.”

Loyd is a career cyberspace operations officer who took command of CYCS in July. Prior to joining the AFTAC team, he was assigned to various roles in the fields of cyber, electronic warfare, information systems and automations. His leadership philosophy is based on the foundation of trust.

“Trust is the single most important key to effective leadership-followership,” Loyd said. “Our cyber mission is too large for any one person to handle alone, so I believe in trusting and empowering our Airmen down to the lowest possible level. That allows for more flexibility across the board.”

In August 2016, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein outlined his number one focus area – squadron revitalization. He informed personnel Air Force wide that he considers squadrons to be the basic building block of the force and our most essential team, and squadron commanders have the most profound and lasting impact on Airmen and families. It’s a charge Loyd has taken to heart.

“The Air Force is focusing heavily on reinvigorating the role of squadrons based on feedback received from various climate surveys and strategic planning meetings,” said Loyd. “The Chief of Staff wants to empower squadrons to have more authority to make decisions at the lowest possible level. As a relatively new member of the AFTAC team, my goal is to take General Goldfein’s vision and incorporate it into every decision I make and every action I take.”

A majority of CYCS’s efforts is tied to the DOD Information Network (DoDIN) to ensure data confidentiality, integrity and availability. Loyd’s 150-person squadron is made up of a cross-section of talent – officers, enlisted, civilians and contractors – each filling critical roles as system and network administrators, help desk technicians, project managers and troubleshooters.

“Like many organizations throughout the Air Force, our people-to-mission ratio is not quite right,” he said. “I’m working with my officers, civilian and senior enlisted leaders within the squadron to define where our limitations are, figure out what we can do to eliminate extraneous workloads, and determine how we can operate more efficiently with scarce resources.”

Today’s cyber landscape is ever-evolving and one that sees increasing threats from those who want to disrupt it, whether that disruption comes from simple non-malicious, attention-seeking hackers or from combative nation-states with the purposeful intent to interfere with military operations and their IT systems. Government entities, to include Air Force organizations, are wholly dependent on computer networks and systems, and rely on those information systems to successfully execute their global missions.

As with any complex IT operation, however, the systems are vulnerable, and Loyd’s team addresses this concern every day.

“Our biggest obstacle is balancing cybersecurity postures with the needs of a high operations tempo,” he explained. “AFTAC is a high-speed, enormously innovative organization that uses technology in its drive for change and evolution. So to balance that demand, it’s critical we ensure our CYCS Airmen are trained and certified to continually be on the cutting edge of technology.”

He added, “Here in CYCS, we are working towards standardizing our enterprise to increase efficiencies in system maintenance. Additionally, we are posturing the squadron to establish a Mission Defense Team, focusing on cyberspace defensive operations to our mission critical systems. This pathfinder initiative takes aim at protecting the mission’s crown jewels. It is an important shift in posture to ensure AFTAC is able to execute its treaty monitoring mission across air, sea, space and cyberspace.”

Col. Steven M. Gorski, commander of AFTAC, emphasized Loyd’s comment on the need to focus on cyberspace defense.

“In today’s world, cyber threats pose serious challenges to AFTAC,” he said. “Here at AFTAC, access to networks play a powerfully role in our daily responsibilities. Lack of access can significantly impact the effectiveness of our organization, and that’s why having the best people on board – leaders like Major Loyd and his incredibly talented Airmen who form his cyber team – is crucial to our worldwide mission. Countering cyber threats is all about risk management, and Major Loyd’s squadron fully understands that threat and takes every step possible to keep our systems and networks safe.”

When asked what he sees as the Cyber Capabilities Squadron’s strongest asset, Loyd said, “Our squadron has done tremendous work in providing continuous, secure communications for AFTAC. CYCS’s shining moments are defined each time mission data is available on demand for our customers and delivered securely and without degradation. That’s the bottom line.”

AFTACers thrill young STEM minds, get surprise visit from HAF 3-star 8/23/2017

Maj. Jeremiah Betz, deputy director of lab operations for the Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick AFB, Fla., oozes some Oobleck into the hands of Brian Owens, a 12-year old student from West Oaks Elementary School in Orlando during the 41st Annual Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals Convention and Career Exposition Aug. 10, 2017, which was held at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort, Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Betz and a team of Airmen from AFTAC volunteered to showcase science experiments to Central Florida Youth to encourage them towards STEM-related fields. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)
Capt. Henry L. Sims Jr. (right), director of Wing Inspections for the Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick AFB, Fla., demonstrations quantum levitation to a group of students from the Central Florida area during the 41st Annual Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals Convention and Career Exposition Aug. 10, 2017, at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort, Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Sims and a team of AFTAC Airmen volunteered to showcase science experiments to Central Florida Youth to encourage them towards STEM-related fields. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)
– Capt. Henry L. Sims Jr. (left), director of Wing Inspections for the Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick AFB, Fla., demonstrations quantum levitation to Lt. Gen. Stayce D. Harris, Air Force Assistant Vice Chief of Staff during the 41st Annual Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals Convention and Career Exposition Aug. 10, 2017, at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort, Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Sims, along with Staff Sgt. Nathan Korytko, Maj. Scott Belton and a team of five other AFTAC Airmen volunteered to showcase science experiments to Central Florida Youth to encourage them towards STEM-related fields. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)
Maj. Jeremiah Betz (right), deputy director of lab operations for the Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick AFB, Fla., conducts science experiments with a group of students from the Central Florida area during the 41st Annual Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals Convention and Career Exposition Aug. 10, 2017, at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort, Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Betz was one of eight members from AFTAC who volunteered to showcase science experiments to students from the area to encourage them towards STEM-related fields. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)
Staff Sgt. Nathan Korytko, a gamma measurements technician with the Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick AFB, Fla., explains the properties of liquid nitrogen to Lt. Gen. Stayce D. Harris, Air Force Assistant Vice Chief of Staff, during the 41st Annual Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals Convention and Career Exposition Aug. 10, 2017, at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort, Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Harris was the senior Air Force representative at the convention, as well as an OBAP Hall of Fame inductee; Korytko was one of eight members from AFTAC who volunteered to showcase science experiments to students from the area to encourage them towards STEM-related fields. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)
James C. “Griff” Griffieth (right), an equipment control officer from the Air Force Technical Applications Center, explains to Lt. Gen. Stayce D. Harris, Air Force Assistant Vice Chief of Staff how electricity from a Tesla coil is able to transmit a wireless signal to a child’s “light-up” shoe. Harris visited members of AFTAC who were volunteering at the Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals 41st Annual Convention and Career Expostion Aug. 10, 2017 in Orlando. Griff and seven fellow AFTAC Airmen showcased several science experiments during OBAP’s Youth Day. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)
Rose Day, civilian Human Resources program manager for the Air Force Technical Applications Center, explains the concept of non-Newtonian fluid to Savannah Shortte, 7, and her brother Rasul, 5, of New Carrollton, Md., during the 41st Annual Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals Convention and Career Exposition Aug. 10, 2017, at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort, Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Day was one of eight members from AFTAC who volunteered to showcase science experiments to students to encourage them towards STEM-related fields. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)
Capt. Henry L. Sims Jr., director of Wing Inspections for the Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick AFB, Fla., discusses career options with Tyler Rice, a senior at West Broward High School during a youth mentor luncheon at the 41st Annual Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals Convention and Career Exposition Aug. 10, 2017, at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort. Sims was one of eight AFTAC Airmen who volunteered to mentor students from the Central Florida area about STEM-related opportunities. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)

By Susan A. Romano, AFTAC Public Affairs PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.
The group of eight Airmen were joined by members of the U.S. Air Force Academy to interact with Central Florida children at OBAP’s Youth Day to offer hands-on activities for experiential learning.

OBAP’s three-day aerospace conference was designed to unify, engage and empower aviation professionals from diverse backgrounds. Youth Day was dedicated to students between the ages of 12 to 18 to give them an opportunity to interact with members of the Air Force and other STEM-related agencies.

Maj. Jeremiah Betz, AFTAC’s STEM outreach coordinator and deputy director of radiochemistry lab operations, oversaw his team’s displays, which included seismometer equipment, liquid nitrogen experiments, a quantum levitation demo, a musical Tesla coil and a table full of Oobleck.

Oobleck, a term taken from a Dr. Seuss book, is a non-Newtonian fluid – a concoction of corn starch and water that, when mixed together, forms a substance that acts differently from a normal liquid and normal solid.

“The kids were mesmerized by the Oobleck display,” said Betz. “They were fascinated when they could take a hammer to the mixture and it would feel hard like a solid, but when the hammer was gently placed on top of the surface of the mixture, it would slowly sink to the bottom of the container. It’s a great way to teach them about the differing properties of liquids and solids.”

AFTAC, the Department of Defense’s sole organization responsible for nuclear treaty monitoring, has more than 1,000 personnel who have vast scientific experience and educations: chemists, physicists, nuclear engineers, biologists, mathematicians, geologists and seismologists, just to name a few. They are highly sought after by schools, companies and organizations to assist with STEM-related events. OBAP was no exception.

More than 80 teens who attended the convention cycled through AFTAC’s demonstrations, and all seemed delighted by what they experienced.

Brian Owens, a 12-year old from West Oaks Elementary School in Orlando, could barely contain his excitement.

“This was the most fun I’ve ever had!” he exclaimed. “I love doing stuff like this because it’s so exciting and we get to actually touch the experiments. I really liked seeing the liquid nitrogen freeze the racquetball and then the Air Force guy who busted it to pieces with a hammer. That was so cool!”

Audra Saldaña, founder of TechPays Foundation, accompanied her two sons, Xen and Xeric, to the science demos and was impressed by what she saw.

“I go out of my way to expose my boys to events like this,” she said. “Any opportunity that gives them the chance to broaden their knowledge is exactly what they need to succeed. This convention in particular allows them to see things first-hand and learn from experts in their fields—real people who are actually doing the jobs they’re talking about. I tell my boys the world is a big place and they can do anything and be anything they want, and I appreciate the Air Force guys coming out to be with our kids.”

The center civilian Human Resources Program Manager, Rose Day, is also AFTAC’s spearhead on cooperative outreach programs that involve socio-economically challenged youth in the area. She works closely with senior Air Force officials in the Pentagon’s Diversity and Inclusion Office (A1V), who let her know about OBAP’s annual convention and encouraged her to get involved.

“We had some really special children come into our event room to interact with our Airmen,” she said. “You know you’ve made a huge impact when you see teens breaking out their cell phones to post videos of our demos and selfies with our Airmen to their social media pages! We also had the opportunity to interact with the students at the Youth Luncheon. I sat with a sophomore from Spruce Creek High School in Port Orange, Fla., who humbly told me about his 3.5 grade point average and how he wants to play basketball in college. When I showed him photos of the Air Force Academy’s Division I basketball team, he was floored and had no idea that opportunity was available to him. That’s when you know you’ve made a difference.”

The AFTAC team was treated to a special unexpected guest when Air Force Assistant Vice Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Stayce D. Harris visited the STEM demo ballroom. Harris, the first black woman to become an Air Force lieutenant general, attended the OBAP convention, not just as the Air Force senior representative, but also as an OBAP Hall of Fame inductee.

Harris spent time with each AFTAC Airman to observe their demos and find out more about their role in nuclear treaty monitoring.

“Before I met them today, I had already heard so much about AFTAC’s 9S100s (the Air Force specialty code for AFTAC’s enlisted Airmen) and their amazing accomplishments and skill levels,” said Harris. “It was a delight for me to spend time with each of them and learn more about their respective jobs at AFTAC. It’s obvious we are in extremely capable hands with our treaty monitoring responsibilities, and I’m proud of the important work they are performing each and every day. I really enjoyed smashing a frozen racquetball with a hammer, too!”

Capt. Henry L. Sims Jr., AFTAC’s Director of Wing Inspections, showcased the quantum levitation demo for the visiting students. He was also one of the first people to step up and volunteer to participate at the convention because it is an issue that is very close to his heart.

“We need to take a proactive role to ensure people of all colors are prepared to fairly compete for roles within science, technology, engineering and math,” said Sims. “I grew up in a town that was named the poorest in the entire state of Georgia, and exposure to opportunities like the one OBAP provided was pretty much non-existent. With the help of many mentors, however, I was blessed enough to find a way to make it where I am today, and I have dedicated my life to make the path to success a little less bumpy for our youth.”

Sims added, “Never in a million years would I have thought that someone like me who grew up with basically nothing would go from abject poverty to being an Assistant Professor of Aerospace Studies at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill to demonstrating quantum levitation to a group of minority students to meeting General Harris. I will continue to pay it forward.”

Tech Ops Squadron is heartbeat of nuke treaty monitoring from air, sea, space 5/23/2017

Military Sealift Command missile range instrumentation ship USNS Invincible makes way during sea trials following a regularly scheduled yard period. The platform is designed to augment the U.S. Ballistic Missile Defense sensor network by providing target discrimination information to U.S. Strategic Command. (U.S. Navy photo by Tommy Chia)
The USNS Howard O. Lorenzen (T-AGM-25) passes Astoria, Ore., as it departs the Columbia River into the Pacific Ocean, May 16, 2014. The USNS Howard O. Lorenzen is named for the late Naval Research Laboratory electrical engineer who was instrumental in the creation of the electronic intelligence capabilities of the United States. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class David Mosley
The WC-135 Constant Phoenix sits on the runway at Patrick AFB, Fla., during a visit to the base where its main mission headquarters, the Air Force Technical Applications Center, is located. The specially-configured aircraft is equipped with external flow devices that allow special equipment operators to collect airborne particulates in support of the U.S. Atomic Energy Detection System in the event of a nuclear detonation. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)

By Susan A. Romano, AFTAC Public Affairs PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.
When the Department of Defense needs bombs on target or fighters in the air, they reach out to any number of flying wings within the Air Force to task their squadrons to accomplish that mission. Yet when they need near-real time data of potential nuclear detonations, to include ballistic missile detection, radioactive plume debris collection, seismic activity or gamma ray emissions, there is only one wing within DoD that can meet that need.

The Air Force Technical Applications Center is the sole organization in the Defense Department whose mission is to detect and report technical data from foreign nuclear explosions. One of the ways that mission is accomplished is through the efforts of Airmen assigned to AFTAC’s Technical Operations Squadron.

TOPS, under the command of Lt. Col. Donald W. Wittenberg, is responsible for conducting worldwide surveillance and reconnaissance missions using its maritime and airborne assets in order to provide national authorities with quality technical measurements that may involve nuclear weapons of mass destruction.

“My squadron of 11 officers, 14 enlisted and nine civilians directs and coordinates nuclear treaty monitoring efforts through the employment of the WC-135 Constant Phoenix aircraft as well as our two ship-borne radar platforms, Gray Star and Cobra King valued at more than $2.2 billion,” said Wittenberg. “These assets allow us to accurately monitor space, missile or weapons tests that may pose potential threats or hazards to our nation or our allies.”

Cobra King and Gray Star are state-of-the-art mobile radar systems that consists of S- and X-band radars that AFTAC relies on to provide global, high resolution, multi-wavelength radar data to the Missile Defense Agency and DoD’s strategic community.

“Essentially, each ship’s main job is to monitor any tests of rockets using her S-band and X-band radars. The S-band sensor sweeps vast expanses of sky for possible missiles in flight, while the X-band radar zeroes in to closely track a target,” Wittenberg explained.

According to the TOPS commander, both are capable of collecting radar data on orbiting satellites and tactical ballistic missiles. Each vessel consists of two radar systems and numerous support systems including automatic data processing equipment, navigation and a full communications suite.

“Their mobile instrumentation platforms are one-of-a-kind systems with extremely critical performance characteristics,” Wittenberg said. “The radar systems aboard USNS Invincible (Gray Star) and USNS Howard O. Lorenzen (Cobra King) allow us to execute our treaty monitoring responsibilities. But what makes it unique is the mission commander aboard these U.S. Navy ships is an Air Force company grade officer – an Airman assigned right here in TOPS. Traditionally, the MCs are captains from the space and missile career field and the combination of those skill sets really complement each other and enhance the understanding of foreign tests and capabilities.”

Typically, MCs will be at sea for 60 to 90 days at a time, with most officers going out to sea twice a year. During the last 12 months, TOPS has included nuclear missile officers with a 13N Air Force Specialty Code into the mix for leadership opportunities.

The mission commander’s ultimate responsibility is to ensure the platform team members are able to successfully collect mission data. In addition to daily mission taskings, the MC works closely with experts from Military Sealift Command to schedule port visits and develop a prioritized listing of necessary ship-related maintenance whenever the vessel is in port or at the shipyard.

From sea to air, Wittenberg’s Airmen are involved in nearly all aspects of AFTAC’s treaty monitoring responsibilities. The center’s airborne platform is an integral part of TOPS’ mission execution.

Commonly referred to by the media as a ‘sniffer plane,’ the WC-135 has been in the Air Force inventory since 1965 and currently supports the Limited Test Ban Treaty of 1963, which prohibits any nation from testing nuclear weapons above ground. The Constant Phoenix is the only aircraft in the USAF that conducts air sampling operations. The cockpit crews are from the 45th Reconnaissance Squadron at Offutt AFB, Neb., while the special equipment operators are from AFTAC’s Detachment 1, also at Offutt.

“The WC-135 flies in direct support of the U.S. Atomic Energy Detection System and maintains the most advanced atmospheric research equipment in the Air Force,” said Wittenberg. “The SEOs are highly proficient and well-trained to perform this complex mission. While we don’t discuss specific ongoing operational taskings as a matter of policy, my team has averaged more than 160 days of temporary duty or deployment over the past year flying background sorties to establish baseline levels of atmospheric debris. These Airmen are incredibly motivated to get the job done, no matter where in the world that job may be.”

He added, “We conduct these airborne sampling missions to help us understand what already exists in the atmosphere. We typically fly over the Indian Ocean, Mediterranean Sea, Bay of Bengal, the Polar Regions, the Far East, and off the coasts of South America and Africa to ensure signatories are adhering to established nuclear treaties. It’s a busy mission, and an incredibly invaluable one as well.”

TOPS is one of five squadrons within AFTAC’s wing structure, and the center’s commander had nothing but the highest of praise for Wittenberg and his Airmen.

“The Airmen of TOPS are truly just that – the tops at what they do,” said Col. Steven M. Gorski, AFTAC commander. “They are responsible for a critical link of information that has the potential to be up-channeled as high as the desk of the President of the United States, and that is a huge responsibility. They continuously demonstrate their expertise, sometimes under austere and exhausting conditions, and I couldn’t be more proud of them.”

Wittenberg matched his commander’s accolades.

“I am humbled to be a part of such a tight-knit team that takes pride in performing the mission,” he said. “From the youngest Airmen to the most senior civilian, I see an organization that cares for each other and epitomizes the Wingman ideals. Their professionalism and teamwork inspire me every day!”


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Recent Obituaries

Oscar E. "Oz" Nunn, Jr - 8/7/2017

Contacted by Rob West to Mike Steskal Pensacola, Monday, August 7, 2017, HARPER-MORRIS MEMORIAL CHAPEL. Published in Pensacola News Journal on Aug. 11, 2017. He is survived by his spouse Earline and 2 children. Rob West added: "He was stationed with the 1009th @ 14th and Constitution 1952-1956."

Joseph Amerena, MSgt USAF Retired - 8/14/2017

amerena.jpg Information received from Tina, Joe's Daughter, in an Email she sent to John Miner, which John then sent to Dale Klug.

"Joe has passed away...I am so sad to say. He went in the hospital Thursday, (Ed: 8/10), with a very bad infection. He was not able to beat it. I miss him already. Please inform his friends. You were so very important to him. Thank you for your valued friendship, Tina"

Dale Klug added: "I called Tina this morning, (Ed: 8/17),. She said Joe along with his wife, Jane, will be buried with full military honors in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (informally known as Punchbowl Cemetery) at Punchbowl Crater in Honolulu, Hawaii."

"Joe also was a US Marine Corps veteran who firmly believed "Once a Marine, Always a Marine" and ended his emails with "Semper Fi"."

Dale subsequently said: "Joe was at 1155/TOD from 1967 - 1999. His daughter will send me an obit when she gets one finalized with the info from the Punchbowl Cemetery."

John Joseph Anderson - 6/1/2017

johnanderson.jpg CMSgt (Ret) John Joseph Anderson, USAF, 88, of Carlisle, passed away on Thursday, June 1, 2017 at home.  He was born on March 8, 1929 in Bradford, and was a son of the late Otto R. and Margaret (Fullerton) Anderson.

John was a 1947 graduate of St. Bernard’s Parish School in Bradford.  He retired in 1975 from the US Air Force with the rank of Chief Master Sergeant with more than 25 years of service.  He served during the Korean War and Vietnam War and was awarded several honors and medals.  John was a member of St. Patrick Catholic Church, Carlisle, Toastmaster’s International, St. Patrick’s Parish Council, Knights of Columbus Council 4057 Assembly 2708 and the Air Force Association.

He is survived by his wife of 37 years, Evelyn H. (McDonald) Anderson, three sons; James M. (Mary) Anderson of Gaithersburg, MD, John T. (Lisa) Anderson of Statesville, NC and Robert C. Anderson of Satellite Beach, FL, two daughters; Lee F. (Mike) Bethel of Carlisle and Christy M. (Mike) Van Zant of Prescott, AZ, 6 grandchildren, 2 great-grandchildren and many nieces and nephews.  He was predeceased by one daughter, Lisa M. Anderson.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday, June 6, 2017 in the St. Patrick Catholic Church, 85 Marsh Dr., Carlisle, with Rev. William C. Forrey officiating.  Burial will follow in the St. Patrick’s New Catholic Cemetery, Carlisle, with military honors by Cumberland County Honor Guard.  A viewing will be held on Monday in the Father Welsh room in the Parish Activity Center from 6 – 8:00 p.m. with a Rosary Service at 7:30 p.m. and on Tuesday in the Church narthex from 9:30 a.m. until time of service.  Memorial contributions may be made to St. Patrick Council 4057 Foundation, P.O. Box 281, Carlisle, PA 17013.  Ewing Brothers Funeral Home, Carlisle, is in charge of the arrangements.

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SAGE SHOP Enter Sage Shop

The ordering information has been updated as follows:
Mail orders, unless otherwise instructed, to:

AFTAC Alumni Assn,
ATTN: Sage Shop, MSgt Travis Goll
Box 254892, Patrick AFB FL, 32925-0892

Phone 321-494-9489

Add $5.00 for shipping/handling of 1 Item & $1.50 for each additional. (no shipping cost for Logo pins)


Active Duty / AFTAC Alumni Association
Current Calendar of Events

Show Calendar

Review these events periodically. Many are designed for you. Plan to attend them if you can.

If there are any questions please email our Publicity Chairman, Sean Ryan

Elected Board

  • Ed Linsey
    Ed Lindsay
  • Jim Whidden
    Jim Whidden
    (Vice President)
  • Arlin Massey
    Arlin Massey
  • Head Outline
    Sean Ryan

Appointed Board

  • Chief Joseph
    CMSgt Michael Joseph
  • John Horsch
    John Horsch
    (AOY Coordinator and
    Post Monitor/Web)
  • Head Outline
    Mike Young
    (Hall of Heritage)
  • Bob Wiley
    Bob Wiley
    (Hall of Heritage)
  • Judy Henderson
    Judy Henderson
  • Frank Calenda
    Frank Calenda
    (Webpage Services)
  • Michael Steskal
    Michael Steskal
  • Sean Ryan
    Sean Ryan
  • OutlineofHead.png
    MSgt Travis Goll
    (Sage Shop)
AFTAC Symbol
'AFTAC Cares' for Deployed 3/15/2017 Posting. We have five deployed.
AFTAC Symbol


Recent 'Thank You's' (NOTE: date(s) below are posting date(s), not the date of the original email/letter):

07.14 Posting. Please tell the powers that be that I received my AFTAC Spouses care package and am very appreciative. Thanks, V/r Mike Myers, Capt, USAF

05.06 Posting. It’s already been three months!! I hope the next three fly by just as fast. Work is about the same, samples come in, we test them, instruments break down, I look tbaround for something to break, nothing is available, I eat chocolate, call another lab to get help, my lab techs take the instrument apart, everything magically starts working again, then we repeat the process. It’s lovely. So I might be exaggerating a little. We’ve really only had a couple of problems with instruments and to be honest it makes the day much more exciting when they break down. Being in Al Udeid is great, I basically get to experience all the advantages of being deployed without any of the disadvantages. Granted, I am excited to see plants again and have an air conditioning unit that doesn't blow clouds of dust everywhere but there are some definite bonuses. For example, last week we received several boxes of Girl Scout cookies and a cute note from the troops. The cookies were delicious! A couple of weeks ago I was off base with some of the other CGOs and discovered an amazing cupcake shop (which is actually called Amazing Cupcakes) and yes they taste just as good as they look. I wish I could fit the entire store in my suitcase. Last week I also had a chance to tour a B-1 with some other poor CGOs who (like me) hardly ever get to work with or even see planes. Hope everyone is doing well! --Jennie Wood


Contact AFTAC Spouses

In 2007 The AFTAC Spouses started 'AFTAC CARES,' a program to send 'care' packages to deployed AFTACers and family members/friends. Contact AFTAC Spouses for information.

Website Editor's Note: The Alumni Association actively supports 'AFTAC Cares' and asks that all Sages be involved. "Thank You's" are encouraged and can be sent to AFTAC Spouses.

AFTAC Spouses Notice: Help with the packing is appreciated. To contact the The AFTAC Spouses or the 'Calendar of Events', for date and location information. Feel free to send a 'Friend Request' or join the AFTAC Spouses Group by contacting AFTAC Spouses.


On February 2017, five care packages were sent to our deployed personnel containing many items suggested by those recently returning. Many packages have been sent since that time.

Some suggested items are, but not limited to:

  • Socks
  • Baby wipes
  • Gold Bond powder
  • Individual microwaveable brownies
  • Drink mixes

Magazines should be sent in a flat rate priority mail box. This ensures that the packages would proceed directly to the military member and not be held up in a processing center.

Other items should be small to keep the mailing costs down and should be items that are useful in a remote location and not frivolous (i.e. a minion doll)


We are continually in the process of preparing care packages and collecting the names and addresses of our deployed family members. Volunteer help is greatly appreciated.

Monetary donations, both mailed and in person, have been received and are very much appreciated. If mailing, please send them to the following:

AFTAC Alumni Association
P.O. Box 254892
Patrick AFB, FL 32925-0892

Mark them, 'AFTAC Cares Program,' and direct their use, if you desire. That PO Box is checked on a regular basis. If writing a check, please make out to Diane Widden since the spouses are not an official organization in any way. She will make sure the funds are used as you direct.