Posting of Our Memorial
Names - 9/4/2023
PSFB Current Status regarding Covid-19
AFTAC Memorial Corp
Updated 8/14
Calendar of Events
Updated 10/24/2023
Recent Additions
Additions (Blue),
Hot Topics (Red),
Upcoming Events (Green)
Mike Steskal's post-mortem examination results, provided by his sister Laura, indicate that he passed from a heart attack due to arterial blockage (Atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease). Obituary Posted. 4/12/2023
November Minutes Published 11/30/2023
Added Weekly notes from the Commander, 29 Nov 2023. This edition includes notification that December's first Friday has been canceled and there will be a Tech Expo on 6 December (see the note for details). Check it out from the Command Corner menu item on the left. 11/30/2023
The AFTAC Winter Social will be held at the Brevard Zoo on 8 December. Tickets must be purchased by 30 Nov. Alumni can purchase tickets based on their last active duty rank. Click for details! 11/24/2023 12/8/2023
Added Weekly note from the Commander, 21 Nov 2023. Check it out from the Command Corner menu item on the left. 11/24/2023
Added Weekly note from the Commander, 14 Nov 2023. Check it out from the Command Corner menu item on the left. 11/16/2023
Added Weekly note from the Commander, 7 Nov 2023. Check it out from the Command Corner menu item on the left. 11/9/2023
Checkout the DFAS Retiree Newsletter from our Special Links page or click here. SBP open seasons end 1 Jan 2024 and FEDVIP open seasons runs from 13 Nov - 11 Dec 2023. 10/2/2023 1/1/2024

Friday 8 December
11:30 - 12:30 Hrs
AFTAC Alumni Association Monthly General Membership and Teleconference Meeting
Beef O'Brady's
724 S Patrick Drive
Satellite Beach FL
Note: Please arrive at 11:00 if you desire to order food/beverages.
For Teleconference connectivity, please email
Ed Lindsay, AFTACAA President, at

Command Corner

Click on Document name at the left.


Finlayson.png Colonel James "Cobra" Finlayson is the Commander, Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick Space Force Base, Fla. AFTAC operates and maintains the United States Atomic Energy Detection System to monitor foreign compliance with various treaties limiting nuclear testing. The focus of AFTAC's more than 1,000 professionals is to detect special events in the atmosphere, underwater, underground, and in space to determine if they are nuclear and to report them to U.S. senior decision makers.

Colonel Finlayson received his commission in 1997 from the United States Air Force Academy. Prior to assuming command of the Department of Defense's sole nuclear treaty monitoring center, Colonel Finlayson was the Vice Commander of the 17th Training Wing at Goodfellow AFB, Texas, serving as the principal assistant to the Wing Commander and overseeing two training groups, a mission support group, and a medical group. He also directed 13 wing staff agencies and managed $1.5 billion in real property, equipment, supplies and contracts. Additionally, Colonel Finlayson served as the Chief of Staff, J2 Directorate for Intelligence, U.S. Strategic Command located at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska. Previous leadership assignments include serving as the Commander of National Air and Space Intelligence Center's Regional Threats Analysis Squadron and as the Director of Operations for U.S. Strategic Command's Joint Intelligence Operations Center. He has forward deployed on five occasions to Egypt, Qatar, Iraq, and Afghanistan in support of Operations Bright Star, Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.

1997 Bachelor of Science, History, U.S. Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, Colo.
2000 Professional Masters of Business Administration, Troy University, Troy, Alabama
2002 Squadron Officer's School, Maxwell AFB, Ala.
2006 Air Command and Staff College, by correspondence
2008 Juris Doctor, cum laude, Boyd School of Law, University of Nevada Las Vegas
2010 Air Command and Staff College, Maxwell AFB, Ala.
2011 Air War College, by correspondence
2016 Doctor of Philosophy, summa cum laude, Organizational Development and Leadership, University of the Rockies, Denver, Colo.

1. May 1997 - June 1998, Admissions Advisor, Directorate of Admissions, U.S. Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, Colo.
2. June 1998 - March 1999, Student, 315th Technical Training Squadron, Goodfellow AFB, Texas
3. March 1999 - May 2001, Chief, Intelligence, 9th Fighter Squadron, Holloman AFB, N.M.
4. May 2001 - December 2003, Command Briefer/Analyst, U.S. Central Command, Tampa, Fla.
5. December 2003 - January 2007, Flight Commander, 547th Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Squadron, Nellis AFB, Nev.
6. January 2007 - July 2009, Operations Officer, Functional Analysis Division, Security and Intelligence Directorate, U.S. Southern Command, Miami, Fla.
7. July 2009 - July 2010, Student, Air Command and Staff College, Maxwell AFB, Ala.
8. July 2010 - July 2012, Wing Senior Intelligence Officer, 35th Fighter Wing, Misawa Air Base, Japan
9. July 2012 - July 2015, Deputy Division Chief, Targeting, Joint Staff J2, Pentagon, Washington, D.C.
10. July 2015 - July 2017, Commander, Regional Threats Analysis Squadron, NASIC, WrightPatterson, Ohio
11. July 2017 - July 2018, Deputy Commander, 365th ISR Group, Nellis AFB, Nev.
12. July 2018 - July 2019, Director of Operations, U.S. Strategic Command, JIOC, Offutt AFB, Neb.
13. July 2019 - May 2020, Chief of Staff, J2 Directorate for Intelligence, U.S. Strategic Command, Offutt AFB, Neb.
14. May 2020 - May 2022, Vice Commander, 17th Training Wing, Goodfellow AFB, Texas
15. June 2022 - Present, Commander, Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick SFB, Fla.

May 2001 - December 2003, USCENTCOM, Tampa, Fla., as a captain
January 2007 - July 2009, USSOUTHCOM, Miami, Fla., as a major
July 2012 - July 2015, Joint Staff J2, Pentagon, Washington, D.C., as a lieutenant colonel
July 2019 - May 2020, USSTRATCOM, Offutt AFB, Neb., as a colonel

Defense Superior Service Medal
Legion of Merit
Defense Meritorious Service Medal with oak leaf cluster
Meritorious Service Medal with three oak leaf clusters
Joint Service Commendation Medal with two oak leaf clusters
Air Force Commendation Medal
Joint Service Achievement Medal
Air Force Achievement Medal

Second Lieutenant May 28, 1997
First Lieutenant May 28, 1999
Captain May 28, 2001
Major Dec. 1, 2006
Lieutenant Colonel March 1, 2012
Colonel Sept. 1, 2018
(Current as of June 2022)

Chief Jerome Wright Biography

CMS_Wright.png Chief Master Sergeant Jerome S. Wright is Command Chief, Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick Space Force Base, Fla., where he advises the AFTAC wing commander on matters concerning the readiness, utilization, training, morale and welfare of the 1,000-member center and its 14 detachments around the globe who support AFTAC's international nuclear treaty monitoring activities. AFTAC operates and maintains the United States Atomic Energy Detection System to monitor foreign compliance with various treaties limiting nuclear testing. AFTAC is also the designated U.S. laboratory system that provides technical support to the United Nations' International Atomic Energy Agency.

Chief Wright was born in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and raised in Virginia Beach, Va. He entered the Air Force in July of 2000. His background includes various duties in missile and space systems electronic maintenance, electronic systems security assessment, operations intelligence, and geospatial intelligence targeting career fields. He has deployed in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM, Operation IRAQI FREEDOM, Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, and Operation UNIFIED PROTECTOR. Prior to assuming his current position, Chief Wright was the superintendent and chief enlisted manager of the 11th Special Operations Intelligence Squadron, Hurlburt Field, Okaloosa County, Fla.

Education Chief Leadership Course, Gunter Annex-Maxwell Air Force Base, Montgomery, Ala. (2020)

Senior Enlisted Joint Professional Military Education II, Joint Forces Staff College, by correspondence (2019)

USAF Continuous Process Improvement Green Belt Course, Goodfellow Air Force Base, San Angelo, Texas (2017)

USAF Master Resilience Trainer Course, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, Burlington County, N.J. (2017)

USAF Senior Noncommissioned Officer Academy, Gunter Annex-Maxwell Air Force Base, Montgomery, Ala. (2016)

AETC Basic Instructor Course, Goodfellow Air Force Base, San Angelo, Texas (2015)

Bachelor of Science, Human Resource Management and Organizational Development, University of Maryland, College Park, Md. (2015)

Senior Enlisted ISR Master Skills Course, Goodfellow Air Force Base, San Angelo, Texas (2013)

Senior Enlisted Joint Professional Military Education, Joint Forces Staff College, by correspondence (2013)

Associates in Intelligence Studies and Technology, Community College of the Air Force, Montgomery, Ala. (2013)

Associates in Electronic Systems Technology, Community College of the Air Force, Montgomery, Ala. (2013)

Noncommissioned Officer Academy, Kapaun Air Station, Germany (2011)

Joint Battle Damage Assessment Course, Joint Targeting School, Va. (2010)

Collateral Damage Estimation Course, U.S. Army Garrison Heidelberg, Germany (2009)

Dynamics of International Terrorism, USAF Special Operations School (2007)

Information Warfare Application Course, Maxwell AFB, Ala. (2007)

Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) Maintenance Instructor Course, Francis E. Warren AFB, Wyo. (2005)

Airman Leadership School, Francis E. Warren AFB, Wyo. (2005)

Professional Experience
Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Commandant and Career Field Manager for Academy Military Trainers (8B200), Cadet Wing, U.S. Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, Colo. (Jan. 2021-Present)

Command Chief, Commandant of Cadets, U.S. Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, Colo. (Nov. 2020-Jan. 2021)

Superintendent, 11th Special Operations Intelligence Squadron, Hurlburt Field, Okaloosa County, Fla. (July 2019-Nov. 2020)

Operations Superintendent, 315th Training Squadron, Goodfellow Air Force Base, Tom Green County, Texas (July 2016-July 2019)

Course Chief, Advanced Targeting Courses, 315th Training Squadron, Goodfellow Air Force Base, Tom Green County, Texas (Oct. 2015-July 2016)

Superintendent, ISR Programs and Resources, HQ USAFE-AFAFRICA Intelligence Directorate, Ramstein Air Base, Germany; Acting Intelligence Inspector, HQ USAFE-AFAFRICA Inspector General, Ramstein Air Base, Germany (April 2015- Sept. 2015); (June 2013-October 2015)

Section Chief, Targeting and Imagery Support, 603rd Air & Space Operations Center, Ramstein Air Base, Germany (Feb. 2012-June 2013)

NCOIC, Tactical Assessment, 603rd Air & Space Operations Center, Ramstein Air Base, Germany; Dynamic Targeting Chief, NATO Combined Air Operations Center, Poggio Renatico, Italy (Aug. 2011-Nov. 2011); (Aug. 2009-Feb. 2012)

NCOIC, Dynamic Targeting, 603rd Air & Space Operations Center, Ramstein Air Base, Germany; Shift NCOIC, Targeting Cell, Combined Air & Space Operations Center, Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar (June 2009-Dec. 2009); (June 2008-August 2009)

Student, Operations Intelligence Course, 315th Training Squadron, Goodfellow Air Force Base, Tom Green County, Texas (Oct. 2007-June 2008)

Electronic System Security Assessment Analyst, 68th Information Operations Squadron, Brooks-City Base, San Antonio, Texas (Oct. 2006-Oct. 2007)

Instructor, ICBM Electro-Mechanical Team, 90th Maintenance Operations Squadron, Francis E. Warren Air Force Base, Cheyenne, Wyo. (May 2005-Oct. 2006)

Team Chief, ICBM Electro-Mechanical Team, 90th Missile Maintenance Squadron, Francis E. Warren Air Force Base, Cheyenne, Wyo. (Jan. 2004-May 2005)

Technician, ICBM Electro-Mechanical Team, 90th Missile Maintenance Squadron, Francis E. Warren Air Force Base, Cheyenne, Wyo. (April 2001-Jan. 2004)

Student, Missile and Space System Electronic Maintenance Course, 532nd Training Squadron, Vandenberg Air Force Base, Lompoc, Cal. (Nov. 2000-March 2001)

Student, Electronic Principles Course, 344th Training Squadron, Lackland Air Force Base, San Antonio, Texas (Aug. 2000-Nov. 2000)

Trainee, Basic Military Training, 324th Training Squadron, Lackland Air Force Base, San Antonio, Texas (July 2000-Aug. 2000)

Honors & Awards
Meritorious Service Medal with two oak leaf clusters
Joint Service Commendation Medal
Air Force Commendation Medal with one oak leaf cluster
Air Force Achievement Medal with one oak leaf cluster
Army Achievement Medal
Air & Space Campaign Medal
Nuclear Deterrence Operations Service Medal with 'N' device
Air Force Expeditionary Service Ribbon with Gold Border
Air Force Special Duty Ribbon
NATO Medal

Air Force Association Active Duty SNCO of the Year, State of Texas winner (2018)

AETC Training Support SNCO of the Year, 17th Training Wing (2017)

National Image Inc., Meritorious Service Award, 17th Training Wing (2017)

Blacks in Government Meritorious Service Award, 17th Training Wing (2017)

National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency Senior Enlisted of the Year Award, AETC (2016)

SNCO of the Year, HQ USAFE-AFAFRICA (2014)

AF ISR Awards Program SNCO of the Year, HQ USAFE-AFAFRICA Intelligence Directorate (2013)

Distinguished Graduate Award, Operations Intelligence Course, Goodfellow Air Force Base, Texas (2008)

AETC Commander's Top Graduate Award, Operations Intelligence Course, Goodfellow Air Force Base, Texas (2008)

Academic Achievement Award, Airman Leadership School, F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyo. (2005)

Note from the Commander
By Col. James "Cobra" Finlayson

Greetings to all the AFTAC giants out there, past and present! I'm thrilled to have been asked to contribute a few words to your newsletter, especially since I have heard so much about your legacy, the alumni association as a whole, and your continued efforts to stay engaged with the workforce in a variety of ways.

I believe the Post Monitor editors are including my official biography in this quarter's newsletter, so I won't bore you with the details of my past military assignments, education and job titles. What my bio doesn't cover is something I like to refer to as "Cobra's Countdown" - sort of a list of rules to live by based on my philosophy of being a commander and an Air Force leader. I attribute a lot of who I am to how I was raised and where I came from. I was born in Heidelberg, Germany. My dad was an Army Warrant Officer, and like all military families, we moved around a lot. I call El Paso, Texas home since I graduated from Austin High School in 1993, and from there I was fortunate enough to attend the U.S. Air Force Academy. I spent the next 25-plus years traveling the world, applying my skills, contributing to the DOD mission, and meeting incredible people along the way. When I first sat down with my staff here at AFTAC, I relayed four parts of Cobra's Countdown: contact, initiative, communication, and balance. Pretty simple stuff when you boil it down, and I find that keeping things simple is a big key to success. Contact. I like to walk around a lot and ask questions. I'm inquisitive by nature, and I think one of the best ways to learn is to ask the experts about what they do, how they do it, and why it matters. I love learning new things every day!

Initiative. Quite frankly, the best ideas most often come from the bottom up, not from the top down. All too often I think senior leaders lose sight of that concept. As General Colin Powell aptly said, "Never let your ego get so close to your position that when your position goes, your ego goes with it." Communication. It is crucial! We live in a world where a constant stream of information - more like a GLUT of info - comes at us every hour of every day, whether it's email, texts, online messages, Tweets, Facebook posts, phone calls, or breaking news on TV. It's always coming at us. But I am a firm believer that communication should be tailored to ensure the person receiving needs it at that moment in time, or if it can wait.

Balance. As the saying goes, your personal life will long outlast your Air Force career, so it's important to make sure your life is in balance. I imagine those reading this are long since retired from active duty, and you know this saying better than most! Having a career is great, but having a balanced family life is even better.

And speaking of family life, I am blessed to be married to my amazing wife, Kristen, and we have two beautiful daughters together - Aurora and Audrey. They are the ones who bring balance to my life! I hope that gives you a little insight about me, and I'm looking forward to meeting you at one of the many AFTAC functions that our great alumni support during the year. Be sure to make a point of introducing yourself - I want to shake the hands of all the legends who are the foundation of AFTAC's continued success. Thanks for all you do to make our center better! Cheers,

Commander's Weekly Note for 26 Oct 23
By Col. James "Cobra" Finlayson

Greetings, Team AFTAC! It is going to be a wild next couple of weeks with the events going on and visitors planned. We are currently hosting the AFTAC Mission Summit with over 400 people attending! It is an amazing opportunity for organizations to come to us to see the great work and capabilities that you all provide as well as a chance to build those lanes for further collaboration. Although everyone could not be here to attend, we wanted to ensure that you all had the opportunity to listen in on some the discussions that are going on. For all Green Badgers, if you have time in your day, look to come to the auditorium and watch the broadcast.

Our AFTACer of the week is Mr. Austin Hale from Strategic Integration's Exploitation and Development Branch. Austin is the Senior Technician at SIME's Rapid Development Shop at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station (CCSFS). Hailing from Eua Gallie FL, by way of Barboursville WV, then back to Brevard County, Austin joined AFTAC in 2013. Before AFTAC, Austin spent 7 years as a fish pathology technician at an aquaculture facility, 13 years as an Associate Scientist at a microbiology research laboratory, 5 years as a Lead Field Biologist with a biofuel startup company, and 1 summer driving an oil rig supply boat in the Gulf of Mexico. Over these years, Austin did plenty of field work that took him from the back trails of Florida to Suriname. Since joining AFTAC, Austin has worked in the CRL, TMS, and now SI. For SI in 2019, Austin took an abandoned and dilapidated building at CCSFS, Bldg. 1069, and helped create a multi-purpose rapid development facility that can take a project all the way from whiteboard to prototype. His role as the "building super" for 1069 is multifaceted and includes project work and oversight of the building's EESOH-MIS, Hazardous Waste, and Safety Programs. We are lucky to have him as part of SI!

I would like to give a warm welcome back to 1st Lt Ashley Parker (24th ANS) who recently returned from a 6-month deployment supporting a joint command. While there, she served as a lead analyst on a joint staff providing scientific insight into adversary WMD programs. Her hard work reinforced AFTAC's relationships with the operational community and has forged new ones as well. We are glad to have you back, and I look forward to seeing you around the building!

709 CYS and all of AFTAC would like to welcome home A1C Patrick Madeira! He is returning from a 6 month deployment in Southwest Asia.

Ms. Kelly Hartley and Dr. Brent Matteson of the Harkins Laboratory Complex led chemistry demonstrations to 250 students from Timberview Middle School over the weekend in Colorado Springs. They were also able to set up a solar telescope that allowed everyone to safely view the recent solar eclipse. If you unfortunately missed this solar eclipse, there will be another opportunity on April 24, 2024, for those in United States to see it again!

TSgtMauldin1.jpg TSgtMauldin2.jpg
The CIL also said goodbye to TSgt Mauldin as he transitions to the 23rd ANS. TSgt Mauldin was a primary driver of many data science and process improvement efforts over the past few years. We may be sad to see him go but it is certain that he will excel in his new position and bring great things to the 23d.

On Friday, the IG office also held a going away lunch for TSgt Varvel before he heads off to start his SkillBridge and new career. Following SkillBridge, TSgt Varvel will be returning to Tucson, Arizona to join the Air National Guard as a Remotely Piloted Aircraft pilot. Thank you for the work you have given to AFTAC and best of luck in your new career and new mission!

I had the privilege to coin Mr. Sean Phillips, A1C Kyle Malston (CYS), Mr. Tyler Bailey, Mr. Paul Huffman, and Mr. Tadaichi Milburn (SPTS) for their efforts in the IRT office Standup! Their planning, coordinating, and installation of network accesses were instrumental in ensuring our IRT office has the resources necessary to take care of our AFTAC family!

TSgt Jeffery Stokes was coined by Col Brow, 709 SAG Commander, for a TS phone outage. Through his quick thinking, TSgt Stokes was able to turn a 5 day outage into 5 minutes! Thank you for ensuring that we can continue to have clear comms with our external partners, and great work! A combination of 40 total 709 TMXS Materials Maintenance Team Krakens, CCSD Depot-level personnel, and contractors gathered 17-19 October for the first Materials Technical Interchange Meeting since 2019 at CCSD in San Antonio, TX. The group discussed several hot button materials maintenance updates and best practices, solidifying their continued amazing support to AFTAC's key missions!

The Bi-annual AFTAC Alumni Golf n'Get Together may have been delayed a couple weeks ago, but we were able to push through and hold this event last Friday at the Manatee Golf Course. There was a great turnout with 23 teams, 92 people, enjoying the beautiful fall Florida weather, and Chief Wright and I were able to meet with many of the players before they set off on their rounds. Thank you to the Tides catering staff for providing the food for the players, and thank you to Chief (ret) Ed Lindsay, the Alumni group, and all of our volunteers for putting on this fun, successful event.

This Friday we have another great opportunity to get outside, unwind, and enjoy some more friendly competition at the AFTAC Fall Picnic and Toilet Bowl at the Viera Regional Park! There will be plenty of activities including corn hole, pick-up ultimate frisbee, and, of course, soft ball. The playground and pumpkin painting will be available for the kids, so bring out the whole family. I can't wait to see everyone there!



Commander, AFTAC
Patrick Space Force Base, FL
W: (321) 494-2334
DSN: 854-2334

Commander's Weekly Note for 01 Nov 23
By Col. James "Cobra" Finlayson

Howdy Team AFTAC!

A very Happy belated Halloween and now a Happy Day of the Dead to one and all! Once again, AFTAC has shown we know how to play as hard as we work with the amazing costumes yesterday and Friday's Fall Fest. A great turn out and amazing weather. Congratulations to the team of SI & SD on taking this year's prize! Kudos to Capt Jorge Colon Soto (709 CYS), Mr. Joseph "Brandon" Taylor (SD), Capt Kai Billings (22 SURS), SSgt Dawnika Jones (22 SURS), and their team for organizing Friday's Fall Fest and Fall Toilet Bowl.

ToiletBowl3_2023.jpg ToiletBowl1_2023.jpg ToiletBowl2_2023.jpg

The AFTAC Mission Summit took place 24-25 October at NGA Washington in Springfield, VA. This strategic posture review and technical road mapping included capability briefings against key elements of the AFTAC vision statement as well as discussion panels comprised of stakeholders around the community. The event was attended by 350 people from over 40 different organizations. Special thanks to Lt Col Scott Carlin (SD) and Ms. Kristina Unis (709 SAG) for organizing the Logistics and Mission Advancement committees and assisting the ST Office in expanding the AFTAC R&D Forum into the AFTAC Mission Summit.

Our AFTACer of the week is Capt Abdel Barka, a chaplain assigned to AFTAC. Although originally from Benin Republic in West Africa, Capt Barka embraced Alexandria, Virginia, as his hometown where he has melded his rich cultural heritage with the essence of the American Life. His assignment to AFTAC sets him apart as the first embedded Chaplain ever since its activation in 1959. With Chaplain Barka's extraordinary life journey of surviving immense trauma and hardship, he now devotes himself to helping Airmen and Guardians find their own strength and resilience. His personal story is a powerful source of inspiration, providing a beacon of hope for those who have faced adversity and hardship. Chaplain Barka exemplifies the transformative power of faith and determination, proving that even in the face of darkness, one can find light and purpose. Through his compassionate guidance and unwavering support, he empowers Airmen and Guardians to overcome their own challenges and emerge stronger. His dedication to helping our military forces build resilience is a profound testament to the indomitable nature of the human soul and the healing power of sharing one's own journey to inspire and uplift others.

The AFTAC Mission Orientation is hosted at Patrick SFB every 6 months to educate mission partners about our capabilities and efforts. Strategic Integration Relationships Branch (SIRR) successfully executed the Fall 2023 AMO from 17-20 October. 60 external mission partners, to include four distinguished visitors, from 31 agencies across the world attended the 4-day event that provided 28 briefings starting with AFTAC's traditional mission and then diving into details of the different mission areas across the Center. AMO included a Tuesday evening social attended by 55 visitors and AFTACers, and the event concluded with a tour of Cape Canaveral's Historic site attended by 35 partners. Participants provided overwhelming positive feedback that the event was a success, and they look forward to future interactions in the operational and R&D arenas. A special shout-out to the entire SIRR and 2Lt Olga Zubak (CIL) for making this vital event another success!

On Thursday, 26 October, the Space Coast Chiefs' Group hosted their annual golf tournament at the Manatee Cove Golf Course. Over 20 teams attended and the AFTAC Weather folks provided great weather, albeit a little more wind than optimal. The scores were low, and spirits were high! Proceeds from this event will be used by the Chiefs' Group to sponsor various events across base including the SNCO Induction Ceremony, Chief Induction Ceremony, and Junior Enlisted Appreciation Day to name a few. Thank you to everyone who participated!

Congratulations to Capt's Matthew McGuire (22 SURS), Dylan Kelly (SI), and Patrick Flynn (TMXS) on successful completion of Squadron Officer School (SOS). Graduates of SOS return to their units with an enhanced understanding of institutional competencies, leadership actions, and key elements of reasoning required to fly, fight, and win in the 21st Century. Capt Flynn was recognized as a Distinguished Graduate, placing him among the top 10% of all SOS students in his class. Well done to all of you!

The Aces are happy to announce that SrA Michael Smith (709 SPTS/CCQ) and his wife Destiny welcomed their baby boy, Alijah Maveric Smith on 21 October. Alijah weighed in at 8 lb. 12 oz and measured at 20 inches long. Baby and mother are doing well!

This Saturday morning (Friday night)/4 Nov 23 @ 0145 will be the final Honor Flight of 2023; the next flight will not be until April 2024. All AFTAC employees are welcome and encouraged to come out to speak with/meet a Veteran of The Korean War or Vietnam War; come out to show your support of them and the sacrifices they made which allow us to enjoy the freedoms we often take for granted. Military members are reminded to be in uniform. Questions can be directed to either Mr. Callan (A1M) or SMSgt Gould (709 CYS).

Today we are hosting Brig Gen Jonathan Rice IV, the Director of ISR Operations, for a mission immersion. His office oversees the development of future ISR concepts and capabilities, and we can show him the importance of our no-fail mission. In two weeks, we will be hosting Gen Anthony Cotton (USSTRATCOM/CC) and his SEL SgtMaj Howard Kreamer on 16 Nov, and there will be an AFTAC All Call at 1530 in the AFTAC Auditorium for us to hear from Gen Cotton. These are two great opportunities for AFTACers to communicate our specialties and impacts with the higher commands.

Thank you all for all the amazing work you accomplish on and off site!



Commander, AFTAC
Patrick Space Force Base, FL
W: (321) 494-2334
DSN: 854-2334

Commander's Weekly Note for 07 Nov 23
By Col. James "Cobra" Finlayson

Howdy Team AFTAC!

I am currently attending the Fall 16AF Senior Leadership Summit (SLS) down in San Antonio. From the last 16AF SLS in May, I came back with some great insight from Lt Gen Kennedy and shared a key point about his focus on messaging and audience. We have our internal audience, the American audience, and our adversaries. It is important to be able to form the message properly, and I see that daily as I hear back from the various visitors that we host each week. I look forward to sharing more great insight when I return.

Last week we had the privilege of hosting Brig Gen Rice, Director of ISR Operations, here at AFTAC. He was greatly impressed by the knowledge and strategies we have for bringing this Center into the future in regard to our data strategy and what that means for this global, 24/7 no-fail mission. He was extremely vocal in asking how he can help us, and because of you all, we made that message clearer than ever. Keep up the great work!

In our effort to support SLD 45, Brig Gen Kristin Panzenhagen (SLD 45/CC) will be in the building for the rest of the week for various meetings in our shared spaces with SLD 45. She is being escorted by Mr. Thomas Lovell (SLD 45/GSSO) when in the building.

Our AFTACer of the Week is SSgt Nam Tran, who has just joined the 23d Analysis Squadron after returning stateside in October from a Short Tour at a mission critical, foreign partner essential 709th TMXS Detachment in South Korea! Nam has excelled in training to become one of the DoDs newest US Nuclear Detonation Detection System satellite technique Alert Officers. He has strived to ensure the highest level of personal scientific and technical understanding in his role as a Space Data Analyst in a mission where his peers are Ph.D. researchers and Senior DAF Civilians. While in the Republic of Korea, SSgt Nam was an essential member of a 5-member global maintenance element as the lead trainer for his team while also responsible for training a contingent of 32 joint mission partner operators. His efforts directly assured a 96% uptime for a $42M surveillance network, which provided unique AFTAC nuclear surveillance capabilities for CCMDs, USG Senior Leaders, and international counterproliferation regime partners alike. The 23d welcomes SSgt Tran as our newest Raven!

Col Chris Lundy (709 SPTG/CC) and the 709 TMXS command triad of Lt Col Emily Pollard, CMSgt Matthew Wilkens, and MSgt John Sheffield visited Detachment 421 in Alice Springs, Australia. The team met with three US and Australian government partners, enjoyed a recreational hike with the det's dependents, and went out to see two equipment sites in the array. They surveyed one of the test sites for installing solar power and cellular communications upgrades that will improve data reliability and reduce technical maintenance requirements. After driving off road vehicles across treacherous terrain to the site with the highest elevation, the team hiked further up to the top of the ridgeline for a scenic overlook of the Australian outback. 421Brennan1.jpg 421Brennan2.jpg 421Brennan3.jpg With that vista as the backdrop, Lt Col Pollard presented TSgt Beau Brennan (709 TMXS/Det 421) with the Air and Space Achievement Medal for his swift actions on 13 June 2023 when he directed efforts to save Det 421 from catastrophic damage threatened by a raging bush fire that was approaching satellite dishes and a facility worth over $1M.

Last week Mr. Dave Burns (CIL) chaired the 66th Annual Radiobioassay and Radiochemical Measurements Conference (RRMC) located in West Palm Beach, FL. Also in attendance from the CIL were Dr. Richard Reich, Ms. Samantha Borny, Ms. Stephanie Thorpe, 2Lt Olga Zubak, (S)Sgt Dale George, and SrA Lloyd Sloan. They represented AFTAC well in the radiochemistry community! Additionally, Ms. Julia Ignacek (SI) provided the Keynote address at the RRMC. Her keynote was titled "Technology Transition – Navigating the Complexities," and was to an audience of 180 attendees across academia and various agencies in the United States Government (USG). The keynote set out to answer 3 questions: 1) Why is technology transition so important to the USG? 2) Why is technology transition so difficult? and 3) What are we at AFTAC doing to navigate those complexities? Her address was met with broad excitement and several of the DOE National Lab participants in attendance said they wished they had heard her message before submitting proposals to AFTAC because they would have modified their proposals to address those questions and how their technologies would close operational needs.

460ArticCrusaders.jpg In the regions of Alaska some AFTACers are already well into winter while those at AFTAC HQ are enjoying the more comfortable temperatures often seen this time of year. A1C Austin Wilmoth (709 TMXS/Det 460) configured a digitizer in the Eielson Seismic Array (ILAR) in late October 2023. The "Arctic Crusaders" at Det 460 battle the elements and operate offroad equipment like UTVs and snowmachines through the long Alaskan winter to keep ILAR's 20-sensor array operational and data flowing to National and International Data Centers (NDC/IDC).

Last week Lt Col Adam Ross and Lt Blake Hohman (23 ANS) supported the University of Florida, ROTC Detachment 150 at their annual Carrer Day in Gainesville, Florida. Along with 16 other active duty Airmen across numerous AFSCs, Lt Col Ross and Lt Hohman mentored over 80 cadets and potential future officers on topics related to their career fields, roles and responsibilities at AFTAC, experiences in past assignments, personal and professional advice as an officer, and other general Air Force topics. The event was a great success and was thoroughly enjoyed by all.

Congratulations again to TSgt Stephen Schaefer (709 CYS) and the entire 709 CYS for being the firsts in AFTAC history to be selected as DAF finalists for the individual and organizational categories of the 2022 Frank B. Rowlett Awards. Good luck to them as they represent the Air Force at the inter-agency level - winners to be announced tomorrow, 8 November!

Over the weekend, the Space Coast Honor Flight honored 30 more war heroes from WWII, Korea, and Vietnam as they traveled to Washington, DC to visit the Nation's Memorials in the last Honor Flight of 2023 until they resume in April 2024. Capt Jorge Colon (709 CYS) represented the Officers and SMSgt Deborah GilillandSwartz (709 SPTS) spoke on behalf of the Enlisted. Of note, there were over 20 motorcycles from 3 different Veteran-affiliated bikers' groups. As we prepare for Veteran's Day, be on the lookout for an event near and dear to me: "Resiliency thru the eyes of two Vietnam War heroes". RADM (Ret) Hart, President of the Space Coast Honor Flight is also attending. The event will be on Friday, 17 Nov 23 from 1100-1200 in the Heritage Room; a flyer is forthcoming.

2Lt Christian Moody (SI) recently returned from the Air Force Fundamentals of Acquisition Management (FAM) course at Wright-Patterson AFB. FAM is a 14-day Initial Skills Training course for military and civilian acquisition professionals. This course provides a foundational understanding for basic project management skills and an overview of Air Force/DoD acquisitions. We are proud to welcome 2Lt Moody into our Acquisition Workforce!

A1CParkins.jpg Welcome home A1C Aidan Parkins he returned from a 6-month deployment to Southwest Asia.

26Oct2023Golf.jpg The scores were low and spirits high at the annual golf tournament hosted by the Space Coast Chief's Group on 26 October. An add-on to last week's inputs is that the team of TSgt Jeffrey Stokes, TSgt Jamaar Meadows, SrA Brody Connon, and SrA Xavier Valencia (709 CYS) scored the lowest. Congratulations to this team of Cyberknights for coming in 1st place.

I know many of you will be preparing for your unit's Thanksgiving Potluck next week. While you all prepare to gather with your fellow members and convey what you are thankful for, here are some events next week occurring in the AFTAC Auditorium. On 15 November, we will be hosting the 363 ISRW for their Wing Leadership Summit and providing them with AFTAC insight. The next day we will be hosting Gen Anthony Cotton (USSTRATCOM/CC) and his CSEL SgtMaj Howard Kreamer, and there will be an AFTAC All Call at 1530 in Auditorium for us to hear from Gen Cotton. We are working on a VTC option for those who cannot attend in person. Be on the lookout for more information on this. Afterwards on 17 November, we will host our 3d Quarter Town Hall and Awards Ceremony at 1400 to celebrate all of you for efforts achieved since August's Town Hall.

Finally, please remember that Veteran's Day is coming up on Saturday, 11 November with the associated holiday being observed on Friday the 10th. Please take this time to thank all Veterans, past and present, for their service to this nation. I hope you all have a fantastic long weekend when it arrives.



Commander, AFTAC
Patrick Space Force Base, FL
W: (321) 494-2334
DSN: 854-2334

Commander's Weekly Note for 14 Nov 23
By Col. James "Cobra" Finlayson

Howdy Team AFTAC!

I am currently attending the Fall ACC Conference along with Chief Wright. From the 16AF SLS last week, I shared the importance of resiliency, mission, and retainment. Let's make sure each of us are taking the time to focus on our personal resiliency and giving our people the opportunity to do the same, especially during the holiday season. When we make the effort to take care of each other, we can come back stronger and work together at our best - as one team fighting one fight.

For those who still need to complete DEOCS for your units, be sure to express what you are thankful for in your culture as well as what your leaders can do better. The survey is a very important part of our feedback loop to ensure AFTAC's culture and work environment are optimized to enable superior mission accomplishment.

Our AFTACer of the Week is SrA Tamir Manson! He is a Client Systems Technician assigned to the 709th Cyberspace Squadron (CYS). Tamir was born and raised in the city of brotherly love, Philadelphia. Growing up he was constantly moving around to different schools and ended up going to Cheltenham High school. SrA Manson joined the Air Force because of the opportunities it gives to those who serve. His goals in life are to further his education, have a family, and mentor/lead Airmen as an NCO one day. He excelled during his 1-year stint with Patrick-Cape Honor Guard conducting details all over Florida. He even travelled to Jamaica and the Virgin Islands. As an AFTAC Service Desk technician, he is responsible for delivering communication support for all 1.2K AFTACers across 4 networks, ensuring data collection for the DoD's sole nuclear monitoring mission, safeguarding 3.6K sensors across 33 countries. Recently he went to Nellis AFB in support of the Red Flag Exercise and gained a great deal of experience of military/Air Force life outside of AFTAC. He worked with the host base Communications Squadron to provide communications support for air-combat training pilots and crews.

SSgt Tazmin James (709 CYS) also returned from a TDY to Nellis AFB in support of the Red Flag Exercise. Red Flag is a two-week advanced aerial combat training exercise held several times a year. It aims to offer realistic air-combat training for military pilots and other flight crew members from the United States and allied countries.

TM2CNC.png The 709th SPTS Machine Shop took delivery of a Haas TM2 CNC Milling center this week. The asset was a lateral transfer from Moody AFB and will provide a modernized update to the sections machining capability. The transfer was made possible by TSgt Justin Morris in coordination with our logistics flight, the 45th LRS and Moody's 23rd LRS. This modernized piece of equipment will replace the section's older CNC milling center and provide new manufacturing capabilities with nearly double the part size capacity. In further collaboration with the Patrick SFB equipment accountability element and the 920th Reserve Wing, the older CNC milling center will not be wasted as it has been transferred to the 920th Metals Technology Section, providing a much-needed update to their aging equipment fleet.

Huge kudos again to the 709 CYS and Cyber Knight TSgt Stephen Schaefer for making AFTAC history last week by being DAF finalists and winners of the 2022 Frank B. Rowlett Awards for the Individual and Organizational Categories! The Frank B. Rowlett Award is a national-level award administered by NSA for government individuals and organizations whose efforts have significantly enhanced the advancement of Cybersecurity in security-related areas. The Frank B. Rowlett Trophy for Organizational Achievement is awarded to the federal government organization that makes the most significant contributions to the improvement of national cybersecurity; operational cybersecurity readiness; or the defensive cybersecurity operations posture of the United States.

SSgt Daniel Felipe (709 SPTS) was selected as SLD 45's TOP III Superior Performer for the month of September (selection occurs on the 3rd week of each month for the prior month). He was selected over his peers amongst 74 units throughout the greater Space Coast region for his exceptional performance during the month of September when he was deployed in support of the Center's WC-135R PACOM mission. While in in the AOR, SSgt Felipe provided critical logistical expertise to the team ensuring uninterrupted operations for the duration of the deployment. Additionally, he forward deployed due to a local Typhoon and directed the local Transportation office at Yokota AB for the buildup and shipment of spheres back to the states. Omedetou, SSgt Feilpe!

Congratulations to Mr. Jose Zavala and TSgt Nicholas Glutz (709 TMXS) on completing the Center's First Sergeants Symposium hosted by the Patrick Professional Development Center from 23 - 27 October! Mr. Zavala and TSgt Glutz learned first-hand the roles and responsibilities of a First Sergeant, how to take care of Airmen, and the resources used to do so. They tackled numerous administrative subjects and learned the importance of thinking situations through, paying attention to all possible outcomes, and understanding they may have to make career-defining choices. They took part in seminars on leadership, communication, teamwork, and decision-making, all of which was bolstered by exercises and workshops. We look forward to the new ways that you will be able to help the Center and your Airmen in the future!

Congratulations to MSgt Lucas Klodt and MSgt Zachary Arbuckle (709 SPTS) on completing the AFTAC Senior Enlisted Leader (SEL) Symposium that was held on 30 October - 03 November! MSgt Klodt and MSgt Arbuckle walked away with leadership tools they need to successfully accomplish the mission, develop Airmen, and provide support to the families as they fill-in as SELs or become future SELs.

Congratulations to 2d Lt Olga Zubak (CIL) for completing the Nuclear Policy Course at the Defense Nuclear Weapons Schoolhouse. The course covered the evolution of US Nuclear Policy as well as deterrence theories/strategies against our major adversaries.

The Unicorns and Phoenixes are happy to announce that Dr. Andrew Giminaro (24 ANS) and Mrs. Farrar Giminaro (21 SURS) welcomed their baby girl, Lucille Giminaro on 4 November. Lucille weighed in at 7 lbs. Baby and mother are both doing well!

As we gather with our units this week or next to give thanks at a Thanksgiving Potluck, here are few things I am thankful for. I am proud to be the commander of this establishment and conquer the many challenges we face with high-caliber aptitude. We have been able to demonstrate our expertise and capabilities to the numerous visitors throughout the year. This Thursday we have the opportunity to engage with Gen Anthony Cotton (USSTRATCOM/CC) and his CSEL SgtMaj Howard Kreamer along with the team he brings, and then we are hosting an All Call for him at 1530 in the AFTAC auditorium. This is a prodigious chance for us to create better coordination with STRATCOM and hear how our no-fail mission truly provides a combatant command with crucial strategic information for our National Defense.

I am also thankful for the tremendous support AFTAC has shown at the Honor Flights this past year. In total, we were able to honor 178 war heroes from WWII, Korean War, and Vietnam War. It was a true experience to be a Guardian for the October Honor Flight, and I encourage more leaders to become Guardians and members to continue expressing AFTAC support when Honor Flights resume in 2024. And it is with distinct pleasure that I will be hosting RADM (Ret) Jim Hart, President of Space Coast Honor Flight, and two Vietnam War heroes who volunteered to come in for a Q&A about the difficulties, challenges, and extreme wartime situations during and after the Vietnam War. This will occur Friday from 1100 - 1200 in the Heritage Hall. Be on the lookout for the flyer in the Wednesday Weekly for more information. I encourage all to come out and hear first-hand testimonies from these American Heroes.

Lastly, I am thankful for the resiliency of our members and the esprit de corps we show at events throughout the year. AFTACers sure can play as hard as we work, and when unfortunate accidents do happen, the AFTAC family rallies together and truly expresses the support our members need and deserve. Whether its individual flights/divisions or squadrons/staffs or groups/directorates competing for the pride of their own units, our members sure can show fierce competitive spirt for the Cobra Cup, but they also make cooperative coalitions for the mission, the community, and for the AFTAC family. I know several of you have Thanksgiving potlucks this Friday but let us all come together as a Center for my 3rd Quarter Town Hall and Awards Ceremony at 1400 in the AFTAC auditorium. We will highlight many individuals, teams, and accomplishments since August.



Commander, AFTAC
Patrick Space Force Base, FL
W: (321) 494-2334
DSN: 854-2334

Commander's Weekly Note for 21 Nov 23
By Col. James "Cobra" Finlayson


Last Thursday we had the amazing opportunity to have the Commander, Command Senior Listed Leader, and J3 Director of USSTRATCOM all under the AFTAC roof. Gen Cotton was very familiar with the core AFTAC mission and capabilities having been the 45 Space Wing Commander from 2011-2013, but he was blown away by the direction you all have taken this Center since then. He was able to clearly see the value that the AFTAC enterprise could bring not only to his mission, but to the DoD enterprise as a whole. Congratulations to the following AFTACers for their recognition by Gen Cotton on the impactful work that they have been doing and also to those acknowledged by SgtMaj Kreamer on their outstanding accomplishments. See the 16 AF Article here.

Coined by Gen Cotton
1st Lt Blake Hohman (23 ANS)
Mr. Jared Stein (22 SURS)
Mr. Christopher Wolfe (21 SURS)
Mr. Leslie Moore (23 ANS)
2d Lt Piper Gray (CIL)

Coined by SgtMaj Kreamer
SSgt Rohan Deb (21 SURS)
SrA Alexander Carey (22 SURS)
Amn Robert Blibo (709 CYS)

And big kudos for the amazing work by Capt Bryan Egner (21 SURS), Capt Gregory Egger (24 ANS), and their entire team in coordinating and putting together this visit! I am honored to announce the AFTAC 3Q23 Award Winners:
Airman: SrA Christian Padilla (709 TMXS)
NCO: SSgt Kyle Carpenter (21 SURS/Det 1)
SNCO: SMSgt Manuel Campo (709 TMXS/Det 402)
CGO: Capt Adam Bordeau (709 SPTG/Det 1)
FGO: Maj Nathaniel Anderson (22 SURS/Det 45)
CAT I: Mr. Michael Kim (709 SPTS)
CAT II: Mr. Brian Caliva (709 SPTS)
CAT III: Ms. Audrey Capps (A1)
Team: Maintenance Support Flight (709 SPTS)

Congratulations to all nominees and winners as the competition for these awards is fierce and speaks to the high level of performance that this Center sustains. In addition to the nominees and winners, huge thanks to the supervisors who wrote their packages as well as their coworkers and subordinates for supporting them. We had a busy Quarter for events, engagements, and fun to round out the Fall season. I provided Letter of Appreciations to 9 teams: 14N Senior Visit that Shorts dubbed Col Palooza, 9/11 Retreat Ceremony, Nuclear Science Merit Badge, Project Quesada, Punkin' Chunkin', Fall AFTAC Mission Orientation, AFTAC Mission Summit, AFTAC Fall Fest & Toilet Bowl, and Business Center. The efforts, coordination, and success of these events is truly appreciated. Thank you again to all who helped out on those teams. The following AFTACers are lauded for their feat of achieving a new milestone in civil service:

10 Years
Dr. Ryan Cress (CIL/OL-GT)
Mr. Rob Eder (21 SURS)
Dr. Jason Jordan (21 SURS)
Mr. Gregory Johnson (23 ANS)
Mr. Brian Pope (23 ANS)
Mr. Seven Shelly (709 SPTG/Det 1)
Mr. Wade Stockton (709 CYS)

20 Years
Mr. Douglas Dale (709 SPTS)
Mr. Gregg Hennessy (SI)
Mr. George Mirda (709 TMXS)
Mr. Terry Sandefur (709 SPTS)
Mr. Thomas Vandemark (23 ANS)
Mr. Julio Villafuerte (SI)

40 Years
Mr. John Lucas (21 SURS)

Additionally, congratulation to all our Ironman event winners, top performers, and especially to the CIL for defending their status as top unit during the intense competition. All information for names and categories is listed in the attachment. All photos from the Town Hall can be found at S:\AFTAC\AFTAC_PA\ EVENT_IMAGERY\ 20231117_3Q23_AFTAC_TownHall.

In case anyone missed my email earlier in the week, I announced that we've won 4 of the 16 categories for the Headquarters Air Combat Command (HQ ACC) nomination for the 2023 Air Force Outstanding Science and Engineering Award! Congratulations again to the following winners on this enormous accomplishment! Mr. Joseph Papczynski (23 ANS) -- Junior Civilian AF Outstanding Scientist & Engineer
Mr. Thomas VanDeMark (23 ANS) -- Mid-Career Civilian AF Outstanding Scientist & Engineer
Capt Adam Bordeau (709 SPTG/Det 1) -- Junior Military AF Outstanding Scientist & Engineer
Maj Daniel Koch (709 SPTG/Det 1) -- Mid-Career Military AF Outstanding Scientist & Engineer
They will now represent HQ ACC at the Department of the Air Force (DAF) STEM awards competition. Please wish them and all our winners congratulations next chance you get.

With award announcements complete, let's see what exciting events other AFTACers have been doing this past week.

Our AFTACer of the week is Mr. Max Nager (SDE). Max graduated from Kansas State University where he served as the supervisor of its nuclear reactor facility, and prior to AFTAC, he was a volunteer search and rescue team member in New Mexico. Mr. Nager is a nuclear engineer by degree and started at AFTAC in 2022 as a KBR contractor under the SORTA-FAST contract. He was assigned to SDE where he served as the system engineer for the In-Field Gas Analysis (IFGA) system with a responsibility for requirements development and verification as well as implementation of Model based system engineering with SysML. During his time as a contractor, he also supported the 23d ANS/ANX Geophysical Projects and Products Effort and where he assisted in the implementation of the AFTAC GitLab server and investigated continuous integration solutions. In 2023, he moved into a civilian position in SDE where he continues to execute his previously assigned roles.

KIGAM1.jpg KIGAM2.jpg KIGAM3.jpg Shout out to SSgt Leitschuh (709 TMXS) for attending the two-day Joint Scientific Commission (JSC) between AFTAC and the Korea Institute of Geoscience and Mineral Resource (KIGAM). The JSC is an annual meeting between AFTAC's and host nation's geophysicists, engineers, maintenance technicians, and international affairs personnel. This year's AFTAC/KIGAM JSC took place over two days at the Center and topics discussed included data availability, scientific research, next-gen tool suites, and sensor calibration. SSgt Leitschuh also hosted our KIGAM partners at the Center's training borehole and showcased the new Nanometrics Geophysical Field System. Our Korean partners displayed a keen interest in the site tour as this new equipment suite will be installed at the Korean array in the near future. Leadership appreciates SSgt Leitschuh' s professionalism and depth of knowledge!

The 709th Support Squadron (709 SPTS) hosted members from 45th Civil Engineering Squadron for a mission brief and an immersion of their squadron. The team led Maj David Nguyen, Captain Alexandra Stellas, MSgt Elizabeth Powers and Mr. Mario Pawlik through the work centers to learn about how the 709 SPTS provides support for the AFTAC enterprise. Our support squadron highlighted their critical efforts by showcasing the teamwork of 26 different AFSC's that are essential for the success of AFTAC's missions. Thank you to all of the SPTS briefers (SSgt Daniel Felipe, SSgt Aylex Cunneen, SrA Joshua Lacey, Ms. E'van Jesse, TSgt Diego Diaz, MSgt Daniel Franklin, and TSgt Anthony Morris) who put our excellence on display by demonstrating the hard work the support squadron produces each and every day.

CaptRuprecht.png Congratulations to (soon-to-be Dr.) Capt Nathan Ruprecht (21 SURS) for successfully defending his doctoral dissertation! Nathan likes school so much that he's been pursuing his PhD in Biomedical Engineering in his "free time" for the past 5 years on top of his Air Force duties. His hard work came to the culminating right-of-passage milestone last week when he traveled to the University of North Dakota (UND, Fighting Hawks!) for that last push - proving once again how capable and intelligent our AFTAC workforce is. All that's left is submitting his report and taking his family to see snow for graduation next month. Give him a pat on the back if you see him, congrats Dr. Ruprecht!

CaptSoto.jpg Capt Nicholas Soto (SDA) recently supported the University of South Florida, ROTC Detachment 158 at their annual Career Day in Tampa, Florida. Along with 17 other active-duty Airmen and civilians across numerous AFSCs, Capt Soto spoke to over 150 cadets and potential future officers on topics related to their career fields, roles, and responsibilities at AFTAC, experiences in past assignments, personal and professional advice as an officer, and other general Air Force topics. The event was extremely successful and highlighted AFTACs premier role in the DoD.”

VieraLiving.png Congratulations to Lt Col Merle Hamilton (709 SPTG/Det 1) and his family as they made the cover of Viera Living: East Edition for the article Meet the Hamiltons: A life of service; Celebrating 5 Years of Bringing Neighbors Together.

SSgtVega.png Congratulations to SSgt Jadiel Vega-Vega (709 CYS) for winning the 16th Air Force Airman of the Month! Since transitioning from Security Forces, he recently completed his bachelor's degree in Cybersecurity and stepped forward with leading efforts to obtain ATO's across two networks. He developed 20 milestones, a 2 month get well plan, and updated 2,000 security controls to secure DoD's sole nuclear monitoring enterprise valued at $70M.

As many of us take the holiday to relax and celebrate the things we are grateful for, remember that we still have AFTAC members working thru the holiday to keep our nation safe. I will be serving at the AFTOC for their 1100 session and then at the DFAC starting at 1200 to ensure our working Airmen and Guardians have delicious Thanksgiving meals. I want you all to reach out to your AFTAC family to ensure no one must celebrate alone this year.

Enjoy the "brisk" weather this week and have a Happy Thanksgiving! V/r


Commander, AFTAC
Patrick Space Force Base, FL
W: (321) 494-2334
DSN: 854-2334

Commander's Weekly Note for 29 Nov 23
By Col. James "Cobra" Finlayson


I hope everyone enjoyed the long weekend and found ways to recharge their batteries, especially after delicious feasts with friends and family as you shared. On Thanksgiving, there were many members who showed up to the AFTOC to share stories and create quite the remarkable array of dishes for our AFTAC family working thru the holiday.

Although not officially winter yet, the winter holiday season festivities are officially in full swing with everyone decking the halls and decorating their spaces. The Maintenance Support Flight even has an express mailbox to send messages to Santa. I look forward to seeing all the magic and the wonderlands when I return from my trip.

There are many festivities to come this month. However, we must take care of business prior to members leaving for the holidays. As of 1300 today, the Center is 70% trained for both Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) and Suicide Prevention (SP). As these are annual trainings with a current suspense of 15 December, we have less than 3 weeks to achieve the remaining 30%. Each training session is 1 hour long, so I need everyone to ensure you accomplish these trainings prior to taking holiday leave. I need SELs and our training facilitators to ensure the records are current to account for all civilians and military members required to take these trainings. Attached is a list of upcoming training sessions that will be facilitated by 1st Lt Jacob Weinberg (21 SURS) or SSgt Jessica Arriaga (CCEA). Thanks to these two and TSgt Jevin Griffin (709 SPTS) for facilitating the numerous sessions at AFTAC. And thanks to all who have attended the sessions (both here and at GSUs).

Last week was a short week prior to Thanksgiving. Here are some exciting events accomplished by AFTACers.

Our AFTACer of the week is Ms. Kelly Bless from Strategic Integration (SI). She was born at Seymour Johnson AFB in North Carolina and spent her childhood as an Air Force brat hopping from base to base. Ms. Bless started her 35-year civilian career right here at Patrick and since then has continued hopping from base to base. She worked in Fulda, Darmstadt, Mannheim, and Stuttgart, Germany. Stateside in Florida, she worked for the Corps of Engineers in Jacksonville, DCAA in Palm Bay, and for the Department of State (next door in the hangar). Kelly earned her Bachelor of Arts in business administration at University of South Florida in Tampa while working at MacDill AFB, and she earned her MBA at Jacksonville University in Jacksonville while working at the Corps of Engineers. Kelly PCS'd here to AFTAC from Vicenza, Italy, where she served as a Budget Analyst for USARAF (US Army Africa). While in Vicenza, Kelly spent her off-duty hours honing her Italian language skills, hiking the Dolomites, and hiking the 52 Tunnels regularly. Kelly considers Cocoa Beach home and has no plans of moving again. While here at AFTAC, Ms. Bless has focused primarily on the budget and execution of R&D funds. We are proud to have her as a member of our SI family!

22dSurveillanceSq.jpg SSgt Albert Howard (center) led a team of six 22d Surveillance Squadron, Detachment 45 members to a combined small unit tactics training and unit morale building event at a Denver paintball course. The team practiced effective communication and bounded overwatch tactics while having a great time as a team and dominating the local paintball enthusiasts. This event was an outstanding opportunity for our 9S100 airmen to embrace their warrior ethos and represent Buckley SFB to the community.

SSgtCauley1.jpg SSgtCauley2.jpg 22 SURS/Det 46 had the honor of promoting its newest member, (S)Sgt Andrew Cauley, to the official rank of SSgt. A ceremony was held at the entrance of the Cheyenne Mountain SFS complex in front of the 9/11 memorial, which holds a melted pillar from the twin towers. SSgt Cauley hails from Temecula, CA. He knew he wanted to join the AF when he was 16, and he joined the Delayed Entry Program before he even graduated high school! This promotion is just one amazing step in what will undoubtedly be a great AF journey.

The next AFTAC Newcomers Orientation is on Tuesday, 5 December. I encourage everyone who has not already done so to attend. This is a great way to connect with others and learn about the AFTAC mission.

December is bound to be an eventful month to close out the year with joyous celebrations. But December will not only be a month to close out 2023 as there are several members with retirement ceremonies this month. As these AFTACers transition away from daily interactions with us, be sure to let them know they will always be members of the AFTAC family and celebrate the bonds that they have forged.

Next week on Wednesday, 6 December from 0900 - 1300 at the Tides, there will be a Tech Expo free and open to all DoD and Government employees as well as contractors and community partners. See the attached flyer for full information on featured vendors and the tech briefings hosted. Registration is recommended and linked on the flyer. Attendance is permitted per guidance of your supervisor.

As a reminder, December's First Friday has been cancelled due to the number of events to celebrate the holidays and each other. First Fridays will resume in January.

December can only have fantastic festivities because of the people with whom we share the events and holidays. Ensure that no member of the AFTAC family spends the coming holidays alone, check on the wellbeing of your fellow AFTACers, and let all know the support they have. The IRT is also here for us, and they will be hosting sessions on Spiritual CAF Day, Friday, 8 December. This will help fortify the Spiritual pillar just as the other CAF days had focused on strengthening their respective pillar of resilience (physical, social, and mental).

Mary Poppins once said, "In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun." So, I hope everyone is ready for a fun December! V/r


Commander, AFTAC
Patrick Space Force Base, FL
W: (321) 494-2334
DSN: 854-2334

Becoming a "99"

An autobiographical sketch of the mystique of beginning a '99125' career.

By Michael P. Clark, AFTACer: active duty 1969 - 1994, and '99 forever (Once a '99, always a '99).
From "B-technique, the early days", Original author unknown:

In the beginning
They created the Seismic Technique
And They said, "Let there be motion!"
And there was motion
And They said, "Let there be phases!"
And there appeared a multitude of phases
And They saw amongst the multitude
Peep, Emerge, Shear, Bounce, Reflect, Score, Prism, Rebound, Transform, Love and Rayb And They said, "Let there be airmen dedicated to monitor Heaven and Earth for nuclear tests!"
And there appeared technical giants dispersed throughout the good Earth installing, maintaining, and operating equipment and analyzing the motion and phase data 24 / 7, immediately reporting anomalies to Them
And They saw that the giants were '99s
And They were pleased.

In 1969, I was a sophomore at SUNY College of Forestry, Syracuse N.Y., studying chemistry. World events of the late '60s weighed heavily on my mind, and I chose to fulfill my military obligation by enlisting in the Air Force, with the idea of coming back to school after 4 years of serving the country. I talked to the recruiters, took the battery of tests, and found I placed near the highest percentile of scores. I didn't have a specific goal for a career field at that time, but the recruiter told me that I could qualify for virtually any I might choose. There were 4 categories of career fields in those days, Administrative, Mechanical, Electronics and General. I was most interested in Electronics as I perceived that to be the most 'science-based' category. I asked for missile electronics but was open to any of the electronics fields.

I enlisted via the Delayed Enlistment Program in April 1969 and was called to report to Basic training at Lackland AFB in mid-May. As my brother Bob was previously enlisted in the Air force, his career field was munitions, he gave me the low-down on what to expect at Basic training, what the MTIs would look for, what to avoid doing, and how to succeed. His overview was spot-on. 6 weeks of basic went by rapidly, starting with the first morning 04:30 AM '30-gallon steel-trash-can-and-lid-crashing-down-the-middle-of-the-bay', and the wake-up call of our Military Training Instructor SSgt Rabalais screaming 'G'DAMIT!! GET UP!! Our entire basic flight instantly got the message and bailed out of the bunks, hitting the floor at our best guess of 'Attention!'

The normal basic training scenario followed, from the end of the 'rainbow' status with uniforms and buzzcuts, to immunizations, to learning marching and all the sundry military things that Basic teaches.

Sometime near the third or fourth week our flight #775, plus what seemed to be several other flights, were marched to an auditorium seating about 200 of us for a career briefing. Each of us was handed our copy of the security paperwork we had filled out prior to arriving at Basic. The instructor at the front of the stage walked everyone through the forms and drilled into us that each item had to be filled out precisely, or we could remain in Basic for the rest of our lives because we either would never get a security clearance to qualify for tech school or be relegated to some 'weeds and seeds' direct duty assignment. At the top of each airman's form was a 3-digit number printed in magic marker that the instructor told us was the Air Force Specialty Code (AFSC) for the job tech school for which we were being considered. The instructor read a list from his sheaf of papers, telling the code number, then what the job was. "207, Intelligence specialist. 304, electronic equipment repair. 461, munitions handler. 702, Administrator. 732, Personnel specialist. 811, Security Police." And so forth, and so forth. When he reached the end of his list, he asked "Does anyone have a code that I didn't list?" I looked down at my form, and saw '991', which he hadn't listed. Another airman in the front of the auditorium raised his hand and asked, "Sir! What about '991'?

The instructor stood frozen and silent for a good 20 seconds, which focused the entire room's attention and silence. Was he stumped by some Airman Basic?

He slowly said, "How many of you have '991' on the form?" About 4 of us in the full auditorium raided our hands. "99125 is a Reporting Identifier, not an AFSC. All we can tell you about '99125' is that it is a very specialized career field called 'Special Electronics Technician'. You are specially selected for it by the Air Force. Other than that, all I can tell you is that if you are selected for '99125', when you graduate Basic training, we put you on an airplane to Denver Colorado and Lowry AFB, and we will never see you again".

I could feel all the eyes in the room looking around to see who had this '991' on their form, as if witnessing the condemned being sentenced to disappear from the face of the Earth. I could feel what little hair I had on the back of my neck trying to stand up. What did I get myself into? Then I remembered the instructor had said, 'Special Electronics Technician' and thought "This could be interesting!" I apparently had somehow qualified for and was selected by the Air Force for something rare. It was apparently an electronics job, which is just what I was looking for.

Near the end of Basic training, assignments were posted for each of us for our follow-on tech schools or direct duty assignments. A few of us were relegated to 'AFI', or 'Awaiting Further Instructions'. I was told that I would be interviewed within the next couple of weeks for this '991' job. In the interim I would be assigned to general purpose Lackland AFB details and duties following Basic graduation until the interview and final selection or non-selection for the job. After about a week and a half, I was notified that I was to report to my interview with a Captain Booton. After six weeks plus of basic training, plus a week and a half of AFI, I was very surprised and a little intimidated to be reporting directly to a captain. After all, we had been put through all kinds of stress during Basic with the most senior ranks being at the MSgt NCO level, with virtually no direct interaction with the officer corps.

At the appropriate time and place, after I had done several rehearsals to hone my crispest and most military reporting technique, I reported in for my interview with Captain Booton. Saluting, "Airman Clark reports as ordered sir!". He immediately offered a smile and handshake, and said, 'Hello Mike, how are you doing? I'm Harley Booton from Detachment 057, Lowry AFB Colorado. Please have a seat, relax, and let me tell you a little about the job for which you are a candidate".

He then gave me a short briefing, stating that the job was electronics and science based, highly classified, and heavily overseas imbalanced. The tech school was at Lowry AFB in Denver, Colorado, and lasted up to 48 weeks. The first several weeks were electronics fundamentals, followed by the actual classified technique school and final assignment. After an overseas assignment, I would be rotated back to the 'States, possibly to the Washington DC area, or California. I was being considered for 'U' technique training, one of many operational techniques. Some of the overseas locations were remote, and I would be operating and maintaining the equipment, and analyzing data to report immediately to higher headquarters for a mission of great national importance. The job often involved shift work, and evening and midnight shifts were sometimes single-manned, so a great deal of responsibility was placed on the operator. "And, just to put your mind at ease, we have no stations in Vietnam, but most of the stations' locations are classified". He mentioned that my records had been carefully screened and he considered me an excellent candidate. He said that If I felt the job's not right for me, that's OK. I could pick one of the other electronics jobs he had on a list, and I would be on my way shortly to another tech school where he said he was sure I would do very well. In closing, he asked, "Would you consider accepting the job?"

I was still pleasantly surprised that an officer was interacting with me like a person instead of just another low-life single-stripe Airman and was asking my permission to be assigned to this special electronics technician job. My head was reeling a bit from all the information, but from what the captain had just told me, it sounded like the dream job for me! I told Captain Booton that I appreciated his briefing and was willing to accept the job offer. He said "Great! We will get some orders cut, and you will be on your way to Lowry shortly. Thank you, Airman Clark". He again shook my hand, told me that we were finished. I saluted, did a snappy about-face, and left the office.

A few days later, I was notified that I was to attend an out briefing for PCS. I was given my set of orders and blue-bussed to the San Antonio airport with a contingent of other airmen heading to Lowry.

Our flight was diverted to Colorado Springs due to a strong thunderstorm near Denver, causing a few hours' delay in our arrival. During the short bus ride from Denver's Stapleton airport to Lowry, an airman with a yellow 'rope' on his fatigue uniform shoulder (a student airman leader as we later learned) started haranguing us about how although we were no longer in Basic, we would still be under his total control no different than a basic trainee at Lackland. We were all heading to the Personnel Awaiting Training Squadron (PATS) where we would be waiting for several weeks before our technical training squadron would notify us of our class start date. One of the other 991s on the bus spoke up and said we had orders to start school on July 16, about one week away. The 'rope' just laughed and said that those dates were only estimates. He was the one in charge here! The outspoken wise guy that questioned him was now on his bad side and was going to get the worst details. We were just dirt since we were not yet in tech school, and we would be doing every dirty base detail he could find for weeks until the school called to let us in. He seemed to enjoy doing his best imitation of a hard-ass MTI, but he still only had one stripe like all the rest of us.

Upon arrival at Lowry, we were herded into an auditorium where a SSgt called out names and told us where to report for our barracks that evening. After almost all the other airmen had been called, there were still about 5 of us left. "Who are you guys"? the SSgt asked. He asked to see copies of our orders and saw that we were supposed to be going across base to the 3420 school squadron. He called the squadron orderly room, but as it was after duty hours, no one was there to receive us. "OK you guys, you will be staying in PATS overnight, then tomorrow morning someone from your squadron will come to get you".

Naturally, we all got assigned to the hard-ass rope's barracks for our overnight stay. He tried his best to make us fear his every whim but, as it was getting late, and lights-out was imminent, we were mostly left alone with a promise that tomorrow morning we would be in trouble. Virtually all the other barracks residents seemed completely intimidated by this guy. The next morning, we 5 were ordered to wipe down and polish the barracks center aisle with our towels and make the floor shine, ready for inspection. A few minutes after we started, the SSgt from the evening before called us out to the parking lot, told us to get our stuff, and get on the blue bus to go to our squadron. The 'rope' saw us return to the barracks and immediately asked us where the hell we thought we were going. We replied that we were assigned to the 20th squadron. He then visibly paled and backed off, only saying, "Oh… then get your s#%t and get out of here now!". As we found out later, there were two 20th squadrons on base, 3420 (ours) and 3320. Almost no one on base knew anything of the low profile 3420 school squadron. The more well-known 3320 squadron was the holding squadron for airmen in trouble, those about to be jailed or discharged for various forms of misconduct, such as fraud, assault, murder, or other unsavory activities. The 'rope' apparently believed that our group of five 991s were axe murderers or some such being jailed and sent on to Leavenworth. He was probably thanking his lucky stars that he survived the previous night unscathed, wanting no part of us any longer! Of course, as we left his barracks, we scuffed our way down the freshly polished center aisle, dragging our duffel bags on the way out. Nary a peep out of the 'rope.

We got on the bus and saw another yellow 'rope' already on board. Great. Another junior MTI-wannabe Hitler. As the bus pulled away, he introduced himself and immediately radiated collegial friendship. He told us we were going across base to the best squadron on Lowry, that we would be treated like permanent party, and that that our First Shirt, SMSgt Southard was a great guy. We told him about the young Hitler we just endured, and he rolled his eyes and said that was par for the course in PATS. They apparently told the 'ropes in PATS, and they believed it, that yellow ropes were the equivalent of staff sergeants, and red ropes were the equivalent of second lieutenants. That didn't happen in our squadron. Ropes were just ordinary students selected primarily to help manage the classes and flights as we marched to and from school.

We were in briefed by SMSgt Southard, SSgt Davenport the squadron MTI, and the Admin staff. We were told that our squadron had a certain independence from the rest of the base and kept a low profile. Only a few senior people on the base knew what we did for a living and the base knew to leave us alone. We were not to talk about or repeat anything to anyone we might hear regarding our mission. We would first be attending electronics fundamentals and other classes organized and taught by other 991s, not the base instructor pool. Our barracks were exclusively the 20th squadron, unlike other dorms on base, and everyone in our barracks was a '991' trainee.

Our class consisted of myself, Bill Buckingham, Tom Lloyd, Charlie Lamb, Ralph Porter, Larry Porter, Sam 'Snuffy' Smith, Van Hodgkin, Paul Stack, and Bill Jones. Our 'Fundies' instructor was Sgt Joe Kirk, a "Q" technique veteran, who treated us like college students not chattel. Fundies consisted of blocks of basic electronics, DC and AC circuits, resistors, capacitors, inductors, transistors, vacuum tubes, etc. The last block of instruction was the practical exercise of each of us building our own oscilloscope from a box of parts and a schematic. After our o'scope was built and tested, Sgt Kirk and some other instructors would escort us out of the training room, and then put 'bugs' into our creations that we had to find and fix. It was a fun exercise, and a great practical learning experience! We all passed. At the completion of 'Fundies', we were given 2-weeks of leave as a break, then to return for our mission briefing and start the 'U' system 'Sets' training.

Our classified mission briefing day was filled with anticipation of finally finding out what our job was to be. We had seen the detectors outside the training building #359, which we later knew to be 'Z2' tubs and 'Q' antenna dome igloos but had no idea of their purpose. Unfortunately, 'Snuffy' Smith's final clearance was delayed by about a week, so he couldn't join our class. He was picked up on the next class, which happened to be a 'Q' technique class.

To me, the (now declassified) global nuclear explosion monitoring job was totally fascinating. They briefed us on not only the science and mission, but the station locations, and what all the other techniques did ('A' through Z2) and how they all worked together to provide the nation's leadership critical and timely data. 'U' was the very low frequency phase anomaly technique.

Our class instructors were SSgts Carl Pacic and Pat Berner, both experienced 'U' troops. We went through all the technique theory and equipment in fine detail, also covering troubleshooting techniques. In addition to the analog VLF receivers, loop and whip antennas, cardioid units, strip chart recorders and sulzer oscillators, we were taught the 'Type-2 U', a new high sample rate digital equipment suite, and the DRFUD, Digital Recorder For U Data, referred to, of course, as 'Doctor FUD'. Near the end of our 'U' sets portion, we were introduced to both 'Z2', atmospheric fluorescence, and 'H', magneto-telluric techniques, which, along with 'U', monitored the ionosphere worldwide for high-altitude nuclear testing. All three techniques were being grouped into a technique designated 'K'.

The last block of instruction was a 'field station' exercise at a mockup of a station on Lowry in bldg. 1308. Our 'U' class operated the site together with a 'Z2' class, and actually worked the station in 8-hour shifts 24 / 7 for 4 weeks. We operated the station as though we were an overseas detachment, complete with mockup comm center and test exercises provided by the field station instructors.

Near the end of our tech school training, our class was notified of our assignments. The tradition of the school was to issue a 'block' of assignment locations to the class, and final class academic rank order determined who got which assignment choice. The highest cumulative score got first pick, second got second, etc. I placed right in the middle at 5th place of 9, and I chose Ascension Island, a remote assignment in the South Atlantic Ocean.

At our class graduation, we were given our training completion certificates, and our orders to our next assignments. We were also officially granted the Reporting Identifier and shred-out of 'Special Electronics Technician, 99125 U'. We were now officially '3-level' '99s, ready for assignment and upgrade training to '5-level' when we got to our assignments. I believe I speak for our whole class in saying it was a very proud moment for all of us. We had come a long way since that day in Basic when we were told by that instructor that 'we would never be seen again'!

Michael Clark

X-file solved? Truth behind Roswell 'alien' that made a woman faint

By Rick Neale, FLORIDA TODAY reported on Feb. 6, 2020

Singlevich.jpg SamplingBalloon.jpg
Walter Singlevich, a former Melbourne Beach resident, died in 1992 at age 73 - and in his later years, he joked that he was a Roswell alien.

After taking off from Roswell, Walter Singlevich's military helicopter flew across the dusty New Mexico plains to his top-secret Cold War-era target: a silvery balloon equipped to detect nuclear detonations that lay sprawled atop a knoll near a rural ranch house.

The helicopter landed nearby. Singlevich and the pilot donned bulky 1950s-era radiation protective suits - complete with hoods and respirators - and hustled up the hill.

That's when the short-statured Singlevich may have inadvertently added a chapter to the "little green men" alien conspiracy lore that swirls around Roswell, New Mexico, where some believe a UFO crashed in 1947. "As they came over the rise where the balloon was, they ran into this woman who was coming from the ranch house," said Jim Whidden, Air Force Technical Applications Center director of staff. "And when she saw them, she fainted," Whidden said. "So they walked over and made sure that she didn't hurt herself, and basically left her there - this was very highly classified. They picked up the balloon and all the equipment and the sample, and took it back to the helicopter and left," he said.

AFTAC officials shared details of Singlevich's faint-inducing encounter with FLORIDA TODAY, marking the story's first public release. The incident occurred in 1951 or 1952 and was considered classified until 2017, said James Michael Young, AFTAC command historian.

Additional details have been lost over the decades, Young said. The woman's identity and location remain a mystery. Singlevich, in his later years, joked that he was a Roswell space alien, Whidden said. He told friends that the stunned woman could have passed a lie detector test while contending she had seen extraterrestrial visitors and their ship.

To view a video of the FLORIDA TODAY interview, visit Roswell 'alien' who made woman faint in 1950s was Patrick AFB icon.
To view the published Florida Today article with additional detail and photos, visit X-file solved? Truth behind Roswell 'alien' that made a woman faint.

Seems Impossible
Carefully study this art work and then read the text of what we did. Not only is the picture awesome, but so are the statistics!


During the 3-1/2 years of World War II that started with the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor in December of 1941 and ended with the surrender of Germany and Japan in 1945, "We the People of the U.S.A." produced the following:

  • 22 aircraft carriers
  • 8 battleships
  • 48 cruisers
  • 349 destroyers
  • 420 destroyer escorts
  • 203 submarines
  • 34 million tons of merchant ships
  • 100,000 fighter aircraft
  • 98,000 bombers
  • 24,000 transport aircraft
  • 58,000 training aircraft
  • 93,000 tanks
  • 257,000 artillery pieces
  • 105,000 mortars
  • 3,000,000 machine guns
  • 2,500,000 military trucks

We put 16.1 million men in uniform in the various armed services, invaded Africa, invaded Sicily and Italy, won the battle for the Atlantic, planned and executed D-Day, marched across the Pacific and Europe, developed the atomic bomb and, ultimately, conquered Japan and Germany.

It's amazing what America did in those days: many of you already know the story, here is the update.

The text below references the movie "Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo."
There is a second film made in 1944 that details the "show" trials of the 11 airmen that were captured & tortured by the Japanese titled "The Purple Heart."
Three were executed as war criminals, a fourth died in captivity.
The FINAL TOAST! They bombed Tokyo 78 years ago.
They once were among the most universally admired and revered men in the United States .. There were 80 of the Raiders in April 1942, when they carried out one of the most courageous and heart-stirring military operations in this nation's history. The mere mention of their unit's name, in those years, would bring tears to the eyes of grateful Americans.


After Japan'ssneak attack on Pearl Harbor, with the United States reeling and wounded, something dramatic was needed to turn the war effort around. Even though there were no friendly airfields close enough to Japan for the United States to launch a retaliation, a daring plan was devised.
Sixteen B-25s were modified so that they could take off from the deck of an aircraft carrier. This had never before been tried -- sending such big, heavy bombers from a carrier.

B-25Bs Parked on the deck of the Hornet during the Doolittle Raid. April 1942

The 16 five-man crews, under the command of Lt. Col. James Doolittle, who himself flew the lead plane off the USS Hornet, knew that they would not be able to return to the carrier. They would have to hit Japan and then hope to make it to China for a safe landing.


But on the day of the raid, the Japanese military caught wind of the plan.
The Raiders were told that they would have to take off from much farther out in the Pacific Ocean than they had counted on.
They were told that because of this they would not have enough fuel to make it to safety.
And those men went anyway.

Jimmy Doolittle returning medals that were awarded to him by Japan

They bombed Tokyo and then flew as far as they could.
Four planes crash-landed; 11 more crews bailed out, and three of the Raiders died.
Eight more were captured; three were executed.
Another died of starvation in a Japanese prison camp. One crew made it to Russia .

79Years7.png 79Years8.png

The Doolittle Raiders sent a message from the United States to its enemies, and to the rest of the world: We will fight. And, no matter what it takes, we will win.
Of the 80 Raiders, 62 survived the war. They were celebrated as national heroes, models of bravery.
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer produced a motion picture based on the raid; "Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo " starring Spencer Tracy and Van Johnson, was a patriotic and emotional box-office hit, and the phrase became part of the national lexicon.
In the movie-theater previews for the film, MGM proclaimed that it was presenting the story........ "with supreme pride."

79Years11.png 79Years12.png

Beginning in 1946, the surviving Raiders have held a reunion each April, to commemorate the mission. The reunion is in a different city each year. In 1959, the city of Tucson , Arizona , as a gesture of respect and gratitude, presented the Doolittle Raiders with a set of 80 silver goblets. Each goblet was engraved with the name of a Raider.

79Years15.png 79Years16.png

Also in the wooden case is a bottle of 1896 Hennessy Very Special cognac
The year is not happenstance: 1896 was when Jimmy Doolittle was born.

There has always been a plan: When there are only two surviving Raiders, they would open the bottle, at last drink from it, and toast their comrades who preceded them in death.


As 2013 began, there were five living Raiders; then, in February, Tom Griffin passed away at age 96.
What a man he was. After bailing out of his plane Over a mountainous Chinese forest after the Tokyo raid, he became ill with malaria, and almost died. When he recovered, he was sent to Europe to fly more combat missions.
He was shot down, captured, and spent 22 months in a German prisoner of war camp.

The selflessness of these men, the sheer guts ... There was a passage in the Cincinnati Enquirer obituary for Mr. Griffin that, on the surface, had nothing to do with the war, but that was emblematic of the depth of his sense of duty and devotion: "When his wife became ill and needed to go into a nursing home, he visited her every day.
He walked from his house to the nursing home, fed his wife, and at the end of the day brought home her clothes. At night, he washed and ironed her clothes. Then he walked them up to her room the next morning.
He did that for three years until her death in 2005."

With "Martha Jean" behind them, nine of the Doolittle Raiders and three "Honorary Guests" pose with WWII re-enactors dressed in period clothing.

So now, out of the original 80, only four Raiders remain:
Dick Cole (Doolittle's co-pilot on the Tokyo raid), Robert Hite, Edward Saylor and David Thatcher. All are in their 90s.

They have decided that there are too few of them for the public reunions to continue. The events in Fort Walton Beach marked the end. It has come full circle; Florida 's nearby Eglin Field was where the Raiders trained in secrecy for the Tokyo mission. The town planned to do all it can to honor the men: a six-day celebration of their valor, including luncheons, a dinner and a parade.

The men have decided that after this final public reunion they will wait until a later date -- sometime this year -- to get together once more, informally and in absolute privacy. That is when they will open the bottle of brandy. The years are flowing by too swiftly now; they are not going to wait until there are only two of them. They will fill the four remaining upturned goblets. And raise them in a toast to those who are gone.

Richard Cole Died June 2019 (The last surviver)
David Thatcher died June 2016

The last two remaining survivors

Their 70th Anniversary Photo

They are all gone and should never be forgotten.

Colorado Chapter Breakfast

Dear AFTAC & LRD Alumni, Active Duty, Civilians, Family and Friends
You are cordially invited to join us at our first activity of the year - our Colorado membership breakfast on 4 March 2023. Location/Time: Aurora Hills Golf Course, Tin Cup Banquet Room, 50 S. Peoria St. Aurora, CO 80012; Breakfast served at 9 AM.

Breakfast will be the Tin Cup breakfast buffet including: Juice, coffee, eggs, bacon, sausage, fresh fruit, pastries, biscuits, gravy and potatoes. Cost: $22; Children 12 and under Free. You can pay at the door with a check made out to "Maureen Hampson" or cash (exact change is appreciated).

Please RSVP no later than 23 February. We need an accurate headcount to plan the Breakfast.

To RSVP you can:
- call our Treasurer, Maureen Hampson, at 303-695-0477 (leave a message)
- or email Maureen Hampson

We look forward to seeing you there!
The AFTAC Alumni Association of Colorado Chapter Staff

New WC-135R Constant Phoenix

Published July 12, 2022
By 55th Wing Public Affairs

Team Offutt welcomed a new aircraft to its fleet for the first time in decades when WC-135R Constant Phoenix tail number 14836 arrived at Lincoln Airport today. This is the first of three WC-135R deliveries to the 55th Wing as the United States Air Force is modifying three KC-135R Stratotankers to replace the aging aircraft. Originally delivered to the AF in 1964 and most recently flown by the New Hampshire Air National Guard, the new WC-135R was modified by Big Safari and will serve as the Air Force's newest atmospheric collection aircraft supporting national and international partners. Operated by the 45th Reconnaissance Squadron with support from Detachment 1, AF Technical Applications Center, it collects particulate and gaseous effluents and debris from accessible regions of the atmosphere in support of the Limited Nuclear Test Ban Treaty of 1963.

This Web-page Search Interrogates our Membership Database.
It is Continually Being Updated.
Check Back Regularly For New Or Revised Entries

Either Search for a name or Select a name from the Member List
First Name:
Last Name:
Date Joined:
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Mail PoMo paid through:

2021 AFTAC Open House

On 3 December, HQ AFTAC held an Open House. They invited family members and Alumni to participate in the event. The theme was, "The Grinch stole AFTAC". The Alumni had about 26 people that signed up to attend.

The day started off with a bonus. The highly anticipated opening of the Heritage Hall was conducted at 10am. Dr Mike Young has been working to make this facility a premier location to reflect the great history of AFTAC. It captures much of the atmosphere that many of us experienced at the multitude of Detachments around the world. It even is set up with a kitchen and a bar. The plaque from the old Kudu club from Det 423 is a part of the décor. It was a by invite only event and the Alumni was well represented. Past AFTAC Superintendents Larry Silhanek and Lloyd French were there. As were previous Alumni Presidents Bob Wiley, Frank Hall, Lou Sieler, and Ed Lindsay. Vice Commander, Richard Beckman, performed the ribbon cutting. There were refreshments. Some amazing relics were also highlighted in this wonderful area for AFTAC's history.

AFTAC Vice Commander Colonel Richard Beckman - Opens the Heritage Hall

Another bonus was that the Chief select list had been released that morning. Chief selects Rachel Hammer and Jason Whisennand were honored

Left to right: Chiefs Manchee, Adam Dunn (9S), select Hammer, select Whisennand, Chad Madore (9S), Jordan Lloyd (9S), Ed Lindsay, Lloyd French, and Larry Silhanek

The unit had tours that were limited to 50 people, due to COVID protocol. Every 30 minutes a group was taken into the HQs to visit the Heritage Hall and the Operations floor. It was a short tour, but it was good to see how AFTAC is keeping the mission going.

While we waited for the tours, there were food trucks and the USO provided pizza, cake, and cookie decorating. There were also photos with Santa and the Grinch. There were some bounce houses for the kids and some games to play.

It was good to get back in the building and talk to those that are now executing the mission. We hope to be able to again visit the building and the Heritage Hall next May during the 2022 WorldWide Reunion.


By Phil Godfrey
Vice Chair, 2022 AFTAC WWR

The Group!
Click to Open Photo Gallery
(Lots of photos! It takes a while to load.)

The 2022 AFTAC Worldwide Reunion (2022 AFTAC WWR), was truly an awesome time and event, making it one of the best we have ever had! Seventy-two fellow Alumni from 14 states, and 1 guest from overseas, gathered in sunny Cape Canaveral, Florida for the 2022 AFTAC WWR. Our Theme this time was "75 Years Monitoring Earth & Heaven since 1947". Itmarked a perfect opportunity to gather and celebrate AFTAC's 75 years of LRD excellence and the 75th Birthday of the United States Air Force. Mired in stories and steeped in tradition, members seasoned and spry proffered tales of AFTAC days gone by, but not forgotten. The 18th - 22d of May assembled a cast of characters from parts known and unknown to share stories, beverages, and laughs. It was wonderful to see so many folks from all over the lands arrive in style, to participate in the events and activities the reunion team had planned.

Those staying in the fabulous Radisson Resort at the Port hotel in Cape Canaveral, generally arrived on Wednesday. Each Alumni and their guests then signed in with Barb, the representative from A Complete Reunion. This made sure that they each received a goody bag and knew the layout of the Hospitality Room. It was the Hospitality Room that proved to be the command post and gathering place for the reunion, for the duration of the week. Fully stocked with spirits, suds, and snacks, Alumni spent many hours catching up with old friends and making new ones. There were also a display of notable events and people from AFTAC's past to add to the ambiance, as well as hand-carved medallions commemorating the 75th year of LRD and the USAF, available for a donation. These were expertly crafted by Mr. Mark Bitter, also an AFTAC Alumni, and the proceeds went to support the planned AFTAC Memorial in front of the current HQ. The Hospitality Room truly had it all this year.

The resort festivities began on Thursday night with our traditional Icebreaker. Here attendees arrived in the main ballroom of the resort, dressed and ready to kick off this reunion the right way - with aplomb! This event was emceed by our own past President, CMSgt (Ret.) Ed Lindsay, who made sure all were entertained and sufficiently lubricated. Ed traveled the room making sure folks connected and mingled, which really was not that hard since AFTAC'ers are a big family! That evening also, a pleasant surprise for our WWR guests was the launch of an Atlas V Rocket with Boeing's Starliner Space Capsule. A total "Awe" moment for those that have never seen a rocket launch LIVE!

As noted earlier, the Hospitality Room was the Command Post. Intelligence reports (and we always trust Intelligence, right?) firmly state that all information both heard and delivered in this hallowed room was 100% true. Your Reunion planners, and heck, anyone else we could rope in, made sure the truth serum was well stocked and ready, and tales of past battles were shared, by elixirs of courage. Mike Johnston had some of the best tales on many a night. Even more amazing was hearing of the past conquests of Gene Melchior, Dee Melchior, Dan Gilb, and Michael Clark - but, there were so many other fascinating conversations in our Command Post that we cannot name them all. During the entire reunion, the Hospitality Room was the place to socialize, chat, relax, and catch up with old friends and family members. The most typical remark overheard was, "Do you remember when we....?" That was usually followed by some hearty laughter.

The highlight of the Reunion was the visit to the AFTAC Headquarters on Thursday morning. Most attendees and their guests decided to attend this event, which began with a briefing by the AFTAC Commander, Colonel Katharine Branson, and included a tour of the new AFTAC Heritage Room. This room holds amazing artifacts from our history and provides a place to connect current AFTAC'ers with the legacy built by all of us Alumni. Most importantly, the AFTAC HQ visit was to celebrate the addition of three Alumni members onto the sacred AFTAC Wall of Honor (WOH). Adorned with names like Singlevich, Ciambrone and Northrop, this day saw Colonel (Ret.) Jim Whidden, SMSgt (Ret.) Frank Calenda and MSgt (Ret.) Curtis Smith (deceased) forever enshrined on the WOH, which honored their significant contributions to the AFTAC and LRD missions over the years. This was a truly special event, and a joyous occasion for these Alumni and their special guests. Attendees finished this event with an awesome Burger Burn cookout at the AFTAC Pavilion hosted by Mark Bitter and the AFTAC Memorial Corporation, before it was back on the bus for the short trip back up Highway A1A to the hotel.

Friday brought with it dreams of Space. No, we did not launch any purveyors of bad intel into space, though there were some volunteers. So, we did the next best thing. Sixteen guests boarded the Alumni Express (a bus-shaped armored vehicle) and plotted a course for the Kennedy Space Center Visitor's Center. This fine establishment has changed a lot in recent years, with the addition of a real Space Shuttle, the Atlantis, and many more flamey-rockety things in the Rocket Garden. The KSC Visitor's Center offered our Alumni a fantastic view of the latest in space technology and was a great avenue to explore the absolute best of NASA's history. Once there, our Alumni performed heavy recon of the grounds and establishments, taking careful notes and imagery of anything suspicious. I heard several tales that items of excellent value were retrieved from the enemy trading post, and that KSC's rations were enjoyable.

Saturday, the peak of the Reunion, brought us to the Reunion Banquet that night. This feast assembled the vast majority of our attendees for a night of great celebration of each other and our shared time in the AFTAC and LRD missions. This event was held in the resort's main ballroom to exquisite standards, and well serviced by attentive and friendly Radisson staff. No MREs here, the meals were a delicious selection of Chicken, Beef or Vegetarian and the dessert was quite outstanding. The Uniform of the Day was "Dress Nice," and folks did just that – and looked dashing and fabulous! Also emceed by Ed Lindsay, with help from Sean Ryan, the dinner and drinks inspired fellowship and conversation, but more than that, connection, and family. It's connection and family that glued AFTAC together over the years, and still does in the Alumni corps.

To celebrate our history of victorious excellence, the reunion team enlisted the help of the Aloha Hula of Brevard Dance Team. This fantastic group of talented performers, brought joy and wonder to the banquet. I don't know how they move like they do, but I'll bet it hurts! The Hula we witnessed was simply wonderful and amazing and should remain a closely guarded secret by all of us, for they provided a morale boost the enemy could only wish for! The highlight of this night was the Keynote Address by the AFTAC Historian, Dr. Mike Young. Mike did an amazing and outstanding job reminding us of all of the impact we've had on the science of Nuclear Treaty Monitoring, and on national security policy for over 75 years. Dr. Young has done stunning work cataloging and documenting AFTAC's history during his 12-year tenure as the AFTAC Historian, and we were all so honored to have him as our Keynote on this special night. Mike has since retired, and he let me know that he felt it was a "perfect way to finish his career" as our Keynote Address speaker. Dr. Young's support for the Alumni over the years is too vast to fully describe here, and we greatly appreciate all his efforts, and sincerely thank him for them.

Sunday morning brought a buffet breakfast and travel outbound to other duty stations for our Worldwide Reunion Attendees, having secured victory of the primary mission: Fellowship, Fun, and Celebration. While the pandemic tried to keep us apart, it was defeated in the end by our uncanny sense of courage, dedication to our legacy, and good ol' fashioned hard work. Your Alumni team was so happy you came - it was wonderful to see each of you and catch up. Thank you so much for joining us and others!

Finally, none of this could have happened without Volunteers, chief among them, Mr. Sean "Radar" Ryan. Living up to his call sign, "Radar", expertly planned the mission with the skills of a hardened General and the grace of an F-16 in flight. We all owe Sean a huge (Atomic) thank you for an outstanding and extremely successful event. Other volunteers, Sages, and shoulders to cry on include Michelle Ryan, Frank Calenda, Judy Henderson, and Ed Lindsay for the absolutely instrumental planning support and strategy. Thanks to Tony De Marco (for the super cool commemorative coasters), Bob Wiley and Frank Hall (for the historical display), Angelina Lindsay (for her amazing photography and great conversations), The AFTAC Memorial Corporation (for the Burger Burn), and Mike Clark (for the amazing CTBTO presentation). I'm sure I'm leaving a few folks out, but we thank you too!

Remember, the AFTAC Alumni Association, is an all-volunteer organization, and it takes all of us, to make the thing go. But we are not immortal. Our last thank you goes to Mike Steskal, our Membership Chair. Mike passed away on 27 April. Mike was a friend to all and played a role in linking us up with the reunion planning company we used. He also was a huge part in making sure we could contact all of you to advertise the Reunion, which was two-years in planning, and gave us great advice on what to include in the Reunion. Mike was a vital member of the AFTAC appointed Board, but more than that, he was a dear friend who would have loved to join us for this Reunion. His passing was unexpected and hit all of us very hard. Mike, we felt your spirit - thank you dear friend, and accept our salute.

We can't tell you when our next Reunion will be yet, but the 2023 SnowBall is right around the corner. We hope to see you present for duty at our next muster! Until then, "In God We Trust, All Others We Monitor"!

Fall 2021 Golf N'Get Together

After 2 Loooooong years, we were finally able to have our highly popular AFTAC Alumni golf tourney. The event was held on 15 October, with a 1300hrs Shotgun start. It was looking to be a beautiful day and we had a large field of 26 teams that had signed up to join in the festivities. The day started early with the packing of the goody bags with some yummy snacks and water. Frank and Edna Calenda, Dennis Kauffmann, and Lt. Cynthia Schroll quickly completed the task and it was time to wait for the teams to show up.

Frank Hall, Eileen Best, and Jan Lambert joined in to help with the registration. Bob Wiley took great photos.

Jan Lambert, Dennis Kauffman, Edna Calenda, Frank Hall
Retired Vice Commander Ralph Bordner signs up

There were 2 teams that withdrew the day before and two teams didn't show up at all. Two of the other teams only had 2 players each, so with some creative manipulation, Ed Lindsay realigned the players to make a field of 21 teams and 85 players.

The horn sounded and players headed to their holes. Hits were made and curses were uttered. Good times.

It was a fun day and there were some great shots made and I am sure many tasty shots taken. Everyone got a door prize and there was a nice BBQ Buffet awaiting our golfers. Then the awards were given..Results were:

  • 1st Place…Score of 50..Robert McLaughlin, Andy McLaughlin, Cristobal Del Solar , Brian Hoyback
  • 2nd Place..Score of 52..Rene Uzee, Chris Uzee, Greg Ramsey, Jason Uzee
  • 3rd Place…Score of 55..Larry Olson, Kirk Hosler, Lin Stones, Carey McLaughlin
  • Women's Long Drive…Andy McLaughlin
  • Men's Long Drive…Tony Calenda
  • Closest to the Pin…Kirk Hosler, Kim Melton, Chris Uzee, Greg Ramsey

Sponsors were KEGMAN INC, SCIS, Cornerstone Financial, Fiesta Azteca in Suntree, Beef O'Brady's on Lake Washington and Suntree/Viera, and Charlie & Jake in Suntree.

Thank you to all that helped and participated. It is always good to get together with longtime friends and make some new ones. Next get together will most likely be an abbreviated event at next year's WorldWide Reunion.

1st Place McLaughlin, McLaughlin, Del Solar, Hoyback
2nd Place Uzee, Uzee, Ramsey
3rd Place Stones, Olson, McLaughlin, Hosler
Closest to the Pin Kim Melton
Men's Long Drive Tony Calenda
Women's Long Drive Andy McLaughlin

2021 AFTAC Winter Social
"How the Grinch Stole the AFTAC Winter Social"

Saturday, 4 December
Time: 1700 - 2100
Location: Manatee Cove Golf Course (MCGC), PSFB
Social Hour: 1700 Dinner: 1800 Menu: Buffet Entertainment: DJ
Ticket Sales Dates: Wednesdays from 1100 to 1300 (24 Nov and 1 Dec)
Ticket Sales Location: AFTAC Lobby (Payment: Cash or Card only; No checks)
. Dress: Whatever you want (within reason)!
Ugly sweater? Sounds great! Super fancy?? You betcha!

Ticket Prices:
(Active Duty/Retired/Separated Rank/Rate).
E1-E4/GS1-GS6: $5.00
E5-E6/01-02/GS7-GS9: $20.00
E7-E8/03-04/GS10-GS13: $25.00
E9/05-and up/GS14 and up: $30.00

POCs: 1Lt Rodolfo "Rudy" Gutierrez: 321-494-0548
Capt Patrick Flynn: 321-494-6351
MSgt David Olsen: 321-494-1412



30 SEPT 2021-Tony De Marco With the end of Sept 2021 and with TBT both falling on the same day today, I figured now might be a good time to put up a little AFTAC unique 99 Career History. The four 99s captured in the 99 Career Summary below had a combined 91 Years of Proud 99 Career Service with AFTAC supporting its many critical Mission Areas. This combined AFTAC Service included 26 Det/OL Assignments, 6 Depot Assignments, 8 HQ AFTAC Assignments, 1 AFIC Assignment, and over 230+ TDYs supporting the Command over their four unique Careers. The TDYs would range from 1 - 2 Days to multiple weeks, and included new Technique Installations, Site Training, critical MDATs dealing with SOC & SNFE conditions (Mostly OCONUS), MMTRs, Det 057 Training Conferences, FOL Site visits, and several special factory schools. The most challenging trips were without question the Special Collection TDYs where they had to deal with various Site Hosts and Antenna Systems. Personally, I have known Larry now for some 50 Years since our time stationed down in Fiji, George for some 43 Years when we first met over at Trip 3 when I was TDY, and Rick for some 42 Years when we first met at the "J" Technique Class #1 down here in Palm Bay in 1979. Following AFTAC Retirement, Larry went on to work as a Contractor in the AFTAC HQ, George headed out to Iowa and worked for local electronics companies, and Rick and I went on to work together at Harris Corp on several Programs for many more years before final Retirement. For me personally, it was a most rewarding AFTAC Career getting to serve with, work with, travel with, and finally to be able to tip a few cool ones with, these three Outstanding SNCOs. One final comment and then I will sign off…. It is also very important in my mind to recognize all of our spouses and families for their total support over all these years especially during our many TDYs, when we were separated and sometimes out of contact for long periods of time. Without our families support, we would not have had the AFTAC Careers we had…..Enough said…. See the following:


91 Years of Proud 99 Service

4Photos.png Service.png

Three inductees join past "giants"
on AFTAC Wall of Honor

Published June 2, 2021
By Susan A. Romano
AFTAC Public Affairs
The medallion pictured here was presented to newest inductees to the Air Force Technical Applications Center's Wall of Honor at a ceremony May 26, 2021. The medallion, which was created by 1st Lt. Adam Satterfield and Master Sgt. Chad Taguba, both members of AFTAC, symbolizes the inductees' contributions to long range detection and nuclear treaty monitoring, AFTAC's primary mission. The back of the medallion has a personalized inscription that reads, "Let this medallion signify its recipient is a member of an elite and noble group of Airmen who stand in silent vigil for the good of all humankind." (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Chad Taguba)

PATRICK SPACE FORCE BASE, Fla. -- In keeping with its annual tradition, the commander of the Air Force Technical Applications Center inducted three former members of the nuclear treaty monitoring center onto its famed "Wall of Honor" May 26.

Col. Katharine G. Barber recognized retired Senior Master Sergeants Mike Clark and Tony DeMarco and Ms. Eunice Harris at a ceremony held in the Doyle M. Northrup Auditorium here as dozens of current, former and retired members of AFTAC witnessed the induction.

Barber and her command chief, Chief Master Sgt. Amy Long, presented each inductee with an engraved medallion that depicts an American Bald Eagle clutching a scroll in one talon and a sword in the other. The scroll symbolizes the Limited Test Ban Treaty and the sword illustrates military strength and might. Above the eagle are the words, "Sapientia Potentia Est," Latin for "Wisdom is Power."

In addition to the medallion, the honorees' names were engraved on plaques that now hang on the Wall of Honor in the center's main lobby.

Selection to the wall is stringent and rigorous. The AFTAC Heritage Committee meticulously reviews dozens of nomination packages of former scientists, analysts, engineers and technicians to judge their contributions and impact on the center's historic long-range detection mission. Only three per year are considered for induction. The committee looks for nominees who demonstrated great character and whose actions truly discriminated them from thousands of other center employees, both military and civilian.

Dr. Mike Young, AFTAC's historian, led this year's selection panel.

"Our lineage can be traced back to 1947, two days before the Air Force was established as a separate service, and the single thing that can be attributed to our success as an organization is without a doubt our people," said Young. "The contributions of today's inductees are priceless, and their work absolutely formed the cornerstone of our long range detection mission. AFTAC's greatest asset has always been its people. It definitely gives our more junior personnel an opportunity to learn about the giants upon whose shoulders we stand today."

Retired Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Mike Clark poses in front of his plaque after his induction into the Air Force Technical Applications Center's Wall of Honor May 26, 2021. Clark was one of three inductees who were honored at a ceremony held at the nuclear treaty monitoring center to recognize his contributions to AFTAC's long range detection mission. (U.S. Air Force photo by Matthew S. Jurgens)

Clark, who joined the Air Force in 1969, spent nearly his entire 25 years in the Air Force assigned to AFTAC's various overseas and stateside detachments. He was also a technical training instructor and authored training manuals. After retirement, he became the lead analyst for the Group of Scientific Experts Technical Test 3, the planning group that helped develop the International Monitoring System for the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization.

Tony DeMarco, a retired Air Force senior master sergeant, stands in front of his plaque after his induction to the Air Force Technical Applications Center's Wall of Honor during a ceremony May 26, 2021. Seen around DeMarco's neck is the medallion that is presented to each honoree who, through the course of their career at AFTAC, demonstrated great character and whose actions truly discriminated them from thousands of other center employees, both military and civilian. (U.S. Air Force photo by Matthew S. Jurgens)

DeMarco was also a career-AFTACer, serving 23 years with the organization from 1966 to 1989. He was an expert in operating the electromagnetic pulse technique - the "Q" technique - in the Atomic Energy Detection System. When the "Q" capabilities were eliminated in favor of more advanced satellite methods, DeMarco played a key role in the rapid development of the new "J" technique and ultimately became AFTAC's most experience EMP systems expert.

Mike Harris and his sister Tina Colon, children of Ms. Eunice Harris, pose with their mother's medallion after she was posthumously inducted into the Air Force Technical Applications Center's Wall of Honor May 26, 2021. Harris served more than 31 years in civil service, with 20 of those years as the administrative assistant to AFTAC's senior scientist at the Department of Defense's sole nuclear treaty monitoring center. (U.S. Air Force photo by Matthew S. Jurgens)

Harris, a 31-year government civilian, served as the secretary and closest confidant to AFTAC's first senior scientist, Walt Singlevich, for nearly 20 years. She handled numerous responsibilities and managed countless classified and time-sensitive national-level reports to ensure Singlevich had the tools and resources needed to make critical decisions for senior decision makers. In essence, she was an office manager, administrative assistant, primary communicator and invaluable gatekeeper in managing AFTAC's senior scientist's daily workload.

"My mom just loved AFTAC," said Mike Harris, Eunice's son. "She was involved in everything from the alumni association to morale events to spouses groups to holiday parties - you name it. She adored being part of such a great organization."

Mike, along with his sister Tina Colon, accepted the posthumous award for their mother.

"If my mother had been here today to receive this honor, she would be grinning ear to ear," said Tina. "She ran our household much like how she took care of Mr. Singlevich - a tight ship, but with a lot of love. We are so appreciative of AFTAC for recognizing her in such a special way. We're all very proud!"

The Wall of Honor was established in 2015 to recognize individuals who "profoundly contributed to AFTAC's global mission, while personifying the Air Force Core Values of integrity, service and excellence," and since its inception, the center has inducted 30 people to the wall.

Addressing the audience but directing her comments to the three inductees, the leader of the treaty monitoring center had nothing but praise for their significant contributions to AFTAC's continued success.

"It is such a privilege for me to recognize the lifetime achievements of today's honorees," said Barber. "You are innovators, trainers, developers, instructors, creators, and trailblazers who used your expertise to make tough calls and provide crucial data to our national decision-makers, all the way up to the President of the United States, and in doing so, you kept us safe. I cannot wait to see the legends we are creating today join your names on our wall to forever commemorate your historic contributions. I salute Mike, Tony and Eunice and thank their families and friends for joining us in celebrating their profound impact."

The Lone Ranger Rides Again - Wow

Long before Glen became known nationally as an outstanding vocalist, actor and TV personality, he was one of the most in-demand recording studio guitarists in the world.

He could have earned a 7-figure annual income as a high-end, asked-for studio guitarist for years on end if that had been all he cared to do.

How good was he? The Lone Ranger knows! You will enjoy.

Take a look at this video, one you may have never seen before. "Hi Yo, Silver, Away!" It doesn't get much better than this.

"The William Tell Overture" by Giaochino Rossini.

Many of us grew up watching the Lone Ranger and Tonto on black and white television. Years later, many of us watched the Glen Campbell as well. This video is a clip of a younger Glen Campbell playing the William Tell Overture (with symphony orchestra) and dedicating it to Clayton Moore, who played the Lone Ranger and Jay Silverheels, who played Tonto.

You may never have seen Glen play like this before. This is world-class guitar playing and Campbell makes it look easy; note he is playing a12 string!

The sounds of Glen Campbell on guitar and the symphony orchestra playing Rossini's "William Tell Overture" will take you back to those golden days of yesteryear, when the strains of Rossini's masterpiece coming over the radio meant the Lone Ranger show was about to begin.

Click here to see this wonderful video.

AFTAC Alumni Association 2020 Alumni of the Year Receives his Award
By: Phil Godfrey, AFTACAA President

Mouse Cursor in Blue Box = Pause Slide Show
Click Left Side = Previous   Click Right Side = Next

February 26, 2021 was a memorable day for CMSgt (Ret) Ed Lindsay. On stage in front of a "safety crowd" of around 50, and an online Zoom teleconference of hundreds of current and former AFTAC members, he beamed with pride as he accepted his AFTAC Alumni of the Year Award. The AFTAC Commander, Col Katherine Barber, delivered his well-deserved trophy with a smile and an elbow bump, and he turned to the crowd at the Patrick Space Force Base Theater, pausing for a photo and a smile from his daughter, who was in attendance. Amid the roaring applause, Ed exited the stage, trophy in hand, reflecting on months of dedicated work for the Alumni Association.

Yes, Ed is our 2020 AFTAC Alumni of the Year. This is no easy award to get, and the countless hours Ed has dedicated this year to picking up responsibility for the Sage Shop, and learning the ropes as our newest Webmaster (and so much more), Ed has really kept the skids greased on a challenging year for the Association's critical missions.

Ed's selection was announced at our February teleconference meeting, and watching the emotions take their turns across his face was an experience to be remembered. Shock. Glee. More shock. Misty eyes. Gratitude. Above all, gratitude. That's Ed Lindsay, and has been the cornerstone of his humble leadership since he swore the oath. Ed runs on service to others, having served in positions of leadership for 30 years - even a stint as our Association President. So this was an easy call.

Thanks goes to Bob Wiley, who leads our AOY process and selection committee. Bob, Angelina (Ed's daughter) and I were in the Theater celebrating along with Ed. We wish you all could have been there!

Get Free Tax Prep Help

AFTAC Alumni eAllert - Here's How To Find Free Tax Preparation Around The Nation.

I recently sent an alert to the local Florida members concerning a site to get their tax returns done free of charge. This particular service is offered through the IRS and provided by VITA.

Here's how anyone in the United States can find a VITA site to prepare their taxes.

Start by clicking here:
You'll be presented with an IRS page that says: Get Free Tax Prep Help
It's easy as 1, 2, 3 from here on out.

1. Enter your zip code
2. Enter the size area you want to search (I suggest starting small and increasing)
3. Click on: Find

You will be shown if there is an office open in your area and all the information necessary to contact them.

If you find no services close to you are available, they may add more, so you might want to check it each day. That's what I did and once an office opened, I called and got an appointment the following day.

I'd say the bottom line is, if you don't see one open close to you soon, call the closest one and get further information or make an appointment with that one.

It will be incumbent on you to ensure, with them, that you are qualified and that it's a free tax service. It should be, but satisfy yourself that this is what you want to do.

Good Luck,
Your Florida Alumni Association

Update on John Nederhoed

It is with deep sadness that I pass along the news that John peacefully passed away last night surrounded by his wife and son. His daughter Katie was brought to the house to say her goodbyes and his son, Keith, is flying in this morning.

Beach Funeral home will be working with the Family and there will be more info about a memorial service. Once service information has been finalized, it will be sent out to the Center. John loved the AFTAC Family; please honor him with prayers for his family…Godspeed John!

The Obituary will follow when it is received.

Various job openings at Solis Applied Science

Below are the positions we are routinely looking for in Charlottesville, VA. We care more about the spectroscopy side of the house than imagery and try to find 99/9Ss

If you are intrested in any of these positions, select "Careers" on our website and forward your resume to us.

Rich Burch (CEO) Dan Puchalski (VP)

Positions Available

Labor Category Name: Senior Imagery Scientist
Security Clearance: Top Secret/SCI
Principal Duties and Responsibilities:
Responsible for the day-to-day execution and technical oversight of a variety of imagery science and remote sensing activities. Develops, analyzes, evaluates, and applies procedures to collect data from various radiometric instrument systems including, but not limited to, MWIR imaging systems, VIS-LWIR spectroradiometers, and other remote sensing systems to extract valuable signature information to better understand and exploit collected scientific data. Employs data modeling techniques and develops code in MATLAB/IDL/Python to evaluate and analyze sensor data, enabling high resolution signature development and characterization. Authors analytical reports on the scientific characterization of target materials to support intelligence community initiatives. Plans, schedules and supervises integrated field collection demonstrations, sensor test and evaluations, and target material verification procedures. Prepares and delivers technical papers and presentations for community-sponsored Geospatial Intelligence (GEOINT) symposiums, meetings, working groups and collection exercises. Advises and mentors Imagery Scientists/Analysts on new and evolving remote sensing technologies.

Labor Category
Required (years)
IC Experience
Education Required
Senior 12 6 PHD

Labor Category Name: Geospatial Intelligence Analyst
Security Clearance: Top Secret/SCI
Principal Duties and Responsibilities:
Provides non-literal analysis to produce intelligence products, using remote sensing methodologies, on data from a range of airborne and space-based imaging sensors. Applies customized algorithms, tools, and methodologies for exploitation of GEOINT imagery, focusing on new approaches and capabilities to operational missions. Assist Imagery Scientists in developing novel analytical methodologies to be applied to challenging remote sensing problem sets. Utilize analytic tools and techniques such as geographic information systems (GIS), data visualization and modeling, systems analysis, comparative analysis, and database development. Supports GEOINT collection experiments and employs measures of effectiveness to assess remote sensing system capabilities. Understands the capabilities of GEOINT systems and sensors and their potential application to the intelligence mission.

Labor Category
Required (years)
IC Experience
Education Required
Senior 12 6 Master's
Mid 8 4 Bachelor's
Junior 4 1 Bachelor's

Labor Category Name: Senior Data Scientist
Security Clearance: Top Secret/SCI
Principal Duties and Responsibilities:
Responsible for the day-to-day execution and oversight of a variety of data driven projects. Delegates assignments to Data Scientists in order to realize the successful completion of tasks. Utilizes cutting edge machine learning techniques to implement and execute tests and to develop imagery science tools, algorithms, and processes. Conducts data science experiments, with applications in applied remote sensing, to demonstrate innovative and creative methods for successfully applying machine learning and artificial intelligence techniques to address intelligence needs. Directs data modeling techniques and provides developmental plans and quality assurance for all R/Python/Matlab coding efforts. Advises, educates, and mentors analysts and scientists on advanced forms of data analytics. Expert in R, Python and/or MATLAB coding environments and extensive experience with SQL and/or NoSQL databases.

Relevant Experience
IC Experience
Education Required
10 6 Master's
8 4 PHD

Labor Category Name: Data Scientist
Security Clearance: Top Secret/SCI
Principal Duties and Responsibilities:
Responsible for modeling complex data from passive and active imaging sensors and systems, discovering and identifying opportunities using statistical, algorithmic, mining and visualization techniques. Proficient at integrating and preparing large, varied datasets, architecting specialized database and computing environments, and developing customized algorithms, tools, and methodologies for exploitation of remotely sensed data. Develop machine learning and artificial intelligence (ML/AI) capabilities to support operational missions. Investigate innovative and emerging technologies from open source, commercial, academic, defense and foreign scientific sources to identify approaches to be incorporated into analytical workflows. Use quantitative testing of sample data, in collaboration with analysts and scientific subject matter experts, to develop new applications and techniques for non-literal analysis, utilizing the scientific value of data collected from various remote sensing platforms. Design, validate, and implement data processing algorithms on a cloud-based architecture and provide recommendations on best practices, security measures, and efficiency at scale. Proficient in R, Python and MATLAB coding environments and working-level experience with SQL and/or NoSQL databases.

Labor Category
Required (years)
IC Experience
Education Required
Senior 8 6 Master's
Mid 6 4 Bachelor's
Junior 2 1 Bachelor's

Labor Category Name: Operations Analyst (OA)
Security Clearance: Top Secret/SCI
Principal Duties and Responsibilities:
Responsible for providing data assessments and performance measurements to support the customer's particular mission strategy or operational direction. Translates technical and scientific information and evaluates intelligence driven analysis to develop and advise scientific staff and customer leadership on production trends and methodologies. Provide research and advises on reporting of significant intelligence actions, authors department analysis reports, and conducts internal audits of government and contractor acquired property. Creates and facilitates reporting and analysis to evaluate operational initiatives and drive operational efficiencies. Quantitatively evaluates and recommends action plans, on all operational reporting and analysis, in order to enhance effectiveness and drive efficiencies of intelligence production.

Labor Category
Required (years)
IC Experience
Education Required
OA 8 4 Bachelor's

Labor Category Name: : Data Scientist/LNO
Security Clearance: Top Secret/SCI
Principal Duties and Responsibilities:
Establish a functioning coordination mechanism between geographically separated analysts and imagery scientists to develop data science methods, techniques, and processes to support intelligence requirements. Provide assessments and performance metrics to identify areas of advancement in analytical capabilities. Promote the integration of data science methods, techniques, and processes into the larger enterprise and facilitate accessibility to GEOINT analysis and production elements. Translate technical and scientific information and evaluate intelligence driven analysis to develop and advise analytical staff and organizational leadership on future methodologies and capabilities for anticipatory intelligence requirements. Evaluate and recommend improvements to machine learning algorithms to increase the accuracy of data characterization.

Labor Category
Required (years)
IC Experience
Education Required
Data Scientist/LNO 8 4 Bachelor's

2020 Florida AFTAC Alumni Association SnowBall XXII

Alumni of the Year Attendees: Bob Wiley (2008), Sean P. Ryan (2014), Frank Calenda (2015), Dee & Gene Melchior (2012), Pete Gilbert (2018), Bryce Dunn (2019)

By Sean Ryan Since 1999, The Florida AFTAC Alumni Association (AFTACAA) has thrown a themed event called a SnowBall. This festive and social get-together is highlighted with a social, dinner, entertainment, and honoring our previous year's Alumni of the Year (AOY). This year's event was held on 25 January, at the Holiday Inn Hotel in Viera, Florida.

The night's events kicked off with a festive Social Hour where guests enjoyed chatting and reminiscing about AFTAC and catching up and sb3.png socializing with old friendships and sharing fond memories of their time in the unit, thru the years, around-the-world, or in the head-quarters building at Patrick AFB. Guests were also entertained by sb5.png The Harbor City Harmonizers (A 4-person Quartet). The yearly slide show, organized and developed by Bob Wiley (AOY 2008), with photos by him from Ed Lindsay, and Judy Henderson (AOY 1997), among others, of previous SnowBall's, Spring Picnic, Golf Tournaments, Toilet Bowl, and Wind Downs, was continually shown on the screen.

This year's theme was the "Seismic Technique," which joined previous themes honoring Hawaii, Germany, Florida, Wyoming, Thailand, Australia, Korea, Nebraska, and Colorado … locations, where AFTAC had or has a presence, among other locales, worldwide.

sb6.png Following the Social Hour, Opening Remarks by the AFTACAA President Phil Godfrey, Introductions of Key Staff, our National Anthem nicely performed by AFTAC's very own "Atomic Blue", Sage Salute provided by Lou Seiler, and POW/MIA Recognition and Invocation by Sean Ryan, a very delicious and appealing dinner was served by the hotel staff.

sb2.png Amy Long, Gina & Chad Hartman After a brief break following dinner, the AFTAC Commander, Colonel Chad Hartman, provided an outstanding "pocket slide brief" of the Status of Command (SOC), and an overview of AFTAC's current activities and status. His SOC brief was truly "spot-on," and brought the AFTACAA "in tune and current" with the mission they once served in, and what is on the horizon for AFTAC down the road. Following the brief, The Harmonizers sang again.

The evening ended with the announcement of the 2019 AFTAC AOY. Wallace "Bryce" Dunn from the AFTAC Colorado Chapter in Denver, CO, was selected as the recipient. Bryce was previously recognized at the CO Chapter Worldwide Reunion in June 2019. The AFTACAA officially announced his name to welcome him into the honored recipients of the prestigious AOY ranks and honorees through the years.

Equipment displays were graciously supplied and arranged for the night by Dr. Mike Young, AFTAC Historian. Michelle Ryan and Frank Calenda arranged seismic wiggling related centerpieces to decorate the tables "that were an awesome compliment to the night's table displays." Frank and Edna Calenda, Michelle Ryan, and Pete Gilbert volunteered to man the check-in table. Judy Henderson shot photos for the evening.

A special and heartfelt thank you to all Team AFTAC Alumni Members and Spouses who volunteered to help with the various tasks and support required to provide an awesome evening by all in attendance.

sb4.png We look forward to the 2021 SnowBall XXIII, in January 2021, when the AFTACAA will gather once again, to mingle, socialize, and reminisce of the times when we were in, and the current AFTAC of today, and recognize the 2020 AOY. Hope you can join us for another grand event and evening, with fellow Alumni and others in attendance next year.

More Pictures

Lou Seiler and Bryce and Susan Dunn
Arlin Massey & Phil Godfrey
George & Judy Henderson
Alexa & Amy Long, Gary Cornn, and Jonathan & Sophia VanNoord
Ed Lindsay with daughter, Angelica, in front of a Seismic display
Barbara Herrick, Moira & Tom Eddleman, and Steve Herrick
Dee & Gene Melchior
Pete & Shirley Gilbert
Mike & Connie Dobrin

45th MDG FLU Shots Available

Dear Beneficiary,
We at the Patrick AFB Medical Treatment Facility are sending you this message to encourage you to get the flu vaccine to help reduce the overall impact of possible respiratory illnesses for you and others during the COVID-19 pandemic. While the flu vaccine will not protect you against COVID-19, flu vaccination has been shown to reduce the risk of illness, hospitalization and death from an influenza infection. It is especially important for you to be immunized against the flu this year because we want to avoid potential simultaneous demand on our healthcare system due to COVID-19 and the flu.

Currently, we have influenza immunizations for beneficiaries between the ages of 6 months - 18 years, and 65 years or older. We are currently reserving our vaccinations for ages 18-65 for our Active Duty members, and will release for all beneficiaries as soon as we receive more vaccines. Please follow our Facebook page or look for future messages about any changes to our influenza vaccination availability.

If we do not currently have the correct influenza vaccination in stock for you, you may obtain the flu immunization in the TRICARE network for free at Walmart, Walgreens, and Publix. You may go to any network pharmacy that accepts TRICARE. To find the nearest one near you search on-line at:

To ensure your shot record is updated, please provide the vaccine documentation you receive from the network pharmacy or TRICARE-authorized network provider to your Primary Care team or your MTF immunizations clinic. You may upload a copy of your immunization documentation to secure messaging and send to your Primary Care Manager, or hand carry a copy to the MTF.

We care about your health and want you to be protected. The flu vaccine is an important tool to protect you from the flu in any year; however, it is especially important as we address the additional threat posed by COVID-19. Please call or e-mail your PCMH team if you have any questions.

Colonel Tracy Bozung, 45 MDG Commander

2020 Veterans Day Flag Run

Mouse Cursor in Blue Box = Pause Slide Show
Click Left Side = Previous   Click Right Side = Next

Many of you know the reasons behind these photos. For those who don't, here's the deal. The active duty military of my old outfit AFTAC, arranged a group of military to run an American flag for 24 hours to honor retired military Veterans on Veterans Day (For you Aussies and Kiwis, it's the same as your ANZAC Day).

The flag was retreated on the night before that day and the run began. It involved close to 100 military personnel and the distance run was right at 100 miles.

My part of the story was that I was selected to receive that flag in honor of all military veterans. I was extremely honored to be selected and consider this effort by our active military personnel to be above and beyond the call of duty. I just wanted to share this brief story with my family and friends.

Regards to all,
Frank Calenda

Four Skin Rug

The Four-Skin Rug
Shortly after I arrived at Det 421 (Alice Springs) in August 1977, we received notification that the Air Force Comm Service had scheduled a renovation and refurbishment of our data line system. This task was something that had been budgeted for a couple years and was anxiously awaited, particularly after a round of bush fires a few months previous. The team, from the Far East Area Comm Depot at Yokota, Japan was due to arrive in a month or so, and would be on site for about 6 weeks.

We made arrangements for the team's accommodation downtown, and prepared for their arrival. Seems like someone with some experience in this area, with teams of this nature, recalled that Outside Plant installation teams had a tendency to be a rough and ready crew of rather rowdy individuals, there were some misgivings as to how they'd fit in to the Alice Springs environment. We had cultivated a strong bond with the local folks, and we did not want a bunch of dorks giving us a black eye.

The day came and the crew arrived. About 10 guys, led by a short, rather meek looking SSGT named John Gleason. They were in fact a pretty rough looking bunch, but we talked with SSgt Gleason, and the crew, and came to an understanding. In fact, they were, while there, models of good deportment and integrated well with both the locals and the other det people. One of SSgt Gleason's first actions was to seek out the local Catholic church; he was a serious church goer wherever he was.

Anyways, shortly after they arrived we threw them a "Welcome to The Alice" party and barbecue at the det. All the Det families and single troops were there, as well as the team members, about half the gang from the RSL Club across the street, and assorted folks from the Space Base and the town in general. Huge crowd, all having a great time. As the evening wore on, a group of us were listening to John Gleason telling about the trip to Alice. They'd come from Japan to Hawaii, then to Alice Springs with an overnight in Christchurch, New Zealand and a refuel at RAAF Richmond outside Sydney.

John had never been to New Zealand before, and found his overnight stay interesting. He's right; Christchurch is a really neat place in a wonderful country. He wandered around, and was very taken with the souvenir shops, particularly those places where they were selling wool products. New Zealand is famous for this, of course

"Boy, they had some really great stuff there. I got a real nice sweater for my wife, not expensive at all, and a bunch of other things for the kids"

A couple folks agreed with him, and told him about some of the things that were around here; opals, kangaroo hides, all that stuff.

He went on, "And another thing they had there were whole sheepskins with the wool attached. They had single skins and two skins sewed together, and a couple places I went to even had four-skin rugs that you could buy"……

At that point…… complete silence in the immediate area. He immediately realized what he'd said. Simultaneously, the penny dropped and the rest of the group, about half of which were Detachment Wives, also figured it out. The Ladies were on that one like ducks on a June bug. The guys shortly after. Poor SSgt Gleason stood there, face as red as a thermometer going "Ah…Blah…. Well I meant …." and so forth and just wishing that the ground would open up and swallow him and deliver him from this situation.

I will not relate any of the resultant repartee; you can all use your own imaginations You know most of the guys, and you probably know a few of the wives. Things eventually settled out, and we all went back to what we were drinking and finished the evening in fine style. John eventually regained his normal coloration and boyish aplomb.

But… Right up till the team got on the plane and left, every time any of about half a dozen wives (and a few of the guys) saw John, they'd ask him about the four-skin rugs and watch him turn red. He was an awfully good sport about it.

Bob Chadwick
E8, Ret
Det 421 Aug 77-Oct 78

The 45 MDG has implemented
modified operations due to COVID-19.
Thank you for your patience and understanding.

45 MDG Clinic Hours:
Monday-Thursday 7:30 am-4:30 pm
Friday 9:30 am-4:30 pm

Satellite Pharmacy Hours:
Monday-Thursday 8:30 am-4:30 pm
Friday 9:30 am-4:30 pm

October Closures/Modified Hours:
Friday, 9 October 2020 (USSF Family Day):
Clinic open 7:30 am-12:00 pm
Satellite Pharmacy is closed all-day

Monday, 12 October 2020 (Federal Holiday):

All services closed all-day Clinic Service Status:
Active Duty Health/Family Health/Pediatrics/Women's Health: Virtual Appointments, In-Person Appointments (As Needed), Limited Walk-In Services
Walk-In Hours: 9:30-11:00am,1:00-3:00pm. Walk-in services available:
AD/Family Health: Blood Pressure Check, Injections (B12, Testosterone, Depo-Provera), Pregnancy Test, Dysuria (UTI), Wart Treatment, Suture Removal
Pediatrics: Blood Pressure Check, Depo-Provera Injection, Wart Removal, Weight/Bili Check, Suture Removal
Women's Health: Pregnancy Test, Depo-Provera Injection

Immunizations, Laboratory, Radiology, Pharmacy (Clinic/Satellite), Public Health, and TOPA: Regular Hours and Walk-In Services Available.

Dental: AD Only - Annual Exams, Dental Emergencies, and Dental Class 3 Only. No Cleanings or Routine Care.

Mental Health: AD Only - Virtual Appointments, In-Person (As Needed), Walk-In Services Available.

Optometry: Appointments available for AD. Retiree/Dependent space available only by appointment.

Physical Therapy: AD Only - Services by Appointment Only.

To schedule an appointment during clinic hours, call 321-494-8241.
After hours, contact the Nurse Advice Line at 1-800-874-2273.

AFTAC CCs/CVs over the Years

1035th/AFTAC Commanders

Name Date Installed Source
Col James Finlayson 2 June 2022 Intel
Col Katherine Barber 30 June 2020 Intel
Col Chad J. Hartman 20 June 2018 Intel
Col Steven M. Gorski 25 July 2016 Intel
Col Jeffrey Dyball 10 May 2016 Intel
Col Jennifer Sovada 19 June 2015 Intel
Col Christopher A. Worley 15 May 2012 Intel
Col/Maj Gen Aaron M. Prupas 16 June 2010 Intel
Col Lisa Ann H. Onaga 07 Aug 2008 Intel
Col Mark W. Westergren 08 Aug 2006 Intel
Col Guy D. Turner 15 Jul 2004 Nav
Col Craig V. Bendorf 10 Dec 2002 Pilot
Col Roy E. Horton III 08 Feb 2001 Intel
Col/Maj Gen Paul A. Dettmer 27 Jul 2000 Intel
Col Harold J. Beatty 15 Jul 1998 Intel
Col John T. Wigington III 30 Aug 1996 Intel
Col/Maj Gen Glen D. Shaffer 28 Jul 1994 Intel
Brig Gen James A. Jaeger 25 Jul 1991 Intel
Col Jay J. Jaynes 17 Feb 1988 Comm
Col/Brig Gen Billy J. Bingham 08 Sep 1986 Intel
Col/Maj Gen Richard J. O'Lear 17 May 1985 Intel
Brig Gen/Lt Gen James R. Clapper, Jr 15 Jun 1984 Intel
Col Robert A. Meisenheimer 01 Jun 1978 Pilot
Brig Gen Lawrence N. Gordon 29 Jun 1973 Pilot
Brig Gen William G. Goade 29 Oct 1971 Pilot
Brig Gen James G. Silliman 15 Jun 1970 Pilot
Brig Gen Linscott A. Hall 10 Aug 1966 Intel
Maj Gen Jermain P. Rodenhauser 07 Jul 1959 Ord/Log

1035th/AFTAC Vice Commanders

Name Date Installed Source
Col Ralph E.Bordner Jul 2018 Intel
Col Michael G. Sawyer Sep 2016 Intel
Lt Col Jeffrey Dyball Aug 2012 Intel
Col John L. Parker Mar 2012 Spac
Col James E. Roberts Dec 2010 EW/RAVEN
Col Eva S. Jenkins Jul 2009 Intel
Col Donna M. Rogers Aug 2007 Intel
Col Deborah J. Asselanis Sep 2005 Intel
Col Jonathon M. Wohlman May 2003 Intel
Col Mark Benoit Dec 2002 Intel
Col Craig V. Bendorf Dec 2001 Pilot
Col Paul Guttman Nov 1997 Unknown
Col Michael A. Shilkitus 26 Apr 1997 Intel
Col Eric Y. Larson 17 Jul 1995 Pilot
Col Kenneth L. Stanford 31 Oct 1992 Pilot
Col Richard A. Krebs 22 Mar 1991 Acq
Col Jay D. Sherman 29 May 1987 Scientist
Col Thomas W. Ciambrone 30 Sep 1981 Scientist
Col William B. Meharg 08 Sep 1980 Unknown
Col Francis C. Cobb 01 Jan 1979 Unknown
Col Robert A. Meisenheimer 27 Aug 1976 Pilot
Col Raymond F. Koestner 01 Apr 1975 Unknown
Col William L. Walker 08 Jan 1969 Unknown
Col Harry O. Patteson 01 Jul 1967 Unknown
Col James R. Dowless 01 Apr 1966 Unknown
Col Frank J. Griffith 27 May 1963 Unknown
Brig Gen William G. Lee, Jr. 10 Sep 1962 Unknown
Col Frank J. Griffith 1961 Unknown
Col Lester L. Woodward 7 Jul 1959 Unknown

AFTAC Alumni Association seeking donations for memorial at Patrick Air Force Base

By Time Walters, Florida Today, 27 August 2020
Return to
Memorial Article

mem1.jpg Tim Walters Florida Today
When AFTAC opened its new $158 million campus at Patrick Air Force Base in 2014, it was left with a conundrum.

Inside its former 1950s-era headquarters along State Road A1A were memorial plaques for those who died during active service for AFTAC, which stands for the Air Force Technical Applications Center, as well as its predecessor, AFOAT-1, or Air Force Office of Atomic Energy.

AFTAC leadership wanted to do something more visible to remember these people than hanging plaques inside a lobby.

"They wanted some place that would be available for more general traffic to acknowledge these people," said Air Force Major (Ret.) Lou Seiler, 73, who spent 10 of his 20 years of service with AFTAC. "They wondered if our alumni association, which is very active, would be willing to sponsor such a memorial external to the new building."

During the past seven decades, 76 AFOAT-1 and AFTAC members have lost their lives during their service to the mission.

When the AFTAC commander reached out to the AFTAC alumni association, which has more than 500 members in Florida and more than 1,000 nationwide, they began brainstorming ideas about how to honor their fallen.

They decided to form a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization so they could take in donations to build a memorial just outside of the new building.

Part of their campaign includes selling bricks that will form a pathway leading up to the memorial.

A 4-inch by 8-inch brick costs $150 and gets three lines of text up to 20 characters per line, includes spacing and punctuation. For $50 more you can get a 1x3 mini replica brick to keep.

An 8x8 brick costs $300 and gets six lines of text of up to 20 characters per line. For $50 more you can get a 3x3 mini replica brick.

The COVID-19 pandemic has slowed the process. The fundraising campaign had just begun in late 2019, but before it could gain traction, things ground to a halt in mid-March.

"Our whole program got kicked in the head by the pandemic," Seiler said. "We couldn't go anywhere, businesses weren't there. We couldn't go to meetings, couldn't have contact, just like anybody else. That caused a hit for us." mem2.jpg A Memorial to those AFTAC service members who have died while on active duty to the long-range detection mission is planned to be built at Patrick Air Force Base. A donation drive, including engraved bricks, is being offered by the AFTAC Alumni Association.

Now they are starting to get the word out.

The campaign hopes to raise between $150,000 and $180,000.

So far they have raised about $30,000. Their biggest donation was on the platinum level — $10,000 — from a retired chief master sergeant who prefers to remain anonymous for now, Seiler said.

They've also received donations on the gold level ($5,000), the silver level ($2,500) and the bronze level ($1,000), as well as many brick sales.

The memorial consists of a path leading to a sculpture, a memorial monolith and a bench.

The path, comprised of bricks inlaid with the names and messages from contributors, heads west, passing the U.S. flag and, according to Seiler, "chasing the sun, for the sun never sets on the AFTAC mission," leading to the memorial monolith.

Across the top of the monolith will be inscribed: "This memorial is dedicated to all those who have given their lives in support of the Long Range Detection mission, and the Air Force Technical Applications Center. Their sacrifice will never be forgotten."

Return to
Memorial Article

Posting of Our Memorial Names

(Updated September 2023)

The AFTAC Memorial has been built and dedicated, yet the project is still progressing and seeking donations, especially from those that served with AFTAC, the Long Range Detection (LRD) and AFOAT-1. We are focused on adding the sculpture of a Lithium atom and ensuring we have the ability to add individuals to the memorial and maintain the site over the long term. We continue to pursue funding for this project. An article was posted in the Florida Today Newspaper on Sunday, August 30th, 2020 describing our original purpose and goals.

Purchasing a brick is one of our best ways to contribute and create an enduring legacy of that contribution, however, any donation is helpful. A donation form for internet donations can be found below or you can use the on line Brick Order/Donation Form here.

The listing below includes all the members that have died while assigned to AFTAC (LRD) through the years that AFTAC has approved for inclusion in the memorial. We have additional information on some of these individuals; however, there are some members that we have little, or no information. As you go through the list, if you recognize the name and have knowledge of the date they passed, how it happened and any knowledge of their association with the AFTAC, LRD, AFOAT-1 organization, and anything else that might be pertinent, and have not previously provided this information, please send that information to our Alumni President, Ed Lindsay.

For additional questions about this project, please send email to the POC, Maj (Ret) Lou Seiler

"Dedicated to all those who have given their lives in support of the Long Range Detection mission, And the Air Force Technical Applications Center. Their sacrifice will never be forgotten."

Names are listed in the order they are on the wall

  • Beverly L. Britton, Maj
  • George E. Silva, Sgt
  • Edward F. O’Malley, AB
  • Virgil G. Harris, Capt
  • Stephen A. Clishaw, Capt
  • Edmund S. McMahon, A1C
  • Julian R. “Randy” Arnette, A2C
  • Richard K. Brown, TSgt
  • Lawrence L. LaPlante, A1C
  • John K. Foster, A2C
  • Jack E. Holden, MSgt
  • Claude M. Burgess, MSgt
  • Madelon J. Remus Ronald
  • D. Fruechte, A2C
  • Marvin H. Oleson
  • Fredrick P. Davison, Maj
  • Dr. William D. Urry
  • Donald Pollock, Maj
  • John F. Gleason, A2C
  • Charles E. Heckman, TSgt
  • Alcide O. Sylvestre, Capt
  • Fred B. Stoss Jr., Maj Louie
  • M. Bludnick, TSgt
  • Billy R. Carroll, TSgt
  • Thomas M. Quinney Jr., A1C
  • Lenox T. McKimmey Jr., Maj
  • Bernard E. Gardner, TSgt
  • William M. Pennington, CMSgt
  • Sylvester E. Nalley, SSgt
  • Charles D. Moore, TSgt
  • John E. Johnson, A2C
  • Lee J. Jacob, SSgt
  • Donald P. Hare, A1C
  • Nancy C. Pollard
  • Charles F. Gibbs, SSgt
  • Robert H. Smith, A1C
  • Robert B. Bums, SSgt
  • Frank A. Homer, SSgt
  • Robert L. Patterson, TSgt
  • Ronnie J. Ball, SSgt
  • Lavergne H. Sherrill
  • Arthur R. Thurman, SSgt
  • Donald W. Jacobson II, Sgt
  • Ismael R. Bryan, SSgt
  • Howard L. White, SMSgt
  • David W. Gustafson, TSgt
  • James R. Shrull, Maj
  • Alan H. Green, Sgt
  • Robert S. Watson III, MSgt
  • Carlos J. Annoni, Capt
  • Fredric M. Allen, TSgt
  • Edward J. Keefer Jr., 1Lt
  • Brian Chapin, SSgt
  • Gary C. Carsee
  • Scott A. Adkins, Amn
  • William W. Drinkard
  • Bruce Holley
  • Vincent Schobel, TSgt
  • David A. Muchesko, SrA
  • Walter Singlevich
  • David Monte
  • Dr. Patrick M. Collins
  • Steven L. Ellingson
  • Reginald L. Hammons, SrA
  • George R. Cruz Jr., TSgt
  • Larry D. Himes
  • James R. Mattes Jr., Maj
  • Mark Rohde
  • James C. Steward, SrA
  • Christopher J. O’Brien
  • Christopher Clark, TSgt
  • Charles Hendrickson
  • Ben Murphy
  • Dustin Verhines, TSgt
  • Kathleen Henning
  • Norvel E. Perkins, MSgt
  • Joshua V. LeRette, SrA
  • Donna Bickham
  • Karen Jacobs, CMSgt
  • Jose Herrera
  • Edward A Mason, SMSgt
  • Marcus A Zaharko, A1C

Your AFTAC Alumni Association and the AFTAC Memorial Corporation


On June 12th, the 45th Space Wing will transition to HPCON Bravo. With this change, certain facilities and services will begin to reopen around base but may have reduced hours or limitations on services. This will also allow up to 50% of our non-mission essential personnel to return to work on a voluntary basis and in coordination with unit commanders.

While we are excited to return some of the services that our community has been looking forward to, we remind everyone that face coverings are still required for any areas that physical distancing cannot be maintained. If you have any questions about the restrictions that may be in place for a specific location or service, please call ahead using the directory found on

With everyone's help to maintain physical distancing, continuing their wear of face coverings, and practicing the mitigating efforts outlined by the CDC, we hope to remain open without adding any previous restrictions!

_Images/IrishTopHat.jpg   With a special "Hat Tip" to Sean Ryan


I.   The Melbourne OMNI Healthcare drive-thru coronavirus test facility opens to the public at 8 a.m. Tuesday. Daily hours will be 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Eligible patients:
• Anyone older than 60
• Anyone with minimal symptoms of a cough or low-grade fever
• Anyone older than 45 with a chronic illness
• First responders
• Publix and Winn-Dixie employees
• Health care workers

Pre-qualification is required. For screening and registration, call 321-802-5515 or 321-727-1973. The address is 1344 S. Apollo Blvd. Insurances will be billed for testing. For more information, visit (website blocked on NASA computers).

II.   DOH drive-thru tests

The Florida Department of Health in North, Central, & South Brevard started providing drive-thru COVID-19 tests to qualifying people with symptoms such as cough, shortness of breath and fever of 100.4. Eligible patients:
• Age 65 and older
• Those with underlying health conditions
• First responders
• Anyone else with symptoms (fever, cough and/or SOB) and a prescription from a medical doctor

Appointments must be scheduled in advance. For screening and registration, call 321-454-7141.

Corona Virus Gate Procedure

Team Patrick/Cape,

In an abundance of caution, and while there have been no reported cases of the COVID-19 virus at either facility, Patrick Air Force Base (PAFB) and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS), I have made the decision to elevate our Health Protection Condition (HPCON) to "Alpha". This change is in response to the growing presence of COVID-19 in the United States. We currently have no known cases in Brevard County. HPCON Alpha is advised when there is a "report of unusual health risk or disease". Prudence dictates our preparation for the potential presence of COVID-19 locally. Part of our preparation is moving to HPCON Alpha. All of the measures accompanying this increase in HPCON level have been accomplished and were accomplished last week in preparation. Our Medical Professionals have reviewed the plans and verified training and supply stocks. Our Medical Professionals are prepared to diagnose, isolate, and report any COVID-19 cases that they encounter. We are also increasing our communications of the health threat and symptoms of COVID-19. At the present time, we feel that preparation for COVID-19 is the appropriate action to take in addition to the restriction of large public gatherings. We will be reviewing all large gatherings on our installations and determining if they are mission essential, and we will provide updates on any cancellations or postponements. Rest assured, if further community control measures are indicated, we will proceed expeditiously and keep our community informed of our actions and the reasons for them. Our commitment to you remains to be transparent, and to protect individuals and the community as a whole to the maximum extent possible.

The BEST way to protect yourself is to practice basic HAND HYGIENE and RESPIRATORY ETIQUETTE: - Wash your hands thoroughly and frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. - Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands. - Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces. - Avoid close contact with people who are sick. - Stay home when you are sick. - Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash. CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory viruses, including COVID-19.

The link to the Department of the Air Force's COVID-19 information (including HPCON info) and the CDC are listed below:

Additionally, for the health and safety of both Defenders and the public, the 45th Security Forces Squadron will modify base access procedures at all Base Entry Control Points. Effective immediately, Defenders will no longer touch your identification cards. Patrons are asked to first present the front side of your identification to the Entry Controller and then turn your identification so that it may be scanned. Note: This change is temporary until further notice.

Brig Gen Doug Schiess

2019 AFTAC Dining Out
Saturday, 14 December
AFTAC -- "A Look Back at the Air Force Technical Applications Center (AFTAC) 72-Year History"

What a better way and a great nite to celebrate as AFTAC Alumni, active duty, and civilians, than with "A Look Back at the Air Force Technical Applications Center (AFTAC) 72-Year History" reflecting upon the outstanding accomplishments and history of AFTAC, then and now, at the 2019 AFTAC Dining Out. The well-orchestrated event and fond memories were held on Saturday nite, 14 December, at the 920th Rescue Wing hangar at Patrick AFB. An awesome backdrop of the WC-135 aircraft added to the great food, camaraderie, and well spent social and family time with fellow Team AFTAC Members. And, NO Dining Out or In, is complete, without a visit to the Grog Bowl!

grog1 grog2 grog3

The entire Alumni guests in attendance made a trip in the direction of the President of the Mess. They say the alcoholic one was like fire and the non-alcoholic was smooth and went down like water. Not the most tasteful, nor visionary appealing, by far. Good times and great memories! Definitely, a nite enjoyed by all in attendance.

do_2019_1.jpg do_2019_2.jpg do_2019_3.jpg do_2019_4.jpg do_2019_5.jpg do_2019_6.jpg do_2019_7.jpg do_2019_8.jpg do_2019_9.jpg do_2019_10.jpg do_2019_11.jpg


By Lou Seiler, President AFTAC Memorial Corporation

The AFTAC memorial Corporation (AFTACMC) (a Florida non-profit 501(C)3 corporation) has for the past 24 months been conducting a fund raising to construct a memorial to those AFTACers who have passed away while serving in AFTAC. We initially raised enough to conduct a design effort and an estimated cost to build effort. The proposed design has previously been published in the Post Monitor, on the AFTAC Web Site (AFTACAA) and through an initial direct mailing (340) to those in the Alumni database with addresses in Florida.

_Photos/Wall1.jpg When we began the process there was a large voicing of approval and comments of "when can we contribute?." Well, that time has definitely here!

In total, 29 donations (including 10 responses from the mailing) have been received to support the building of the memorial. In addition two pledges have been made, one by the AFTAC Alumni Association for $10,000, and one by as yet unnamed Alumni for $5,000. Of the 29 donors, there are 3 Silver ($2500-$4999) and one Bronze ($1000$2499).

It was our desire to have the Memorial Built and to have the Dedication Ceremony as a part of the 2021 AFTAC World Wide Reunion (WWR) in 2021 (around the June timeframe), however, that dedication timeline is no longer possible.

As of the date of this article, the AFTACMC has approximately $5700 in the building fund, with $15,000 in pledges for a total of $20,700. The estimated cost to build the proposed Memorial is $150,000 to $180,000. So you can see we are a long way off.

We see great enthusiasm for many things AFTAC, such as the PoMo, the every other year WWR, posts and followings on various FACEBOOK pages. I know that many, if not all, have very fond memories of their time in AFTAC, many with their entire service time in AFTAC. Many of you have known and/or have served with members who have died while in AFTAC.

At this point we are faced with making some very hard decisions and we would like your input. Should we abandon the concept of a Memorial, downsize it to the concept of a roadside historical marker, or continue to pursue something that shows the pride AFTACers had and continue to have in the important mission of AFTAC to national security. Donations in any amount are appreciated, the designation levels are $1-$149 - Donor, $150-999- Brick , $1000-2400- Bronze, $2500-$4999- Silver, $5000-$9999- Gold, and $10,000-up - Platinum

So we ask each of you to look deep into your heart and soul, as well as your checkbook to consider a donation to make this Memorial happen. It can only happen with YOUR help.

Donations for any amount can be made by a check made out to "AFTAC Memorial Corporation" and mailed to

AFTAC Memorial Corporation
2822 Englewood Drive
Melbourne, FL 32940

Or you may also click here to go to the website From there you may download a donation form, order a brick on-line, or make a donation only, and pay through PayPal using your credit card or through your own PayPal account.

We are asking for your help to build a lasting Memorial to the men and women who have served AFTAC for the past 73 years, and continuing into the future. It is your decision to make!

2019 AFTAC Fall Picnic

Friday, 25 October
2019 AFTAC Fall Picnic
1200 - 1700
Stonehenge / AFTAC Pavilion
Ticket Cost: $3 pp plus $2 contribution for beer arm band.
(Pay as you enter at the picnic).
POC (Building): MSgt Michael Nolan/321-494-9315
POC (AFTACAA): Sean Ryan/321-591-9053/

Request for Volunteers to Work Adult Beverages Table

Greetings Fellow Alumni/Sir's/Ma'am, et al:

On Friday, 25 October, is the 2019 AFTAC Fall Picnic at the HQ AFTAC building area of Stonehenge and the AFTAC Pavilion, PAFB.

The AFTAC Alumni Association has been graciously asked once again, to work the Adult Beverages Table, with volunteers. There will be 4 taps. Times are from an estimated 1130 - 1730. (Prep-Time: 1130 - 1200. Serving Times: 1200 - 1700. Tear Down/Wrap-Up Time: 1700 - 1730).

Any time(s) one can support and volunteer for, will be greatly appreciated. I will comprise the roster in 1-hour increments of 2 folks per shift. (Max is 2 per shift). (Example attached)

If you'd like to volunteer, please reply to myself, with your name and time preference, by: Wednesday, 23 October 2019. (Email:

Additionally, all volunteers serving alcohol, are required to complete the Dram Shop Theory and What It Is Training. This must be completed, prior to serving, per AFI 34-119, Alcohol Beverage Management. Training will be conducted again, at the AFTACAA Monthly Meeting, Tuesday, 15 October, at 1530, in the HQ AFTAC Lobby Conference Room.

Thank you greatly for your support and assistance.
See ya'll at the picnic!

Treasurer, Publicity/Social Chair, AFTACAA

CMSGT Amy Long new AFTAC Command Chief

Amy Long Chief Master Sergeant Amy L. Long is the Command Chief for the Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick Air Force Base, Florida, where she advises the AFTAC wing commander on matters concerning the readiness, utilization, training, morale and welfare of the 1,000- member center and its 14 detachments around the globe who support AFTAC's international treaty monitoring activities. AFTAC operates and maintains the United States Atomic Energy Detection System to monitor foreign compliance with various treaties limiting nuclear testing. AFTAC is also the designated U.S. laboratory system that provides technical support to the United Nations' International Atomic Energy Agency.

Long entered the Air Force in September 1994. She graduated from the Defense Language Institute as an Arabic Cryptologic Linguist in March 1996. Her background includes various duties in intelligence operations, joint service and training. Throughout her career, she has served in myriad positions including National Security Agency Functional Manager, Counterterrorism Senior Enlisted Representative, as well as Squadron and Group Superintendent. She has deployed in support of Operation New Dawn and completed overseas tours in Korea and Hawaii.

Prior to assuming her current position, Long served as the Chief, Strengthening Joint Leaders and Teams for the U.S. Air Force Strategic Integration Group at the Pentagon.

1992 Oxnard High School, Oxnard, California
1994 Defense Language Institute, Foreign Language Center, Monterey, California
1996 Cryptologic Linguist Training, Goodfellow AFB, Texas
1999 Airman Leadership School, Shaw AFB, South Carolina
2005 Noncommissioned Officer Academy, Goodfellow AFB, Texas
2007 Senior Noncommissioned Officer Academy (correspondence)
2008 Associate Degree, Communications Applies Technology, Community College of the Air Force
2010 Associate Degree, Arabic Studies, Defense Language Institute, Monterey, California
2011 Senior Noncommissioned Officer Academy, Maxwell AFB, Alabama
2012 Professional Manager Certification, Community College of the Air Force
2014 Bachelor of Science degree in Human Resources, University of Maryland
2015 Air Combat Command Chief Orientation Course, Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia
2017 Senior Enlisted Joint Professional Military Education II (correspondence)
2017 Continuous Process Improvement Senior Leaders Course, Air University, Maxwell AFB, Alabama
2017 Command Chief Master Sergeant Training Course, Joint Base Andrews, Maryland
2019 Senior Enlisted Legal Orientation, Air Force Judge Advocate General's School, Maxwell AFB, Alabama

1. September 1994 - October 1994, student, Basic Military Training School, Lackland AFB, Texas
2. October 1994 - March 1996, student, Basic Course, Defense Language Institute, Foreign Language Center, Monterey, California
3. March 1996 - August 1996, student, Cryptologic Linguist Course, Goodfellow AFB, Texas
4. August 1996 - April 2003, Cryptologic Linguist, Mission Manager, 31st Intelligence Squadron, Fort Gordon, Georgia
5. April 2003 - July 2006, Military Language Instructor, Defense Language Institute, Foreign Language Center, Monterey, California
6. July 2006 - September 2007, Noncommissioned Officer in Charge of Operations Production, 94th Intelligence Squadron, Fort George G. Meade, Maryland
7. September 2007 - January 2009, Superintendent, 94th Mission Support Squadron, Fort George G. Meade, Maryland
8. June 2008 - October 2008, Noncommissioned Officer in Charge, Joint Functional Component Command-Network Warfare, All-Source Analyst Deployment, Fort George G. Meade, Maryland
9. January 2009 - December 2010, 1N3 Functional Manager, 70th Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Group, Fort George G. Meade, Maryland
10. December 2010 - June 2011, Middle East/Africa Senior Enlisted Representative, 22nd Intelligence Squadron, National Security Agency, Fort George G. Meade, Maryland
11. June 2011 - November 2011, Joint Expeditionary Tasking Deployment, Kirkuk and Baghdad, Iraq
12. December 2011 - March 2013, Counterterrorism Senior Enlisted Representative, 34th Intelligence Squadron, National Security Agency, Fort George G. Meade, Maryland
13. March 2013 - September 2013, Superintendent, 34th Intelligence Squadron, National Security Agency, Fort George G. Meade, Maryland
14. September 2013 - September 2015, Operations Superintendent, 303rd Intelligence Squadron, Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea
15. September 2015 - May 2017, Superintendent, 8th Intelligence Squadron, Joint Base Pearl Harbor- Hickam, Hawaii
16. May 2017 - August 2018, Superintendent 692nd ISR Group, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii
17. August 2018 - July 2019, Chief, Strengthening Joint Leaders and Teams, Air Force Strategic Integration Group, Pentagon, Washington, D.C.
18. July 2019 - Present, Command Chief, Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick AFB, Florida

MAJOR AWARDS AND DECORATIONS Defense Meritorious Service Medal
Meritorious Service Medal with three oak leaf clusters
Joint Service Commendation Medal with three oak leaf clusters
Air Force Commendation Medal
Joint Service Achievement Medal
Air Force Achievement Medal
Good Conduct Medal with one silver oak leaf and three bronze oak leaf clusters
National Defense Service Medal with service star
Iraq Campaign Medal
Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
Korean Defense Service Medal

1994 Basic Military Training School Honor Graduate, Lackland AFB, Texas
2001 NCO of the Quarter, 543rd Intelligence Group, Lackland AFB, Texas
2008 NCO of the Quarter, 70th Intelligence Wing, Fort George G. Meade, Maryland
2008 SNCO of the Quarter, 70th Operations Group, Fort George G. Meade, Maryland
2011 Distinguished Graduate, Senior NCO Academy, Maxwell AFB, Alabama
2014 Magna cum laude, University of Maryland
Chief Master Sergeant October 2015

Florida AFTAC Alumni Association Monthly Meeting
Monday, 10 February
1600 - 1700
HQ AFTAC, Lobby Conference Room

AFTAC Alumni Association (AFTACAA)
Annual Fall Golf-n'GetTogether XXXV
Friday, 11 October 2019

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 pkgs will be on sale: $5 gets you:
1 Red Bomb, 1 Nolan, & 1 Mulligan
Team Mulligan ball: available for $10

Mr. Ed Lindsay -- 321-610-7548 (Unlisted)
Mr. Bruce Snelgrove-- 321-494-6166 (Unlisted)

Fun Spot

I'm posting the video several days after our 4th of July to stress that we should remember what our nation stands for each and every day of our lives and not on just one day of the year.

The words to this song were written in 1893….that's 126 years ago. The words are sub-titled. Read them….understand them and think about what they really mean. Consider this mindset of our great citizens so many years ago. Every school child, every new legal citizen (and some no-so-legal), every school teacher, every law officer and members of our own government offices, and yes, every one of us should read and understand these hallowed words. These words reflect what our nation should be.

I'm not trying to get political, I, as many of you, just love our country. One great thing about our country is that nobody can force you to watch this.

Your AFTAC Website Chairman


2019 AFTAC Wall of Honor Inductees
By: Ed Lindsay
President, AFTAC Alumni Association


On Tuesday, April 30, 2019, AFTAC conducted their annual Wall of Honor Ceremony.

Inductees and honored guests pose for a photo in front of the Wall of Honor at the Air Force Technical Applications Center at Patrick AFB, Fla., April 30, 2019. Pictured from right to left: Col. Chad Hartman, AFTAC commander; Col. (ret.) Franklin D. Hall, inductee; Donna Jean, wife of inductee Dr. George H. Rothe III; and Doris Bruner, an AFTAC technical advisor who accepted the award for Lt. Col. (ret) Michael MacInnes. (U.S. Air Force photo by Jared Trimarchi)

This event was established back in 2014, with 12 individuals initially being inducted. Every year since, AFTAC has selected 3 individuals to be inducted.

This year one of the honorees was Col (retired) Frank Hall. It brought a great feeling to my heart seeing this individual who has done so much for the AFTAC Alumni Association finally being honored for his contributions to AFTAC.

Early in my 30 year career, I was blessed to have met Col Hall while stationed at my first overseas assignment in Korea. He was in Hawaii at the time. And I have had the pleasure of working with him while part of the AFTACAA.

The other two honorees were Dr. George Rothe and Lt Col (Retired) Michael MacInnes. Both of these individuals well deserving of this honor.

The attendance was a little sparse (in my opinion) I counted 12 people in uniform. Maybe another 30 people that work in the bldg, that weren't part of the ceremony.

It was a GREAT turnout by the AFTAC Alumni Association members! A monumental effort and constant professionalism was executed by Dr. Mike Young, the AFTAC Historian. In my opinion, without Mike, this would not be the success it has been the past 5 years.

Some of the Alumni members I saw in attendance, that don't still work in the bldg were Mike Hoy, Tony DeMarco, Don and Jan Whitney, Arlin Massey, Frank and Edna Calenda, Gene and Dee Melchoir, Lou Seiler, Bob Wiley, John Horsch, Judy Henderson, Rick Manley and I am sure others I may have missed.

We had great representation from our Alumni members still fighting the good fight like, Addison Mitchell, Bruce Snelgrove, Carol Snyder, Kevin Callan, George Mirda, CMSgt Chad Madore, CMSgt Jason Gainor, Dr. Glenn Sjoden, Mike Young, Doris Bruner, and Others I probably missed.

Great to see the support for those that came before us and the recognition for their contributions.

One Team, One Fight!

News Of The Toilet Bowl Winners

This from Kathie Querry, 04.05, FaceBook, 'AFTAC Families in the know

The 2019 Toilet Bowl is in the archives. The undefeated 709CYS-Cyber Knights claimed the coveted Commanders Toilet Bowl Trophy!

The Deuce & Flush went to the 709YMXS-KRAKENS. Mr Brad Schulz from CIL claimed the Golden Plunger Award with 6 over the fence in the Home Run Derby.

The Brown Crown (Poop Stick) was bestowed upon 21SURS/23ANS-MISSION UP, who will run the 2020 games.

Special thanks to our host 22SURS (MSgt Assunto/SSgt Palmer) for a GREAT WING EVENT!!

Thanks to all the volunteers who selflessly gave their time to keep the heritage of the Toilet Bowl going.

NOTE: (From Post Monitor Editor) It was a spectacular day and the alumni association was proud to be a part of the beverage dispensing group. Helping were Frank Calenda, Sean Ryan, Doug Colbary, and John Horsch made a 20-minute appearance!! Also, thanks to several of the active duty for their assistance with setting up the kegs and pouring when the lines got long.

AFTAC Alumni Association (AFTACAA)
Annual Spring Golf-n'GetTogether XXXIV
Friday, 7 June 2019


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 pkgs will be on sale: $5 for 1 mulligan,
Red Bomb, & Nolan
Team Mulligan ball: available for $10
POCs: Mr. Ed Lindsay --,
phone: 321-610-7548 (Unlisted)
Mr. Bruce Snelgrove --,
phone: 321-494-6166

2019 AFTAC Awards Ceremony
Patrick AFB Beach House
February 22, 2019


award9jpg On the occasion of awards to the most outstanding AFTAC performers of the year, our 2019 Alumni Of The Year, Pete Gilbert was included in this ceremony.

Although this year's venue was more "relaxed" than previous ceremonies, the military honors were still preserved. Following a social hour, the assembly was then called to order.

The National Anthem was sounded, an invocation was given and distinguished guests were identified and the award nominees were announced.

A short presentation was made by Mr. Leland (Lee) Hathaway who spoke of his past military service and his deep appreciation of AFTAC and the work that is performed.

award3jpg award2jpg After the awards to the active duty and civilians' selectees, Pete Gilbert, accompanied by his wife Shirley, was called to the front to accept his Alumni of the Year award amidst a solid round of applause. He accepted the award from Colonel Hartman and Chief Joseph, he offered a sharp salute and returned to the Alumni table with a huge smile on his face.

Pete is very deserving of this award and the recognition given to him and all the Alumni by the AFTAC Commander.

Well done Pete!!!!

Click to see More Pictures


The Award"

AFTAC Alumni Retreat Attendance

On 14 January 2019, AFTAC participated in the Quarterly Formal Retreat Ceremony at HQ 45 Space Wing, Patrick AFB. In addition to the full complement of active duty AFTAC personnel performing the ceremony, a contingent of the AFTAC Alumni Association was privileged to attend.

Association members in attendance (L to R) were: Sean Ryan, Terry Hammond, Frank Calenda, Bob Wiley, John Horsch, Ed Lindsay, Bob Chadwick, James Whidden (Not Shown)
Retreat detail forming up
Detail at parade rest prior to start
Our Flag
Ceremony's end; flag being folded

It was a reliving of an old tradition and elicited pride from all who attended.

Article and Photos by Bob Chadwick, AFTAC Alumni

Wooden HQ.jpg

Website Committee Note: Mark Smith sent this to us a while back. It is an amazing effort by one of our AFTAC Alumni which only goes to prove that AFTAC'ers are multi-talented. Thanks for this input and your effort Mark.

AFTAC Alumni, I built the wooden AFTAC display as a going away gift for Mr. Jim Kelly. Jim was AFTAC's Operations Security (OPSEC) Manager when he retired from civil service, and had been with AFTAC since 1991 (military and civilian). I had a "wire-frame" outline drawing of the building and decided that I wanted to make Jim something special for his going away gift…something no one else had. I took the wire-frame drawing and extrapolated the measurements to ensure they were "to scale". I used red oak for the main part of the building, sapele (looks like mahogany) for the stairs and concrete planters to the sides of the stairs, and black walnut for the windows and trim. I finished the display with a natural stain to bring out the grain of the wood, and sprayed 4 coats of lacquer. Either side of the entrance is adorned with the AFTAC coin, front and back. The flag I printed mirror images and glue it around a 1/8" dowel rod. The letters that spell out Air Force Technical Applications Center were made by a 3-D printer. I didn't have anything to scale the letters to other than photos of the front of Building 989. It took between 40 to 50 hours to create the display. I found the dragons at the flea market west of Melbourne and I-95 and had a friend airbrush them. The base of the display is made from red oak.

The purple dragons represent the OPSEC program. (Click here to learn more about OPSEC) A program that Jim Kelly took pride in every day at AFTAC. HE walked the walk and talked the talk, and brought a program that was given little more than lip-service to life, and even gained Air Force-level recognition. "OPSEC has always been an important factor in the military. Since Vietnam, OPSEC has become an established process used by military, federal, and state and local agencies, as well as private companies"

Jim would tell you, or anyone, that everyone in AFTAC is on the OPSEC Program team. It was his attitude that drew people to be more actively engaged in OPSEC. Jim Kelly definitely exhibited excellence in all he did, just as AFTAC has done for more than 70 years.

There is something nostalgic about that old Tech Lab to me…as a kid arriving here in 1973, riding by the building every day of my childhood knowing my dad worked there, and it was just so big!!! It is much like home to many AFTACers that have spent part of if not all of their career there. To many people, it was home, and they loved it as it had become a symbol of excellence not only at Patrick Air Force Base, but also to the Air Force and to our nations' leaders.

Thank you for your interest. I have considered trying to recreate the entire complex, rocket garden and all, but that could take several hundreds of hours. I would have to research to find out what rockets were on display.
Mark Smith

AFTAC Toilet Bowl 2017
by George Mirda

tb1.jpg December 1st in the North means football, snow and below zero temperatures, but at the Viera Regional Sports Complex and to AFTAC active duty, civilians, contractors and alumni the temps are 80F, beer and softball tournaments.

Friday began at 0900 with spirited play and challenge rounds. Event lead, SMSgt Steve "Carp" Carpenter from DO, organized committees and set up a fantastic venue for hundreds of attendees with all the trimmings (barbeque pork a la TSgt Chevis Stanley) dogs, burgers, even an Italian Ice truck. Alumni hosted and managed 4 kegs of beer and a tasty cider to help cool down the players. John Horsch, Frank Calenda, Ed Lindsey assured tradition and 99 culture were maintained.

tb2.jpg The tournament was superbly honchoed by Kathie Querry who made sure rigid compliance with rules complimented the fun atmosphere. After many games, including a loser's bracket ultimate loser (DO # 2 team … toilet bowl, number 2, get it?).

tb3.jpg The loser becomes next year's Toilet Bowl organizer. The final game between Mission Support and the Directorate of Operations was hard fought, but in an exciting and razor-close finish, MS triumphed 8 runs to 7.

Prior to the big game, a home run derby was held for a field of nearly 20. Despite huge, powerful Casey's stepping up to bat, an everyman-sized nuclear engineer from TM, Capt Taylor Yousley, who played college baseball, knocked the most balls out of the park and took home bragging rights and the envied slugger trophy.

tb4.jpg Highlights of the day were, for the first time in a long time, a lack of major injuries, some terrific cornhole mini-tourneys, long chow lines, but satisfyingly more than enough food and drink for all to savor till the very end. Col Gorski threw out the first pitch and flipped the ceremonial coin to determine the final game's to the field or at-bat. Later, he and Command Chief Joseph presented the latrine-themed awards.

The Toilet Bowl harkens back to it's annual namesake softball tournament 4 decades ago at AFTAC's depot/laboratory on McClellan AFB, California. My observation is that deadly cigarettes have been replaced with much more healthy cellphones. Soft drinks have taken a backseat to bottled water. Yet what hasn't changed is the competitive spirit and camaraderie that sports brings out in everyone whether player, official or spectator. Plus the USAF's finest organization and best people made it a day to remember for years to come.

AFTACAA Board Meeting Minutes by Year

2019 Colorado World Wide Reunion

Reunion Pictures

Total Attending: 123

At the reunion dinner banquet on Friday evening, it was announced that Bryce Dunn, the Colorado Alumni Chapter President, had been selected as the AFTAC Alumni of the Year 2019. Ed Lindsay, the Florida chapter President and emcee for this event in Colorado, made the announcement, and the award was presented to Bryce by the AFTAC Commander, Colonel Chad Hartman, and Command Chief Michael Joseph. After the presentation Bryce was joined at the stage by five former Alumni of the Year as shown in the below photos.

Left to Right: Col Hartman, Bryce Dunn, Chief Joseph, and Ed Lindsay
Left to Right: Frank Hall-1998, Lonnie Gibbons-2013, Bryce Dunn-2019, Pete Gilbert-2018, Bill Schmied-2007, and Joe Johnson-2002

This reunion had a total of 123 people in attendance and you missed a really good time if you were not one of them. Now we anxiously await for the next reunion in Florida.

The Florida Alumni Reunion will be held some time in early 2021. You'd better start planning now. Watch the Alumni website for notifications.

Federal TriCare Dental and Vision Plans Changing

As many of you might know, those of you that have the Tricare Delta Dental coverage, it will terminate on December 31st of this year. We have provided our website readers with four notifications and this will be the final one.

If you do not respond to the new program, you will be AUTOMATICALLY DROPPED from the program until the next open enrollment at the end of 2019.

A couple things I will note. Be sure to read about how some of the plans that are offered, will require that you be enrolled for up to a year before certain procedures will be covered, even if you presently have a plan with them. Also, you might want to check with your dentist office to make sure they are enrolled in the plan you might select.

Here are telephone numbers that might also provide assistance:

1-877-888-FEDS (1-877-888-3337),
TTY number 1-877-889-5680 to enroll or change your enrollment

Regards, Your Alumni Website guys

Awards and Wall of Honor Presentations


"Two exciting annual events are in the planning stages. AFTAC will have it's Annual Awards and Wall of Honor Presentation in the near future. Watch the Hot Topics and the Calendar of Events for updates."

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)


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


Modification Log

PoMo Mailing List

Eall Address Report


All Email Addresses Report

Good Emails

Bad Emails

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

Booster Club activities are included in the Calender of Events that can be viewed on our Main Page.

2023 BoosterClub Officers

President TSgt Cole, Latoya Send email
Vice President: SSgt Davis, Dillan Send email
Treasurer: MSgt Olsen, David Send email
Secretary: SrA Dillon, Taylor Send email
Sergeant At Arms: TSgt Griffin, Jevin Send email
Strategic Planning: SrA Smith, Michael Send email
Advisor: Capt Krutop, Richard Send email
Junior Enlisted Outreach: A1C Grado, Andrew Send email

A Piece of History - by Jack O'Connor

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.

Colorado Alumni Breakfast

24 February 2018
AACO Alumni Breakfast
We would like to welcome you to our Alumni breakfast on 24 February 2018 at 0900.
Alumni, active duty, family members, and friends are most welcome to attend.
Aurora Hills Golf Course - Tin Cup Bar & Grill
50 S. Peoria St. Aurora, CO 80012
The cost is $15 per person, collected at the breakfast. Children are half-price.
Menu is the Tin Cup buffet, with eggs, potatoes, meats, biscuits & gravy, toast, juice and coffee.
Please RSVP by 17 February (you can reply all to this message).
We hope to see you there!
Colorado Alumni POC: Bryce Dunn,

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 2018
Submitted By Gene and Dee Melchior

Show Slide Show


The annual AFTAC alumni "Snowball" was held on January 20th at the Holiday Inn VieraMelbourne.

Our commander, Col. Stephen Gorski, provided an interesting overview of current AFTAC activities. His updates are always interesting and keep alumni "in touch" with the mission they served.

Attendees enjoyed a festive evening renewing old friendships and sharing memories. The menu for the event, Hunters Chicken Breast or Flat Iron Steak served with a delicious Mushroom-wine sauce, was enjoyed by all. Key Lime Pie topped off the dinner.

The "Mobile Sensors" theme honored AFTAC members currently serving aboard the ships that carry on our world-wide mission. High lighting the evening was a presentation by DR. Mike Young, our AFTAC historian. Mike provided models of the current ships, and answered questions for those who gathered around the displays. Our thanks to you, Mike!

The end of the evening announced the AFTAC Alumni for 2017. It was John "Butch" Kemna, from the West Coast Chapter. Butch was announced at the worldwide reunion in Sacramento held in June 2017. This was our official announcement to finally welcome him in to the honored ranks.

Alumni member, Gene Melchior, (while working as a contractor with Lockheed Martin) provided pictures taken in 1999, while he was aboard the now de-commissioned Cobra Judy ship "Observation Island". Gene was gratified that there was so much interest in his photos, posterboard and experiences.

Michelle Ryan and Judy Henderson added centerpieces adorned with nautical figures that were a complement to the ship displays. A hearty thank you, ladies!

Our thanks to Sean Ryan for his planning and great efforts in making this all happen. Also, thanks to all those that volunteered to help with the various tasks needed to provide such a great evening.

We look forward to next years "Snowball 2019" when alumni gather again!

2018 AFTAC Alumni Association (AFTACAA) Snowball XX

Article - Sean Ryan
Photos - Michelle Ryan and Judy Henderson

Show Slide Show

Photo Gallery


Since 1999, the AFTAC Alumni Association (AFTACAA), Florida Chapter, has 'thrown a themed event called Snowball' at the start of the new year. We like to entertain this event when our 'Sage Snowbirds' are in town. It is a grand way to introduce the newly elected and appointed board members, recognize Alumni and Alumni accomplishments, hold a festive and social get-together followed by a sit-down dinner and wish old friends and Alumni a great start, to a new year. It is also a great time to honor and recognize the Alumni of the Year (AOY) for the previous year. This year's splendid and outstanding event and evening was held at the Holiday Inn Hotel, Melbourne-Viera, Florida, on Saturday, 20 January 2018. It is tradition at the annual Snowball, where we welcome the AFTAC Commander, Vice Commander, Chief Scientist, Director of Staff, Command Chief, Directors, Group and Squadron Commanders, all active-duty military and civilian, and any outlying area commanders, that are in attendance. We also pay special tribute to the spouses and significant others in support of Alumni members at the Snowball.

The nights festivities kicked off with a Social Hour where guests enjoyed reminiscing about AFTAC and catching up and socializing with old friendships and sharing memories of their time in the unit, around-the-world, or in the headquarters building at Patrick AFB thru the years. The bartender "Ryan", once again, was truly superb in serving great cocktails and beverages throughout the evening. The yearly slide show, organized and built by Bob Wiley with photos by Judy Milam-Henderson of previous Snowball's, Winter Socials, Golf Tournaments, Toilet Bowl and Winddowns, was continually shown. Memories of some good times for the year were shown with photos taken by Bob Wiley and Judy Milam-Henderson, among others that contributed.

This year's theme, was "Mobile Sensors", joining previous themes honoring Hawaii, Germany, Florida, Wyoming, Thailand, Australia, Korea, Nebraska and Colorado … locations where AFTAC had or has a presence, among others worldwide. It honored unit members presently serving on, or have served on, the ships that continue to conduct a key aspect of the world-wide AFTAC mission, 24/7. Of special note, Dr. Mike Young, the AFTAC Historian, provided 2 models of the respective ships for display, answered a Q&A with guests questions during the evening, and briefed certain aspects of their respective mission(s). Thank you kindly Dr. Young -- Well done and greatly appreciated!

A very delicious dinner for the evening was served consisting of Hunter's Chicken Breast w/Mushroom Wine Sauce, Mashed Potatoes and Vegetable Medley, or Flat Iron Steak with Roasted Potatoes, Vegetable Medley and Wine Mushroom Sauce or Portobello Mushroom Napoleon w/Fresh Vegetables and Red Pepper Sauce. Accompaniments included House Salad, Dinner Rolls and Butter, Iced Tea, Water, Coffee, and a delightful and delicious dessert of Key Lime Pie. After a brief break after dinner, the AFTAC Commander, Colonel Steven Gorski, provided an outstanding Power Point slide mission brief and overview of AFTAC's current activities and status. His Status of Command slide show, was truly "spot on" and brought the AFTACAA "in tune and current" with the mission they once served in, and what is on the horizon for AFTAC down the road.

The evening ended with the announcement of the AFTAC Alumni of the Year for 2017. TSgt(R) John "Butch" Kemna, from the West Coast Chapter in Sacramento, CA was selected. Butch's name was initially announced at the June 2017 Worldwide Reunion in Sacramento. The AFTACAA officially announced his name to welcome him into the honored recipients of the AOY ranks. Florida Chapter Alumni member, Gene Melchior, graciously provided photos and made poster boards of items taken in 1999, while he was aboard, the now decommissioned Cobra Judy ship ("Observation Island"), while he was a contractor aboard the ship.

Judy Milam-Henderson and Michelle Ryan made centerpieces decorated with nautical figures and "sea like" items, that were an awesome compliment to the ship displays. Thank you Judy and Michelle…It added so much color and "theme diversity" to the guest tables. A special thanks to all Team AFTAC Alumni Members and Spouses that volunteered to help with the various tasks and support required to provide for an awesome evening for all in attendance, once again. We look forward to the 2019 Snowball XXI in January 2019, when the Alumni gather once again, to mingle, socialize, and reminisce of the times we were in and the current AFTAC of today and recognize 2019 AOY.

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)
West Coast Chapter
Formed in 1999

General membership meetings are held quarterly Mar, Jun, Sep & Dec on the 2nd Mondays at 7pm.

Social events include a Spring Picnic BBQ on Armed Forces Day each May and a Fall Social luncheon near Veteran's Day in November.

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 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 to national decision makers.

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 command authorities.

AFTAC has been a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency's network of labs since 1991. The center provides analytical support to the Department of Defense with a laboratory system designed and developed for nuclear treaty monitoring in direct support to the IAEA. Additionally, AFTAC provides direct technical, analytical and evaluative support to the IAEA through its program of enhanced safeguards inspections to monitor nuclear proliferation activities in signatory states. The Nonproliferation Treaty, or NPT, is the cornerstone of international efforts to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and promote arms control and disarmament in order to achieve and maintain an effective international safeguards system while promoting peaceful cooperation in nuclear energy.

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.

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 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.

AFTAC employs more than 1,100 personnel and boasts a highly educated force possessing no fewer than 226 associate degrees, 262 bachelor's degrees, 274 master's degrees and 68 doctorate degrees.

AFTAC is a surveillance organization subordinate to 16th Air Force, an Air Combat Command Numbered Air Force, located at Joint Base San Antonio, Texas. AFTAC is located at Patrick Space Force Base on Florida's east coast, less than 30 miles south of the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. AFTAC includes 11 detachments, five 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 IAEA with the promotion of safe, secure and peaceful use of nuclear technologies. In 2015, AFTAC became a wing equivalent within the Air Force, and in April 2018, the center added two new groups and nine new squadrons after its organizational change request became a reality. The new structure establishes clear responsibilities with common skills that allow commanders to develop the workforce more effectively.

Soon after the end of World War II, Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower recognized the need to monitor nuclear testing 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, 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.

After a tsunami struck Japan and led to the meltdown in three of the six nuclear reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in 2011, AFTAC directly supported Operation Tomodachi, the U.S. government's response to the 9.0 earthquake. AFTAC personnel flew nine nuclear debris collection sorties, processed 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. This 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.

The following December, 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.

In January and September 2016, AFTAC sensors detected underground disturbances in the vicinity of North Korea's reported nuclear tests. The center's findings were based on seismic activity, which was quickly analyzed, packaged and elevated to national decision makers.

As Hurricane Irma barreled up the Florida peninsula in September 2017, members of the nuclear treaty monitoring center were simultaneously analyzing and reporting their findings on North Korea's purported nuclear test that registered a 6.3 on the Richter scale - 10 times more powerful than N. Korea's detonation in 2016.

When a failed Russian missile launch resulted in the dispersal of nuclear materials in the fall of 2019, AFTAC Airmen were the first to recognize the explosion. Through synchronized efforts, the center analyzed and investigated the explosion, ultimately shaping the U.S. strategic response to the event and enabling the U.S. Department of State to expose Russia's harmful behavior to partners across the region.

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.

Operated by Military Sealift Command through a support agreement with the U.S. Air Force, AFTAC leads the onboard operations team aboard the USNS Howard O. Lorenzen (HOLO). The ship is home to the COBRA KING radar system, an integrated surveillance and ballistic missile data collection platform to support U.S. nuclear treaty monitoring activities. The radar suite consists of X-band and S-band phased-array sensors, a common radar suite controller, and other mission-related equipment. COBRA KING provides the U.S. with highly flexible, long-loiter, ballistic missile data collection capabilities and provides short-notice response capability to satisfy worldwide Defense Department taskings.

In December 2021 and in concert with Military Sealift Command, AFTAC inactivated its second ballistic missile radar tracking ship, USNS Invincible, which housed the GRAY STAR radar system that provided unique, high quality, high resolution, multi-wavelength radar products that were used to monitor U.S. or foreign missile, space or weapons tests worldwide. Launched in 1986 and put into full operational service in 1987, Invincible's original mission was to patrol the seas looking for submarines using its sonar array. The vessel was refitted in 2000 to support Joint Chiefs of Staff missions to monitor missile or weapons test events that could pose hazards or threats to air or surface navigation. The decision to inactivate the ship was based on higher headquarters requirements to balance sustainment costs, operational effectiveness, and the Department of Defense's pivot to strategic competition. The DoD has a wide range of capabilities to support ballistic missile defense operations that continue to operate throughout the world today.

AFTAC also provides airborne Special Equipment Operators and mission systems maintenance personnel on the WC-135C/W Constant Phoenix, an atmospheric collection aircraft that collects particulate and gaseous effluents and debris from accessible regions of the atmosphere in support of the Limited Test Ban Treaty. The onboard atmospheric collection suite allows the mission crew to detect radioactive "clouds" in real time through its external flow-through devices that collect particulates on filter paper and through its internal compressor system that collects whole air samples. Operated and maintained by the 45th Reconnaissance Squadron at Offutt AFB, Neb., in support of AFTAC's 21st Surveillance Squadron, the WC-135 is the only aircraft in the Air Force inventory that conducts air sampling operations.

In November 2020, the Air Force officially decommissioned WC-135 Tail #582 after more than 29,600 flying hours. In July 2022, AFTAC welcomed a new aircraft to its inventory for the first time in decades - Tail #836, a modified KC-135R Stratotanker to replace the aging WC-135C/W fleet. The center expects to accept delivery of a second WC-135R by the end of 2023, and a third in early 2024.

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. In fact, AFTAC now contributes six of its U.S.-based USAEDS seismic monitoring stations to the IMS.

AFTAC Mission Statement: Deliver Decision Advantage Against Enduring WMD Threats and Emerging Weapons Systems.

AFTAC Vision Statement: Science for Consequence

(Current as of March 2023)

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

Memories of an OL

I am a veteran of the obscure OL AS, also known as VELA Seismological Center/VSC, I was there from '72 - '75. It was located at 312 Montgomery St in (Old Town) Alexandria. Oddly, the building is still there and is now occupied by a political consulting firm.

While this started as an offsite branch of AFTAC TG-1 when it was at Telegraph Road, it continued into the late 1970s as OL AS after AFTAC "moved south".

While the true AFTAC mission was classified at the time, VSC mainly spent ARPA (now DARPA) money for test ban treaty related research and mainly functioned in the unclassified world - even hosting Soviet visitors at one point!

Hope our history is not forgotten. VSC was the original home of Dr. Frank Pilotte who became better known after he moved to Florida.

It is also where Ralph Alewine started as a 2nd Lt. transferring from the Army. He later went on to major positions in DoD in test ban treaty matters.

So while OL AS was not in an exotic overseas location, it functioned for more than a decade as a visible "tip of the iceberg" for AFTAC for international cooperation related to test ban discussions. It also developed, along with its onsite contractors, algorithms for digital signal processing of seismic data for underground nuclear test detection purposes.

Michael J. Marcus

20 Year Wall Of Service Honorees

Click on a name to see Career History.

Showing A - L
  • Ace, Jerry A.
  • Alexander, William N. (D)
  • Ailshire, Teresa B.
  • Amerena, Joseph D. (D)
  • Anderson, Robert C.
  • Aning, Harm F.
  • Armitage, Steven J.
  • Baker, Harold M. (D)
  • Balentine, Robert A. (D)
  • Baney, Ramon D.
  • Bartow, Jeff
  • Blau, Robert O. (D)
  • Borowski, Joseph J. (D)
  • Brauchle, Kenneth C.
  • Breitwieser, Kenneth L.
  • Brotherton Chad R.
  • Butler, Charles A. (D)
  • Cahill, Susanne L.
  • Calenda, Anthony B.
  • Cameron, James T.
  • Chadwick, Robert L.
  • Christman, Robert E.
  • Ciambrone, Thomas (D)
  • Clark, Michael P.
  • Cole, Gordon P.
  • Conrad, Charles E.
  • Cramlet, Alan B.
  • Cronin, George E.
  • Cooley, William R.
  • Dahlgren, Arthur L.
  • Davis, Jim C.
  • DeForest, Daniel L.
  • De Marco, Anthony S.
  • Dennis, Paul L.
  • Desrosier, Charles P. (D)
  • Doberstein, John W.
  • Dohaney, Brian T.
  • Draper, Reginald A.
  • Dunn, Bryce B.
  • Eddleman, Thomas N.
  • Farrell, Michael F.
  • Fish, Norman
  • French, Lloyd S.
  • Fuhr, William R.
  • Gailey, Carl W. (D)
  • Gardiner, Edward T. (D)
  • Geggus, Michael E.
  • Gilb, Daniel A.
  • Gindlesperger, James E.
  • Gonzales, Raoul F.
  • Good, David H.
  • Graeber, Harris
  • Hackner, Dennis A.
  • Harris, Eunice (D)
  • Horsch, John T.
  • Huhs, Harold L.
  • Hummel, Robert E.
  • Iske, Margaret A. (D)
  • Johnson, David M.
  • Johnson, Joseph M. (D)
  • Jones, Robert H. (D)
  • Kemna, John G.
  • Klug, Dale E.
  • Labarre, Gerald R. (D)
  • Lindsay, Edward W.
  • Loftis, John E.
  • Lubin, Michael D.
  • Lucas, James S. (D)
  • Magness, John H. (D)
  • Manley, Rickey J.
  • Marshall, Joe D. (D)
  • Martin, Harold (D)
  • McBrearty, Charles F.
  • McCauley, John P.
  • McClellan, Michael
  • McGettigan, John W.
  • Merker, David C.
  • Milam, Judy
  • Miller, Curtis R.
  • Mirda, George M.
  • Moran, Timothy (Tim) M.
  • Murray, Gregory A.
  • Myers, Kenneth L.
  • Noe, Steve
  • Nolan, Dennis P.
  • Nye, Charles E.
  • O'Brien, David F.
  • Olesky, John R.
  • Olmsted, George B.
  • Osborne, William T.
  • Ovitsky, Felix W. (D)
  • Padilla, Stephen J.
  • Paquette, David W. (D)
  • Pavik, Alvin
  • Penn, Charles I.
  • Phillips, Richard S.
  • Post, Robert A.
  • Revels, Steven D.
  • Rice, Jerry A.
  • Rummells, Kevin
  • Scheuter, Peter S.
  • Schwarting, Roger G.
  • Secoy, Jon B. (D)
  • Silhanek, Larry D.
  • Smith, Curtis E. (D)
  • Smith, Mark C.
  • Snelgrove, Bruce
  • Snyder, Carol
  • Sparks, Michael E.
  • Stack, Paul V.
  • Straughn, David C.
  • Stiewig, Michael G.
  • Sullivan, Thomas D. (D)
  • Sykes, Teddie E. (D)
  • Tracy, Wesley W.
  • Villareal, Alan E. (D)
  • Vlassick, Benjamin P. (D)
  • Vlassick, Randall R.
  • Ward, Frederick R.
  • Warfield, Carol
  • Wells, Wilford (Clark) (D)
  • Wien, Walter L.
  • Winders, Tom
  • Wilberg, Clark
  • Wolrab, Lance
(D) = Deceased

Wall of Honor Selectees
Click a name to see biography









AFTAC Wall of Honor: The annual selection process honors individuals who served with great distinction and contributed immeasurably to successful mission accomplishment. The Wall of Honor preserves the legacy of AFTAC's former members, highlights their deeds, and honors their contributions to the center and the nation. Since the activation of the 1035th Field Activities Group (FAG)/Air Force Technical Applications Center (AFTAC) on 7 July 1959, Airmen and Air Force civilians have maintained a 24/7/365 vigilance as monitors of international nuclear treaties. Though largely unheralded, these talented members have possessed special skill sets and an unselfish dedication to the mission that have collectively established an exemplary legacy for more than half a century.

The AFTAC "Wall of Honor" Program

Wall of Honor Nomination Process

Criteria for Nomination and Selection:

  1. Former uniformed or civilian members of AFTAC (i.e. no longer actively participating or involved in the AFTAC mission) are eligible.
  2. The nominee must have achieved an outstanding record of accomplishment by making significant, distinctive and extraordinary contributions to mission success; demonstrated great character; and served as a role model for those around him or her.

Nomination and Selection Procedures:

  1. The AFTAC Heritage Committee, chaired by the Vice Commander (or in the CV's absence, the Director of Staff), will oversee the nomination and selection process.
  2. Each directorate/group delegate serving on the AFTAC Heritage Committee, as well as the AFTAC Alumni Association, will nominate a single individual. The AFTAC historian will represent the AFTAC Alumni Association during the selection process.
  3. The directorate delegates of the Heritage Committee will present their nominees at the October meetings for screening and discussion.
  4. During the November meetings, the Heritage Committee will conduct a second review of the nominees and finalize the recommended selectees. The vice commander (or the DS) will then present the committee's recommended selectees to the commander for final approval.
  5. The commander will announce the honorees at the annual AFTAC awards ceremony or at the Alumni Association SnowBall.
  6. The commander will present each inductee or family member with a personal medallion. The commander will speak to the honoree's accomplishments (HO to provide photo and text). The Heritage Committee will add the honoree's name to the Wall of Honor at the AFTAC headquarters.
  7. AFTAC will recognize no more than 3 selectees each year.

AFTAC Wall of Heritage Nomination Packet

The nomination packets typically range from two to five pages in length. Packets must contain a photograph (past or present). Nominations are largely biographical in content with special emphasis placed on specific deeds that merit nomination. In the past, such deeds highlighted innovations, scientific or technical contributions, and/or inspiring leadership to younger airmen. Key questions to ask when drafting a nomination is: "Why is this nominee the "best of the best." What discriminates?

The AFTAC historian, Dr. Mike Young, is the caretaker of all nomination packets. Contact: Mike Young

Alumni of the Year
  • Dr. Mike Young-2022
  • Lou Seiler-2021
  • Ed Lindsay-2020
  • Bryce Dunn-2019
  • Pete Gilbert-2018
  • 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 (D)-2010
  • Jack Jackson (D)-2009
  • Bob Wiley-2008
  • Bill Schmied (D)-2007
  • Deborah Carson-2006
  • Mike Black-2005
  • Joe Goldian (D)-2004
  • Pat Snyder-2003
  • Joe Johnson (D)-2002
  • Jim Payne (D)-2001
  • Ben Vlassick (D)-2000
  • John & Christel (D) Horsch-1999
  • Frank Hall-1998
  • Judy Milam-1997
  • Carl Gailey (D)-1996
  • Clark Creery (D)-1995

Click a name in the list to see their biography
(D) Indicates Deceased

Not Included

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

Dr Mike Young

Dr. Mike Young

The AFTACAA Alumni of the Year (AOY) selectee for 2022 is Dr. Mike Young. Dr. Young joined the AFTAC Alumni Association when he arrived 11 years ago. He has attended and provided input in every Alumni monthly meeting the he was able to attend.

He has been diligent in attending our Associations' events and attended every day of our Florida reunions. He has attended our snowballs and involved himself in providing the colors for these events and even provided a $20,000 ship artifact for one of our Snowballs. Concern for such an expensive item had to be high but never-the-less, he provided it. He has always responded to our needs and put them as a priority when necessary.

During the 70th AFTAC Anniversary Dining-In, he was asked to be the guest speaker. He offered many kind and supportive comments on the Alumni and coined the phrase "Standing on the Shoulders of Giants" at that event. He was referring to our peers and the phrase is used to this day.

He has solicited inputs from the Alumni at large for publication in his Nucleus Newspaper, which is circulated throughout the organization.

Dr. Young was the driving factor to having the Alumni invited to the many active duty functions. To name a few, the Christmas parties held in the headquarters, the open houses held for many years. He offers himself as a guide at these events and is active in briefings at the Heritage Room. The Heritage Room itself is focused on the achievements of the alumni.

He is the chairman of the "Wall of Honor" program. He represents the Alumni in the voting process and participates in the final selection. Research into the nominee's past also takes a great portion of his time. All of his time in this effort is directed solely in support of our Alumnus.

He is also actively involved in the Memorial Project, an effort to provide a dedication monument to those Alumni that died while service with the organization. This was an extremely complicated effort and he spends much of his time on this project.

It may not have been noticed at our functions, but when he attends them, he always sits with the Alumni at one of their tables instead of sitting at the "Command" table. I'm sure that he feels that this is a tribute to the Alumni, and it really is.

He has spent time researching and verifying inputs for the Alumni Website at the expense of losing time needed for his job.

Dr. Young has always been our advocate in every respect. Many times, his efforts are performed behind the scenes and go unnoticed. He respects the Alumni and feels we are the best of the best.

Lou Seiler

Lou Seiler

The AFTACAA Alumni of the Year (AOY) selectee for 2021 is Lou Seiler. Lou joined the Air Force in 1969, completing OTS on 22 December 1969. After assignments at Offutt AFB and Wright-Patterson AFB, Lou was assigned to AFTAC in 1976. He worked as a "T" alert officer out of TFE, working the last known atmospheric tests on record including C-19, C-21, and "747."

After an assignment to Eglin AFB/Armament Laboratory working basic research in materials strength, shaped charge warhead development, and the "Star Wars" programs for Rail Gun and Boosted Space Interceptors, Lou returned to AFTAC in 1985 and worked as a "T" alert officer in the now TTE office. In 1987 Lou was designated chief of the new "DOSB" alert operations office within DO, where he worked until retiring in October 1989.

After retirement Lou worked at Harris (now L3Harris) in various space programs. Lou has been a regular at the AFTAC Alumni meetings and was president of the Association for three years (2014-15-16) overseeing the 2015 AFTAC Worldwide Reunion (WWR).

In October of 2012 Lou was introduced to an organization called Space Coast Honor Flight and was totally hooked on their mission to provide Veterans (primarily WWII Vets at that time) a trip to visit their memorials in Washington, D.C., and he supported the activity as a photographer/videographer and was elected to the Board of Directors to fully manage these activities for the organization. He continues in that role.

After moving into the new AFTAC building, the AFTAC Commander asked if the Alumni would take on a project to replace the plaques from the old building lobby with some sort of memorial to fallen AFTAC members. Lou volunteered to lead the effort.

Edward Lindsay

Ed Lindsay

First off, I am very humbled by the announcement 2 weeks ago that I was selected as the 2020 AFTAC Alumni of the year. To join this superb group of AFTACers means more to me than you can imagine. I was blessed to work for the organization for most of my career and I remember becoming a lifetime member back in 1995, while stationed at Det 415 in Chiang Mai, Thailand. It was a way to keep informed on what was happening around the world with AFTAC and I enjoyed reading the Post Monitors. I did not do much with the AFTACAA until I retired in 2013, but since then it has been amazing being part of this special Association.

Secondly, I have had the blessing to be able to work with many of you while I was on active duty. It was your dedication to the mission and afterwards your serving with the AFTACAA while I was still in uniform, that made me appreciate what a fine group of people you all are and that by some coincidence, I became associated with. I always remember the Alumni at the AFTAC events, serving up cold beverages and warm stories about their time in the Organization. Once I retired and I decided to become more involved, I got to meet many more of you on a different level. I even had the honor to be able to announce some of YOUR names when you were selected as an AOY. That always made me smile and feel happy to see all of your efforts and dedication recognized in that fashion.

Finally, I do not take this recognition lightly. I know there are many out there that continue to do their best to support and better the AFTACAA, whether it be on the West Coast, In Colorado, or their own little niche of paradise that they decided to settle. I know that there are others more worthy of being selected as an AOY, so that means so much more that I would be the one chosen. I will continue to do what I can to keep the AFTACAA as relevant as possible and keep the association with AFTAC firmly attached. It won't be easy, but easy wasn't always the AFTAC way...just work hard, play hard.

To be the 2020 honoree is very ironic. What I was hoping for in 2020 was my life to stabilize and get back to some kind of normal. 2019 sucked (except for the great reunion the Colorado hosted). 2020 came and I never could have anticipated what all of us would encounter. I know it has been tough for many of you. The ability to come together as friends and family has been altered for almost a year now. The AFTACAA has been postponed and the Snowball, where this award would typically be announced, was cancelled. 2020 is a year that will be permanently etched in my mind and soul as a time I never want to experience again. Being the 2020 AOY is the one good thing that I hope can put a positive closure to the year I never want to relive.

The AFTAC Annual awards ceremony is being held this Friday at 1400hrs, in the Patrick SPACE Force Base Theater. There is a limited capacity, due to social distancing. It is my honor to be able to represent the AFTACAA, along with Bob Wiley and our President Phil Godfrey. Afterwards, if you just happen to be in the area, I will be buying beverages at the Patrick Marina at 1630. Stop buy if you can.

Thank you to all of you for being who you are and all you have done for AFTAC and the AFTAC Alumni Association.

Very Respectfully,
Ed Lindsay

Wallace Bryce Dunn

Left to Right: Colonel Hartman, Bryce Dunn, Chief Joseph, Ed Lindsay

The 2019 selection was accomplished in Colorado this year so the selectee could be recognized at the AFTAC Alumni Association Worldwide Reunion being held here. The selectee will still be recognized in Florida at the annual Alumni Snow Ball. Our selectee has been a dues paying member of the Colorado alumni association since December 1992 when he was still on active duty and he is a lifetime member of the AFTAC Alumni Association in Florida.

During his 27 years of membership our selectee has been consistently active in many ways which have greatly contributed to building the association and keeping it going for the benefit of the members. In the early years he was involved with making arrangements to have association dinner socials with the Camana Club on then Buckley Air National Guard Base, and also setting up annual association picnics on the base. Not only setting up picnics but also being the lead cook and even providing the grill for the cooking, and then leading with the cleanup afterwards. This has continued for many years and he still does it today at the new much improved picnic site he discovered and arranged for our use in Castle Rock.

Also in the early years of his membership he volunteered to prepare and distribute our association Echoes newsletter several times per year. This was no easy task at that time without the computer hardware and software that we use today. After receiving inputs he had to edit and format them and then they had to be typed, copied, individually assembled, stapled, folded, supplied with individual mailing labels, and delivered to the post office. His efforts to provide the newsletters no doubt greatly contributed to the building of our Colorado association resulting in where we are today some six Colorado reunions later. Regarding reunions, our selectee has been there too always volunteering his assistance when and where needed. And, he is now also working as our Echoes newsletter editor again due to the unexpected retirement of our most recent long-time editor. Additionally, our long standing program to recognize the Colorado AFTAC detachment NCO and Airman of the Year selectees is a product of his suggestion.

After many years of valued service to our association, our 2019 Alumni of the Year selectee accepted a challenge at our semiannual breakfast meeting in February 2017. By unanimous vote Wallace Bryce Dunn was elected to be the new President of our Colorado AFTAC Alumni Association and after serving two very successful years leading our organization, he again accepted the challenge and continued serving as president where he has been a driving force getting this 2019 reunion organized and keeping things on track while arranging activities and obtaining inside and outside support including the guest of honor speakers, and our emcee for this event. Bryce is highly deserving of this selection and we thank him for his many years of service to our AFTAC Alumni Association

Pete Gilbert


Pete Gilbert was named "AFTAC's 2018 Alumni of the Year" at the Florida Snowball Banquet held 2 February 2018.
Colonel Hartman and CMSG Joseph presented Pete with the award.

I was sworn into the Air Force at the induction center on Whitehall Street in lower Manhattan on December 6th 1963, my 20th birthday.

I was then sent to Lackland Air Force Base for my basic training. While there, I was told to report to this Major, I forgot his name, and he asked me if I would be willing to go to school for this secret outfit. He could not even tell me what they did. Being totally intrigued with the idea I agreed. So, after basic I was sent to Lowry Air Force Base to become enrolled in "Special Weapons School". I went to school for "Q" systems. However; upon graduation I was given orders to report to McClellan Airforce Base and to be in "L" Systems.

I spent a year in the 1155th Technical Operations at McClellan, in the Electronic Maintenance Department and we were tasked in fixing any piece of electronic equipment that was not functioning. The job that I was primarily responsible for was repairing and calibrating the many oscilloscopes that we had. It was very demanding and at the same time a satisfying job. It was the first real technical job that I had ever held. I saw that there was an opening in Det 407 and I applied for the position. Surprisingly I got it and packed my bags and away I went.

While at 407 I again worked In Electronic Maintenance. I was working under a great boss, Walt Allen. He was an inspiration to me and taught me a lot about my job and just life in general. He meant a lot to me. As my term of enlistment was ending, I was informed that my name was on the promotion list. If I reenlisted, I would be made a Staff Sergeant. I was given the option to extend my current enlistment until the promotion became effective, at this time I would reenlist and get a very handsome reenlistment bonus. I knew everything at that time, At least I thought I did, and I turned it all down. This I now believe was the biggest mistake in my life.

I enjoyed my time with, what is now called AFTAC, and was very lucky to be honored to be a small part of it. After all these years I am still a part of it again. It was an extreme honor and surprise to be chosen as Alumni of the Year. To be honored by a bunch of individuals that I hold in such high esteem is one of my most cherished moments and it will be with me the rest of my life.

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.

ALUMNUS 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 Melchior


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."

ALUMNUS of the year, 2011
Dale Klug

klug.jpg 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
ALUMNUS 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.

Pat Snyder

Col Bendorf, the AFTAC Commander, presented this award to Pat at The Center Awards Banquet. It is the Alumni Plaque containing the AFTAC Coin flown aboard the shuttle the flew during the celebration of the Air Force and AFTAC's 50th anniversary. It also contains a certificate recording this shuttle event.

Judy Milam announced the "Alumni of the Year" selectee, Pat Snyder. She also noted the many things Pat had done for the alumni in the past, especially in 2003. She is one of our insiders working in the building on a daily basis. As such, she ensures outstanding continuity with the active duty force. Also she was instrumental in many activities of the 2003 World Wide Reunion held in and around the Patrick Air Force Base, Florida area.

We all applauded Pat for what she had done for us, even though she arranged not to be there, As it turned out she was cruisin' the ocean blue while we recognized her and thanked her for all her efforts. Judy held up the award for all to see and Pat actually received the award at the "Center Awards Banquet"

Judy Milam

Milam_AOY.png Congratulations, Judy Milam, our 1997 Alumni of the Year.
For all she does, and has done. Judy is most deserving of this honor.

She is our "perennial" secretary and has served this alumni since 1989. A forml presentation was made at the AFTAC Annual Awards Dining Out on March 5th.

Judy joinms Clark Creery ('95) and Carl Gailey ('96) as reciipents ofv this high honor.

ALUMNUS of the Year 2002

Johnson_AOY.png We spotlight Joe this quarter for his many deeds to earn this honor. 'Congratulations Joe.

He is a vital member of the alumni association, especially the West Coast Chapter, to include being a charter member and past President. Joe was critical to the formation of the chapter in '99, and was 'Committee Chair' for the worldwide reunion that year held in conjunction with the TOD Inactivation Ceremony in April. Joe has continued from that point to serve the alumni, both at the local level and at the worldwide level. He can be counted on to support events and never fails to 'lend a hand.'

Joe's selection was announced at the Florida Chapter's annual SnowBall (Feb 8th). He was honored there and at the Command Awards Banquet on February 27th; he will also be recognized at the '2003 Worldwide Reunion' occurring in late May '03.

Joe's service to his country began in Sept 1950 and to AFTAC in May 1951, being first assigned to the 1009th Special Weapons Squadron. He retired as a Senior Master Sergeant May 1974 being assigned to the 1155th TOS as Superin­ tendent Seismic Systems Engineering. Joe's only 'AF' assignment was his initial training, all subsequent assignments were within AFTAC.

His AFTAC assignments and duties included: '51-'52, 1009th SWS Seismology Training, installed and operated 1 of 50 seismic stations monitoring atomic tests at the Nevada Test Site; '52-'54 Det 142 Equipment operations, met and married wife Gayle; '55-'56 Det 204 Operator/ Maint., son Robert born; '57-'60 Hq 1035th, established/operated first real time recording system for Technical Director, daughter Carol born; '60-'61 1155th Depot Maintenance; '61-'62 Det 423 Operator/Maintenance established new Det from the ground up; '62-66 1155th Operations made initial seismic installations on Attu & Mur­ phy Dome AFS, Alaska; '66-'67 1159th Opera­ tions Established new Tech Ops Sq; '67-'70 1156th Operations performed technical surveys for Det 452; '70-'74 1155th Eng Superintendent directed support for the worldwide Seismic Sys­ tem; retired May 1974.

Thanks Joe, for your service to the country, the US Air Force, AFTAC and now, the Alumni Asso­ ciation. Your ongoing dedication is appreciated.

Frank Hall

Hall_AOY.png Franklin D. Hall was honored tonight by the AFTAC Command at the NCO Club, Patric AFB, Florida. Frank, the foundation of our AFTAC Alumni Association, Col. Frank Clark was the recipient of the Beatty Hall creery 1998 Alumni of the Year This award has been long coming and it is Col. (Retired)

Frank Hall who is primarily responsible for the reactivation of the modern day association. We won't belabor you with all his involvement-if you know him, read the newsletters, talk to folks, you know what he has done. Above and Beyond has been his motto and we thank him for his service. Col. Harold J. Beatty (AFTAC CC) opened th evening with a welcome, our own Senior Enlisted Advisor (Ret.) (John Horsch) conducted the cere mony for the POW/MIA personnel still "out there" but not forgotten, and the High Flight Band provided entertainment music for the evening. The ceremony was a tribute to all of the Committee Members who gave of their time to make it a precise military event.

The Alumni wishes to thank those from that committee, the personnel from the Club, the NCO's and Officer's who gav of their time and all the awardees for a night to remember. Colonel Beatty closed with three words: Let us not forget that success in any endeavor is based on such a principle, most emphatically our AFTAC Alumni Association.

P.S. I had the honor of being seated beside Mrs. Bobby Cobb, Colonel Cobb's wife. He is doing as well as can be expected, and he sends his best. Remember Alumni "He is our Chairman of the Board." Godspeed sir and congratulations to Frank Hall.

John and Chris Horsch

Chris and John Horsch

At the annual SnowBall event, it has become customary to announce and recognize our "Alumni of the Year." Two special people were chosen this year, John and Chris Horsch. For four years they have been authoring the Post-Monitor. They have performed superbly in representing the association to the membership. With the far flung nature of the association, the newsletter is many member's only real attachment to the alumni. John and Chris toil many hours to create the quarterly Post-Monitor and we are brought closer together because of it.

Ben Vlassick

A 'First' with this 'Second Salute' to a member ... we 'Saluted' Ben in September '96 (gosh, that was over 4 years ago) right after he had organized an International AFTAC Alumni Reunion in Colorado and here we go again. He's planning another one for June '01 - hope you're there cause the Colorado Chapter knows how to 'reunion.'

At that time we noted Ben was the backbone and President of the Colorado Chapter ... that continues to this date and because of the unceasing nature of his service, and the quality and quantity of that service, Ben was selected as 'Alumni of The Year.' He was recognized for this honor at the Florida Chapter's January 'SnowBall' and will be again at the Command Award Ceremony in April and at the very reunion he organizes in June.

Ben is also the first AFTAC Alumni member to receive this honor who does not serve the Florida Chapter ... a true honor and certainly deserved because of his unswerving and outstanding work on behalf of Alumni everywhere.

Ben's service to his country began on June 3, 1954 and to AFTAC three months later after completing basic training at Sampson AFB. His AFTAC assignments began with B-Technique training at Lowry AFB with assignments as follows: Det 405 (1955), Det 142 (1956), SPINSTRA - Q- School (1959), Det 155 (1960), Det O'seas (1961), 1155th TOS (1963), Det O'seas (1966), HQ at Alexandria (1969), 1157 TOS (1972), 3454th (1977), Det 057 (1978), retiring in June 1980.

His AFTAC duties included B and Q Technique operator, analyst, and maintenance technician, B20-5 technician, staff positions at depot and HQ, instructor at SPINSTRA completing his career as the Det 057 Commander.

The Colorado Chapter was founded following a National AFTAC Reunion held in Denver in August 1989. Members of the '89 reunion committee decided at that time to establish a Chapter. Ben was 'elected' president and the rest is history. Ben has never wavered in his support, both on a local basis, and throughout the Alumni community.

Thanks Ben, for your service to the country, the US Air Force, AFTAC and the Alumni Association. Your service is truly appreciated.

Carl Gailey

Not only is Carl recognized by our "Sage Salute" this quarter, but congradulations also for being selected as our 1996 Alumni of the Year, what an honor and so well deserved. Carl was on active duty from 1954 to 1979, serving the organization in the CS-Ds area for 30 of his 24 years and has been with the association since 1985 serving on it's board since 1992. Since then he has been our perennial treasurer, newsletter publisher (Gets it printed/addressed/mailed), golf beer runner and an "always there person".

Importantly, Carl is the "Money Conscience" on our board (guarding your dollars as if thet were his), in that capacity, he researched and submitted the IRS package that recieved approval for non-profit status and a package to Florida to be recognized as tax-exempt. The combination of these actions allows the ssociation to be eligable for reduced postage rates.

Also importantly Carl is one of those "Always There" people, whether it be a meeting or an event. If carl is around he's there helping. First one in, last one out. His support has been critical both in the continuance of the alumni and the success of most of the events.

Thank you Carl, we know with your continuing support we'll have a balenced budget and a successfull association.

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.

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.

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.

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.


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Current News Articles

New Nuke-Sniffing Jet Flies Off South America On First International Mission - 1/18/2023

The Air Force's first WC-135R Constant Phoenix collected air samples off South America's eastern coast to establish baseline atmospheric radiation conditions.

PUBLISHED JAN 18, 2023 7:48 PM
Link to Original Article


South America was the first time it has conducted an air-sampling sortie outside of the Continental United States. Constant Phoenix aircraft regularly conduct missions to gather data that can be used to help keep watch for unusual spikes in atmospheric radiation. The planes can also be used to help gather data after nuclear weapon tests or other radiological incidents and track the spread of potentially dangerous radioactive material.

The WC-135R, which has the serial number 64-14836, conducted this flight in coordination with U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) on January 16, staging from Luis Muñoz Marin International Airport in Puerto Rico. The aircraft followed a route that took it west out of the Caribbean Sea and into the southern end of the Atlantic Ocean. It then followed a path off the coasts of Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname, French Guiana, and Brazil, before turning around and returning to Puerto Rico.

Branson assumed command of the Department of Defense's sole nuclear treaty monitoring center in June 2020, at the height of the global pandemic. Since that time, Branson oversaw significant key successes by the Airmen and Guardians of AFTAC, including the creation of the center's War Room and Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning Accelerator Lab; procuring an additional WC-135 aircraft to expand Nuclear Debris Collection and Analysis capabilities; and earning Air Combat Command's only "Highly Effective" rating during the center's 2020 inspection.

Link to Twiter

The aircraft was in international airspace the entire time. Online flight tracking software showed that at least one Air Force KC-10A Extender aerial refueling tanker was used to support the mission.

Link to Twiter

"This is... the first 'OCONUS' (outside the Continental United States) deployment for #836," Susan Romano, the director of Public Affairs at the Air Force Technical Applications Center (AFTAC), confirmed to The War Zone in a statement. "The aircraft was able to take on more than 90,000 pounds of fuel - the largest air-to-air refueling onload for the jet since AFTAC and the 55th Wing at Offutt [Air Force Base], Nebraska, took delivery of #836."

This particular flight was a so-called "baseline" collection mission to gather air samples that are then used to establish what atmospheric radiation levels should look like under normal conditions. This is primarily done as part of the enforcement of the 1963 Partial Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, which prohibits signatories from conducting open-air nuclear weapon tests, as well as ones in space and underwater. Subsequent detection of elevated radiation levels could point to nuclear weapon testing in violation of the treaty, or by countries that are not party to that agreement, as well as other radiological events.

Members of the 45th Reconnaissance Squadron, part of the 55th Wing, fly and maintain the Constant Phoenix aircraft. Personnel from AFTAC's 21st Surveillance Squadron are responsible for operating and maintaining the actual mission equipment inside the jets.

The Air Force took delivery of 64-14836 in July 2022. The service had said that it expected to receive the second of three planned WC-135Rs by the end of last year, but it's not clear if that has happened. The Air Force retired two older Constant Phoenix jets, a WC-135C and a WC-135W, in 2020 and 2022, respectively.

Plane spotters and online flight trackers who followed 64-14836's flight earlier this week also noted that the South American route was a rare one for a Constant Phoenix aircraft to take.

Link to Twiter

"This was the first WC-135 background sortie collection off the central east coast of South America in nearly 30 years," Romano, the AFTAC spokesperson further confirmed to The War Zone. "Flying in a different geographical area helps establish a baseline of debris in the atmosphere, which is important to keeping the world safe."

This is, however, not the only time Constant Phoenix aircraft have flown missions from Puerto Rico in coordination with SOUTHCOM since the 1990s. One of the previous WC-135s conducted at least three such flights, collectively referred to as Coral Phoenix missions, in 2008, according to declassified portions of an annual Air Combat Command (ACC) history that the author previously obtained via the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

(From previously obtained (FOIA) annual Air Combat Command (ACC) history)

64-14836's flight off South America was also its second operational mission, overall, according to AFTAC's Romano. The aircraft conducted its first air-sampling sortie sometime after its delivery in July of last year from the Continental United States in coordination with U.S. Northern Command (NORTHCOM).

The Air Force first announced its plans to acquire the trio of WC-135Rs in 2019, which The War Zone was first to report on, specifically citing the increasing difficulties in operating and maintaining the previous aging WC-135C/W jets.

Though 64-14836 is certainly not new - the "64" in its serial number is the fiscal year when it was purchased - it has received a number of upgrades, including more modern CFM-56 turbofan engines, over the years. The older WC-135C/Ws had much less capable and more maintenance-intensive Pratt & Whitney TF-33 engines, a design that went out of production entirely in 1985.

The TF-33s were often at the heart of safety and reliability issues for the previous Constant Phoenix jets. For instance, one of the previous WC-135s had to make an emergency landing in Indonesia's Aceh province in 2017 and spent a week grounded there due to engine issues.

"I am extremely proud of the Airmen who executed this collection sortie,"Air Force Col. James A. Finlayson, commander of AFTAC, said in a statement provided to The War Zone. "It takes a great deal of collaboration to coordinate all the moving parts on missions like these."

"This mission is an important one, not just for the United States, but for our allies and citizens of the world who benefit from AFTAC's analysis of atmospheric debris and collection samples," Col. Finlayson continued. "Thanks to U.S. Southern Command for their assistance and oversight as well."

All told, though it remains to be seen whether more flights around Latin America are in 64-14836's future, the jet's two sorties in the last six months are just the start of its new nuke-sniffing career.

Finlayson takes command of nuclear treaty monitoring center - 7/6/2022

Col. James "Cobra" Finlayson renders a salute to Lt. Gen. Timothy Haugh, 16th Air Force Commander, upon assuming command of the Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick Space Force Base, Fla., June 2, 2022 as outgoing commander, Col. Katharine Branson, relinquishes command. Also pictured is Chief Master Sgt. Amy Long, AFTAC command chief and guidon bearer for the ceremony. (U.S. Air Force photo by Matthew S. Jurgens)
By Susan A. Romano
AFTAC Public Affairs
Published June 7, 2022

PATRICK SPACE FORCE BASE, Fla. -- The Air Force Technical Applications Center gained a new commander June 2 during the time-honored military tradition known as the change of command ceremony.

Col. James "Cobra" Finlayson assumed command from Col. Katharine Branson, with Lt. Gen. Timothy Haugh, commander of 16th Air Force, serving as the presiding official.

Branson assumed command of the Department of Defense's sole nuclear treaty monitoring center in June 2020, at the height of the global pandemic. Since that time, Branson oversaw significant key successes by the Airmen and Guardians of AFTAC, including the creation of the center's War Room and Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning Accelerator Lab; procuring an additional WC-135 aircraft to expand Nuclear Debris Collection and Analysis capabilities; and earning Air Combat Command's only "Highly Effective" rating during the center's 2020 inspection.

"Colonel Branson is a dedicated strategic leader with an innate ability to analyze an organization as a whole and systematically determine ways to improve it," Haugh said during his remarks to a capacity crowd at the base's Sharkatorium. "She handles everything with strength, dignity and determination, and she is a visionary leader who invested in the development of her people."

Lt. Gen. Timothy Haugh, commander of 16th Air Force, presents the Legion of Merit medal to Col. Katharine Branson during the Air Force Technical Applications Center's change of command ceremony June 2, 2022 at Patrick Space Force Base, Fla. (U.S. Air Force photo by Amanda Inman)

Following his remarks, Haugh presented Branson with the Legion of Merit, a military medal given for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding service and achievements.

Branson was visibly emotional during her farewell speech to the attendees.

"It's really you - the operators of AFTAC - who have made my time here richly rewarding. At a recent STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) event at Endeavour Elementary School, AFTAC rolled in with their equipment, demonstrations, and science experiments to show the kids. After the event, Endeavour's science teacher sent a note of thanks and described one child's reaction to an Airman from the STEM team. The student told the teacher that he needed to write down the Airman's name, and when she asked why, the little fifth grader said, 'He is my influence, and I need to remember his name so I can be like him.' AFTAC Airmen are not only making a difference in the building and around the globe, but also for the future, and I think that is something that inspires me the most."

She concluded, "Colonel Finlayson, you are inheriting an elite Air Force team. If you take care of them, they will deliver tenfold on everything you ask of them. I am confident you will challenge them as much as they will challenge you - all for the right reasons!"

Haugh took a few minutes to introduce Finlayson to the men and women he will now command.

"Colonel Finlayson is a career intelligence officer who has a bachelor's in History, a master's in Business Administration, a law degree from the University of Las Vegas, Nevada, and a Ph.D. in philosophy. He wanted to be a pilot, but according to him, he's blind as a bat!"

Haugh continued, "He learned how to be a leader from his father who served 25 years in the Army and retired as a Chief Warrant Officer, so Cobra is a leader who understands the importance of taking care of Airmen and their families."

After the unit guidon was passed from Branson to Finlayson, AFTAC's new commander was quick to recognize his cadre of unit personnel.

"To the women and men of the AFTAC family, my focus each day will be taking care of you and your families," he said. "I am humbled by this opportunity and I will give each of you my best every day and always."

At the conclusion of the ceremony, Haugh reminded the women and men of AFTAC of their central role in the national defense strategy.

"Our adversaries will continue to challenge the United States and our Allies, and your knowledge and expertise will be in great demand. I know you will deliver and I rest easy knowing AFTAC is ready to apply your catchphrase 'science for consequence' to ensure we answer our nation's call. Your leaders, your Air Force, and your nation are behind you!"

AFTAC earns highly effective rating from Inspector General - 2/3/2021

Official shield of the U.S. Air Force Inspector General. (U.S. Air Force graphic)
By Susan A. Romano
AFTAC Public Affairs
Published Jan. 20, 2021

PATRICK SPACE FORCE BASE, Fla. -- A team from the Air Combat Command Inspector General's Office traveled here during the first quarter of fiscal year 2021 to conduct a Unit Effectiveness Inspection of the Air Force Technical Applications Center.

A UEI is a method used to evaluate an Air Force wing's performance, compliance and readiness, which are assessed based on four major graded areas: executing the mission, managing resources, improving the unit, and leading people. It also provides an independent assessment of a unit's effectiveness and validates the inspected unit's Commander's Inspection Program.

The ACC team of 25, including a small cadre from 16th Air Force, consisted of experts in a variety of specialties - operations, security, logistics, cyber, training, support and other technical functions - and spent a week examining, inspecting, discussing and assessing AFTAC personnel and their respective processes they use to execute the center's global nuclear treating monitoring mission.

For four days, the inspectors met with key subject matter experts to evaluate how AFTAC performs on a daily basis and the methods it uses to comply with all regulations, policies, instructions and requirements. They addressed training and file plans, checklists, center instructions and overall adherence to higher headquarters guidance.

It was a first-time experience for AFTAC's own Inspector General.

"The UEI is not just the wing commander's responsibility, it's an organizational responsibility," said Lindsay Bloch, AFTAC/IG. "Every single Airman - military and civilian - plays a part in the overarching success of our day-to-day business, which then parlays into a successful inspection. It was also an incredible learning experience for me from start to finish."

After the team returned to Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., they compiled their findings into a report that included the overall grade AFTAC received from the inspection team: "Highly Effective" - the maximum rating an organization can achieve during a UEI.

"During COVID-19, the wing expeditiously shifted from surviving to efficiently operating, successfully maintaining continuous 24/7 nuclear treaty monitoring," said Brig. Gen. Paul Murray, ACC/IG. "This is the only 'Highly Effective' grade given under my watch over the last 18 months, which is a testament to the wing leadership and all the Airmen of AFTAC."

The inspectors also noted that the center created an institutionalized culture of 'Embrace the Red,' where members were encouraged to identify areas for improvement and fostered an environment of compliance and effectiveness.

In addition to the four major graded areas, the team also recognized 16 individuals as Superior Performers and five groups as Superior Teams. They are:

  • Mr. Keith Ewasiuk
  • Mr. Bruce Ludwick
  • Staff Sgt. Phillip A. Leffel
  • Ms. Alyssa Andrews
  • Tech. Sgt. Russell A. Mauldin
  • Mr. David Lubor
  • Capt. Beau D. Graham
  • Staff Sgt. James McCarty
  • Maj. Walter W. Miller II
  • Tech. Sgt. Steven A. Blake
  • Staff Sgt. Montana D. Beckham
  • Mr. James C. Griffieth Jr.
  • Maj. William S. Wood
  • Capt. Lee A. Aversano
  • Senior Master Sgt. Tonya Cobarruviaz
  • AFTAC Inspector General Team
  • IT Tech Support
  • Surveillance and Analysis Training Team
  • Cyber Quality Assurance Team
  • Logistics Flight

"Despite a global pandemic that has disrupted all 'norms' as we know them, Team AFTAC came up with innovative and creative ways to get the job done and they are deserving of the highest grade a unit can earn from UEI inspectors," said Col. Katharine Barber, AFTAC commander. "I am incredibly proud of the effort put forth by everyone in the center to showcase our strengths to the ACC IG team. It was a total team effort that illustrates we are mission ready at all times."

Superior Performer and AFTAC director of inspections Bruce Ludwick added, "And when you're mission ready, you're inspection ready. AFTAC demonstrated that with flying colors."

H.S. student immerses with AFTAC in the Outback - 2/3/2021

High school sophomore Paxton Rhoads uses security bolts to fasten a solar panel to a power box lid to deter possible theft in the austere Australian Outback. Rhoads immersed with Airmen from the 709th Technical Maintenance Squadron's Detachment 421 in Alice Springs, Australia as part of a school community outreach project. (U.S. Air Force courtesy photo)
By Susan A. Romano
AFTAC Public Affairs
Published Feb. 2, 2021

ALICE SPRINGS, AUSTRALIA -- Situated in the remote terrain of Central Australia, the 709th Technical Maintenance Squadron's Detachment 421 is responsible for operating and sustaining an expansive seismic array to detect the detonation of nuclear bombs.

The detachment, led by Master Sergeant Jonathan Beedham, is manned by four Airmen who ensure data from the array are delivered to analysts at the Air Force Technical Applications Center on Florida's Space Coast. As an integral part of the U.S. Atomic Energy Detection System and covering an area approximately 90 kilometers wide, they accomplish their mission by using 22 detectors buried 30 meters deep that capture the earth's tectonic movements.

As 421's detachment chief, Beedham oversees the unit's daily operations as well as all community outreach programs. Recently, he invited Paxton Rhoads to spend a week with his maintenance crew as part of an educational work-study opportunity through a local private school in Alice Springs.

Paxton, a 10th grader at St. Philip's College (Australians refer to high school as college), is the son of a U.S. service member stationed at a joint military organization within close proximity to Det 421 in the Northern Territory. Each year, St. Philip's assigns a project to its students requiring them to seek out an opportunity to work with a local business in order to gain valuable insight into how a company performs its tradecraft. For the sophomore's dad, he knew exactly where his son should go for his project.

Paxton Rhoads (center), a 10th grade high school student at St. Philip's College in Alice Springs, Australia, assists Senior Airman Paul Wisniewski Jr. (left) and Tech. Sgt. Andrew Pauldine (right) as they distribute gravel and sand in washed-out sections of a trail leading to one of Detachment 421's seismic arrays. Rhoads spent a week with the Airmen who maintain precision equipment used to detect nuclear explosions around the world. (U.S. Air Force courtesy photo)

"We live and work in a very remote location here in the Outback, and because of that, we build strong and lasting relationships with all the military personnel stationed in the region," said Paxton's father Master Sgt. Justin Rhoads. "When it came time for our son to complete his project, I reached out to Sergeant Beedham due to Paxton's extreme interest in science as well as the Air Force in general."

The Airmen assigned to Detachment 421 operate and maintain the precision seismic equipment to ensure it delivers accurate geologic data to analysts at the center's headquarters at Patrick Space Force Base, Fla.

Members of Air Force Detachment 421, part of the Air Force Technical Applications Center, pose for a group photo with Paxton Rhoads outside the detachment's main facility in Alice Springs, Australia. Rhoads spent a week with the seismic maintainers as part of an educational work-study opportunity through his high school, St. Philip's College. Pictured from left to right are: Senior Airman Paul Wisniewski Jr., Tech. Sgt. Andrew Pauldine, Rhoads, Tech. Sgt. Devin Barrow, and Master Sgt. Jonathan Beedham. (U.S. Air Force courtesy photo)

Prior to beginning the week-long "internship" with the detachment, Beedham sent Paxton a few documents so he could become familiar with the history of the unit, its overarching mission, and how it provides technical and scientific data to U.S. senior leaders and its allies.

He spent his days with Tech. Sgt. Devin Barrow, Tech. Sgt. Andrew Pauldine and Senior Airman Paul Wisniewski who taught him the intricacies of seismic data collection and the importance of ensuring the data stream reaches the treaty monitoring headquarters in Florida uninterrupted.

The new intern's workdays began at 8 a.m., and after becoming familiar with the day's agenda, he would accompany the team on each required task.

"On one of my days there, I helped prepare a solar panel that is used to supply electricity to their sites," Paxton said. "I particularly enjoyed this experience as I got to engage both physically and mentally, cutting solar rails, measuring where the panel would be set up for optimal efficiency, and calculating the depths and dimensions of the precision equipment."

Paxton also helped with seismic maintenance and upgrading the dirt tracks that lead to each of the arrays. He also participated in the detachment's daily physical fitness training regimen, which included push-ups, sit-ups and a 2-mile run.

The 15-year old has his sights set on joining the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps upon graduation from St. Philip's, hoping to become a commissioned officer in a STEM-related field.

"Physics is one of my main interests, and I really love math as well," he said. "I enjoy learning about how concepts function and apply to real-world situations, which is why I was so excited to complete my project with Det 421 because their work focuses so heavily on math and science."

"It was a joy to work with Paxton and he was a big help with our innovation project," said Barrow. "Paxton is a bright young man and I hope he follows through with his plans to become an officer in the Air Force."

"As Det 421 has been a part of the town of Alice Springs since 1955, we are happy to continue the tradition of outreach to our local community, providing perspective and hands-on experience to the future generation," Beedham said. "We hope we can help inspire and encourage others to pursue careers in STEM as well as strengthen our longstanding relationship with our host nation, Australia."

He added, "From a mission standpoint, our detachment is basically the first point of the chain if or when a nuclear event should happen in this region of the world. If there were a manmade event or a natural event, such as an earthquake or a lightning strike, those signals would travel through the earth and would be received by seismometers around the world. The data would then go back to a central location to be analyzed in order to provide an accurate time and location of the source. It was exciting for us to see Paxton's grasp of our work in such a short period of time and how he was able to quickly immerse himself into the mission. He has an incredibly bright future ahead of him!"

AFTAC, the Department of Defense's sole nuclear treaty monitoring center, has nine detachments, six operating locations and more than 60 unmanned equipment locations on every continent that monitor and record natural and man-made seismic disturbances in support of the center's long range nuclear detection mission.

The young intern's father had a difficult time containing his pride in his son.

"Paxton is gifted," Rhoads said. "I don't just say that as a proud father. We push all our children to be and do their best and we support them any way we can, and Paxton has always excelled in math and science. This was a great opportunity for him. He came home each night with highlights from his day and he just loved learning about the forward-thinking Airmen and how they integrate into a larger global mission. I can't ever say enough good things about the professionals at Detachment 421 and it's an honor to serve alongside them here in Australia."

Beedham's leadership back in Florida was equally proud of the team that gave Paxton the chance to see AFTAC's mission up close.

"I am consistently impressed with the work our Airmen are doing in Alice Springs," said Lt. Col. Matthew Allen, 709th TMXS commander. "As important as their work is to our mission, it is equally important for our service members to give back to the local community and inspire the next generation of Airmen. It would be quite rewarding to see Paxton as a member of the Air Force team someday."

Paxton was appreciative of the time the detachment took out of their schedule to work with him.

"I would definitely recommend Det 421 to any of my classmates who are able to participate in the outreach program," he said. "It was very beneficial for me personally and gave me invaluable insight into how a small unit like this manages their resources, adapts to changes that arise, and conducts their vital worldwide mission for America. I really had a great experience."

Innovative self-serve temperature check helps workforce during COVID - 2/3/2021

To help maintain a safe and healthy workplace environment, Tech. Sgt. David Sanchez, a mission manager at the Air Force Technical Applications Center at Patrick Space Force Base, Fla., developed a hands-free temperature check device for members of the nuclear treaty monitoring center to use when they entered the building. (U.S. Air Force Photo)
By Susan A. Romano
AFTAC Public Affairs
Published Jan. 21, 2021

PATRICK SPACE FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Social distancing. Six feet of separation. Tapping elbows instead of shaking hands.

These are terms and actions society has grown accustomed to hearing and seeing during the COVID-19 pandemic. Another familiar occurrence since the outbreak of the virus is temperature checks at various entry points to businesses and workplaces.

The Air Force Technical Applications Center is no different - facial coverings, safe distances, and Plexiglas partitions are in place throughout the center's Florida headquarters that employs nearly 1,000 military and civilian personnel. And now, through the innovative creativity of one Airman, it also has a touch-free thermometer for members to check their temperature before entering the facility.

Tech. Sgt. David Sanchez, a mission manager in the AFTAC Operations Center, set out to develop a better way to conduct temperature checks at the nuclear treaty monitoring center. He took some random items he had in his shed that were "collecting dust" and put them to good use.

"It seemed rather wasteful to me to use a disposable glove every time the hand-held thermometer was used, and there was also the chance for cross-contamination each time someone reached into the box to dispense a new glove," Sanchez said. "I knew there was room for improvement to the process."

So Sanchez built a prototype contraption consisting of PVC pipes, fishing line, a small mirror, and a plastic foot pedal and attached a temporal thermometer to the top of the tripod. His first version was what he considered a "proof of concept" to see if it would function as planned. The second device was much like the first, only a bit taller. On his third try, he achieved his goal, gave his invention a fresh coat of paint, and delivered it to the main lobby of the treaty monitoring center for his co-workers to employ.

"My main reason for taking this on was the challenge it presented," Sanchez said. "I love using my hands and creating things from scratch, and I also love solving mechanical problems and puzzles. This was a project I wanted to undertake because not only did I know it would be fun, but it would also benefit a lot of other people during a pretty harsh time."

For his efforts, the AFTAC commander, Col. Katharine Barber, presented Sanchez with her commander's coin.

"This is the type of innovation I have grown so accustomed to seeing on a daily basis from the talent that exists here at AFTAC," Barber said. "Sergeant Sanchez took the time and energy to create something that pays dividends for our workforce and provides a safe and healthy way for people to check their temperature upon entry to our headquarters. It's a win-win for everyone!"

2 famed bases re-designated to highlight Space Force connection - 12/10/2020

Chief of Space Operations Gen. John W. "Jay" Raymond, speaks at the re-designation ceremony of Patrick Air Force Base and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Dec. 9, 2020. The two bases were redesigned Patrick Space Force Base and Cape Canaveral Space Force Station respectively.
By Charles Pope
Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs
Published December 09, 2020

Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and Patrick Air Force Base were formally re-designated Dec. 9, as facilities central to the mission of the U.S. Space Force during a ceremony rich in symbolism that further confirmed the nation's commitment to operating in and defending space.

Vice President Mike Pence announced the decision to shift the designation of Cape Canaveral Air Force Station to Cape Canaveral Space Force Station and Patrick Air Force Base to Patrick Space Force Base during a formal ceremony at Cape Canaveral.

"Today we make history with the first two installations in the history of the United States Space Force to bear the name of this new branch of the service," Pence said during the ceremony before unveiling updated signs carrying the new names. "It is a great day for our military. It is a great day for Florida. It is a great day for America."

Later in the day, during a meeting of the National Space Council, Pence again noted the new designations and the contribution of the Space Force, which marks the first anniversary of its founding Dec. 20.

"It's extraordinary to think of the contribution the United States Space Force will make to the security of our nation and the perpetuation of our freedom," Pence said.

"The Space Force is growing stronger by the day. ... We've made great progress; we evidenced that today in the dedication of Cape Canaveral Space Force Station and also Patrick Space Force Base," he said.

Vice President of the United States Mike Pence looks on as the signage is revealed re-designating Patrick Air Force Base to Patrick Space Force Base at a ceremony at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Dec. 9, 2020.

While the re-designation affects the names only and falls short of officially making the facilities Space Force installations, senior Space Force and Air Force officials said the action is critical to establishing a distinct culture and identity for the Space Force.

"Today, we start a new era at both Cape Canaveral Space Force Station and Patrick Space Force Base aligning the installation names with their critical missions," Chief of Space Operations, Gen. Jay Raymond said during his remarks at the ceremony, noting specifically the long-running accomplishments of the 45th Space Wing at the installation.

"Today their titles will reflect the space missions that the 45th Space Wing and its mission partners execute with precision, passion, and pride every day. Moving forward, we will integrate our service, elevating the power that space brings to the nation, the joint force, and our allies," he said, referring to the facility as "hallowed ground."

Despite the high profile of Wednesday's ceremony, Space Force officials emphasized that until final decisions are made relating to Space Force installations, the "jurisdiction and command" of both Cape Canaveral Space Force Station and Patrick Space Force Base "will remain under the Air Force until officially transferred at a future date to be determined."

Officials emphasized the new designation will not affect current base operating support, funding, or current agreements at Patrick Space Force Station or Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.

At the same time, a collection of senior officials who spoke at the ceremony highlighted the deep and trailblazing space history achieved at Cape Canaveral and Patrick Air Force Base and why those two installations are critical to the success of the Space Force.

"The sum of what started here and was reborn in the past four years lays the foundation of our giant leaps in space -- back to the moon, the planets, and like Voyager I and II, further still," Department of the Air Force Secretary Barbara M. Barrett said in her remarks at the ceremony.

"At the Space Force, our grand mission is to keep humanity safe - safe for all those who've made those small steps thus far, and all those steps yet untrod," she said.

The history is indeed long and rich.

Cape Canaveral is where Alan Shepard began his mission in 1961 as the first American in space, riding in the Mercury "Freedom 7" capsule that launched from the facility. That spacecraft is now on display in the Smithsonian Museum. Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins lifted off from the facility's Launchpad 39B in 1969 on a mission that was the first to land humans on the moon and return them safely to earth.

More recently, the first Global Positioning System III satellite catapulted into space from Cape Canaveral. That crucial network of satellites forms the backbone of the modern-age global positioning, navigation, and timing system.

In addition to Pence, Barrett and Raymond, Deputy Secretary of Defense David Norquist attended the ceremony as did Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown, Jr., and Air Force Gen. John E. Hyten who serves as vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Col. Brande Walton, who commands the 45th Space Wing, said the change highlights both a new day and a continuation of the unit's mission. "While this renaming has changed signage across the installations, our mission remains the same - delivering assured access to space for the warfighter and our nation," Walton said.

The science of mind and body: A successful combination for one Airman - 9/20/2020

Senior Airman Dalton McIntire, a Scientific Applications Specialist at the Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick AFB, Fla., displays the coveted hardware he received during a powerlifting competition, at which he took first place. McIntire hopes to encourage more Airmen to get involved in powerlifting. (Courtesy photo)

PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. | By Susan A. Romano Sept. 9, 2020
When Dalton McIntire was a freshman in high school, he spent a lot of time lifting weights in his school's gym. For him, it was a way to increase stamina, strengthen his workout routine, and further build on his abilities on the baseball field

It wasn't until about four years ago after he enlisted in the Air Force that he developed a love for powerlifting.

To the layperson, weightlifting and powerlifting may seem like synonymous and interchangeable terms, but there are actual differences between the two.

Weightlifting is a "speed" sport, requiring the participant to lift the most weight in the shortest period of time, and the object is to lift that weight over your head. Powerlifting, on the other hand, is a "strength" sport, where the participant uses the squat, bench press and deadlift techniques to lift as much weight as possible, but not overhead.

Both, however, require commitment and dedication -traits that McIntire displays not only in the gym, but on the job as well.

As a Scientific Applications Specialist at the Air Force Technical Applications Center, the Air Force senior airman works at the Department of Defense's sole nuclear treaty monitoring center. His primary job is as a geophysical maintenance technician in AFTAC's Component Repair Facility, where he maintained seismic equipment used on all seven continents to detect and examine nuclear weapons detonations across the globe.

After demonstrating strong attention to detail and solid leadership skills in his primary job, McIntire was selected to become a product manager for the center's Systems Development Directorate. In that role, he is responsible for both product planning and product business value, including managing products throughout their lifecycle; gathering and prioritizing product and customer requirements; defining the product vision and strategy; removing/minimizing team blockers; managing and organizing stakeholders; and working closely with developers and designers to deliver operable products.

He finds time to balance his demanding work schedule with his passion for powerlifting and to date has participated in several competitions.

"Up until about a year ago, I was lifting by myself," McIntire said. "But then I found an amazing powerlifting gym in the local area and teamed up with an awesome group of fellow lifters. Working out with people of the same mindset with the same goals has been not only inspirational, but also motivational. Everyone brings something different to the table and we all learn from each other and encourage each other to be the best we can be."

In addition to powerlifting events, he's also competed in a Strongman competition and a few charity events.

"I've taken 1st Place in all the divisions I've competed in, and I'm currently ranked 2nd in the State of Florida for the USA Powerlifting 93 kilogram class," he said. "At powerlifting competitions, you compete by weight classes, much like in wrestling and boxing, so that a smaller 165-pound athlete won't be up against a 300-pound lifter."

Being a powerlifter requires discipline, stamina, focus and drive. He parlays all of those traits into his required military physical fitness training as well.

"I did pretty well on my last Air Force PT test - scored a 94.6 - and I'm proud of that," he said. "But I'm always pushing myself to do better, so I'm shooting for a perfect score the next time around."

Since the coronavirus outbreak, McIntire has had to adapt his workout schedule to ensure he gets his time in at the gym.

"I was somewhat lucky at the beginning of COVID-19," McIntire said. "I was in a competition the day before my gym shut down, and once the competition was complete, I planned ease up a bit to give my body a rest."

The desire to stay in competition-shape, however, led him to buy and rent some equipment and train with three of his workout buddies from home.

"We dubbed my garage the 'Iron Circus' as there was always some kind of laughter or craziness going on between the seriousness and intensity we all shared during training sessions."

Fortunately for the Airmen, the base fitness center as well as McIntire's downtown gym have reopened and his small group is back lifting and training together.

The Air Force has a competitive sports program that reaches around the globe for the morale, welfare and recreation of its active duty servicemembers. Unfortunately for McIntire, the Air Force disbanded its official Powerlifting Team a few years ago, but he has his sights set on convincing the service to reinstate it as an official Air Force sport again someday.

"The AFSP is designed to encourage competition, camaraderie and unit cohesion," McIntire said. "It also helps Air Force athletes continue on to competitions at the regional, national and international levels while representing the force as world-class athletes. My goal is to generate enough interest from Airmen who powerlift throughout our branch of service so we can see powerlifting reinstated as a competitive sports program."

Whether he meets that goal or not, he remains passionate and focused on bettering himself as an athlete and an Airman.

"I encourage everyone -- male and female - to get involved in some form of lifting weights, whether it's powerlifting, bodybuilding, weightlifting, or just some form of involvement at the gym," he said. "It can really change a person's life more than they realize."

He added, "I've memorized a quote that I refer to often to keep motivated. It's by Louie Simmons, a former American powerlifter and strength coach. He said, 'Your job in the gym is to make others stronger by any means necessary, and their job is to make you stronger by any means necessary.' If any of my fellow Airmen need some extra motivation at the gym, let me know - my job will be to help make you stronger!"

COMACC joins AFTAC Airmen in online training session - 9/20/2020

Gen. Mike Holmes, commander of Air Combat Command, participates in a virtual training class with members of the 22nd Surveillance Squadron, to discuss geopolitical competition in the Arctic. Airmen from the 22nd SURS are part of the Air Force Technical Applications Center at Patrick AFB, Fla., the sole organization in the Department of Defense responsible for nuclear treaty monitoring. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)

PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. | By By Susan A. Romano
The commander of Air Combat Command carved out 30 minutes on his tight schedule May 13 to dial in to a virtual training class hosted by members of the 22nd Surveillance Squadron here.

Gen. Mike Holmes participated in the webchat with 47 Airmen from the Air Force Technical Applications Center to discuss geopolitical competition in the Arctic Region.

"In late 2019, our operators who execute our 24/7 watch floor, identified a need to dedicate time solely to training on the battlespace," said Col. Andy Steffen, "so they initiated two weekly sessions, one for day shift and one for night shift, to better understand our global operating environment. When the coronavirus hit, they still wanted to continue the sessions, so they began conducting them virtually."

Since mid-March, the squadron has been connecting online to discuss a wide range of relevant topics and current events that impact the nuclear treaty monitoring center.

In that vein, one of the 22nd SURS flight commanders thought it would be great if they could get a senior Air Force officer participate in the video chat with the squadron, and after a few phone calls and email messages, they secured the leader of AFTAC's major command at Langley AFB, Va., who agreed to join them.

"Our wing commander, Col. (Chad) Hartman, reached out to ACC to see if COMACC would be interested in being a part of the call, and when we got word back that he agreed to join us, we were all pretty stoked," said Capt. Jason Goins, 22nd SURS flight commander.

The Airmen put together a solid lesson plan complete with two short informational videos that illustrated U.S. concerns and interests in the Arctic region.

After the presentation, 1st Lt. Jesse Lubove, an AFTAC mission director and moderator of the web chat, introduced Holmes to the group and asked the general if he had any comments he wanted to share with the group.

"Your timing is spot on," the general said. "Just today Alaska Senator (Dan) Sullivan spoke about the Arctic's importance to America's national security and the role the Department of Defense should play in the region. It's great to hear your thoughts on the subject."

The group spent about 10 minutes engaging in a robust question-and-answer session, with Holmes chiming in with his thoughts as well. When his time came to an end, he thanked the technicians and analysts for inviting him to the chat.

"I really appreciate being included and I learned a lot from your perspective," the 4-star said. "I hope you will invite me back again for further discussions."

The 22nd SURS Airmen hope to have other Air Force senior leaders join them in future training sessions.

Air Force Vice Chief: Nearly One-Third of Employees May Permanently Telework - 9/17/2020

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Tavaris Quinn, 39th Communications Squadron knowledge management technician, manages teleworking websites on May 5, 2020, at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Jim Araos.

Sept. 16, 2020 | By Rachel S. Cohen
About one-third of Air Force employees may remain largely out of the office even after the coronavirus pandemic subsides, Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Stephen W. "Seve" Wilson said Sept. 16.

The Air Force scrambled earlier this year to set its employees up with remote access to the service's computer networks and collaboration tools like Microsoft Teams as offices across the country cleared out. For an organization with IT infrastructure years behind the private sector and many homes, the pandemic was an opportunity to catch up and pursue more flexible, unconventional work policies.

Not all service members can work from home because of classified information that can only be accessed in secure rooms, or other technical issues. Many employees feel more productive in an office setting and want to regain the in-person camaraderie lost during the pandemic. But people would have more options to move between home and the office as needed.

"There'll be a portion of our workforce that never comes back to working as we knew it in the past. I don't know what that number is—is it 30 percent of our workforce?" Wilson said at AFA's virtual Air, Space & Cyber Conference. "They may show up to work in a work environment once a day, once a week type of thing, but … because we've got everything connected, because we've got this workforce that can now work from wherever they are, whenever they want, it's changed the paradigm on how we're going to do work."

Air Force Deputy Chief of Staff for Manpower, Personnel, and Services Lt. Gen. Brian T. Kelly also suggested that telework may change the service's long-term approach to temporary duty travel and permanent changes of station.

"I would see us not going back to some of the models, right?" he said during a Sept. 16 panel on Air Force talent management that was also held as part of vASC. "Not just telework in the location where you live, but imagine us now being able to hire somebody in Arizona who works in the Pentagon, and then never leaving Arizona—maybe occasionally coming TDY to the Pentagon, but staying in their home—for certain staff jobs, our military members, not PCSing because they're able to effectively telework."

Lauren Knausenberger, the Air Force's deputy chief information officer, noted that when the pandemic began spreading in early 2020, the service had only 20,000 remote computer connections for a 750,000-person workforce. It grew the number of people it could connect at once with the help of the Defense Information Systems Agency. Service officials indicated their remote option, known as virtual private networks (VPN), is sufficient for teleworking in the long-term.

As the Air Force has adapted to the idea that you can accomplish work without being at an office in person, Knausenberger added the service must now give people the same quality of technology in an office that they're used to at home. The Air Force has neglected information technology infrastructure for years, but is shifting to contract out IT services from commercial companies and pursue options like easily accessible cloud storage.

"We can work from all over the globe. We have adopted best-in-class tools. Really, we are able to equip our Airmen to work wherever they are, which has been incredible," she said. "The good news and the bad news is that we have raised the bar. Our Airmen love working at home, their devices all work, they can manage them, they've got lightning-fast Internet. So it really becomes a responsibility for us to maintain the capabilities that they have seen."

She added that cyber forces and friendly hackers are trying to keep Air Force employees safe on their personal laptops and cell phones, and to see where the service can improve. USAF has control over its own networks, but not the Internet connection employees use for remote work.

"Our cybersecurity professionals are looking at, how does that change the threat surface?" she said. "We need to think a lot more about what is the right volume of secret devices, for instance? We definitely don't want to spend too much time on personal devices without them being managed in some way."

The Air Force has to strike the right balance: secure enough to prevent intruders in its networks, but not so much that it stifles productivity.

"If I am doing unclassified work, … I don't care if our adversaries know that I'm meeting someone for lunch and that it was a lovely lunch conversation," Knausenberger said. "I do care if they know about our plans for an upcoming mission."

Service officials added that some Airmen are seizing the opportunity to think outside the box and use technology to improve their everyday work. Wilson noted Goodfellow Air Force Base, Texas, has cut the time it takes to train Airmen in intelligence career fields by one-third, through a mix of in-person and online learning.

In another instance, the 2nd Space Launch Squadron at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., came up with a software app to track data related to COVID-19, instead of using Microsoft Excel spreadsheets.

"Perimeter 9 gives medics and commanders instantaneous and simultaneous awareness of any member of their team impacted by COVID," 30th Medical Group Commander Col. Raymond Clydesdale said in a May press release. "Perimeter 9 is superior and more secure than any existing platform, and it has the potential to contribute to COVID-19 response and overall medical patient care at a much greater scale."

Maj. Gen. Kimberly A. Crider, the mobilization assistant to Space Force boss Gen. John W. "Jay" Raymond, said the app is spreading across the Space Force to support pandemic response as well as overall military readiness.

"They developed a small software application, deployed it in our continuous integration, continuous deployment pipeline … got that out, and now it's being implemented across the force by all of our squadrons within our new space deltas," Crider said. "It's that kind of innovation that COVID has helped us unleash, and continue to move forward on."

For 1st Time in 3 Decades, Military Families and Retirees Are Getting Revamped IDs - 9/1/2020

Army Spc. Shunterika Fields and Army Pvt. Stephen Hines create identification cards at a temporary medical facility in New Orleans, April 4, 2020. (Dept. of Defense/Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Eric S. Garst)

24 Aug 2020 By Bing Xiao
The military is ditching flimsy laminated paper-based ID cards for military retirees and dependents for an all-new card system: the Next Generation Uniform Services Identification Card.

According to a Defense Department announcement published Monday, the cards, which represent the first ID update for these military communities since 1993, will be more durable and more closely resemble the Common Access Cards, or CACs, used by active-duty troops and DoD civilians.

The new IDs are already in circulation: the military quietly began issuing them to retirees, reservists and dependent military family members July 31 at a few ID card facilities, according to the DoD release.

The new USID cards are enhanced with an updated design and security features to deter counterfeiting and fraud, Michael Sorrento, director of the Defense Manpower Data Center, said in a statement.

To date, only about 20 Real-Time Automated Personnel Identification Card System (RAPIDS) sites now offer the new cards; other sites await equipment upgrades in order to make them. All DoD USID card facilities are set to offer the IDs by December 2020, according to the release. The complete transition to new USID cards is targeted for January 2026.

This transition doesn't affect current card expiration dates and doesn't change the populations who are eligible to get the current USID cards.

In addition to dependents of active-duty troops and reservists and retirees and their dependents, those eligible for these DoD-recognized IDs include Medal of Honor recipients and their dependents and 100% disabled veterans and their dependents, among others. A full list of eligible groups can be found here. The cards facilitate access to military bases and to other exclusive facilities, such as commissaries and exchanges.

The COVID-19 pandemic has complicated the rollout of the new cards.

Sorrento advised that it would be better to wait to get the new card until next summer unless the holder's current one is expired. Applicants should call ahead for appointments to get the new USID cards.

In April, Pentagon officials announced that dependent and retiree cards set to expire in 2020 would be automatically extended through September in light of the pandemic, and changed policy to allow some ID updates and new enrollments to be done by mail.

DoD is further developing the ID card process, Sorrento said in the release, and eyeing changes such as a mail-in ID process with online vetting, eliminating the requirement to apply in person at a RAPIDS site.

AFTAC Master Scientific Applications Specialist Badge - 9/17/2020


Just when you thought it was safe to put your Class A uniform away in a garment bag with all the ribbons, insignia, name tag, collar brass in order you find this out. The current 9S100 badge is authorized to be worn by all airmen, to include retired and separated members awarded RI9S100 (or associated identifiers 99125, 99104, 99105, 99106, 9S000, and 9S200) are eligible to wear the Scientific Applications Specialist occupational badge. For more information click here. In particular para 5.2 for heraldry, eligibility, and awarding, see para 8 for enlisted career path with photos of basic, senior, and master badges.

Note: The item requested is only available as a regulation full size badge and as a midsize badge only. No other size is authorized for wear or to manufacture.

AFTAC uses technology to execute Change of Command - 7/2/2020

Col. Chad Hartman (left), commander of the Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick AFB, Fla., salutes and relinquishes command during a Change of Command ceremony June 30, 2020 as his replacement, Col. Katharine Barber (right) stands at attention. Also pictured is guidon bearer Chief Master Sgt. Amy Long (center), AFTAC's command chief. (U.S. Air Force photo by Amanda Ryrholm)

The Air Force Technical Applications Center here underwent a change of command today, employing modern-day technology to accomplish long-standing traditions.

Col. Chad Hartman relinquished command to Col. Katharine Barber as 16th Air Force commander Lt. Gen. Timothy Haugh served as the presiding officer via video teleconference from San Antonio, Texas, with immediate family members and a small handful of senior leadership in attendance at Patrick AFB's Sharkatorium.

Col. Katharine Barber (left) delivers her first remarks to the men and women of the Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick AFB, Fla., after taking command of the center from outgoing commander Col. Chad Hartman (right) June 30, 2020. Seen on screen is presiding officer Lt. Gen. Timothy Haugh, commander of 16th Air Force, who streamed via video teleconference from Lackland AFB, Texas. (U.S. Air Force photo by Amanda Ryrholm)

An Air Force change of command ceremony is steeped in history and represents the formal transfer of authority and responsibility from one leader to another. It is also a way to recognize the achievements of an outgoing commander as well as introduce the new commander to the people he or she will be leading.

Typically, a change of command has troop formations, distinguished visitors and invited guests in attendance. However, due to social distancing requirements in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, AFTAC employed modern technology to transmit the ceremony via video chat and teleconference. Several hundred Airmen, family, friends and alumni tuned in to witness the virtual passing of the guidon.

Hartman took command of AFTAC in June 2018, just two months after the center underwent a major structure reorganization. During his tenure, he oversaw a $2 billion upgrade of AFTAC's two maritime assets, USNS Howard O. Lorenzen and USNS Invincible; launched a revolutionary algorithmic warfare campaign; drove the relocation and hardening of AFTAC's nuclear alert center that resolved a 34-year mission gap; and managed a 99 percent readiness level for 3,600 sensors dispersed on every continent and in every domain.

Col. Chad Hartman delivers his final remarks as the commander of the Air Force Technical Applications Center during his Change of Command ceremony June 30, 2020 at Patrick AFB, Fla. Hartman commanded the nuclear treaty monitoring center since June 2018 and is transferring to The Netherlands to work for Allied Joint Force Command Brunssum as the chief of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. (U.S. Air Force photo by Joshua Conti)

Prior to the change of command portion of the ceremony, Haugh presented the Legion of Merit to Hartman for "exceptionally meritorious conduct and superior initiative, outstanding leadership and exemplary ability." The prestigious medal is presented to members of the Armed Forces who hold key non-combat positions of great responsibility and whose conduct is above reproach.

"Last fall, when a Russian missile launch resulted in the dispersal of nuclear materials, AFTAC was the first to recognize the explosion and synchronized the analytical effort to investigate and confirm the incident," said Haugh. "Chad expertly briefed the President, Congress and the Secretary of the Air Force and ultimately shaped the United States' strategic response and enabled the State Department to expose Russia's harmful behavior to partners across the region."

Haugh added, "Colonel Hartman has been a critical voice in shaping how we think about global competition and capability integration across the joint force, and I know our leadership team at 16th Air Force will miss his discerning insights."

Outgoing commander Col. Chad Hartman (left) shares a laugh with incoming commander Col. Katharine Barber (right) during the Air Force Technical Applications Center's Change of Command ceremony at Patrick AFB, Fla., June 30, 2020. (U.S. Air Force photo by Amanda Ryrholm)

When it was time for Hartman to make his remarks, the outgoing commander quickly shifted the focus away from himself to shine the spotlight on the men and women who execute AFTAC's global mission.

"Team AFTAC, you empowered our nation and took the necessary steps to guard against our nation's most dangerous threats - weapons of mass destruction," Hartman said. Throughout my tenure, you sustained and operated the Air Force's only blue water fleet of ships, relocated an entire detachment into Cheyenne Mountain in Colorado, operated and modernized the Air Force's oldest aircraft fleet, and masterfully executed national surveillance operations in every domain - air, sea, land, space and cyber."

Donned in protective facial masks in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, Gina Hartman (right) and her children Logan (left) and Sofia (center), applaud during the Air Force Technical Applications Center's Change of Command ceremony June 30, 2020. Gina's husband, Col. Chad Hartman, relinquished command of the nuclear treaty monitoring center to Col. Katharine Barber at Patrick AFB, Fla., as others from the center are seen in background adhering to social distancing requirements. (U.S. Air Force photo by Amanda Ryrholm)

The outgoing commander thanked the many mission partners who contribute to AFTAC's global mission and operate the center's massive network of national laboratories.

He also recognized dozens on his immediate staff and senior leadership team for "unleashing 72 years of innovative culture, tackling wicked problems, ensuring no nuclear surprises, mastering the digital environment, and most importantly, optimizing AFTAC's greatest asset - our people."

Hartman is transferring to Allied Joint Force Command Brunssum, the Netherlands, to be the Chief of Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance.

Barber, a career intelligence officer, comes to AFTAC after serving as the commander of the National Air and Space Intelligence Center's Space, Missiles and Forces Intelligence Group at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio. She has commanded at both the squadron and group levels, and from July 2011 to June 2013, she served as the Senior Duty Officer in the White House Situation Room.

To avoid direct contact due to the coronavirus pandemic, incoming commander Col. Katharine Barber (left) bumps elbows with outgoing commander Col. Chad Hartman (right) in place of a handshake during the Air Force Technical Applications Center's Change of Command ceremony June 30, 2020. (U.S. Air Force photo by Amanda Ryrholm)

"Colonel Hartman has set AFTAC on a dynamic course and I intend to continue the legacy of conquering wicked problems for our nation," she said. "This organization is filled with creative people who have mastered the complexities we face, and I can't think of a better place to be in the year 2020, which is the most unique year I have ever experienced! Thank you, General Haugh, for your trust in me to command this venerable institution."

After the guidon was passed from one commander to another, the Numbered Air Force commander took a moment to welcome Barber to her new position.

"AFTAC is gaining a world-class leader and commander today," Haugh said. "Kate, I look forward to your leadership as you take command, and I can't wait to watch the incredible Airmen of AFTAC as you continue to advance the future of warfighting within our enterprise and within the Air Force. Your leaders, our service, and the nation are behind you."

As the Department of Defense's sole nuclear treaty monitoring center, AFTAC provides direct technical, analytical and evaluative support to the International Atomic Energy Agency and operates and maintains the U.S. Atomic Energy Detection System, the largest sensor network in the U.S. Air Force.

Arguing Artificial Intelligence during pandemic becomes a reality - 5/17/2020

Joshua Dickey, an electrical engineer assigned to the Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick AFB, Fla., recently earned his doctorate degree from the Air Force Institute of Technology at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio. (Courtesy photo)

It wasn't what he envisioned as the final step toward earning his doctorate - having to defend his dissertation virtually instead of in person before a traditional panel of judges.

The coronavirus, however, has changed the way people around the world are communicating, and this doctoral candidate was not immune to the "new norm" of social distancing.

Dr. Josh Dickey has been assigned to the Air Force Technical Applications Center here since June 2007, working as an electrical engineer in the Systems Engineering Division. His primary responsibilities centered around the sustainment of AFTAC's worldwide geophysical sensor network.

In 2012, Dickey began his path to a Ph.D. at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, with coursework in electrical engineering. Things were rolling along for the young scientist. He maintained an enviable 4.0 grade point average and published his first paper, all while juggling his full-time job at AFTAC and witnessing the birth of his first child, James.

He wasn't as fortunate the next semester, though. He received extended orders for a project he was working on in Morocco, which derailed his studies and forced him to drop all the classes for that semester. That, coupled with the birth of his second son Benjamin, put Dickey in a difficult position.

"I simply ran out of time and money," he said.

But as the saying goes, everything happens for a reason. He learned about the Department of Defense's SMART Scholarship-for-Service Retention Program that allows select DOD personnel to pursue their education in specific STEM-related fields that are in high demand by the U.S. government.

Once accepted, retention program students receive full tuition and book allowances while remaining in their permanent civil service position, earning their full salary and benefits. Their new job duties as a SMART student are to attend classes full time, maintain a 3.0 GPA and earn their advanced degree. Upon completion of their degree, scholars return to their organization and begin applying the new skills and expertise obtained from their advanced degree program.

"Not only do students get to pursue their passion during the education phase, they also begin a journey towards an empowering career to protect national security," said Rose Day, AFTAC's Human Resources Program Manager. "For more than a decade, SMART scholars have been working with labs and agencies throughout DOD to support the warfighter and create an impact for our national decision makers. The Retention Program launched the summer of 2016 was a great opportunity to allow current civilians to pursue advanced degrees that enhance mission capabilities without giving up their full-time job and sacrificing their family life. Josh was a perfect candidate."

Dickey learned of his acceptance in March 2017. From there, he sat down with his wife, Suzanne, and laid out plans to sell their Florida home, pack up the family, and move to Dayton, Ohio.

"The Air Force Institute of Technology is located at Wright-Patterson AFB, which is where I completed my studies," Dickey said. "It was my longest time away from the Sunshine State. Let's just say it took us some time to acclimate to the midwestern weather!"

The Tampa native enjoyed his time in the Buckeye state, but as soon the degree requirements were completed, he and Suzanne were excited to move back to Florida.

"Once we're fully settled back on the Space Coast, I will be spearheading AFTAC's new data analytics branch within the Systems Development Directorate and applying all the research I gleaned at AFIT," he said.

Dickey's dissertation was entitled, "Neural Network Models for Nuclear Treaty Monitoring: Enhancing the Seismic Signal Pipeline with Deep Temporal Convolution."

In layman's terms, his studies focused on the exploration of artificial intelligence and machine learning to process seismic signals produced during nuclear detonations. AFTAC's primary mission is to monitor nuclear activity across the globe.

"Effectively incorporating AI/ML at AFTAC is essential for our future," Dickey stated. "I hope to spearhead these efforts upon my return to the center."

Day said Dickey was not only one of the first retention candidates for the DOD SMART program; he was also the first for AFTAC.

"Most people don't realize it, but the DOD is the largest employer of scientists and engineers in the nation," she said. "AFTAC is an agency that employs highly-technical STEM professionals with unique skills and abilities. One of the ways to attract and retain that level of talent is through educational incentives like internships, scholarships and fellowships. As a center, we must be able to increase the pool of advanced STEM-degree holders to execute AFTAC's global mission. This program is so important to achieve those goals."

While Dickey did most of the heavy lifting himself to earn the prestigious "doctor" title, he was quick to recognize others who played a role in his success.

"Dr. (Bill) Junek is my inspiration," Dickey said. "He's AFTAC's Senior Scientist and finished his Ph.D. at UCF the same semester I began. He has encouraged me, guided me, assisted me, and even served on my research committee at AFIT. I cannot thank him enough for his professional expertise and sincere friendship."

He also thanked AFTAC's Systems Development director, Dave Merker for his mentorship.

Merker recognized the invaluable knowledge and skill Dickey will be bringing back to his directorate, so he made the decision to stand up a new AI/ML office within AFTAC's Center of Engineering Excellence.

"Dave was crucial in both facilitating my degree and paving the way for my return to AFTAC. I'm indebted to him."

When it came time to defend his dissertation, the team of experts connected with Dickey over an online teleconferencing application. The panel consisted of his research advisor, a representative from the dean's office, and three members of the research committee.

"I enjoy public speaking, and I really feed off the audience's reaction to whatever I might be presenting at the time," Dickey said, "so talking to a camera in an empty room for more than an hour was a different experience. Fortunately, the significance of the moment was enough to boost my adrenaline and I was able to power through my defense. Once the question-and-answer portion began, I felt much more comfortable. And I passed!"

When asked what the most rewarding part of his studies was, he reflected for a moment to gather his thoughts.

"The opportunity to learn a new skill set and completely revamp my career has been priceless," Dickey said. "Back in 2011, I saw this great potential for incorporating more machine learning into AFTAC's vital mission. And now, getting the opportunity to study AI/ML full-time for three years has been a dream come true."

He added, "AFIT is a special place, particularly suited to pursue operational and classified research for the Department of Defense. The faculty is top-notch and the close proximity to the Air Force Research Lab is invaluable. I highly encourage anyone who's interested in advanced education to look into scholarships offered by the DOD STEM program. Convince your leadership that you are worth the investment, and then work your tail off! The payoff is well worth the effort."

Suicide survivor helps Airmen, families battle adversity during pandemic - 5/16/2020

Doug Monda conducts an online discussion with members of the Air Force Technical Applications Center and their families April 22, 2020, about the perils of depression and mental illness. Monda is a two-time suicide survivor whose message of resilience helps him and others cope with past traumas. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)

Airmen and families assigned to the Air Force Technical Applications Center here participated in an online video chat with suicide survivor Doug Monda to discuss resiliency as the nation grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Monda was joined by 92 members of the nuclear treaty monitoring center who dialed in to hear about Monda's battle with depression and mental health struggles.

"His message is a very simple one," said Doug Rothenbush, director of AFTAC's 24th Analysis Squadron. "He is a firm believer that no one is alone and that people facing any type of adversity can live happy and healthy lives."

Monda began his presentation by giving the audience some background into his career. A law enforcement officer by trade, Monda spent many years in the "rougher" areas of police work - SWAT teams, gang and drug task forces, and sniper squads. He received numerous awards including Officer of the Year, three Life-Saving Awards, seven Unit Citations, and five Certificates of Commendation.

Yet despite his enormous career success and countless accolades, he found himself in a dark place -- so dark that he attempted to take his own life, not once but twice.

"The burden just got too big," he said, candidly. "I was depressed and was suffering from serious post traumatic stress after a situation on the job that had me and my weapon staring straight in the eyes of a 12-year old kid. It was just too overwhelming."

But through counseling, medical intervention and a huge support system at home, Monda was able to climb out of despair and into a place that has given him meaning and purpose. He now speaks publicly about his battles and aims to deliver a message of awareness about PTSD, depression, and suicide in first responders, hoping to break the stigma before it's too late.

"We invited Doug to speak with us because we know there may be people out there who are feeling the stress and strain of the COVID quarantine," said Rothenbush. "Knowing there are others who have faced incredible pressure and are willing to share their experiences can be very healing and cathartic. His message certainly resonated with many of us on the chat. It takes a lot of courage to put himself out there like Doug did."

Monda used two metaphors during his presentation to illustrate his point.

The first was a comparison to the movie, "Groundhog Day" starring Bill Murray. The premise of the movie is Murray's character finds himself stuck in time, waking up each morning only to relive the same awful day each time his alarm clock sounded.

"That's what it was like for me before I retired from law enforcement," he explained. "I felt like I would wake up every day, but the nightmare was still playing over and over again."

The second metaphor he used had to do with a wheelbarrow.

"Essentially, your life is like a wheelbarrow," Monda said. "Each chapter of your life starts out empty, whether it's when you start a new job or begin a new relationship or something along those lines. As you move along, you begin to fill your wheelbarrow with things like knowledge, experience, education, friends, homes, children, and hobbies. But sometimes, the wheelbarrow is filled with stuff you don't want to carry along like overdue bills, divorce, unemployment, accidents, bad health or death of a loved one. That's when you have to learn to 'reduce the load' and balance out what you're carrying in your wheelbarrow."

Monda kept the attention of the 90+ listeners for nearly two straight hours who seemed enveloped by his message of resilience.

"Doug's message resonated with encouragement and a continued passion for advocacy," said Wes Schuler, a nuclear technical information specialist and retired Air Force chief master sergeant. "During the beginning of the pandemic outbreak, I faced the stress that came along with the fact that my mother had just committed suicide. My wife and I had to get her affairs in order in a short window of time. We are truly grateful to our AFTAC family who showed their support."

The retired chief continued, "Doug's message did not fall on deaf ears and provided me with hope for the future. I am truly glad he was not successful at suicide. The fact that he has started his own foundation to try to avoid even more tragic loss to suicide is a true blessing. We are all so glad that he has provided an outlet for education, care and therapy for those who have suicidal ideations so that life may continue to flourish."

Monda works closely with his business partner, Karen, who is also his wife. As founders of their nonprofit organization "Survive First," their vision is to reduce first responder suicide and save lives.

"These are challenging times we're dealing with right now," said Rothenbush, "and hearing stories like Doug's can really open your eyes to the realization that there is always someone whose burden might be greater than your own. I hope when we get back to our 'new norm' and return to work in full force, we can invite Doug to speak to AFTAC in person so everyone can hear his powerful message of hope."

Curbside Pick-Up at PAFB BX - 4/15/2020


45th Space Wing

During these unprecedented times, Patrick AFB Exchange is playing a critical role and will continue to offer essential services. Beginning tomorrow, 10 April 2020, AAFES will add curbside pick-up.

*This does not include the Commissary.*

Buy-online-pickup-in-store orders will now include the option to pick-up curbside. Curbside Pick-Up will be available Mon - Sat, 0900 - 1630 and Sunday, 1000 - 1500. Upon arrival, customers should call (321) 266-5351 to pick-up their order.

While practicing physical distancing during COVID-19, AAFES is taking the following measures to maintain this as a safe, convenient service with minimized points of contact while meeting the increased demand through curbside pick-up. • Signatures will not be required on pickup orders. • Associates will distance themselves 6 feet from the driver's side door, or approach from the passenger side whenever possible

Pandemic can't stop AFTAC's innovative Airmen - 4/14/2020

A member of the Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick AFB, Fla., uses a diluted solution of ethanol and deionized water to sanitize items within the nuclear treaty monitoring center in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. (U.S. Air Force photo by Matthew S. Jurgens)
A member of the Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick AFB, Fla., uses a diluted solution of ethanol and deionized water to sanitize items within the nuclear treaty monitoring center in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. (U.S. Air Force photo by Matthew S. Jurgens)

As cleaning and disinfecting supplies rapidly disappeared from store shelves and warehouse stockrooms, demand far outweighed the availability of these products to protect against COVID-19.

The Air Force Technical Applications Center at Patrick AFB, Fla., was no different. As the nuclear treaty monitoring agency prepared to sanitize the center to protect the health and well-being of its workforce against the growing pandemic, supply technicians realized the amount of standard cleaning products in their inventory was at a minimum.

So what does the organization that's charged with conducting vital 'round-the-clock operations do to ensure its Airmen are safe?

One word: Innovate.

AFTAC is home to the Ciambrone Radiochemistry Laboratory, a one-of-a-kind Air Force facility that identifies radiologic or nuclear debris in support of the U.S. Nuclear Debris Collection and Analysis Program. To perform its mission, the laboratory must be able to precisely isolate and purify specific radionuclides from a variety of environmental samples. Scientists who work at the radiochemistry lab frequently rely on ethanol as a reagent to assist in this process.

To adhere to guidelines set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and by direction of the AFTAC commander, members of AFTAC's Safety Office and techs from Ciambrone teamed up to develop a solution using existing chemicals the lab already had it its inventory.

"One of the most commonly used reagents in almost any chemistry lab is ethanol," said Senior Airman John Mullaney, sample control technician. "So Senior Airman (Ethan) Rumble and I took the 100 percent ethanol liquid we use for lab operations and diluted it down to a 70-percent solution using deionized water. Once we had the right concentration, we filled spray bottles with the diluted ethanol and provided them to the assigned cleaning crews."

AFTAC Airmen then used the solution to wipe down door handles, computer keyboards, telephone handsets, elevator buttons, tables, break room countertops, and other commonly touched areas within the center to reduce the risk of contamination.

"The ethanol solution was allowed to naturally evaporate and the vapors to dissipate before the next team of workers were allowed in that area," said Maj. Hershel Lackey, lab director of operations. "While we waited for the surfaces to dry, the team documented the precise amount of solution that was used in a specific area and senior leaders were notified that the area was fully disinfected."

The team took their ingenuity one step further. They realized the lab supplies could also be used to disinfect the rest rooms and floors throughout the headquarters building as well as in the lab, which allowed for uninterrupted mission flow without putting Airmen in harm's way or inadvertently furthering the spread of the virus by having a contracted crew to come into the facility for general purpose cleaning.

"When faced with adversity, you will not find a smarter, more innovative group of men and women than you will here at the Air Force Technical Applications Center," said Col. Andy Steffen, commander of the 709th Surveillance and Analysis Group. "AFTAC was in a hard place with limited cleaning supplies, and we knew it would be weeks - possibly months - before the supply chain would catch up to the demand. I am always amazed at the resourcefulness of the folks who work here. They got the job done and they did it exceedingly well, and I'm incredibly proud of them and their efforts."

Lackey praised the AFATC Safety team for their invaluable oversight as well.

"Joy Morris and Sara Kroll were instrumental in ensuring we followed all required OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) guidelines," the major said. "This was truly a team effort across the board, and we definitely demonstrated one way to 'flatten the curve' while fighting the virus."

Vital treaty monitoring mission continues in wake of COVID-19 response - 4/8/2020

Col. Chad Hartman, commander of the Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick AFB, Fla., is seen via videochat (top right) April 3, 2020 as he conducts a tele-Town Hall meeting with his command chief, Chief Master Sgt. Amy Long for members of the nuclear treaty monitoring center and their family members to discuss COVID-19 response efforts. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)
Informational slide shown during tele-Town Hall meeting conducted by Col. Chad Hartman, commander of the Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick AFB, Fla., April 3, 2020, for members of the nuclear treaty monitoring center and their family members to discuss COVID-19 response efforts. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)

The commander of the Air Force Technical Applications Center, the organization charged with monitoring nuclear activity around the world, has made it his priority to ensure his workforce is doing all they can to make AFTAC a "hard target" while also flattening the COVID-19 curve.

Since the initial outbreak of the coronavirus in the U.S., Col. Chad Hartman and his leadership team, headquartered at Patrick AFB, Fla., have been taking diligent steps to provide uninterrupted access to critical scientific data used by national decision makers regarding nuclear activity across the globe.

Concurrently, Hartman wants to make sure his team stays connected and up-to-date on virus-related situations as they evolve, and that includes ensuring AFTAC family members are also well informed.

To do that, he's taken steps to separate his workforce into two groups to protect the health of the Airmen and their families while safeguarding mission readiness.

"The approach is simple," said Hartman. "We've divided into two teams - one Silver, one Blue. When the Blue team is in the building executing the mission, the Silver team remains at their alternate duty location to ensure we're not 'crossing streams' while practicing exquisite social distancing. I need every Airman - civilian and military -- and their immediate family members to remain healthy. Having two teams that don't cross paths is one effective way to do just that."

The center has adapted to the distance between its members by employing online methods of communicating, including the use of social media and teleconferences.

Hartman took full advantage of the modern technology at his fingertips and scheduled a Town Hall meeting April 3 with his Command Chief, Chief Master Sgt. Amy Long, for AFTAC members and their families. More than 500 people logged on to the audio-visual conferencing platform to listen to the colonel and chief communicate updates to the AFTAC team.

"This was an incredible opportunity for us to maintain our social distance, avoid crossing streams, yet still deliver information to the incredible men and women who are getting the job done, whether that job is here in the building executing the mission or at home, taking care of their families' needs," Hartman said.

The commander also carved out several minutes for a question-and-answer session.

"We had no less than two dozen questions posed through the chat mechanism from the participants, and it was great to see so much engagement and interest in what folks can do to help get through this unprecedented time," said Long. "These are tough times for many of our Airmen and their families, so anything we can do to help get them through it is a testament to the fantastic leadership we have in our officers, civilian leaders, senior noncommissioned officers and key spouses. I'm so proud to see everyone come together as a cohesive unit."

Questions during the Q&A portion of the teleconference revolved around subjects like childcare options, physical fitness training, civilian timecard procedures and when the commander thought AFTAC would return to "ops normal."

"One of the topics I discussed during the town hall was Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, which addresses the five basic categories that motivate human behavior," said Hartman. "Maslow demonstrated that people have both foundational needs like food, water, sleep, safety and shelter, as well as more complex needs like social interaction. As human beings, we all need those things, but the coronavirus has interrupted both foundational security and more complex social interaction needs that we normally take for granted. The key is to realize that the stress and anxiety caused by the coronavirus interruption of these needs is 1) natural, and 2) common to all. I thought it was important to discuss those issues during the town hall so folks know they're not alone if feeling isolated, and although we are physically distancing to combat the virus, we can and will stay connected."

Long told the 500+ participants that they needed to treat the COVID-19 response as a marathon rather than a sprint.

"This is our new norm," she explained. "Adversity doesn't discriminate, so it's important for us as leaders to demonstrate the importance of resiliency. It's natural for people to feel the weight of the circumstances on their shoulders, but it's equally important for us to stay connected and understand that all of us adapt to adversity in different ways and at different speeds, and that we'll get through this together as a team."

Hartman plans to host other town hall conferences periodically, and he encouraged his squadron commanders and superintendents to stay connected with their respective co-workers using the communications methods available to them.

AFTAC inducts 3 into famed Wall of Honor - 3/18/2020

Three former members of the Air Force Technical Applications Center at Patrick AFB, Fla., were inducted into AFTAC's Wall of Honor March 11, 2020 during a ceremony held in their honor. Pictured from left to right: Retired Col. Donald Whitney, retired Chief Master Sgt. John T. Horsch, and retired Chief Master Sgt. Larry D. Silhanek. (U.S. Air Force photo by Matthew S. Jurgens)

wohFig5 In keeping with its annual tradition, the Air Force Technical Applications Center here inducted three members onto its Wall of Honor March 11, 2020, memorializing their work that propelled the nuclear treaty monitoring center well into the 21st century.

Hosted by Col. Chad Hartman, AFTAC commander, the ceremony was held in the center's Northrup Auditorium, which is named after a 2014 charter member of the Wall of Honor, Doyle Northrup.

This year's inductees include retired Col. Donald Whitney, retired Chief Master Sgt. Larry D. Silhanek, and retired Chief Master Sgt. John T. Horsch.

wohFig4 Whitney began his career as an Air Force meteorologist and weather officer before becoming a pilot in the RC-130 in Vietnam. Upon his return to the U.S., he was assigned to the 9th Weather Reconnaissance Wing at McClellan AFB, Calif., which marked his first exposure to the AFTAC mission.

Throughout his career, he was well-immersed into the operational and airborne sides of the center's global responsibilities, which culminated in his direct involvement with AFTAC's role in monitoring the Threshold Test Ban Treaty, prohibiting tests that produced yields greater than 150 kilotons.

On one of Whitney's officer performance reports, his superior officer wrote, "Fostered by his leadership, Don knew the importance of the mission. He is a premier O-6 who excels in a most-demanding job."

"I worked with the best people in the Air Force," Whitney said. "The mission was important, but the people were more important. I especially loved my time spent at the center's headquarters because I was able to see all the pieces of our work around the world come together."

wohFig2 Silhanek's 30-year active duty career was spent exclusively as an AFTAC technician in various roles worldwide. Starting out as an electromagnetic pulse technician, he graduated at the top of his class and spent his first assignment in the South Pacific, first in Fiji, then in American Samoa. He was AFTAC's first logistics manager for the J-technique - AFTAC's system that collected and analyzed electromagnetic pulses - and had the rare opportunity to be selected as a detachment chief as a master sergeant - a role historically held by senior personnel.

Upon his retirement from the Air Force, for the next 19 years he continued to employ his vast knowledge of seismic and hydro-acoustic systems as a government contractor, greatly enhancing AFTAC's partnership with the International Monitoring System.

"As I sat and took in the magnitude of the ceremony, I found myself reflecting on my career and all the amazing officers and NCOs of all ranks I was lucky enough to work with," said Silhanek. "Seeing my name on the wall alongside my 'elders' who came before me is an incredibly humbling feeling. Thanks to everyone who made this possible."

wohFig3 Horsch enlisted in the Air Force in 1958 and was immediately selected to work as a special instrument technician, specializing in seismic analysis. According to his supervisors, he had an uncanny ability to recognize potential trouble areas and act accordingly to provide the most reliable data to his superiors, and he was instrumental in the development and implementation of all processing techniques.

As he achieved success in his work, he also progressed as a leader. He made rank quickly, and was rapidly put in management positions. He was AFTAC's Inspector General, Logistics Directorate superintendent, chief of an Operations Branch, and ultimately the center's Senior Enlisted Advisor. One general officer remarked on his performance report, "Chief Horsch is the pacesetter for all other noncommissioned officers in AFTAC—he's truly one of the Air Force's finest!

Horsch was overwhelmed by the outpouring of accolades. "I feel so undeserving of this honor," the retired chief master sergeant said. "I spent my whole career with AFTAC and they are as much a part of me as members of my own family. I want to thank everyone who supported me throughout my time on active duty and beyond. I couldn't be more pleased."

Addison Mitchell, AFTAC's mission software program manager, delivered the ceremony's invocation and highlighted the contributions of the inductees.

"These men have singularly and collectively played a major role in the advancement of our technologies to detect, locate, identify and report nuclear detonations around the world," Mitchell said. "We thank them for providing us with breakthroughs that can only be accomplished by personifying the Air Force core values of Integrity First, Service Before Self, and Excellence in All We Do."

The wall was established in 2015, shortly after AFTAC's headquarters personnel moved into their new $158 million facility, to recognize individuals who profoundly contributed to AFTAC's global mission.

"When you think about the rich heritage of this organization, you're looking into the eyes of the Airmen whose work makes us who we are today," Hartman said during the ceremony. "The complexity of the work they performed - which was cutting edge at the time - and the new and emerging technologies they oversaw illustrate the innovative culture that is deeply ingrained in AFTAC. We are honored to recognize their immeasurable contributions our global mission."

Selection to the Wall of Honor is no easy feat; AFTAC's Heritage Committee meticulously reviews dozens of nomination packages of former scientists, analysts, engineers and technicians, while only three per year are considered for induction. The committee looks for nominees who demonstrated great character and whose actions truly discriminated them from thousands of other center employees, both military and civilian.

"The AFTAC Wall of Honor not only recognizes the tremendous contributions of our former members who played such a vital role in our historic mission, but it gives our more junior personnel an opportunity to see the giants upon whose shoulders we stand today," said Dr. Mike Young, AFTAC Historian. "In the seven decades of our long range detection mission of monitoring foreign nuclear tests and arms control treaties, many of our Airmen and civilians have pioneered remarkable technologies that have enabled AFTAC to be so successful. This ceremony formally acknowledges their tremendous contributions and leadership."

DOD Issues Flexible Instructions on Response to Coronavirus - 3/13/2020

DOD has issued instructions to the armed services and department heads on how to respond to the implications of the growing coronavirus outbreak.

The department issued memos responding to the need for operations to continue during the outbreak. The DOD documents build on messages from the Office of Personnel Management issued Saturday.

Signed by Alexis Lasselle Ross, performing the duties of the undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, the memo charts a range of options commanders and directors may use in the situation. Local commanders are to craft responses to the threat in local areas.

"The Department of Defense has outlined a specific risk-based framework to guide planning, posture and actions needed to protect DOD personnel and support mission assurance in response to the novel coronavirus disease," the memo says. "DOD component heads and military commanders should follow these risk-based measures, with appropriate consultation and coordination, to protect the health and safety of the workforce."

The measures are flexible, tailored and incremental and should be tied to the level of exposure in the various communities.

On the civilian side, component heads must ensure the continuity of operations. They also must assess the readiness of the workforce for effective telework. Finally, they must communicate good health and hygiene habits to minimize transmission of the virus.

DOD is a worldwide organization and the virus outbreak is in different stages in different parts of the globe. "This outbreak is dynamic and manifests differently by location, setting, population and individual," a second memo on force health protection from personnel and readiness says. "As a result, responses to (coronavirus) will need to be flexible, tailored and incremental."

The memo covers aspects from before the outbreak through all levels of infection. The memos describe when employees can use telework, weather and safety leave, how telework should work, what happens under a quarantine order, care for family members affected, use of alternate work schedules and more.

In the military force health protection area, there are five levels of action:

The first is prior to community transmission and is labeled routine. Commanders should review and update installation plans and work to maximize telework possibilities.

The second is when community transmission begins and is labeled limited. Commanders need to re-emphasize health and hygiene and ensure service members and employees avoid contact with sick people.

The third is labeled moderate and is when there is increased community transmission. This level allows commanders to restrict service members from travel. They should also ensure that personnel protective equipment is available for high-risk personnel.

Sustained community transmission is labeled substantial. This fourth level of action allows commanders to declare public health emergencies and place limits on access to the installations. Commanders should consider what needs to change in regard to the force exercise program. For those overseas, commanders may want to consider authorized and ordered departure actions.

The fifth and final level of action is labeled severe. It is for widespread community transmission. This allows restricting movement, canceling non-mission essential activities, cancellation of exercises, canceling all non-essential leave or travel and instituting a quarantine.

DoD to restructure 50 hospitals, clinics to improve readiness - 2/21/2020

The Department of Defense announced plans to restructure 50 military hospitals and clinics to better support wartime readiness of military personnel and to improve clinical training for medical forces who deploy in support of combat operations around the world.

Military readiness includes making sure MTFs are operated to ensure service members are medically ready to train and deploy," said Tom McCaffery, assistant secretary of defense for health affairs. "It also means MTFs are effectively utilized as platforms that enable our military medical personnel to acquire and maintain the clinical skills and experience that prepares them for deployment in support of combat operations around the world."

The restructuring effort focused on strengthening on the prime responsibility of military medical facilities for training medical personnel and "for keeping combat forces healthy and ready to deploy according to readiness and mission requirements - all while ensuring the MHS provides our beneficiaries with access to quality health care," McCaffery added.

These plans were described and explained in a report sent to Congress earlier today, titled "Restructuring and Realignment of Military Medical Treatment Facilities." This report was required by law under Section 703(d) of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2017, which directed the DoD to analyze its hospital and clinic footprint and submit a plan to Congressional defense committees.

Of the 343 facilities in the United States initially screened for this report, 77 were selected for additional assessment, with 21 identified for no changes.

Of the 50 facilities ultimately designated for restructuring, 37 outpatient clinics now open to all beneficiaries will eventually see primarily only active-duty personnel. Active-duty family members, retirees and their families who currently receive care at those facilities will transition over time to TRICARE's civilian provider network. The report states that seven of these clinics may continue to enroll active duty family members on a space-available basis.

In addition, many active duty-only clinics will continue to provide occupational health services to installation civilian employees related to their employment.

The report acknowledges that transitioning patients from MTFs to the TRICARE network will take time - in some cases several years - and if local TRICARE networks cannot provide access to quality care, DoD will revise implementation plans. "Markets are expected to transition MTF eligibles to the network at different rates and, in certain markets, the transition could take several years," the report states. Detailed implementation plans will be developed through coordination with MTFs, the Defense Health Agency, the Military Departments, and the TRICARE Health Plan.

TRICARE is the health care program for the U.S. armed services. The two most popular plans available to most eligible beneficiaries under 65, TRICARE PrimeA managed care option available in Prime Service Areas in the United States; you have an assigned primary care manager who provides most of your care.TRICARE Prime and TRICARE SelectStarting on January 1, 2018, TRICARE Select replaces TRICARE Standard and Extra. TRICARE Select is a self-managed, preferred provider network plan. TRICARE Select is a fee-for-service option in the United States that allows you to get care from any TRICARE-authorized provider. Enrollment is required to participate. TRICARE Select, include morethan 6.7 million enrolled patients. Other plans are targeted for specific beneficiary groups, such as Reservists and those eligible for Medicare.

During his keynote address at the December 2019 annual meeting of the Society of Federal Health Professionals, known as AMSUS, McCaffery offered a broad overview of intentions for changing the scope of operations at certain MTFs in what is known within the MHS as the Direct CareDirect care refers to military hospitals and clinics, also known as "military treatment facilities" and "MTFs."Direct Care System.

"In optimizing the operation of the Direct Care system to most effectively support the MHS readiness mission, we need to identify those areas where we could expand capacity at MTFs that offer potential for sustaining the skills and knowledge of our medical force," McCaffery said during his AMSUS speech. "But we also must examine those areas where facilities do not offer now, and likely will not be able to offer in the future -- a platform for maximizing capabilities to support medical readiness. In those situations, we need to be open to right-sizing MTF services and capabilities so as to ensure that we are using finite resources most efficiently... while not compromising our ability to meet mission."

The final report delivered to Congress contains a summary of all the changes, a description of how each change was made, and supporting data.

For a complete list of military hospital and clinic changes listed in the report, go to

DOD Closing Dozens of Military Clinics to Retirees, Families - 2/20/2020

Feb. 19, 2020 | By Brian W. Everstine
The Pentagon is downsizing or closing 50 medical clinics, including 12 on Air Force bases, in a move the department says will "increase the readiness of our operational and medical forces." But the change will also force families and retirees away from some USAF facilities and into TRICARE civilian providers.

The Fiscal 2017 National Defense Authorization Act called on the Pentagon to analyze its hospital and clinic footprint, and the department screened 343 facilities inside the United States. Of those, 77 were selected for additional assessments and 50 ultimately chosen for "restructuring."

The majority of those facilities will transition from serving all beneficiaries to only seeing Active-duty military personnel. Family members, retirees, and their families would have to seek care through the TRICARE civilian provider network.

Matt Donovan, the former acting Air Force secretary who is performing the duties of the under secretary of defense for personnel and readiness, outlined the changes in a Feb. 19 report to congressional leaders.

The report is a "strategic framework" for the changes, and no detailed implementation plan, timeline, projected costs, or expected savings are available yet. Local networks' ability to take on additional patients will drive the transition time, and switching people over could take several years.

If TRICARE networks cannot provide access to quality care, "DOD will revise implementation plans," according to a Military Health System release.

MacDill Air Force Base, Fla.'s Sabal Park Clinic will close once all patients are transferred. The clinic opened in May 2019.

Joint Base Langley-Eustis Air Force Base, Va.'s 633rd Medical Group's inpatient facility will become an ambulatory surgical center.

The following facilities will switch to Active-duty, occupational health-only clinics:

  • MacDill's 6th MDG outpatient facility
  • Dyess AFB, Texas's 7th MDG outpatient facility
  • Robins AFB, Ga.'s 78th MDG outpatient facility
  • Barksdale AFB, La.'s 2nd MDG outpatient facility
  • Dover AFB, Del.'s 436th MDG outpatient facility
  • Goodfellow AFB, Texas's 17th MDG outpatient facility
  • Hanscom AFB, Mass.'s 66th Medical Squadron outpatient facility
  • Maxwell AFB, Ala.'s 42nd MDG outpatient facility
  • Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J.'s 87th MDG outpatient facility
  • Patrick AFB, Fla.'s 45th MDG outpatient facility

The Pentagon expects about 200,000 beneficiaries to move to provider networks, the majority of which are retirees. They will need to pay out of pocket for health care provided through TRICARE. A family of four filling a dozen prescriptions per year could end up spending from $157 to $720 more per year on prescription medications alone. For medical care, copays and deductibles could add hundreds or thousands more dollars.

By only providing medical services to Active-duty forces, the Pentagon wants to make sure affected facilities can help service members be "medically ready to train and deploy," said Tom McCaffery, the assistant secretary of defense for health affairs, in a release. "It also means MTFs are effectively utilized as platforms that enable our military medical personnel to acquire and maintain the clinical skills and experience that prepares them for deployment in support of combat operations around the world."

AFTAC hosts 5th annual WiSE Symposium - 2/13/2020

Students from Sabal Elementary School in Melbourne, Fla., participate in a yelling contest with Airman 1st Class Kishona Quinn, a member of the Air Force Technical Applications Center at Patrick AFB, Fla., using a meter that measures sound levels to test exposure to hazardous noises. The demonstrations were part of AFTAC's annual Women in Science and Engineering Symposium Pioneer Day for local school students. (U.S. Air Force photo by Matthew S. Jurgens)

Continuing a five-year tradition, the Air Force Technical Applications Center held its annual Women in Science and Engineering (WiSE) Symposium Jan. 21-23, 2020 to highlight the value that gender diversity brings to the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math workforce.

The first two days of the event were dedicated to guest speakers, breakout sessions and exhibitor information tables. On day three, various interactive demonstrations were on display for students across Brevard County who traveled to the convention center for Pioneer Day.

Keynote speakers included Dr. Toby Daly-Engle, professor of Ocean Engineering and Marine Sciences at the Florida Institute of Technology; Dr. Gioia Mass, NASA project scientist and plant scientist at Kennedy Space Center; Dr. Hope Hubbard, hepatologist and associate professor of medicine at the University of Texas/San Antonio; NaShara Mitchell, success advocate and motivational speaker; and Dr.Sioban Malany, associate professor at the University of Florida and founder of Micro-gRx.

This year's symposium was aimed at inspiring the next generation of STEM enthusiasts through interactive demonstrations, inspirational speakers and networking opportunities. The theme for the symposium was "Create What You Wish Existed" to encourage young attendees to act on their innovative thoughts.

Col. Chad Hartman, AFTAC's commander, altered the STEM acronym to STEAM to include the Arts - humanities, language, music, design, graphic arts, dance, drama and new media, just to name a few.

"In this day and age, STEAM initiatives give students the opportunity to learn creatively using 21st century concepts, skills and tools," said Hartman. "By including the Arts, we can dispel the myth that the 'hard science' interdisciplines are separate, when truly they're not. Diversity of thought is vital to strategic problem solving, and that includes the Arts."

Originally, the symposium was scheduled for September 2018, but due to Hurricane Dorian, it was rescheduled to January 2020.

Daly-Engle's presentation on sharks and their importance to the marine ecosystem kept the audience entertained and informed. As one of the first and few women in her field, she understands the importance of events like WiSE.

"If you're the only female in a group of men, there is a lot of pressure to perform at a higher level," she said. "Throw in the pressures of balancing life's demands like the desire to have a family and a career at the same time, and it makes it doubly hard for women. But it shouldn't have to be a conflict - we as women have earned the right to work, stay home or do both!"

Makaia Fernandez, a 12-year-old home schooler, attended all three days of the symposium and seemed to thoroughly enjoy herself.

"I really like science and I thought this would be a great place to learn more about it," the 7th-grader said. "I really liked the presentation about growing plants in space - that was really interesting!"

Her brother Eli added, "The fossils of megalodon teeth were so cool! I thought I wanted to be a gaming coder when I get older, but now I think I want to be a paleontology coder!"

Since its inception in 2014, the symposium has seen more than 1,100 people attend the event. This year was no exception.

"The team of volunteers who put this event together worked countless hours to make it a success," said Capt. Brittany Karsten, WiSE senior project officer. "Last September, Hurricane Dorian sidetracked our original program, but we all came together as a cohesive group to reschedule as quickly as possible and expose our local community to phenomenal guest speakers, informative exhibits and exciting STEM demonstrations. We hope everyone who attended had a great experience and left with a better understanding of the significance of diversity in STEM and how it plays an essential role in the future of our nation."

WiSE was established in 2013 to bring attention to and highlight the value that gender diversity brings to the science, technology, engineering and mathematics workforce. It also focuses on encouraging mentorship and networking opportunities for those interested in pursuing and excelling in STEAM careers.

After extending his thanks to all the guest speakers, exhibitors, volunteers and participants, Hartman said he plans to continue the tradition of hosting WiSE while opening the program's aperture for years to come.

"When WiSE first began, it was centrally focused on women in the hard science workforce," he said. "That will always be a central aspect of WiSE, but it is also time to expand and broaden the experience beyond its original focus. So be on the lookout for exciting new changes to the program when we schedule the next symposium."

VCSAF meets with nuclear scientists, engineers about future operations - 12/10/2019

Air Force Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Stephen W. "Seve" Wilson paid a visit to the Air Force Technical Applications Center here Dec. 4 to meet with nuclear scientists and engineers about their role in global nuclear deterrence and nonproliferation.

Gen. Stephen W. "Seve" Wilson, Air Force Vice Chief of Staff, listens as Col. Chad J. Hartman (foreground), commander of the Air Force Technical Applications Center, briefs the general Dec. 4, 2019 on how the U.S. technical surveillance center of excellence is addressing "wicked problems" that nuclear nonproliferation poses to senior defense officials. Also pictured is Col. Brande H. Walton, Vice Commander for the 45th Space Wing, Patrick AFB, Fla. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)

"The overarching purpose of the R&D Roadmap Forum is to codify pathways to meet forthcoming challenges of our treaty monitoring and nuclear forensics mission," said Dr. William Junek, AFTAC senior scientist. "We were fortunate enough to have Dr. Joseph join us this year, and his insight during his presentation was invaluable."

Joseph, a former commissioned officer in the Air Force, has more than 40 years of experience as a physicist, directed energy researcher, senior program manager, national security advisor, and government executive. In his role as the Air Force's senior scientist, he advises the Air Force Chief of Staff and Secretary of the Air Force by providing assessments on a wide range of scientific issues. He is responsible for identifying and analyzing technical issues to bring them to the attention of other senior Air Force and governmental leaders

Day one of the forum began with a collection of briefings by numerous experts from various government agencies and defense laboratories, and focused on organizational goals, requirement gaps and current R&D efforts across the enterprise.

The second day featured a series of working group sessions with an emphasis on geophysics, modeling and simulation, atmosphere and space, and materials.

"Each session was designed to give external organizations an opportunity to provide direct feedback regarding the contents of the roadmap and blueprint," said Tech. Sgt. Walter J. Slocum, project officer for the forum. "The feedback we receive from the participants is cataloged into a database and used to identify products that can be transitioned into operations over the next several years, and to highlight the R&D areas that may require greater advocacy by the nuclear nonproliferation community."

In an interview after his presentation, Joseph touted the importance of the R&D Forum and how it benefits not just those in attendance, but the Air Force as a whole.

"AFTAC is an interesting organization with a long legacy of being on the front line of research, development and innovation," said Joseph. "It is made up of vibrant, energetic people who are filled with intellectual curiosity and who play a very important role today's multi-domain operations."

Joseph said he's always impressed with what comes out of the forum each year.

Dr. Richard J. Joseph (right), Chief Scientist of the U.S. Air Force, shakes the hand of Dr. John W. McClory, chairman of the Air Force Institute of Technology's Nuclear Engineering Program, after presenting him with the Endowed Term Chair Award during the Air Force Technical Applications Center's annual Research and Development Roadmap Forum Oct. 22, 2019. Looking on is AFTAC's senior scientist, Dr. William Junek. (U.S. Air Force photo by Matthew S. Jurgens)

Wilson was accompanied by Lt. Gen. Richard Clark, Air Force Deputy Chief of Staff for Strategic Deterrence and Nuclear Integration and escorted by Col. Brande H. Walton, Vice Commander of the 45th Space Wing.

The purpose of the visit was to give the visiting Air Force senior leaders an opportunity to discuss future operations and algorithmic warfare - the method by which battles are fought using artificial intelligence and machine learning as a weapon system - with members of the Department of Defense's sole nuclear treaty monitoring center and the U.S.'s technical surveillance center of excellence.

During an in-depth classified mission briefing, the generals sat down to hear from AFTAC experts who discussed their advanced modeling capability and how environmental modeling and simulation plays a critical role in how the center provides direct technical, analytical and evaluative scientific data to national decision makers.

The briefers talked how they are taking steps to master the digital environment through what AFTAC calls its "Algorithm Factory."

"AFTAC is making every effort to modernize and improve our capabilities," said Col. Chad Hartman, AFTAC commander. "Whether it's through strategic integration, development ops or cloud architecture, we are setting the pace and leading the way. To accomplish that, we let machines do what machines do best so we can free up our Airmen to do what they do best - innovate, think critically and effectively, and address our nation's wicked problems."

Gen. Stephen W. "Seve" Wilson (left), Air Force Vice Chief of Staff, presents his coin to Master Sgt. Ryan Doss, a mission director for the Air Force Technical Applications Center at Patrick AFB, Fla., after Doss was recognized as an outstanding performer by his chain of command. Wilson visited the AFTAC Dec. 4, 2019 with Air Force Deputy Chief of Staff for Strategic Deterrence and Nuclear Integration Lt. Gen. Richard Clark for an in-depth look into how the nuclear treaty monitoring center accomplishes its global mission. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)

Wilson was impressed with what he heard and saw from the center's top scientists.

"AFTAC has some really smart people here who have come up with solutions to some very hard problems," Wilson said. "You think differently. You're driven. You develop novel ways to get after the tough challenges we face, and I am really impressed with your innovative spirit. AFTAC is on the cutting edge of all things nuclear and my words of wisdom to you are simple: push it up!"

At the conclusion of the briefing, the general recognized two members of the AFTAC team as outstanding performers and coined each of them for their work: Master Sgt. Ryan Doss and Tech. Sgt. Alissa Garnett.

Wilson also held a "State of the Force" Town Hall meeting for all base personnel and took questions from Airmen. Much of his briefing focused on who senior defense officials believe is the United States' biggest foe: China.

"We have never faced an adversary like China," Wilson said. "We must continue to deter and compete against this near-peer adversary, whether that be economically, academically or militarily."

An Airman asked the general for an update on "The Air Force We Need" initiative, and the vice chief spoke about how the Air Force is executing the initiative. "One of the ways we're addressing our challenges," he said, "is how we recruit, retain and encourage our single most important weapon system, our people."

Wilson continued, "When Congressional leaders ask me what we need as a force, I never hesitate with my response. I tell them we need more people - bright, innovative young minds willing to carry us well into the 21st century. We'll always need more 'stuff' - aircraft, equipment, materiel, etc. - but it's the people who are our number one priority."

Col. Chad J. Hartman (right), commander of the Air Force Technical Applications Center, briefs Air Force Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Stephen W. "Seve" Wilson (left) and Air Force Deputy Chief of Staff for Strategic Deterrence and Nuclear Integration Lt. Gen. Richard Clark (center) on algorithmic warfare operations being conducted at the Department of Defense's sole nuclear treaty monitoring center. Wilson and Clark visited AFTAC, headquartered at Patrick AFB, Fla., Dec. 4, 2019 for a current mission update. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)

As he closed out the Town Hall, Wilson said, "What you're doing here is incredibly important and I want you to know that your dedication is recognized and appreciated by Secretary (Barbara) Barrett and (Air Force Chief of Staff) General (David) Goldfein. You're all doing a fantastic job for our Air Force and our nation, so go out there knowing that we've got your back."

AFTAC leads charge on R&D Roadmap for USAF - 11/2/2019

For the past five years, the Air Force Technical Applications Center has hosted its annual Research and Development Roadmap Forum for the scientific community within the U.S. government and beyond. This year was no exception.

From Oct. 22-23, the nuclear treaty monitoring center welcomed nearly 200 experts to the Doyle Northrup Auditorium here to focus on AFTAC's multi-faceted global mission and linkages to research and development projects that impact the nuclear nonproliferation enterprise.

The keynote speaker for the event was Dr. Richard J. Joseph, Air Force Chief Scientist.

Dr. Richard J. Joseph, Air Force Chief Scientist, delivers his keynote address to attendees of the 2019 Research and Development Roadmap Forum hosted by the Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick AFB, Fla., Oct. 22. Joseph touted AFTAC's importance to R&D during his remarks: "This center is a shining example of what science and technology means for the Air Force." (U.S. Air Force photo by Matthew S. Jurgens)

"The overarching purpose of the R&D Roadmap Forum is to codify pathways to meet forthcoming challenges of our treaty monitoring and nuclear forensics mission," said Dr. William Junek, AFTAC senior scientist. "We were fortunate enough to have Dr. Joseph join us this year, and his insight during his presentation was invaluable."

Joseph, a former commissioned officer in the Air Force, has more than 40 years of experience as a physicist, directed energy researcher, senior program manager, national security advisor, and government executive. In his role as the Air Force's senior scientist, he advises the Air Force Chief of Staff and Secretary of the Air Force by providing assessments on a wide range of scientific issues. He is responsible for identifying and analyzing technical issues to bring them to the attention of other senior Air Force and governmental leaders

Day one of the forum began with a collection of briefings by numerous experts from various government agencies and defense laboratories, and focused on organizational goals, requirement gaps and current R&D efforts across the enterprise.

The second day featured a series of working group sessions with an emphasis on geophysics, modeling and simulation, atmosphere and space, and materials.

"Each session was designed to give external organizations an opportunity to provide direct feedback regarding the contents of the roadmap and blueprint," said Tech. Sgt. Walter J. Slocum, project officer for the forum. "The feedback we receive from the participants is cataloged into a database and used to identify products that can be transitioned into operations over the next several years, and to highlight the R&D areas that may require greater advocacy by the nuclear nonproliferation community."

In an interview after his presentation, Joseph touted the importance of the R&D Forum and how it benefits not just those in attendance, but the Air Force as a whole.

"AFTAC is an interesting organization with a long legacy of being on the front line of research, development and innovation," said Joseph. "It is made up of vibrant, energetic people who are filled with intellectual curiosity and who play a very important role today's multi-domain operations."

Joseph said he's always impressed with what comes out of the forum each year.

Dr. Richard J. Joseph (right), Chief Scientist of the U.S. Air Force, shakes the hand of Dr. John W. McClory, chairman of the Air Force Institute of Technology's Nuclear Engineering Program, after presenting him with the Endowed Term Chair Award during the Air Force Technical Applications Center's annual Research and Development Roadmap Forum Oct. 22, 2019. Looking on is AFTAC's senior scientist, Dr. William Junek. (U.S. Air Force photo by Matthew S. Jurgens)

"This center is a shining example of what science and technology means for the Air Force," he said. "You carry a huge operational burden as the sole agency that monitors the fierce weapons that can potentially wipe out civilization. Our competitors - the enemy - force us to consistently re-evaluate our operations, and the R&D Roadmap is one way we accomplish that. The way you know you're making progress is when you rigorously validate your work. AFTAC does that every day."

In addition to the briefings and breakout sessions, Joseph and Junek presented three forum attendees with the Air Force Institute of Technology's Endowed Chair Awards. AFIT's School of Engineering and Management and AFTAC formed a research and education partnership in 2016 and one of the initiatives within the partnership included the establishment of an "Endowed Term Chair."

The 2019 recipients were Dr. John W. McClory, chair of AFIT's Nuclear Engineering Program; Lt. Col. Robert C. Tornay, AFIT Assistant Professor of Atmospheric Science; and Dr. Mark E. Oxley, Professor of Mathematics in AFIT's Graduate School of Engineering and Management.

This year's forum was the largest to date, seeing almost 30 more representatives in attendance compared to 2018's event. Slocum believes that's due, in part, to the ease of registration and extensive word of mouth.

"Our revamped registration process certainly made attending the forum more streamlined than in the past," he said. "The team worked extremely hard on making it as seamless as possible, and we also fielded dozens of questions and concerns from the attendees, many of which were first-time participants. Everyone was crucial to making the event a success, and I expect we'll see even higher attendance next year after all the positive feedback we received. That ultimately leads to a better final product."

Prior to her retirement in May 2019, former Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson unveiled a new and ambitious Science and Technology Strategy designed to better identify, develop and deploy breakthrough technologies to maximize and expand the Air Force's technological advantage.

Junek thinks the R&D Roadmap Forum helps to advance Wilson's strategy.

"AFTAC's R&D corporate process works to align the center's needs with higher headquarters' requirements as outlined in the National Defense Strategy and Secretary Wilson's S&T Strategy," he said. "The data we up channel helps to arm senior decision makers with the information they need to craft national security policies that affect not just the Department of Defense, but also our allies and international partners."

The nuclear treaty monitoring center has already begun planning for the 2020 forum.

College Fellows develop nuke detection system to test at RED FLAG '19 - 10/30/2019

Five students from various American universities became X-Force fellows over the summer at the Air Force Technical Applications Center through a program sponsored by the National Security Innovation Network.

Matthew Santalla, a senior at Florida Polytechnic University majoring in Business Analytics and Quantitative Economics, briefs Col. Chad Hartman, commander of the Air Force Technical Applications Center, on a system he and four other university students developed during their X-Force summer fellowship with the nuclear treaty monitoring center at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. The program is sponsored by the National Security Innovation Network. Pictured left to right: Santalla; Andrew Bass, a freshman at Washington University in St. Louis; Bryan Urias, a senior at Florida Polytechnic University; and Hartman. (U.S. Air Force photo by Matthew S. Jurgens)

NSIN is a Department of Defense organization whose mission is to build a network of innovators to generate solutions to national security problems. AFTAC is the DoD's sole nuclear treaty monitoring headquarters and the nation's technical surveillance center of excellence. Together, the two agencies are dedicated to innovative collaboration.

The X-Force Fellowship Program gives matriculated graduate and undergraduate students an opportunity to work on and solve current and emerging DoD mission needs. Once the students are selected as participants, they are grouped into teams based upon their educational background and then paired with a mission partner that met NSIN's stringent requirements to become an X-Force host.

AFTAC's interns included Myles Ross, a senior at North Carolina A&T State University; Matthew Santalla and Bryan Urias, both seniors at Florida Polytechnic University; Gautham Viswaroopan, a graduate student at the University of Colorado, Boulder; and Andrew Bass, a freshman at Washington University in St. Louis.

"The fellows were tasked to develop an operational, end-to-end hardware/software test bed for AFTAC," said James Stroup, AFTAC's research and development portfolio manager for Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning and the project's technical liaison. "This test bed, called the Open Source Nuclear Detection Systems, or OSNDS, provides our scientists, analysts and engineers with the ability to rapidly test new hardware and software solutions at little-to-no-cost in a real-world environment."

Working out of a renovated building at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station a few miles north of Patrick AFB, the interns spent several hours a day on their project with the help and oversight of some of AFTAC's technical experts.

"We needed to provide the fellows with a place they could work unencumbered and where they would be free to develop the right solution," Stroup explained. "AFTAC's main headquarters is a secure facility, so housing the students at an unclassified research facility at the Cape was ideal. Without the incredible work of AFTAC member Ed Darmiento and his team getting the facility online, this project would never have gotten off the ground."

After several weeks of trial, error and success, the fellows were finally ready to field test their platform. But before they could execute that plan, the commander of the nuclear treaty monitoring center traveled from Patrick to the Cape to get a briefing from the students and hear about their progress.

"Wow - this is very impressive!" Hartman stated. "You took your concept and illustrated just how important this is to our joint forces and its applicability to the warfighter. Given AFTAC's unique mission and the stringent protocols we have to operate under, you really captured how important tracking sensor operability is for us. I am really impressed."

The young collegians beamed after hearing the high praise from AFTAC's senior officer.

Myles Ross, a senior at North Carolina A&T State University, and Gautham Viswaroopan, a graduate student at the University of Colorado, Boulder, crunch some numbers during their fellowship with the Air Force Technical Applications Center, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. The students were part of the X-Force Fellowship Program, which gives matriculated graduate and undergraduate students the opportunity to work on and solve current and emerging DoD mission needs. The program is sponsored by the National Security Innovation Network. (U.S. Air Force photo by Matthew S. Jurgens)

"From his reaction, I think the colonel was pleased with our work!" said Ross. "This was an incredible opportunity and it was great to be able to work with my peers from other universities. I would definitely recommend the X-Force program to others."

When it came time to actually test their product, the team was invited to participate in a major Air Force exercise at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, and were escorted by 1st Lt. Hayley Weir, deputy branch chief and AFTAC's internship manager.

Exercise Red Flag-Alaska is a Pacific Air Forces-sponsored exercise designed to provide realistic training in a simulated combat environment, and this year's event saw more than 1,500 service members and 100 aircraft from more than 12 different units stationed around the world participate in the multinational training event. The exercise is also an opportunity for attendees to test and exchange tactics, techniques and procedures and improve their own interoperability.

As the nation's sole nuclear treaty monitoring center, AFTAC uses a network of global sensors to measure seismic activity to detect detonations of varying magnitudes. The center is continuously seeking out methods and ways to fine-tune its seismic detection capabilities, and thought Red Flag would be an ideal location to gather and analyze valuable data.

"Red Flag is a frequent source of 'noise,' from live-fire scenarios to munitions detonations," said Stroup. "Explosions generate seismic waves that can be detected many miles away, so the students positioned their system on the roof of AFTAC's detachment building at Eielson and were able to collect sufficient detonation data for analysis."

He added, "Their system performed exceptionally well at streaming data in real time back to the AFTAC headquarters - an incredible feat considering the short amount of time the students had to build a workable product.

Weir agreed with Stroup's assessment and she didn't hold back when describing the overall outcome of the students' project.

"The test was a massive success!" Weir said. "Not only were the students a month and a half ahead of schedule during the planning phase, they also knocked it out of the park at Red Flag when it came time to test the system. These guys are sharp - they did their research, sourced their documents, and applied their knowledge to come up with a viable, low-to-no-cost system in a very short period of time. Whatever path they choose to follow, I'm confident all of them will be enormously successful. I hope their future includes AFTAC!"

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein recently said that victory in combat will depend less on individual capabilities and more on the integrated strengths of a connected network of weapons, sensors and tools. Hartman has taken Goldfein's words to task and challenged the leaders in his own center to seek out ways to apply the same approach.

"AFTAC places a huge emphasis on attacking what we refer to as 'wicked problems' for our national and theater commanders," said Hartman. "One of the ways we do that is to participate in operational exercises and technical demonstrations like Red Flag to identify future opportunities. It made complete sense to have these incredibly talented students spend their summer semester interning with us to field test their hardware and software solutions. I hope they'll come back, not just as fellows, but as future AFTAC employees."

Stroup had nothing but praise for everyone who was involved with the program.

"This was a total 'team of teams' effort from the beginning" he said. "As talented as these students are, this project's success can be equally attributed to the willingness of AFTAC and NSIN to try something new. I'm incredibly proud of the work my co-workers accomplished and how everyone worked together brilliantly to ensure mission success."

He added, "One of the greatest benefits of hosting the fellows is the raw human talent the students bring to the table. That, and the fact that it comes with no cost to the end user - the students' costs and monthly stipends are funded entirely by NSIN. Without a doubt, this was a win-win for AFTAC."

Military Affairs Council tours only radiochemistry lab in USAF - 10/30/2019

By Susan A. Romano, AFTAC Public Affairs PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.
For the first time since the Air Force Technical Applications Center moved into its new headquarters building in 2014, members of the Cocoa Beach Regional Chamber of Commerce's Military Affairs Council toured the U.S. Air Force Radiochemistry Lab on AFTAC's campus Oct. 16. The Ciambrone Lab, posthumously named after former AFTAC vice commander Col. Thomas Ciambrone, is the only one of its kind in the U.S. Air Force. The scientists who work in the facility are responsible for identifying radiologic or nuclear debris in support of the U.S. Nuclear Debris Collection and Analysis Program.

Dr. Mark Dibben (right), mass spectrometry flight chief for the Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick AFB, Fla., explains to members of the Cocoa Beach Regional Chamber of Commerce's Military Affairs Council how the center uses mass spectrometry as a means to execute its nuclear treaty monitoring mission. The council toured AFTAC's radiochemistry lab Oct. 16, 2019. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)

The Military Affairs Council is an all-volunteer group of partners from the CBRCC who work together to enhance the quality of life in the local community, with a special emphasis on enlisted members who serve on Florida's Space Coast.

The MAC held its monthly meeting at AFTAC's outdoor pavilion and enjoyed pizza provided by MAC member Space Coast Intelligent Solutions. Once MAC chairman Michelle Goldcamp addressed each agenda item and adjourned the council's business, the attendees were broken up into three groups and escorted into the state-of-the-art facility.

They visited four main operational areas within the lab - sample control, radiochemistry, nuclear measurements and mass spectrometry. In the sample control section, council members were shown how samples are received, screened and prepared for delivery to other areas of the lab. The radiochemistry area offered views of chemical operations and where samples undergo rigorous purification prior to analysis.

Airman 1st Class Richard Edwards (right), a radiochemistry technician at the Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick AFB, Fla., explains to members of the Cocoa Beach Regional Chamber of Commerce's Military Affairs Council how the center uses chemistry as a means to execute its nuclear treaty monitoring mission. The MAC toured AFTAC's radiochemistry lab Oct. 16, 2019. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)

From there, the group visited the nuclear measurements lab where a wide variety of sophisticated radiation detection equipment is housed. "This area is designed to detect very low levels of alpha, beta and gamma radiation, which is a key function of the lab's mission," said Dave Burns, chief of Laboratory Operations.

During the final portion of the tour, the MAC got a rare view of one of the lab's thermal ionization mass spectrometers - precision instruments designed to measure nuclear fuel materials, one atom at a time.

After the tour Goldcamp was thrilled with the outcome of the meeting and the unique tour of the lab.

Michelle Goldcamp, chairman of the Cocoa Beach Regional Chamber of Commerce's Military Affairs Council, opens the door of a gamma ray detector during the MAC's visit to the Ciambrone Radiochemistry Lab at the Air Force Technical Applications Center. The council held its monthly meeting Oct. 16, 2019 at Patrick AFB's nuclear treaty monitoring center, the only one of its kind in the Department of Defense. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)

"It was such an honor and a privilege to be able to tour AFTAC with the MAC," she said. "For me personally, my inner 'nerd' was extremely excited to experience and hear about the science being performed there. Absolutely amazing - thank you for hosting us!"

AFTAC leadership is consistently seeking out ways to engage with members of the local community.

"Hosting the MAC seemed like a perfect opportunity network with our partners in Brevard County and to give us a chance to showcase our first-class radiochemistry lab and the people who operate it every day," said Col. Ralph Bordner, AFTAC vice commander. "We were pleased to have so many members of the council attend the meeting, and from all accounts, it seems like everyone had a great time. We look forward to doing this again in the future."

CRF develops innovative solution to seismic array vulnerability - 10/4/2019

Doug Dale (left), 709th Support Squadron flight chief, and Master Sgt. Joseph King, 709th SPTS Central Repair Facility superintendent, work on a device that converts and combines multi-serial signals into a single data stream for the Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick AFB, Fla. Dale and his team developed a solution to dramatically increase AFTAC's Geophysical Field System sparing posture worldwide. (U.S. Air Force photo by Matthew S. Jurgens)

By Susan A. Romano, AFTAC Public Affairs PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.
A team of Airmen from the Air Force Technical Applications Center's Central Repair Facility here used innovation to develop a solution to mitigate hardware failures to their seismic arrays around the world.

Under the direction of Doug Dale, 709th Support Squadron flight chief, six subject matter experts of varying technical backgrounds reverse-engineered a communications multiplexer - a device that converts and combines multi-serial signals into a single TCP/IP data stream - to extend the efficacy and life expectancy of AFTAC's seismometers used to monitor nuclear activity.

AFTAC is the Department of Defense's sole nuclear treaty monitoring organization that provides technical, analytical and evaluative support to the International Atomic Energy Agency. The center's global network of sensors are positioned underground, underwater, in the atmosphere and in space, making it the largest sensor network in the U.S. Air Force.

A number of its 3,600 seismic sensors are at unmanned locations overseas, but still require periodic maintenance to ensure the signals from the equipment are effectively and continuously transmitted to AFTAC's Operation Center at Patrick AFB.

But the maintainers faced a problem. One of the vendors that provided equipment to their geophysical field systems was no longer in business, and replacement parts were scarce - if not impossible - to procure. If they did find a vendor that could provide what they needed, it came at a high cost.

"One of the manufacturer's software programs is specially encoded to each individual piece of hardware, thus limiting the software's lifecycle to the hardware's finite lifespan," said Master Sgt. Joseph King, CRF superintendent and one of the members on Dale's team. "Their list price for a multiplexer was $15,000, but the hardware itself was less than $1,000. So we had to figure out a way to decouple the software from the hardware."

The CRF developed an organic solution to overcome the hardware limitation by reviewing the software's 40,000 lines of code to remedy the immediate problem of failing compact flash chips. Their ingenuity allowed for full replacement of the entire hardware system, extending the lifecycle of more than 100 assets valued at $1.7 million.

"This effort dramatically increased our sparing posture and will enable us to maintain the geophysical field system for several years," said Dale. "I'm incredibly proud of all the members of the team who worked hard to bring concept to reality. Their efforts will help ensure our legacy sensor support systems that are past operational life expectancy operate effectively until the next generation of systems are procured and deployed."

Paul Talwar, 709th SPTS deputy, was equally impressed with the CRF's resourcefulness and forethought.

"Under Mr. Dale's direction, the CRF developed a solution that dramatically increases AFTAC's sparing posture and will enable us to maintain the Geophysical Field System for several years, thus ensuring mission readiness capabilities until we field the next system."

Members of Dale's team include: King, Alan M. Yerington, Jimmy Jackson, Steve Dixon, Senior Master Sgt. Troy Main, and Staff Sgt. Josh Van Horne.

Local '16 valedictorian recruited by AFTAC as nuclear data analyst - 9/25/2019

Victoria Scira, a nuclear data analyst at the Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick AFB, Fla., examines a thermal ionization mass spectrometer in the AFTAC's Ciambrone Radiochemistry Lab. Scira was recently hired to work at the nuclear treaty monitoring center after being selected for the Air Force Personnel Center's Science and Engineering Palace Acquire program that offers permanent full-time positions in various career fields to prospective candidates (U.S. Air Force photo by Matthew S. Jurgens)

By Susan A. Romano, AFTAC Public Affairs PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.
Through the Palace Acquire Program, the Air Force Technical Applications Center here recruited a recent University of South Florida undergraduate to work as a nuclear data analyst in the center's Ciambrone Radiochemistry Laboratory.

Victoria Scira joined the AFTAC team in June 2019 after graduating magna cum laude from USF in May with a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering. She was valedictorian for the Merritt Island High School Class of 2016, and simultaneously earned her associates degree from Eastern Florida State College during high school through Brevard County's early enrollment program.

Eager to apply her newly-acquired technical knowledge, she sought out opportunities to get her resume in front of the right people. In October 2018, she attended the Society of Women Engineers Conference sponsored by the Air Force Personnel Center's Talent Acquisition team. The Minneapolis conference - the largest of its kind in the world - works to connect, interview and recruit women from all walks of engineering life to help further their careers.

It was here where Scira met Rose Day, AFTAC's civilian recruiting coordinator, who attended the conference to seek out highly motivated young adults interested in employment with the Department of Defense's sole nuclear treaty monitoring center.

"I interviewed her onsite at the SWE Conference and after talking to her, I realized she was a super sharp chemical engineer major," said Day. "As we spoke, I further learned she was from Merritt Island, which is only a few miles north of AFTAC's headquarters at Patrick AFB. When she told me she was very interested in pursuing a master's degree, I knew we had a perfect candidate for the Palace Acquire Program."

Palace Acquire offers permanent full-time positions in various career fields to prospective candidates during a two- to three-year training period. Upon the successful completion of the formal training plan, the candidate is offered a permanent position in a relevant Air Force Specialty Code or job series.

"Candidates must have a degree before being accepted into the program, and some require a minimum grade point average and a willingness to relocate," Day said. "In Victoria's case, she well exceeded the GPA requirement and didn't need to relocate very far!"

Once the interview process was complete and she was accepted as a PAQ intern, Scira was given a tour of AFTAC's radiochemistry lab, a state-of-the-art facility that identifies radiological or nuclear debris in support of the center's Nuclear Debris Collection and Analysis Program.

"Right now, I'm doing what's called alpha-beta coder analysis," she explained. "In simpler terms, I am utilizing a computer program to calculate radiochemistry results, and manually verifying all of the calculations using data analysis software tools. I'm eager to get trained on other lab positions like quality control and mass spectrometry analysis."

Dr. Bill Johnson, senior scientist, had nothing but praise for the new member of the AFTAC workforce.

"Victoria has gotten up to speed extraordinarily fast in a very technically-challenging position," said Johnson. "Her position generates information that is used at the highest levels of our government for those senior leaders to make decisions related to potential violations of international nuclear treaties. In the few months she's been here, she's done amazing things and is well on her way to becoming a certified data analyst."

When asked who has been her most influential mentor, Scira quickly responded, "My dad."

"He has been my biggest cheerleader throughout this entire process," she said with a smile. "I have always been interested in STEM fields, and when I was a kid, my father was such a role model for me. He is a mechanical engineer and I always thought his job was super interesting. He took notice at an early age and always encouraged me to pursue all sorts of STEM opportunities."

She added, "He's been cheering me on every step of the way, and it's always fun to talk about engineering topics with him."

Laura Merritt and Robert Lucio, both from the Air Force Personnel Center's Science and Engineering Career Field Team, manage the PAQ program and were instrumental in Scira's hiring action.

"We were thrilled to welcome Ms. Scira into the Science and Engineering Palace Acquire program this year," said Merritt. "The S&E PAQ program targets high-caliber, dynamic individuals with strong leadership potential and a desire to pursue higher career goals. Looking at her exemplary qualifications, Victoria encompasses everything we desire in a future leader in the engineering community. We expect she will continue to excel in our program and we look forward to her ongoing contributions to the PAQ program and the science and engineering career field."

While unsure if she'll make civil service a full 20-year career, Scira plans to pursue a master's degree in a different field of engineering. "I'd definitely recommend the Palace Acquire program to others. It's a long process, but very worthwhile!"

Experts from AFTAC travel to Georgia for STEMversity - 9/16/2019

Students attending STEMversity in Milledgeville, Ga., work on a lab experiment with the help of Airman from the Air Force Technical Applications Center. Each year, volunteers from the nuclear treaty monitoring center at Patrick AFB, Fla., provide expertise in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math to the summer campers at Central Georgia Technical College. (U.S. Air Force photo by Stephanie Homitz)

By Susan A. Romano, AFTAC Public Affairs PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.
In an effort to foster the betterment of underserved minority middle and high school students, members of the Air Force Technical Applications Center here traveled to Georgia recently to serve as mentors at STEMversity.

Dr. Andrew Giminaro, a nuclear forensics analyst for the nuclear treaty monitoring center, led the team of AFTAC volunteers who provided expertise in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math to the summer campers at Central Georgia Technical College in Milledgeville.

STEMversity is a non-profit seasonal program that provides state-of-the-art, hands-on STEM training to underrepresented youth through instructional laboratory experience. From blood spatter to DNA analysis, toxicology to nuclear forensics, the course covers a broad range of STEM-related themes and applications.

The training facility includes classroom, computer lab, and wet lab stations. Sessions are taught by skilled professionals with academic and field experience from various career areas within the STEM community.

A typical day at STEMversity starts with classroom instruction. Mentors give oral presentations about the experiments the students will be working on, and go over safety procedures, observation reporting and report preparation. A question-and-answer session is then conducted, similar to a college lecture seminar. Once the Q&A is complete, the students are broken up into smaller groups with two to three mentors to oversee the experiments and lab work while the students get to perform their activities.

Joining Giminaro were Staff Sgt. Samuel Carmichael and Stephanie Homitz, both technicians in AFTAC's radiochemistry lab.

"We provided two days of hands-on instructions to 20 high school students from the surrounding area," Giminaro said. "They were attentive and asked well-thought-out questions, but seemed a bit reserved at the beginning. It wasn't until we began the contamination control exercise that we saw them come out of their shells and really start getting into it."

The Air Force volunteers broke the group up into teams of four and each team was given a few minutes to figure out the best way to move five sponge balls coated in translucent powder from one beaker to another - all while taking precautions to avoid contamination.

"What the students didn't know was the powder is fluorescent under ultraviolet light," Homitz said. "After the five teams transferred their spheres, we turned the lights off and flipped on a black light to show them how effective their contamination control methods were. Many of them inadvertently cross-contaminated other surfaces and they were pretty blown away at how careful they thought they were until they saw the results under the black light."

The AFTAC group also discussed how the treaty monitoring center applies STEM to its mission and what kind of scientific opportunities exists for those pursuing a career with the Air Force. They also explained how forensic science plays a significant role in how they monitor nuclear treaties.

Historically, science and math areas of study that have lacked diversity, but programs like STEMversity are aimed to achieve inclusiveness in these fields.

"There aren't many minorities getting into the STEM fields," said Darrell Davis, executive director and founder of STEMversity. "We're trying to get some of these kids to get interested in science and give them an opportunity through exploration and experience. Since the program started in 2014, what we have seen is if you give young adults an opportunity, they will learn. They will and they can learn."

Giminaro agreed with Davis.

"When I was 12 years old, I pursued the Atomic Energy Merit Badge with the Boy Scouts and almost 20 years later I have a career directly related to something I was exposed to at a young age. I hope that through volunteering, I can expose students to a world they didn't know existed and maybe ignite a passion in them that may positively affect the course of their lives."

He added, "It's always exciting when we get to see kids employ their knowledge and skills in real-life laboratory settings."

AFTAC's involvement with STEMversity directly supports current Air Force diversity and inclusion initiatives outlined in the service's Diversity Strategic Roadmap - an action plan developed by Headquarters Air Force's Global Diversity Division at the Pentagon to provide guidance to Airmen on how to enhance institutional diversity in the Air Force and track its progress and success.

Despite Dorian, vital nuke mission continues uninterrupted - 9/14/2019

Master Sgt. Michael Scheetz (right), a heating, ventilation and air conditioning project programmer at the Air Force Technical Applications Center, shows AFTAC commander Col. Chad Hartman how he and the recovery response team brought the nuclear treaty monitoring center's HVAC system back online Sept. 5, 2019, after the organization shut down ahead of Hurricane Dorian at Patrick AFB, Fla. Also pictured is Master Sgt. Chris Gaskill, AFTAC's power production project programmer. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)
Rob Atherton (left) and Mike Selig, both members of the 45th Civil Engineer Squadron, Patrick AFB, Fla., help bring the Air Force Technical Applications Center back online after the nuclear treaty monitoring center evacuated during Hurricane Dorian Sept. 5, 2019. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)

By Susan A. Romano, AFTAC Public Affairs PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.
With a potential Category 5 hurricane barreling toward their headquarters building, the Air Force Technical Applications Center relocated its vital 24/7 nuclear treaty monitoring mission to an alternate location to ensure uninterrupted operations for national decision makers.

Early forecasts had Hurricane Dorian making landfall over the Labor Day weekend on Florida's Space Coast, home to Patrick AFB and AFTAC, so senior installation leaders took swift steps to ensure the safety and well-being of its residents, workers, equipment and resources. AFTAC senior leadership meticulously went over checklists and requirements in order to safeguard the center's ability to provide direct technical, analytical and evaluative support in the event of a global nuclear detonation or test.

"Ours is a critical, 'round-the-clock' mission, and that requirement continues even when a storm is heading our way," said Col. Chad Hartman, AFTAC commander. "As the Department of Defense's sole agency that operates and maintains a global network of nuclear event detection sensors, we have an indispensable obligation to continuously provide senior authorities with up-to-the-minute data associated with worldwide nuclear activities."

Because of that fundamental role, Hartman ordered the deployment of an operations continuity team to an alternate facility three days prior to Dorian's anticipated landfall. The team of subject matter experts seamlessly transitioned AFTAC's nuclear surveillance mission, despite the threat to their families and their own homes from the storm.

AFTAC's team of skilled experts executed its Continuity of Operations, known as a COOP, maintained the capability to perform essential functions with no impact or disruption to the mission. The alternate site was equipped with a full complement of network and information technology connectivity in order to accommodate AFTAC's unique operational needs.

Led by 709th Surveillance and Analysis Group commander Col. Andy Steffen, the AFTAC COOP Team provided persistent, uninterrupted vigilance to monitor treaty compliance and oversight to AFTC's overall global surveillance mission.

Throughout Dorian's westward Atlantic track, the treaty monitoring experts worked non-stop, and the center's senior leaders kept non-essential personnel informed at their respective evacuation locations through social media, email and group texts.

Once the storm passed and the installation allowed mission-essential personnel to conduct a sweep of base facilities, AFTAC recovery teams inspected the center's facilities to assess any potential storm damage.

AFTAC's command chief had nothing but praise for the center's workforce.

"I was beyond impressed of the family ethics the men and women of AFTAC displayed from start to finish," said Chief Master Sgt. Amy Long. "When the news first broke that Patrick AFB was in the 'cone of uncertainty' for landfall of this monster storm, Colonel Hartman and I were out of town, but we saw the team quickly come together in every way to get the job done. It is a testament to the resilience and connectedness of our Airmen and our families."

Members were permitted to return to duty Sept. 9 after response teams reconnected the building's communications capabilities and the mission was transferred back to the AFTAC Operations Center at Patrick.

Hartman extended his thanks not only to his own AFTAC team, but also to the members of the 45th Space Wing, Patrick AFB's host organization.

"I can't say enough about the tremendous partnership we share with Brig. Gen. (Doug) Schiess and his crew here at Patrick," said Hartman. "AFTAC employs a team of teams philosophy and the 45th Space Wing was an incredible teammate throughout the entire event."

Hartman and Long weren't alone in their praise for those who weathered the storm.

"I'm extremely proud of the way Airmen responded to Hurricane Dorian," said Gen. Mike Holmes, commander of Air Combat Command. "You worked extra hours to safeguard your teammates, their facilities, and equipment and responded selflessly to the needs of people who needed help. Well done!"

Two distinguished executives receive Presidential Rank Awards - 7/12/2019

Acting Secretary of the Air Force Matthew P. Donovan presents the Presidential Rank Award to Dr. Glenn E. Sjoden, Chief Scientist for the Air Force Technical Applications Center during a ceremony at Pentagon in Washington, D.C., June 14, 2019. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Adrian Cadiz)
Acting Secretary of the Air Force Matthew P. Donovan presents the Presidential Rank Award to David C. Merker, Director of Systems Development for the Air Force Technical Applications Center during a ceremony at Pentagon in Washington, D.C., June 14, 2019. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Adrian Cadiz)

By Susan A. Romano, AFTAC Public Affairs PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.
Two senior executives from the Air Force Technical Applications Center here were recognized with Presidential Rank Awards at a ceremony June 20 held at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C.

Dr. Glenn E. Sjoden, AFTAC's chief scientist, and Mr. David C. Merker, AFTAC's Director of Systems Development and the U.S. National Data Center, were presented with the award by Acting Secretary of the Air Force Matthew P. Donovan for their sustained extraordinary service to the Department of Defense and the United States.

The meritorious executive rank award is the second highest recognition a career senior professional can receive and is given to no more than five percent of all senior executives in any given year.

As the principal adviser to the commander on all scientific and technical matters, Sjoden successfully established consequential research and development priorities that enabled a dramatic shift in Defense Department high performance computing capabilities while leading scientific evaluations in nuclear forensics that were reported directly to the White House. Additionally, he cleared significant roadblocks to solve unique technical challenges within the nation's nuclear detection arsenal and inaugurated the Air Force's sole radiochemistry laboratory.

Merker was recognized for his keen oversight of the U.S. Atomic Energy Detection System and its more than 3,600 sensors located in 22 countries, on every continent, and in space. He transitioned the aging 70-year-old national nuclear monitoring mission area into an agile, proactive, modernized detection and real-time operational capability while delivering critical nuclear treaty monitoring products and services to joint warfighters, senior defense officials and national policymakers.

The selection process is a rigorous one. Once the nominee's package is written and approved by his or her own organization, it undergoes stringent evaluation by a board of private citizens and ultimately must gain approval from the President of the United States.

"This recognition is profoundly prestigious, and limited to pinnacle leaders who have made extraordinary and long-lasting contributions to the federal government," said Col. Chad Hartman, AFTAC commander. "Not only does this organization have one recipient it our midst, we have two. And that is an absolute testament to the deep bench of talent and leadership we have here at AFTAC. I am enormously proud of Dr. Sjoden and Mr. Merker for bringing home these admirable and well-earned titles."

Dominic Pohl, executive director for 25th Air Force (AFTAC's Numbered Air Force) and rating official for both Sjoden and Merker, echoed Hartman's praise of the two senior executives.

"Glenn and Dave perform invaluable services on behalf of the American public and our allies, and have consistently demonstrated strength, integrity, and a relentless commitment to public service," said Pohl. "They are both extraordinary leaders who have together advanced and strengthened the internationally-renowned scientific and technical reputation of the center by developing, fielding and modernizing the technical monitoring and analysis capabilities upon which the Air Force, the nation and our international partners rely on a daily basis."

Merker redirected the praise to his coworkers.

"It is truly an honor to be nominated and chosen for senior executive presidential recognition," he said, "but it is really an achievement I share with the men and women of AFTAC whom I've had the pleasure of teaming with over the last eight years."

The Presidential Rank Awards Program was established by the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978 and was later amended to extend eligibility to senior career employees with a sustained record of technical or scientific achievement recognized on a national or international level. Federal law provides winners with a monetary prize - a percentage of their annual salary depending on the award category.

From Uzbekistan to America: One Airman's Tale - 6/27/2019

Tech. Sgt. Dmitriy Burshteyn, a field test team noncommissioned officer in charge with the Air Force Technical Applications Center, uses a remote firing device to detonate explosives while field testing new infrasound equipment at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. (U.S. Air Force photo by Matthew S. Jurgens)

By Susan A. Romano, AFTAC Public Affairs PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.
Bukhara is a centuries-old, culturally-rich city in the Asian country of Uzbekistan. Located on the historic Silk Road (a network of ancient trade routes that connected the East to the West), it has long been an epicenter of exports, scholarship, language and religion.

For one U.S. Air Force Airman assigned to the Air Force Technical Applications Center here, it's the city he lists as his place of birth.

Born in 1988, Tech. Sgt. Dmitriy Burshteyn is the son of a Russian Air Force major who worked as a logistics officer for the Soviet military. Like most military brats, Burshteyn and his family moved frequently. When Dmitriy was four years old, his father received orders to Minsk, Belarus where the Burshteyns lived for a few years before relocating to Tashkent, the capital city in then-Soviet Uzbekistan. After the collapse of the USSR, those remaining in countries without delineated Russian borders were left to integrate into the respective host nation's military.

Unfortunately for Major Burshteyn, many of those countries wanted to rid themselves of all Soviet influences.

Since Dmitriy's father was considered a product of the Soviet regime, he was told he'd be working for a lieutenant of Uzbek descent - an insult for a major to work for a junior ranking officer. "It didn't help that my father was Jewish in a Muslim state," Dmitriy said, "so my family made the decision to immigrate to the United States and seek asylum."

It wasn't an easy process, though.

"I remember making lots of trips to the consulate in Moscow in order to get all the paperwork accomplished," Dmitriy said. "I think it took an entire year to get everything finalized, and we finally moved to Oakland, Calif. To this day, we still consider Dec. 5, 1997 a family holiday."

When the Burshteyn clan arrived in the U.S., they lived in a one-bedroom apartment for about a year.

"My grandparents joined us, so there were six of us living in very close quarters," he explained. "After about a year, my grandfather was able to find an apartment they could afford. My father worked two to three different jobs at a time and went to night school for computer sciences, which ultimately led to him becoming a quality assurance engineer."

They eventually settled in Walnut Creek, Calif., where Dmitriy graduated from Ygnacio Valley High School. A solid B-student, he played soccer and held down a part-time job from the age of 16.

"I was really more concerned about making money than making straight As," he said. "I did have recruiters from the Navy, Army and Marines contact me about joining, but the Air Force never called. I took that as a 'What, they think I'm not good enough or something?' So I ended up calling the Air Force recruiter myself, scheduled the entrance exam, and got a ship-out date within six months. The rest is history."

In December 2006, Dmitriy, a naturalized American citizen, left California for Air Force Basic Military Training at Lackland AFB, Texas. Unsure of what his future held but confident about what was on the horizon, he embraced the challenges that came with joining the military.

"I made the decision to enlist for a few reasons," he explained. "I don't come from money, but my parents busted their humps since coming America to provide for my brother, my sister and me, and I didn't want to burden them with the high cost of college. I also wanted to keep the tradition of being a military family since my father served, and of course I wanted something larger out of life than just living in a small town."

The latter reason seemed to resonate most with Dmitriy when he made his first visit home after a few years on active duty.

"My first trip back made me realize I made the right decision to join the Air Force," he said. "When I came home, all my friends were literally doing the same thing they were doing three or four years earlier. Some attempted to go to college, but ended up dropping out. A few moved away, but most of them were just stuck in the same rut as before - dead-end jobs with no prospects. I, on the other hand, had gotten to travel the world to some amazing and not-so-amazing places and each was an incredible learning experience."

And travel he has. His assignments have included Italy, Germany, England, California, Texas and Florida, with deployments to Afghanistan, Iraq and Qatar, and a few temporary duty assignments sandwiched in between.

Fluent in Russian, he jokes that his accent has become "Americanized."

"Once a week I Skype with my parents, and they poke fun at me about my accent," he said. "Even though Russian is my native language, I don't get to practice it much, so it's easy to get rusty when you don't use it every day."

He added, "I'm often asked why I didn't become a linguist when I joined the Air Force, but it just doesn't appeal to me. All I really wanted to do was vehicle maintenance and that's what I told my recruiter."

When Burshteyn was stationed at RAF Lakenheath in the United Kingdom, he crossed paths with someone who would ultimately become an influential mentor.

"If there was a photo I could put in the dictionary to define what a leader is, it would be a picture of Senior Master Sgt. Adam J. Morrison," Dmitriy said. "This was a guy who was not all caught up in his rank or position. On the contrary, he not only looked out for all of us who worked for him, but he also stuck his neck out for us on many occasions. A lot of people don't want to ruffle feathers up the chain, but Sergeant Morrison wasn't afraid to walk the walk. He is one hundred percent who I aspire to emulate as I progress in rank, and to date he's the only leader who has actually made me want to study for promotion."

Burshteyn began his Air Force career as a vehicle maintainer, but now works as a field test team noncommissioned officer for AFTAC since his arrival at the nuclear treaty monitoring center in November 2017. He is responsible for operating AFTAC's mobile laboratories and collecting sensor data that's used by the center and its multiple interagency partners for research and development purposes.

"I really enjoy being a 9S100," he said. "The best part of my job, aside from the extensive travel, is I get to learn something new almost daily from people who have been doing this job and mission for many years. Some have been involved in treaty monitoring for longer than I have been alive, so I consider it a privilege to sit down with them and just listen to them talk about their experiences. It's really an incredible wealth of knowledge here."

Burshteyn hopes for orders to one of AFTAC's detachments someday.

"My ideal assignment would be at one of our overseas dets," he said. "I love working in small, tight-knit groups and since most of our detachments are 'hands-on' jobs with very few people assigned, it would be just the type of atmosphere I enjoy."

When he's not focused on his day job, the noncommissioned officer enjoys spending time with his wife Casandra, and their two children, Travis and Adrienne. "I got married when I was just 19 years old, so it's not impossible for people to stay married when they get married young. It just takes loads of work and open communication. I still consider myself lucky to come home to my beautiful wife and amazing kids every day."

Asked if he's visited his birthplace since emigrating, he said, "I've not been back to Uzbekistan, and while part of me wants to go to see it from an 'adult perspective,' especially the old Bukhara, I really have no reason to go there because I honestly feel I'd be disappointed. But never say never - maybe someday my Air Force travels will take me there!"

Dr Glenn Sjoden, AFTAC Chief Scientist, Is Leaving

Sjoden.png To the Men,Women and Former Members of AFTAC:

It has truly been an honor to serve these past 5 years as your Chief Scientist. When I arrived in 2014, I had a rather large agenda to accomplish in establishing and improving our technical capabilities at the Center. This included redefining the corporate/R&D process within AFTAC, enabling the "Roadmap-Blueprint" documents to clearly define our evolving goals and objectives for novel technical integration, solidifying added confidence in our capabilities for our Washington D.C. customer base, strengthening our position in NTNF for DOD up through the NSC, opening up new pathways for funding across the multi-agency, pushing the limits for new High Performance Computing (HPC) and HPC applications through DOD investment, and shoring up numerous architectures and infrastructure for present/future expanded capabilities, including HPC reach-back at our new COOP, the FIT CRADA, our AFIT Endowed Term Chairs, and numerous other milestones.

Moreover, all of this has occurred while the Center has been challenged across every mission area, with often extreme situations pressing us from the world stage. Added to that, we reorganized last year, and grappled with aircraft modernization, an evolving sensor landscape, the dynamic digital environment, and numerous other challenges. As your Chief Scientist, I have tried to lay a solid framework in all mission aspects-it was always challenging. I never, until holding this post, had to span so many technical issues continuously under so demanding a daily operational tempo. In addition to the divine grace of God helping me on a daily basis, it is only because of my immediate staff I was able to be as effective as possible over these past 5 years. This includes my secretary, Ms. Carol Snyder, and my direct report deputies, Dr. Bill Junek, and from Washington D.C., Dr. Kevin Muhs-you folks are true professionals, and always represented me superbly! I also wish to thank Mr. Pohl, my direct report supervisor, who always gave me highly valuable guidance and strong advocacy when I needed it-no one could ask for better. I also appreciate the strong support from all of my AFTAC Commanders and Vice Commanders.

Therefore, having fundamentally achieved what I set out to do as your AFTAC Chief Scientist, and given I'm getting "longer in the tooth", the time is right for me to return to an academic post in a senior Endowed Chair Professorship position to grow the nuclear engineering program at the University of Utah. In doing so, I'll be able to explore more "hands on" research, my passion for teaching nuclear reactor physics, and TRIGA reactor operations opportunities. My wife Patti is also extremely excited to be going to a mountain climate in Salt Lake City, and much closer to our grandchildren. As a result, my last duty day at AFTAC will be established soon in June 2019, and terminal leave thereafter. In the interim after my departure, until a new Chief Scientist takes the helm, my deputies, Dr. Bill Junek and Dr. Kevin Muhs, will serve as the technical bedrock under the AFTAC Office of the Chief Scientist. I have absolute trust and confidence in their sage judgment, and I believe our science is truly in good hands to support the Commander, Vice Commander, our senior leadership, and the very important mission we steward.

I can truly say I've given this job my very best effort, and I hope you deem it worthy of what you'd expect from your Chief Scientist. I thank you for the opportunity to work with each of you-I admire your professionalism, dedication, and your patriotism to carry out this very important mission for our national security. I know numerous challenges continue; many tasks ahead will be hard. You will be tested. I am sure you will be successful; in the words of Sir Winston Churchill, ".success is never final, and failure is never fatal; it's the courage to carry on that counts...". Thank you for all that you do for our country. I am humbled to have served in this capacity, and I truly wish each of you well.

Very Respectfully

Glenn Sjoden

A1C with PhD now a 2Lt - 6/6/2019

Florida Today reporter Rick Neale (right) interviews then-Airman 1st Class Cynthia A. Schroll, a radiochemistry technician with the Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick AFB, Fla. Schroll was recently commissioned as a second lieutenant through the Air Force Officer Training School program. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)
2nd Lt. Cynthia A. Schroll (left) shakes hands with her Officer Training School instructor, 1st Lt. Claire M. Krokker, after Schroll's commissioning ceremony May 30, 2019, as members of her flight look on. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)
1st Lt. Ashley M. Dalessandro (left) administers the commissioning oath to Officer Trainee Cynthia A. Schroll during a ceremony at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala. Schroll, a former E-3 with a doctorate in analytical chemistry, joined the officer ranks after completing Air Force Officer Training School May 31, 2019. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)
Chief Master Sgt. Michael Joseph, command chief for the Air Force Technical Applications Center at Patrick AFB, Fla., shakes hands with newly-commissioned 2nd Lt. Cynthia A. Schroll, immediately after Schroll presented the chief with a silver dollar after rendering the traditional first salute at Officer Training School May 30, 2019. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)
2nd Lt. Cynthia A. Schroll (center) stands at attention as her father Stephen (left) and brother Brandon (right) pin on her second lieutenant bars after she took the oath of commissioning at Officer Training School May 30, 2019. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)

By Susan A. Romano, AFTAC Public Affairs PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.
In December 2018, the Air Force published a story about an airman first class with a Ph.D. in analytical chemistry. The article went somewhat viral within Air Force circles, with many social media users questioning why someone with a doctoral degree would choose to enlist rather than earn a commission.

The simplest answer to those viral questions can be summed up in one word: timing.

Coupled with timing, the Doctor-Airman also found herself in the proverbial "right place at the right time" with one particular mentor who helped propel and facilitate her acceptance to Air Force Officer Training School.

Airman 1st Class Cynthia A. Schroll traded in her stripes for gold bars May 30 after completing the required eight-week training program at Maxwell AFB, Ala. On hand to pin on her bars were her father Stephen, her brother Brandon, and Brandon's girlfriend Traci.

But first, let's rewind a bit in order to better understand the path on which she traveled to get to where she is today.

Prior to enlisting, Schroll earned her doctorate and worked as a contract research assistant at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. She also taught chemistry at the University of Cincinnati—both jobs she thoroughly enjoyed. Yet despite her success in the civilian world, the analytical chemist wanted more in life - she wanted to serve.

So in 2017, the Ohio native left for Air Force Basic Military Training at Lackland AFB, Texas, and was selected to undergo special instruments training, or SPINSTRA, at Goodfellow AFB, Texas. Airmen selected for this technical training must meet stringent criteria on multiple portions of the Armed Forces Vocational Aptitude Battery and spend 85+ training days learning electronic principles, applied sciences, computer and network phenomenologies, mathematics, and the fundamentals of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. It is a rigorous course that develops Airmen to become in-demand scientific applications specialists.

Upon graduation from tech school, Schroll was assigned to the Air Force Technical Applications Center, the Department of Defense's sole nuclear treaty monitoring center at Patrick AFB, Fla., to work as a radiochemistry technician. She immersed herself into her new role as a junior Airman in the Ciambrone Radiochemistry Lab and took pride in the job she was performing for AFTAC's senior scientists and national decision-makers.

When some of her co-workers asked her why she didn't pursue becoming an officer, she said it all came down to timing.

"My recruiter told me it could take up to two years to be accepted to OTS, and there was no guarantee that I would even be accepted," Schroll explained. "I knew I wanted to be in the Air Force, so the best way for me to do that was to enlist."

She performed well at her job, and quickly became a "go-to" technician in the lab. She also caught the eye of AFTAC's command chief, Chief Master Sgt. Michael Joseph.

"When A1C Schroll was at tech school, I had heard about her academic background and her impressive credentials (she has written two books and has a patent to her name) and I knew she'd be a great fit for AFTAC," said Joseph. "I paid her a visit at Goodfellow AFB and asked her to join our team. Once aboard, the commander and I wanted to see what we could do to facilitate her acceptance to Officer Training School, so I got to work."

One of the hurdles Joseph faced was the long-standing established processes for commissioning enlisted members, and Schroll did not fit into one of the categories that could quickly access her as an officer.

According to Joseph, leaders from 25th Air Force and up the chain realized this was the right thing to do and began making inquiries on how to make it happen.

"In the end," said Joseph, "it came down to numerous phone calls and email messages between (Air Force Personnel Center) Command Chief Ken Lindsey and his team and the leadership here at AFTAC who collectively worked out the details to bring 'concept to reality.' It was a huge team effort, but well worth it."

Schroll departed for Maxwell AFB on April 1 and was assigned to the 24th Training Squadron, Class 19-06. Referred to as the Phantom Squadron, Schroll and her 15 flight mates fell under the instruction of 1st Lt. Claire M. Krokker for the duration of the two-month course.

"When OT (officer trainee) Schroll arrived on day one, I had no idea about her educational background," said Krokker. "It wasn't until about a week into training that I learned she had a Ph.D., and had been a university professor. Even so, I treated her like any other OT and held her to the same standards as everyone else."

Throughout her training, Schroll found herself comparing enlisted basic training to the OTS program.

"I didn't realize how mentally unprepared I was until I got here," she said. "I came in thinking that being a recent BMT graduate would be an advantage. But the two programs have completely different philosophies - BMT is all about indoctrination and disciplined followership; OTS is all about risk management and stepping up as a leader. The only real similarity between the two courses is you march everywhere for pretty much everything!"

Differences aside, OT Schroll labored through the intensive training atmosphere that included demanding academics, exhaustive physical fitness requirements, detailed leadership exercises, and precision drill sessions.

She served as her flight's Defense Support to Civil Authorities officer and performed flight leader duties for a week. She also learned not to despise running.

"This was one of those areas where mentally I always held myself back by thinking that I would never be a great runner," Schroll said. "I managed to prove myself very wrong by beating my personal best run by almost a full minute, and I plan to keep up with my running routine when I get home because now I know I'm capable of more."

As graduation loomed in the near distance, she kept a goal she set for herself at the forefront of her mind.

"My motto for coming into this program was to strive to thrive and not simply survive," she explained. "To me that meant making the most of all my personal interactions. I may be considered 'prior service' on paper, but I'm a very junior prior service member in the grand scheme of things. There were people in my class with 10-plus years of military experience, and I learned so much from them."

One person who had a significant impact on the junior Air Force scientist was 1st Lt. Ashley M. Dalessandro, a former technical sergeant with 12 years of enlisted service before she earned her commission through the Interservice Physician Assistant Program.

"From the first time I heard her speak, I knew I wanted to be friends with her," Schroll said. "She always sounded so confident, intelligent and of good heart. She was dubbed the flight's 'Silent Assassin' because she didn't necessarily comment on every topic, but when she did, she was thoughtful and insightful. She's been my wingman throughout this whole experience. There are some people you hope you remain friends with in life. Ashley is that friend to me."

Dalessandro was instrumental to her so much so that Schroll asked the newly-minted first lieutenant to administer the oath of office to her on commissioning day. Humbly, Dalessandro agreed, saying, "it was an honor to be a part of such a momentous occasion."

When the day finally arrived to be sworn in as a second lieutenant, Schroll's family traveled from Dayton to witness the monumental event. It was a day fraught with high emotions, especially for Schroll's father.

"I can't even put into words how proud I am of Cynthia," said Stephen, choking back tears. "I wish her mother could have been here to witness it. Since she passed in 2014, I've worn her wedding ring around my neck as a reminder of our bond, and I know she's with us here in spirit. Cynthia is just like her mom. She embodies everything her mother was - smart, happy, successful. I tried not to break down during the ceremony, but I just couldn't hold back any longer. I'm just so overjoyed!"

After taking the oath of office, officer trainees follow a tradition steeped in history. It is believed that as early as America's colonial days of the 1800s, new officers were assigned an enlisted advisor who showed the young officers the ropes, taught them regimental rules and regulations as well as the ins and outs of military life. Since a lieutenant's monthly ration was far greater than an enlisted member's, oftentimes the officer would give a silver dollar to his junior advisor. Thus began the tradition that continues to this day.

Without hesitation, Schroll knew exactly who to select to receive her first salute and the coveted silver dollar: Chief Joseph.

"My plan was to wait until late 2019 to submit an OTS package for consideration and go through the same board process other prior enlisted members do," she stated. "That said, I am extremely fortunate to have people well above me in the chain of command like Chief Joseph looking out for my best interests and willing to go extra lengths to bring my story to the attention of those in positions of influence. I will forever be indebted to him, and it was my honor to present my silver dollar to him."

Joseph said the honor was all his.

"During my almost 30 year career, I have been fortunate enough to receive a few 'first salutes' from young officers I have helped in some way earn their commission," the senior enlisted leader said. "Each one has been a humbling experience and I was honored to do my small part in helping them fulfill their dream. I have no doubt Lieutenant Schroll is going to reach great heights as an Air Force leader. She's definitely got what it takes."

Schroll has set short-, mid- and long-term career goals for herself. For some, they might be considered lofty and barely achievable; but for this young lieutenant, her sights are set high.

"I'm returning to AFTAC and I'm really looking forward to getting back to the lab in a different role. I know it's going to be a different, and perhaps awkward, dynamic to go from an E-3 to an O-1 at the same organization, but from a short-term perspective, it's a unique opportunity to excel."

She continued, "Mid-term, I'd love to become an OTS instructor and future squadron commander. What could be more rewarding than helping shape future officers and leading our enlisted force?"

As for her long-term goal, she has her eyes on being part of Air Force history.

"I would love to be in uniform for another 28 years so I can be serving during the Air Force's 100th birthday in 2047," she said. "That will require a one-year age waiver since I'll be 63 years old, so I better be a rock star between now and then so they'll approve it!

The day following the commissioning ceremony, Total Force Officer Training Class 19-06 formed at Maxwell's Welch Field for the Graduation Parade, a pomp-and-circumstance event complete with marching formations, ceremonial music, the oath of office, and the always-exhilarating fly-by. Schroll's class witnessed an Air Force C-130 Hercules zoom over their heads, which was immediately followed by the traditional hat toss.

After the ceremony, Schroll reflected on her monumental achievement in a way those who know her best have grown accustomed.

"Dream big, take small steps and relish every moment. Set your sights far beyond what you think is possible, and plan out the little things you will need to get there," she said.

Hearing her daughter's sage words, her father injected, "Cynthia's going to change the world. She's going to leave it better than she found it. I know that's what her mother would say."

Cannon Shot Nuclear Test - 5/27/2019

This article thanks to George Cronin and John Horsch

NukeCanon.jpg Upshot-Knothole Grable was a nuclear weapons test conducted by the United States as part of Operation Upshot-Knothole. Detonation of the associated nuclear weapon occurred 19 seconds after its deployment at 8:30am PDT (1530 UTC) on May 25, 1953, in Area 5 of the Nevada Test Site. The codename Grable was chosen because the letter Grable is phonetic for G, as in "gun", since the warhead was a gun-type fission weapon. As a shell, or artillery-fired atomic projectile(AFAP), the device was the first of its kind. The test remains the only nuclear artillery shell ever actually fired in the U.S. nuclear weapons test program.

Click on here to read the entire article:

Secret lab at Patrick Air Force Base - 4/23/2019

Could this C-130J Super Hercules help detect nuclear particles? It's more likely than you think. (Staff Sgt. Dana J. Cable/U.S. Air Force)
The interior of a C-130J, as seen during a 2015 test at Hurlburt Field. The door was outfitted with special sensing equipment that allows it to monitor nuclear particles, which was operated by a WC-135 crew. (Quinton McGuire)
A photo taken of a C-130 equipped with a modular kit that allows it to detect nuclear particles. This version of the equipment was tested in 2015 at Hurlburt Field in Florida, said Quinton McGuire, a former U.S. Air Force loadmaster. (Quinton McGuire)

By Valerie Insinna
WASHINGTON — When the Air Force dispatches aircraft to the Asia-Pacific to monitor the atmosphere for signs of nuclear activity from North Korea, it relies on its WC-135 Constant Phoenix nuke-sniffing planes. But with only two of those in the service's inventory, it's possible the WC-135s might not be able to respond to every contingency.

Enter the ever-versatile C-130 Hercules, which now can be equipped with a modular kit that allows it to detect nuclear particles in the atmosphere.

The Air Force spent $10.1 million in fiscal year 2016 for two "Harvester Particulate Airborne Collection System" kits that can be strapped onto C-130H/Js and collect microscopic nuclear solids in the event that the service can't make its WC-135 aircraft available, said Susan Romano, a spokeswoman for the Air Force Technical Applications Center (AFTAC), which is responsible for conducting nuclear surveillance for the Defense Department.

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Dave Goldfein has said that the current WC-135 planes are too old and too few in number to meet all of the Defense Department's demands.

"Our mission capable rates, and more importantly our aircraft availability rates to go do this mission, are much lower than not only the secretary of defense but the combatant commander's requirements for that mission," he told Congress in April.

While the Harvester kits won't give the C-130 the full capability of the Constant Phoenix, it gives the U.S. Air Force a needed boost in capacity at a time when its more focused than ever on the nuclear activities of Russia, North Korea, China and Iran.

Defense News first learned about these specially-outfitted Hercules thanks to a series of tweets by Quinton McGuire, a former C-130 loadmaster who participated in 2015 tests of the Harvester system aboard a Super Hercules flying out of Hurlburt Field, Florida.

McGuire's photos show a C-130J with the rear paratrooper doors outfitted with a podded sensor hanging from the exterior of the door.

During the demonstration, a WC-135 crew operated the sensor pod and conducted onboard analysis, McGuire said in a series of tweets. Also present during the flight were representatives from Sandia National Laboratory, one of the nation's largest research labs for nuclear weaponry, which developed the Harvester pods.

The Harvester kit was also tested on Customs and Border Protection MQ-9 Reaper drones before technical demonstrations wrapped up in 2015, Romano said. Since then, the Air Force decided to procure two kits, which are currently going through the acceptance process and will fully operational and mission-ready in fiscal year 2019.

Each Harvester suite includes two sampling pods that collect radioactive particles and a gamma radiation sensor that helps guide the aircraft to a radioactive plume, according to a Sandia news release on a 2013 test aboard an MQ-9.

It also includes radiation protection gear and other equipment needed to sample and analyze nuclear particles in air and on the ground, Romano said.

During a mission, Air Mobility Command would provide C-130s and the pilots and crew needed to operate the aircraft itself, while the 21st Surveillance Squadron would provide the personnel needed to use the Harvester equipment and do the nuclear forensics onboard.

The C-130 would first use the gamma radiation sensor to find a hot spot of nuclear activity, and then flying through the plume, passing air rapidly through the sampling pod. That action rams microscopic nuclear particles into the filter paper in the pods much the way that a vaccum uses a filter to collect dirt.

"A separate radiation sensor analyzes the filter in real time to estimate the type and quantity of radioactive particles collected," said a Sandia news release that explained the Harvester capability. "More extensive examination of the filters occurs after the aircraft has landed."

So if nuclear particles can be detected by a C-130, why does the Air Force still need the WC-135?

A "rapid, medium altitude, manned, refuel-capable aircraft" is currently required to do the nuclear treaty monitoring mission, said Romano, and the C-130 doesn't fit the bill.

For one, it can't refuel other aircraft. But even more importantly, the modular Harvester kits only give the C-130 the ability to collect particles, while the WC-135 has a collection system for nuclear gases, as well as other equipment like internal filtration that allows the crews to conduct longer missions, Romano said.

Additionally, the C-130 flies slow and low. While the C-130J may be able to hit a higher top speed than a WC-135, its 28,000-foot ceiling is significantly lower than the WC-135's 40,000-foot maximum altitude, according to Air Force fact sheets. Meanwhile, the WC-135 outperforms the C-130H variant in both areas.

Although the nuclear treaty monitoring mission isn't often discussed by the Air Force due for classification reasons, it's clear that the service is putting more money into ensuring that it can rapidly respond when an adversary tests nuclear weapons.

In September 2019, L3 Technologies will begin transforming three KC-135R tankers into WC-135s. Those three new Constant Phoenix planes will allow the Air Force to retire its current two WC-135s — and increase the number of nuke sniffers by one aircraft.

The Air Force is requesting $208 million in FY19 for the Constant Phoenix upgrade effort, with an additional $8 million planned in FY20.

Using dynamite and TNT to enhance nuclear mission - 4/17/2019

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Evan Weier, an explosive ordnance disposal technician with the 45th Civil Engineer Squadron's EOD flight, gives a safety briefing to members of the Air Force Technical Applications Center prior to detonating explosives at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, March 13, 2019. Weier and his EOD co-workers assisted members of AFTAC's Systems Development Directorate with testing a prototype geodesic dome to help the nuclear treaty monitoring center capture hydroacoustic data. (U.S. Air Force photo by Matthew S. Jurgens)
U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Derrick C. Johnson, a field test technician assigned to the Systems Development Directorate at the Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick Air Force Base, Florida, lifts the fabric from a small geodesic dome he developed to collect hydroacoustic data. (U.S. Air Force photo by Matthew S. Jurgens)

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By Susan A. Romano, AFTAC Public Affairs PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.
Ten sticks of medium-grade dynamite, 60 pounds of C4, two-and-a-half pounds of Semtex and six canisters of TNT made for an explosive day for members of the Air Force Technical Applications Center here March 13.

With the assistance and expertise of explosive ordnance disposal Airmen from the 45th Civil Engineer Squadron, AFTAC's Systems Development Directorate personnel tested a new system to determine if their creative ingenuity could be operationally deployed in the field.

AFTAC, the Department of Defense's sole nuclear treaty monitoring center, is responsible for operating and maintaining a global network of sensors to detect nuclear explosions around the world. One of the ways it executes that mission is through the use of infrasound equipment.

Staff Sgt. Derrick C. Johnson, a field test technician, wanted to simplify the way AFTAC collects infrasound data, so he set out to field test a concept he drafted based on his knowledge in the field.

"After attending an infrasound course at ENSCO, I learned about the dome idea from the course instructor, Dr. Roger Waxler," said Johnson. "He mentioned during the course that the company used papasan chairs covered in a patented material called Sunbrella. It's a high-performance fabric that's commonly used in outdoor furniture, awnings and marine upholstery."

Johnson built a small geodesic dome using a 3-D printer with the help of Staff Sgt. Josh Van Horne, an AFTAC Innovations Systems technician. The duo printed hexagons and pentagons and using wood dowels, they glued all the pieces together.

"The fabric cover was made up of six equal sized panels, but I had to come up with a way to mesh them all together," Johnson continued. "My mom has sewn things together for as long as I can remember, so asked her if I could borrow her sewing machine. Stunned and amused all at once, she brought her machine to my house and sewed the first dome cover together to show me how it's done. When it was my turn, I managed to break about five needles, but I got that second one put together!"

Once the covers were completed, Johnson was ready to test his invention. But in order to do so, he needed a way to measure sound waves that would register on the equipment. That's when happenstance entered into play.

"I was attending Airman Leadership School here at Patrick AFB, and Staff Sgt. Evan Weier was one of my classmates," Johnson said. "Through our conversations, I learned he was an EOD technician, so I told him about the project I was working on, and how we had been using recent rocket launches to test the equipment. Then we came up with the idea of using explosives at the EOD range at the Cape to measure the sound waves emanating from the detonations."

Weier thought it would be a great win-win situation for both organizations.

"We are required to stay proficient and train around explosives to remain current in our career fields," Weier said. "One of the ways we do that is through monthly live detonations at our range. So when Derrick told me about his project, I figured we could kill two birds with one stone, so to speak, and help each other out with our respective missions."

The team from AFTAC and the team from EOD met at the Cape on a brilliant, cloudless day for a series of detonations using different weights of explosives in order for the infrasound equipment to capture varying degrees of sound waves given off by the blasts.

"From a data analysis perspective, the test was valuable as it provided information that will be beneficial to AFTAC mission planning," said Maj. Jason Heller, special projects division chief. "We have already discussed some of the implications from the test, and we're planning a follow-on test to corroborate the data."

AFTAC has consistently been on the cutting edge of innovation and non-traditional problem solving, and leadership within the center encourages the workforce to think out of the proverbial box.

"This is a textbook example of innovation at its finest," said Col. Richard Mendez, deputy director of the Systems Development Directorate at the treaty monitoring center. "Sergeant Johnson and his crew created a rapid prototype for $500, which reduces the current kit size by 80 percent and mimics the performance of the current system that traditionally costs upwards of $5,000. I'd say that's a win for the Air Force."

Divisional wins lead to state competition for AFTAC mentors - 4/17/2019

Graphic of Odyssey of the Mind, an international problem-solving program involving students from Kindergarten to the collegiate level, including a military division, where mentors help students work together on long-term projects to solve a problem and present their solution(s) to judges at competitions. (Graphic courtesy of Odyssey of the Mind)

By Susan A. Romano, AFTAC Public Affairs PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.
The teams of two Air Force Technical Applications Center mentors will compete in the Odyssey of the Mind state competition April 6 at the University of Central Florida campus in Orlando.

Capt. Tyrel Kvasager and Tech. Sgt. Donald E. Freeman, both members of the nuclear treaty monitoring center here, are volunteer team coaches for two Odyssey of the Mind groups in Brevard County, Fla., and the Airmen mentored teams that took first and second place in the regional competition in March.

OotM is an international problem-solving program involving students from Kindergarten to the collegiate level, including a military division. The mentors help students work together on long-term projects to solve a problem and present their solution(s) to judges at the competitions.

There are five categories of problems participants can solve: technical, classical, structural, vehicular or performance-based. Teams are allowed up to seven total members, but only five can compete in the spontaneous category at the tournament level.

"Each problem must have STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) elements, and acting is prevalent in all solutions," said Freeman. "For our problem, the group had to build a structure out of balsa wood that would be tested by stacking weights on it until it crushed. The kids had to select all the necessary materials on their own, design the sets and props, write the script and act it out. My role as their coach was to only provide safety guidance. It was incredible to see their creativity and teamwork."

Kvasager taught a STEAM class and helped coach his wife's team. Taylor Kvasager homeschooled the students ranging in age from six to 10, and their group placed second at the regional competition for the second year in a row.

"The regional competitions last an entire day and the teams present their long-term problem with solutions," the captain said. "OotM relies on volunteers to judge and support the competitors as well as coach and mentor all the teams. The program provides children with STEAM-related problem-solving opportunities in a unique, child-led setting."

Regionals were held at Viera High School in Melbourne, Fla., and included all competitors from the Space Coast.

"I think there were 10 teams in our division and we competed against each other," Freeman explained. "We presented our problem to the audience and performed the 'Spontaneous' portion of the program - the part that tests the kids' ability to solve a problem they're unprepared for. They can be given and verbal, hands-on or mixed problem, and they have a set amount of time to solve it. Judging from the scores, my team was on top of their game!"

According to the OotM website, the program is not limited to just competitions and problem-solving efforts. It is about friendship and family, and competitors are encouraged to meet new people and learn from others' ideas.

"The students in my group ranged from 3rd to 5th grade," said Freeman. "I love expanding the ideas of children and watching the cogs of innovation spinning in their eyes. It is also fulfilling to give back to the community and the school that have done so much for my own kids. It's very rewarding."

In the United States, each participating state has its own association, which are broken down into regions. Teams first compete at the regional level, then onto the state level. The U.S. does not have a national level, so state-winning teams go directly to the World Finals, which are held every year in the U.S. in May.

Nuclear air sampling aircraft on display at Patrick AFB - 3/14/2019

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PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- The aircraft that performs atmospheric sampling for the Air Force Technical Applications Center was on display for invited guests to get a glimpse into how AFTAC personnel perform their nuclear treaty monitoring mission.

Based out of Offutt AFB, Neb., the WC-135 Constant Phoenix routinely conducts air sampling missions over the Pacific Ocean, Bay of Bengal, Mediterranean, Polar Regions, Indian Ocean, and off the coasts of South America and Africa in support of the Limited Test Ban Treaty of 1963. The LTBT prohibits nuclear weapons tests or explosions in the atmosphere, in outer space or underwater. The treaty does not ban tests underground, but it does prohibit explosions if they cause radioactive debris to permeate beyond the territorial boundaries of the country responsible for the test.

To verify compliance with the treaty, signatories agree to a system of controls and inspections aimed at limiting nuclear weapon test explosions. One way to verify compliance is to conduct background collections in the atmosphere.

The WC-135 crew of special equipment operators operate a suite of collection devices that are housed in the main body of the aircraft. One is an external flow-through device called a U1B foil. Similar to how a traditional jukebox operates, filter paper is cycled through the foil into the airstream as the aircraft flies through an area where radioactive debris may be present. Simultaneously, large high-pressure spheres collect whole air samples through an onboard compressor system.

Once the collections are complete, the spheres and filter papers are sent to AFTAC's network of laboratories for analysis.

"The aircraft doesn't routinely fly near Patrick, so any time we can seize the opportunity to showcase the jet to our workforce, we take it," said Lt. Col. Matthew Morello, 21st Surveillance Squadron commander. "We think it's important for people who are involved in the day-to-day AFTAC mission to see how their work plays a role in our airborne collection operations."

The Air Force has two WC-135 aircraft in its inventory - both based at Offutt AFB.

"While the jets themselves and flight crew of the Constant Phoenix fall under 55th Wing at Offutt, the SEOs belong to AFTAC," said Col. Jon VanNoord, 709th Surveillance and Analysis Group commander. "To correctly position the aircraft takes a team effort between the flight deck and the SEOs. It's not often you find a junior noncommissioned officer telling the commissioned officer piloting the plane where to fly the aircraft, but that's the case when we receive operational taskings. Our SEOs are typically junior to mid-grade NCOs who use a variety of methods to determine the optimal patterns the jet should fly to get the best collects."

Nearly 350 people toured the Constant Phoenix while it was on the ground a Patrick.

"A big thank you to the crew and maintainers from the 55th for their support and participation in the tour," said VanNoord. "We couldn't have done it without their assistance."

Rare boat-to-boat transfer executed on the high seas - 3/13/2019

Members of the U.S. Coast Guard transport Capt. Paul A. Karsten III (center) via rescue boat to the USNS Invincible, a radar ship that collects ballistic missile data for the Air Force Technical Applications Center at Patrick Air Force Base, Florida, as part of the center's nuclear treaty monitoring mission. (Photo courtesy of the U.S. Coast Guard)
Capt. Paul A. Karsten III, (in rescue boat with blue helmet), prepares to transfer from the rescue boat to the USNS Invincible to take command of the mission aboard the radar vessel. Karsten, a member the 22nd Surveillance Squadron at the Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick Air Force Base, Florida, was rapidly deployed to replace the acting mission commander due to a family emergency. Boat-to-boat transfers are rare for AFTAC mission commanders. (Photo courtesy of the U.S. Coast Guard)
A small rescue boat is seen approaching the USNS Invincible in the Persian Gulf with Invincible mission commander Capt. Paul A. Karsten III aboard. Karsten, a member of the 22nd Surveillance Squadron at the Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick Air Force Base, Florida, was transferred to the ship after the current mission commander was redeployed on emergency leave. (Photo courtesy of the U.S. Coast Guard)

By Susan A. Romano, AFTAC Public Affairs PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.
A rare sight was seen by crew members of the USNS Invincible recently when the ship's mission commander transferred to the ship while it was out to sea.

Capt. Paul A. Karsten III received a short-notice tasking to replace the current MC who had a family emergency and needed to rapidly redeploy home. Since there wasn't enough time nor pier availability to bring the Invincible into port, Lt. Col. Christopher Terry made the decision to transfer Karsten from a small U.S. Coast Guard rescue boat to the Military Sealift Command vessel.

Karsten is a member of the 22nd Surveillance Squadron at the Air Force Technical Applications Center headquartered in Cocoa Beach, Fla. As the sole nuclear treaty monitoring center in the Department of Defense, AFTAC assigns company grade officers from the center to serve as mission commanders on one of its two ships to lead onboard operations in the collection of ballistic missile data.

One way it accomplishes that mission is through the radar platforms aboard the Invincible.

"The ship operates on an unpredictable schedule where mission taskings are routinely short notice and require quick reactions to support theater commanders," said Maj. Benjamin Christensen, assistant director of operations for the 22nd SURS. "When we learned of the family emergency, our team here at Patrick AFB rapidly jumped into action to get the current mission commander home and get Capt. Karsten out to sea."

Those actions don't come without a great deal of challenging-but-mandatory requirements.

"We have to ensure we are communicating with everyone involved," said Terry, 22nd SURS commander. "The team contacted Combined Task Force 53 and the U.S. Coast Guard in the region for assistance, and Capt. Karsten had to coordinate rendezvous operations with Invincible's ship master. And of course, the daily mission must continue uninterrupted, so pulling it off doesn't come without its own set of hurdles."

Terry said he's extremely proud of the teamwork he witnessed throughout the transfer operation.

"It's very rare to for us to execute a ship-to-ship small boat transfer aboard our mobile sensor ships," he said. "But when situations like this arise, they give our crew members an opportunity to see how important it is to be flexible while out to sea and what needs to happen in an emergency like this. We're grateful to CTF 53 and Coast Guard for their assistance. It's all about teamwork."

Karsten is expected to be out to sea as the mission commander for a three-month rotation.

Defense Department pushing ahead to merge commissary and exchange systems - 3/13/2019

The new commissary at Fort Belvoir, Va., opened in the spring of 2017, is located next to the post exchange. (Kevin Robinson/Defense Commissary Agency)

By Susan A. Romano, AFTAC Public Affairs PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.
Defense officials are a step closer to merging the three military exchange systems and the commissary system into one "defense resale enterprise."

In a memo signed March 1, Lisa Hershman, acting DoD chief management officer, approved the business case for the merger.

The merger will require the approval of Congress and nothing is yet final. Current law requires the Defense Department to operate separate commissary and exchange systems, so that law would have to be repealed. Another law prohibits DoD from using any taxpayer dollars to implement consolidation of resale entities until Oct. 1, as lawmakers evaluate the proposal.

In the meantime, a task force will continue with planning efforts for a consolidated organization, stated Hershman, who is in the position that ranks third in the DoD hierarchy. The consolidation of the commissary and exchange systems also must be approved by acting deputy secretary of defense David Norquist. A source said he is expected to approve the proposal within days; a report and legislative proposals will then be sent to Congress.

Officials have said that the first step would be to merge the exchange systems — Army and Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES), Navy Exchange Service Command and Marine Corps Exchange. It's not clear whether officials have the authority to do that without legislation, but regardless, they can't spend taxpayer dollars on any consolidation implementation before Oct. 1.

The draft report from the task force, which analyzed the business case for consolidation, said its analysis supports merging the above-store functions of the exchange systems entirely, along with the above-store functions of the Defense Commissary Agency, into a single organization, while keeping specific grocery functions separate.

Hershman's memo stated she will recommend that the Marine Corps Morale, Welfare and Recreation and Warfighter and Family Services operations under the umbrella of Marine Corps Community Services, or MCCS, also be included in the consolidation because of their operational model, which includes the Marine Corps Exchange.

Marine Corps officials have previously pushed back against proposals to put MCCS under the control of the proposed new defense agency, citing these efforts are "viewed as an intrusion to Title X authorities." The MCCS organization "provides the commandant of the Marine Corps an integrated system of community services to help care [for], equip, and train our warfighters," officials said in a previous position paper.

The costs of implementing the consolidation is estimated to be $457 million to $570 million over five years, according to the business case analysis from the defense task force, completed in November. The task force stated DoD could "harvest significant savings" by consolidating commissary and exchange systems into one entity, and contends the benefits would "far exceed the costs."

Hershman stated she will also recommend that the deputy secretary authorize a new defense agency or expand the mission of an existing DoD component to assume jurisdiction over the defense resale enterprise. She'll recommend that the new agency be placed under the authority of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness.

The task force report indicated that regardless of consolidation, the Defense Commissary Agency needs a full-time director, so that hiring process will begin, Hershman stated.

While day-to-day operations of the separate resale organizations will continue, resale leaders must go to the task force director for approval before taking any actions that "could be inconsistent with or hamper consolidation," Hershman wrote.

"The department's intent is to improve community services for our service members and their families, improve support to commanders, and fulfill its fiduciary responsibility" concerning taxpayer and nonappropriated, or MWR, funds, Hershman wrote.

Congressional staffers learn about AFTAC's heritage, mission - 3/13/2019

Mr. Jim Whidden, director of staff for the Air Force Technical Applications Center, briefs staff members from Rep. Bill Posey's (FL-8) office in AFTAC's Heritage Room at Patrick Air Force Base, Florida. The staffers visited the nuclear treaty monitoring center March 4, 2019 to learn more about AFTAC's heritage and global mission. Pictured from left to right: Whidden; Stuart Burns, chief of staff; Rick Podliska, senior policy advisor; and Patrick Gavin, district director. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)

By Susan A. Romano, AFTAC Public Affairs PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.
Three members of U.S. Rep. Bill Posey's (FL-8) office visited the Air Force Technical Applications Center March 4 to learn more about the center's rich history and heritage.

Stuart Burns, Posey's chief of staff, Rick Podliska, senior policy advisor, and Patrick Gavin, the congressman's district director, traveled to the base and were met by Col. Jon VanNoord, 709th Surveillance and Analysis Group commander and Jim Whidden, AFTAC director of staff.

The visitors toured AFTAC's Heritage Room - a showcase of equipment, memorabilia and artifacts dating back to the long range detection mission of the 1940s and 1950s.

"It's always beneficial when we can have congressional staffers see for themselves just how vital our mission is to the safety and security of our nation," said Whidden. "We appreciate the time these gentlemen took out of their schedule to learn more about AFTAC's role in nuclear event detection and nuclear treaty monitoring, and we hope they'll come back again for another update on our evolving global responsibilities."

STEM outreach key to uniting Airmen with students - 2/20/2019

Croton Elementary Science Fair judge Diana Velosa gives a high five to Brianna Laflamme, a 4th grader at the Brevard County school as Velosa's co-workers, Staff Sgt. Jordan Peterson and Master Sgt. Michael Nolan laugh along. The members of the Air Force Technical Applications Center at Patrick AFB, Fla., volunteered to serve as judges, examining more than 200 projects by 4th, 5th and 6th graders Feb. 7, 2019. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)
Elijah Norsworthy, a 5th grader at Croton Elementary School in Melbourne, Fla., explains his scientific method to Staff Sgt. Samuel Carmichael and Airman 1st Class Cynthia A. Schroll, members of the Air Force Technical Applications Center. The Airmen served as judges for the school's annual science fair Feb. 7, 2019. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)
Jarvienis Rosario, a 4th grader at Croton Elementary School, answers questions from Science Fair judges Senior Airman Harold Fisher Jr., and Airman 1st Class Ruben Vera-Colon who traveled from Patrick AFB, Fla., to Croton Feb. 7, 2019 to assist the school with its annual event. Fisher and Vera-Colon are members of the Air Force Technical Applications Center, the Department of Defense's sole nuclear treaty monitoring center. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)
2nd Lt. Tyler Peterson and Claudia Granger, scientists from the Air Force Technical Applications Center at Patrick AFB, Fla., listen to Bryce Jeffrey, a 6th grader at Croton Elementary School, describe his science fair project that dealt with the aerodynamics of paper airplanes. The AFTAC duo was part of a team of 18 Airmen - military and civilian alike - who volunteered to serve as science fair judges Feb. 7, 2019. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)

By Susan A. Romano, AFTAC Public Affairs PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.
A group of Airmen - military and civilian alike - traveled to Croton Elementary School in Melbourne, Fla., Feb. 7 to serve as Science Fair judges.

Eighteen members of the Air Force Technical Applications Center here volunteered to examine more than 200 projects put together by 4th, 5th and 6th grade students and evaluate them based on their creativity, scientific thought, skill, clarity, thoroughness and knowledge gained.

Students were able to choose a topic from three basic categories: physical, environmental or biological. Once their topic was approved by their science teacher, they were required to employ the scientific method by forming a hypothesis, gathering the needed materials, developing a procedure, conducting the experiment, recording the results and ultimately drawing a conclusion of their findings.

Croton Science Fair Coordinator Stacy Walsh gave each judge a rubric - a guide listing specific criteria for grading or scoring each entry - and the volunteers were divided up into small groups to review the tri-fold boards on display in the school's cafeteria.

The judges were then given the opportunity to interview each student to ask them about their methodology, the conclusions they drew from their experiments and how they came up with their hypothesis.

Brianna Laflamme, a 4th grader in Mrs. Roberts' class, impressed the judges with her project on what types of food ants are attracted to. Master Sgt. Michael Nolan, Staff Sgt. Jordan Peterson and Diana Velosa asked the 9-year-old where she got the idea for her project.

"One day I saw a bunch of ants in our cabinet, and it got me to thinking about what kind of food they're attracted to," said Brianna. "So I thought it would be cool to set out different types of food to see what they'd be drawn to."

When the judges asked her if she was surprised with the outcome, she got a big smile on her face and said, "I really never thought they'd go towards the jalapeno, but they did!"

Walsh, who has been an educator for more than 23 years, is in her third year at Croton, and her first year being in charge of the Science Fair.

"The students have been working on their projects pretty much since September," the 6th grade math and science teacher explained. "At the beginning of the school year, they were given folders with background information about the program and a basic layout of what will be required of them when it comes time to put their boards together. When the students returned to school after the winter break, that's when students really started putting more energy and attention into their projects with the help of their teachers and family members."

Jarvienis Rosario, another member of Mrs. Roberts' 4th grade class, hypothesized on whether the color of M&M candies would fade if placed in a cup of vinegar.

"This was so much fun!" she exclaimed. "Last year in 3rd grade we had to do a group class project and I loved doing it. So this year I was so excited because I knew I was going to be able to do a project on my own."

Jarvienis was interviewed by Airman 1st Class Ruben Vera-Colon and Senior Airman Harold Fisher Jr. The Airmen were intrigued by her concept and wanted to know about the outcome of her efforts.

"Before I did the actual experiment, I didn't think the vinegar would affect the M&Ms at all," she told the judges, "but after I put them in the cups, I saw all the color fade off of them. It was exciting and surprising!"

When asked what she wants to be when she grows up, she declared, "I'm going to be a science teacher because I love doing stuff like this!"

Jennifer Kelly had a very personal reason for volunteering to serve as a judge.

"I graduated from Croton in 1996 and my son went to school here as well, so it seemed like a perfect opportunity for me to give back," Kelly said. "I teamed up with my co-worker Carmen Bigas and we judged projects done by the 5th graders. It brought back a lot of memories of my time spent at the school, and of when I put together my own Science Fair project. It's always very rewarding when you can give back to the community. I really enjoyed myself and hope I can be a part of it again next year."

In addition with being proud of the hard work and effort the students devoted to their projects, Walsh was equally impressed with the AFTAC volunteers.

"The people from Patrick have been so incredibly accommodating and paid such close attention to the small details, like bending down to meet eye-to-eye with the students, showing an incredible amount of patience while speaking with some of our more shy children, and providing such positive feedback on the scoring sheets so each student would be able to read something good about their project from each judge," Walsh said.

She added, "The kids also were given the chance to meet real scientists and people they can look up to and possibly emulate later in life. I can't say enough about the men and women from AFTAC. We're indebted to them."

This is the sixth year AFTAC has participated in Croton's annual Science Fair.

Another tournament, another trophy for AFTAC Hockey - 1/16/2019


Members of the Athletes for Teamwork and Charity Hockey Club pose for a team photo after their tournament win against the Northeast Indiana Warbirds and the Tampa Warriors. The team is made up of players who work at the Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick AFB, Fla. (Courtesy photo)

By Susan A. Romano, AFTAC Public Affairs PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.
The team co-hosted the charity tournament to raise money for Lighting Made Sled Hockey, a program sponsored by the Tampa Bay Lighting hockey team that provides people with disabilities the ability to play the game they love. Players sit in specially designed sleds that sit atop two skate blades. Competitors use two sticks with metal picks on one end to propel themselves across the ice and stick blades on the other to pass and shoot the puck.

In early 2018, the Northeast Indiana Warbirds from Fort Wayne, Ind., approached AFTAC Hockey about possible games in Florida. From there, AFTAC contacted the Tampa Warriors, affiliated with the USA Warriors program, about scheduling head-to-head match-ups at the new Florida Hospital Rink in Wesley Chapel, with all proceeds going to the sled hockey league.

Bill Hungate, captain of AFTAC's club, was thrilled when he was approached to co-host the tournament.

"Our team has traveled to compete against national-level competition like the U.S. Naval Academy, The Citadel, and the FBI's D.C., just to name a few," Hungate explained. "But when you're responsible for bringing in a team from out of state, there are a lot more logistical aspects to consider. It was great to skate against the Warbirds and the Warriors."

The first match pitted the Warriors against the Warbirds. It was end-to-end action with the Warriors holding a 6-4 advantage until early into the third period when Warbird ace Lawne Snyder, a former minor league professional player and current Tampa resident, uncorked a wicked slap shot that whizzed just above the goalie's glove and shattered the plexiglass behind the net. The remainder of the game was cancelled so repairs could be made.

The next match-up saw the Warbirds going head-to-head against AFTAC. "This game was a shootout!" exclaimed AFTAC forward Cam Maddox. "High scoring, lots of shots on goal and super energy from both teams. It makes for great hockey."

AFTAC won the game, 15-7.

The final game of the tournament was between AFTAC and the talented Warriors team. Some Warbird players asked to join the AFTAC roster as players and coaches because they were having so much fun. The score was knotted in the third period until AFTAC's captain tallied the game-winning goal with less than a minute to go, giving AFTAC the win and the Warbirds players a taste of victory in Florida.

"Our charity matches are what we call 'no-contact games,' meaning we don't hit and check and tolerate fights like you might see in an NHL game," Hungate explained.

"During our last match, there was a lot of incidental contact that came in the spirit of good competition. But one of the great things about hockey is that no matter what happens on the ice, there is always a post-game handshake at center ice. Overall, I think it was an incredibly successful tournament, and many of the Warbird players said they're already planning personal vacations to come back to Florida and connect with our players. Between making new friends and raising money for a great cause, it really doesn't get much better than that."

The tournament raised more than $1,000.

This was the second championship trophy AFTAC won in 2018; the first was against the Tampa Bay Fire Fighters in September.

AFTAC kicks off its collegiate portion of their schedule, with their next game is scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 19 at the Space Coast Iceplex in Rockledge, Fla., where they'll be lacing up to play Eastern Florida State College Titans for the first time. Proceeds will go to EFSC's scholarship program and Space Coast Blast Sled Hockey.

After EFSC, the team hits the road for a game against the Lynn University Fighting Knights in Boca Raton Feb. 2, then onto South Beach for a game versus the Hurricanes at the University of Miami Feb. 23.

For the team's full schedule, to donate, or to obtain tickets for the game, visit the AFTAC Hockey Facebook page or send an email to

A1C with Ph.D. lands job at nuclear treaty monitoring center - 12/16/2018


Air Force Basic Training graduation photo of Airman 1st Class Cynthia A. Schroll. Schroll is a radiochemistry technician at the Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick AFB, Fla. (Courtesy photo)

By Susan A. Romano, AFTAC Public Affairs PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.
It's not often you see those three-letter titles - A1C and Ph.D. - used to refer to the same person. As a matter of fact, only one-hundredth of one percent of the Air Force's enlisted force from E-1 through E-9 possess a doctor of philosophy degree - that's just 33 Airmen out of 259,190 currently on active duty.

Yet one woman with a doctorate in chemistry found herself signing on the proverbial dotted line, completing basic training, and is now assigned to the Department of Defense's sole nuclear treaty monitoring center here.

Airman 1st Class Cynthia A. Schroll enlisted in the Air Force in December 2017, though her unique career journey began much earlier, soon after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

"I was in my senior year of high school in 2001, and after 9/11 happened, I told my parents I wanted to enlist," Schroll said. "During the discussion, my mother said something that struck me, even using the word 'please' and asking me to do something for the first time in my life instead of telling me to. She said, 'Please don't enlist. I've been saving your whole life for you to go to college.' I knew how much it meant to her, and I respect my parents deeply, so I went to college."

Schroll attended Morehead State University in Kentucky and earned a bachelor's degree in chemistry in 2006. She bypassed the traditional path after her undergraduate studies and went straight into the doctoral program at the University of Cincinnati.

"It's not uncommon for people looking into science degrees to forego a master's program and go straight into a doctoral studies," Schroll explained. "Most universities that offer a Ph.D. will let you obtain a master's degree if you find yourself struggling with the Ph.D. work load."

She joked, "Someone once told me that the difference between a Ph.D. and a master's degree is the Ph.D. project has to work in the end, while a master's student can write up all the ways the project didn't work!"

Upon completion of her doctorate in analytical chemistry with an emphasis in spectroelectrochemical detection of f-block elements (say that five times fast!), she went straight into the work force doing environmental sample preparation, product management and worked as a contract research assistant at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. She also taught general chemistry at the University of Cincinnati for two years. It was an enjoyable career per se, Schroll said, but military service was still on her mind.

"I had everything going for me - a great education, good job, supportive family, everything - yet I was still thinking about enlisting," she said. "But I had some significant hurdles to overcome. I was overweight and knew that was going to be a factor as to whether I'd qualify or not. I had pets. I had a house. And then in 2014 I lost my mother to multiple myeloma, a form of blood cancer. It was devastating to my family and me. I took it quite hard and was lost without her influence."

From that tragedy, however, came the realization that she still wanted to serve her country and thought it would be a lasting tribute to her beloved mother.

"I knew deep-down from the beginning she didn't want me to join the service, but through all the grief I was experiencing, I had to find a path that would bring me greater reward," she explained.

So after several months of careful thought, consideration and a solid work-out program, Schroll paid a visit to her local recruiter to change her title from 'Doctor' to 'Airman.'

"Before I left for basic, I had several lengthy conversations with my sister who served in the Army for almost 10 years and I spoke to several other female friends who had also gone through the experience," she said. "They all told me about the mind games I should expect from the military training instructors (MTIs) and some of the difficulties that arise when you put 40 women together in small quarters for several weeks at a time. Needless to say, I found basic training quite entertaining!"

During basic, trainees are selected to fill certain jobs and responsibilities given to each flight: dorm chief, element leader, chow runner, and entry controller, just to name a few. Schroll volunteered to be the flight's academic monitor. When the MTI asked what made her qualified for the job, she nonchalantly mentioned she had taught classes before. The MTI did some digging and learned that Schroll had a Ph.D.

"It all came out from there," she said. "I tried to downplay it as much as I could, and I offered to help any of my flight mates with their study techniques, because we were all in this together. We had one trainee who had such bad text anxiety and we were all worried she was going to run out of the classroom before she finished the end-of-course exam. When our MTI started reading off our test scores, we collectively held our breath when hers was read and we cheered like mad when it was a passing score. A few of us even cried. By far my proudest moment as the academic monitor was the fact we all passed our exams the first time through."

She graduated basic training in February 2018 and was sent to Goodfellow AFB, Texas, to undergo special instruments training. While there, she became friends with a large contingent of Air Force firefighters.

"Our tech school was housed with the Airmen who undergo firefighting training, and it was so much fun," Schroll recalled. "I was selected to be a red rope, the person who oversees dorm activities, and they kept me so grounded. I had so much respect for them that on my last day I woke up at 3:30 a.m. to go to their daily formation so I could shake every single hand and say thanks. I love and respect them all so much."

During her tenure at Goodfellow, she received a special visitor who requested to meet with her. She was quite surprised to learn it was a command chief master sergeant who made the trip to speak directly with her.

"I was pretty floored when I found out Chief Master Sgt. (Michael) Joseph came to the schoolhouse to discuss career options with me," she said. "He introduced himself as the command chief for the Air Force Technical Applications Center, and said his commander was very interested in having me on his team at Patrick AFB. I can't put my finger on it, but during my conversation with Chief Joseph, I realized this was my chance to live out my desire to serve, especially in the capacity of a scientist. I thought to myself, 'These folks who have so much experience would know how best to use my skills,' so I put my trust in them."

Joseph was highly impressed when he met with Schroll.

"I heard about A1C Schroll as she was coming through the (academic training) pipeline since AFTAC has a majority of the 9S100 Airmen in the Air Force," said Joseph. "Every Airman has a story, and I wanted to hear hers. Her background was impressive -- she had written two books and has a patent to her name, but it was her desire to serve that impressed me the most. With her chemistry background and our operational need for highly-skilled chemists, it seemed like a natural fit for her to come to AFTAC."

Recruiting personnel who possess highly-technical scientific degrees and experience has been a challenge for the nuclear treaty monitoring center, but AFTAC's senior enlisted advisor believes they're seeking out ways to overcome that challenge.

"Sometimes the Air Force does not get the 'talent management' piece right and we need to do all we can to get our people to the right place at the right time," Joseph said. "Airman Schroll has already made a positive impact in her squadron and is working to be the best Airman she can be. As leaders, I believe that is all we can really ask of our workforce."

Schroll is assigned to AFTAC's radiochemistry laboratory working as a radiochemistry technician. She is responsible for preparing reagent kits in the lab's tech room as well as co-managing the precious metals program.

"I love the responsibility that comes from knowing our chemists are counting on me to prep their reagents properly and in a timely manner," said Schroll. "If anything goes wrong with the chemistry, the first place that is looked at is the reagent, so I want them to have confidence when they see my initials on the label that they were prepared correctly."

When asked if she was looking at becoming a commissioned officer someday, Schroll said it's not out of the question, but it's not her immediate focus.

"Right now, I'm still brand new to the Air Force, so I am learning as much about it as possible. I'm an airman first class, and with that comes the responsibility of being the best A1C I can be. My focus is on doing the job I am fortunate to have, and doing it as best I can. When I look to the future, I only see broad opportunities. But I've never been one to look too far ahead because all too often we make this grand dream or goal, only to forget to focus on the little steps to get there. I'm focusing on the little steps right now."

Our Cardboard Christmas Tree - 11/28/2018


A photo of the cardboard Christmas tree created by the son of Senior Master Sgt. Eric V. Reynolds, superintendent at the Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick AFB, Fla. (Courtesy photo)

By Susan A. Romano, AFTAC Public Affairs PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.
Holidays are tough for me. I used to love Thanksgiving and Christmas, but some difficult times fell upon my family and I found myself separated from the joy I once knew. Maybe you find this season difficult as well, or maybe you are a sucker for Hallmark-esque Christmas tearjerkers like me my wife. Either way, I'd like to share a little story about how my hardened heart found some healing after great tragedy.

Christmastime was always a very special time for me, with many fond memories of decorating with my mother. She would always make cocoa and we would put up the tree together and sing our favorite songs. I tried my best to keep that tradition alive after getting married and hoped to pass it on to my kids. But the Christmas of 2016 was very different. Neither my wife nor I wanted to have anything to do with Christmas that year.

Six months earlier my infant son, Marshall, passed away. We saw our children as our most precious gifts, so the thought of celebrating without one of them was hard to bear. In our grief we kept putting off decorating, even though our other children were super excited about what they knew was supposed to be coming. My heart had hardened against the holiday. My older son knew my wife and I were having trouble and couldn't celebrate this season, but he didn't want the rest of the family to miss out. So he decided to help. He came up with a plan and went to work trying to recreate the magic he remembered from previous years.

It started with a cardboard tree. He cut out a six foot tall tree from an old cardboard box, then colored the entire thing with green crayon. He even made a yellow paper star for the top. The other kids joined in and created paper ornaments to put on the tree. But that's wasn't enough for him, so he went to the next level.

It was now sometime around the middle of December, well past when we traditionally decorated. I left for work very early one morning but had to run back to the house to retrieve something I had left behind. As I quietly snuck back inside careful not to awaken anyone, I was confronted by a strange scene. My 7-year-old son was struggling to put together our seven foot tall artificial Christmas tree while my wife and the other kids were still sleeping. Once he noticed I was there he looked at me like I imagine a burglar would look at a cop. He was shocked and a little scared, not knowing how I would react to his endeavor.

In that moment, my brittle heart shattered. I was reminded of the joy and hopeful expectation we often have in our youthful innocence. I was reminded of the most precious gift I ever received -- the love and acceptance of my holy father, through his son Jesus Christ. I was reminded of my responsibility to live and to love. I was reminded to give. So I told my son it was okay and I would help him finish setting up the tree when I came home after work, even though I really didn't want to. I resolved to not let the joy of the season escape from my kids' lives just because of my own grief.

I still grieve, and probably always will a little bit. But holidays have gotten easier since I made a transition. Now, instead of trying to recreate the memories of my youth so I could relive those joyous moments, I am trying to get better every day at giving back to my family and others. My hope is that they would have some memories worth cherishing and looking back on when their tough times come. I know I've certainly needed them.

If you find yourself down this time of year, try doing something different. Don't worry if you can't get home for the holidays, or if you don't have someone special to celebrate with. Make this year about giving to others. There are so many lonely, hurting and over-stressed people out there just trying to make ends meet, keep their family together or even make it to the next day, let alone to the New Year. So give, serve, pray, or do whatever you can do to help bring a smile to someone else's face this time of year, whether they choose to celebrate Christmas or any other holiday. You'll be surprised how soon the smile comes back to your own face when you know you had a part in bringing joy to others.

Hoop coaches, life mentors: AFTAC Airmen engage with community youth - 11/16/2018


Airmen from the Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick AFB, Fla., pose for a photo in the base fitness center. The Airmen volunteered their off-duty time to serve as youth basketball coaches for a local recreational league. Pictured from left to right: Staff Sgt. Jordan Peterson, Staff Sgt. Dustin Elliott, Staff Sgt. Floridamae Mones, Airman 1st Class Willie Robinson and Airman 1st Class Canaan Kennedy. (U.S. Air Force photo by Phillip C. Sunkel IV)


Staff Sgt. Jordan Peterson (center) and Airman 1st Class Canaan Kennedy (left) discuss playmaking strategies with their basketball team during a game in Viera, Fla. The Airmen, assigned to the Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick AFB, Fla., volunteered their off-duty time to serve as coaches and mentors to youth from the local area. (Courtesy photo)


Team photo from Viera Regional Community Center's recreational basketball league. Staff Sgt. Jordan Peterson (far right) and Staff Sgt. Floridamae Mones (far left), both assigned to the Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick AFB, Fla., volunteered their time to serve as coaches. Pictured are (front row, left to right): Justin Lee, Jesse McDuffie, Brielle Basham; middle row: Cole Guest, Graeme Burns, John Banks, Jakai Shack; back row: Cyrus Matini, Kyle Bortz, Aeddon Burns. (Courtesy photo)

By Susan A. Romano, AFTAC Public Affairs PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.
When a local recreational basketball league was looking for volunteers to coach youth athletes, two brothers assigned to the Air Force Technical Applications Center stepped up to the challenge.

Staff Sgts. Jarrod and Jordan Peterson, despite having no children of their own, submitted their names for consideration to the Viera Regional Community Center, a multipurpose athletic facility near the base that's home to fall and spring basketball leagues. After a face-to-face interview and required background check, the pair were initially assigned to coach 11-12 year-old age groups of eager boys and girls.

Realizing the rec center needed more volunteers, the brothers reached out to some of their co-workers and encouraged them to get involved. They convinced several Airmen to join them as assistant coaches.

"We sought out people with the innate ability to make a difference and to give them a platform to exercise their leadership and public speaking skills," said Jordan. "The Air Force looks for those characteristics in its Airmen, and this was a perfect opportunity for some of the junior Airmen here at AFTAC to hone those skills in a completely different environment."

Meeting twice a week for two hours of practice in preparation for their weekly game, Jordan reached back to his own high school days and employed a coaching style that addressed the various skill levels of his players.

"I used skill-based training, and I sought out players for various positions that I haven't mastered myself," he explained. "Occasionally, I'll ask them to come to practice and teach their teammates their respective roles on the court. They get a better understanding of what a good player is by learning from their peers, and it doesn't matter if they're a boy or a girl - each comes with their own set of abilities and weaknesses, and we work together as a unit, much like the military does, to accomplish our goals."

His brother continued, "Together, we used our split development to our advantage," said Jarrod. "Back in the day, Jordan was always more of an aggressive post player, while I was quicker on my feet and focused more on shooting and creating openings. It's worked well for us."

Airman 1st Class Canaan Kennedy, one of the co-workers the Petersons recruited to assist with coaching, explained why he chose to get involved.

"I think it's really important to volunteer because when I was growing up, I had a lot of coaches I considered as role models and mentors," he said. "Many of them truly made a difference in my life, so I think if I can make a difference to one of my players, it makes it all worthwhile."

In an age where electronic devices are far more prevalent than basketballs in the hands of today's youth, children have fewer opportunities for face-to-face interaction with their peers and mentors. Programs like this are helping bridge that gap.

For the past 16 years, Stephane Mohr has worked for Brevard County Parks and Recreation, and is currently Viera Regional Community Center's recreational leader. She understands the importance of having military members serve as volunteer coaches.

"When people from Patrick AFB come out to help us, their presence shows the kids how to be passionate about something you love," she said. "The Airmen teach them how to be strong and stay in the fight until the fight is over, win or lose. They also teach them responsibility, respect, discipline, and especially how to just have fun."

She added, "I have so many parents who request to have their kids play on Jordan and Jarrod's teams. Even after the season is over, they would check on the players and invite them to play a pick-up game here at the center. I couldn't ask for better coaches and role models."

The fraternal twins, who work as web developers for AFTAC's 709th Cyberspace Squadron, share a passion for basketball, and now after coaching local youth, also share a special place in their hearts for the players who have made such an impact on them.

"The rec league is an excellent way for these kids to strengthen their friendships, learn new skills, get some exercise and most important, have some fun," said Jarrod. "Throughout all four of the teams I've coached in Viera, I've had one player on all four teams: Brielle Basham. She's the smallest girl in the league, and I've seen her grow and evolve, not just physically, but mentally as well. She would constantly approach us looking for ways to improve, and she was always so excited about getting better - so much so that her parents also started to ask us how to make sure she was doing things right. Between her specific talent and her spike in confidence, I'd trust her with the game-winning shot any day."

Several player-parents showered the Airmen with praise for their involvement.

"I don't think Coach (Jordan) Peterson will ever know the impact he's had on my son," said Tyna Fish, mom of Lashaun, better known to his teammates as Prince. "He was going through a very dark time in his life, and being a single parent isn't easy. Lashaun desperately craved a male mentor in his life, so when (Jordan) chose him to be captain of the team, it actually changed his life. I can't thank him enough for recognizing his ability and giving him the chance to shine. I want him to know how much I appreciate all he's done!"

Accolades continued from another parent.

"Justin just loved Coach Peterson and Coach (Staff Sgt. Floridamae) Mones," said Tracy Lee. "He told me the coaches never treated him 'like a kid' and I've never seen him love going to practices and games as much as he did with these coaches. And giving him a special military coin for Most Improved Player meant a lot to all of us!"

Over the past three years he's been coaching at VRCC, Jordan has seen huge growth in his players.

"The influence you may have on a young adult is incredibly fulfilling," he said. "We had two kids on our squad last year who didn't want to try out for their high school team when the season started. By the time we finished the season and freshman tryouts were underway, we received emails and texts from the parents telling us that their child had made the high school roster. It makes you realize you truly can have an impact. It's very gratifying."

The other AFTAC volunteer coaches include Tech. Sgt. Desiree Penn, Airman 1st Class Ruben Vera Colon, Staff Sgt. Dustin Elliott, Airman 1st Class Willie Robinson, Rodney Gaines, and Airman 1st Class Myles McCurdy.

"These Airmen are volunteering their time to help our program be a success, and the kids love them all so much," Mohr said. "During our medal and trophy ceremony last season, Jordan brought (military challenge) coins for each of the kids for being most improved, hardest worker, always being on time, never giving up, and so on. They didn't have to do that, but I'll tell you it meant so much to the kids and their parents. I can't thank them all enough for their time and support, and especially for their service to our country. The world is a much better place because of them!"

The Peterson brothers encourage others to get involved in community programs.

"There are countless opportunities for Airmen to play a role in area athletics and youth programs," said Jarrod. "You just have to commit the time and effort to it. It does take a lot of dedication, but the rewards far outweigh anything."

Jordan added, "We've had some of our athletes who 'aged out' of the program return to volunteer and assist in coaching alongside us in a support role. And a few of them have expressed an interest in joining the Air Force. It doesn't get much better than that!"

Leadership in a Selfie Culture - 11/6/2018


Photo courtesy of Vadim Guzhva.

By Susan A. Romano, AFTAC Public Affairs PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.
An interesting thing about leadership and painting is that both require priming in order to last. A painter's canvas must first be conditioned to accept the paint. They stretch the canvas and secure it so it retains its shape. Then they prime it, or cover it in gesso, a substance that serves three purposes: to prevent the fabric from rotting; to allow the painter to establish the right texture or foundation upon which to paint their masterpiece; and to prevent the canvas from absorbing the paint, thus allowing the artist to have a greater impact while using less paint.

Similarly, a leader conditions the environment and the people to accept their vision before providing direction. The leader must establish their own credibility while instilling a culture of integrity, accountability, flexibility and excellence. This serves to prevent rotten or toxic behavior, sets a foundation allowing open and honest communication, and helps the leader draw out the best in their people without overly taxing their personal resources.

Without these early efforts to set the climate and foundation for success, leaders may find themselves constantly having to deal with rotten leaders, skeptics, and laggards trying to undermine their vision. They may also end up burning themselves out early on by focusing too much time reactively fixing preventable problems rather than progressing towards the big picture. Either way the results are not what was envisioned.

Ask yourself - would you rather people know the color of your eyes or the character of your heart? If you choose the latter, establish the foundation first and above all - avoid painting a self-portrait. Simply put, the portrait of a true leader is best viewed as a landscape. A leader's signature - their character - is found in the culture that emerges, the incredible things that are accomplished, and the lives that are changed.

AFTAC molecular biologist represents Air Force at SWE18 conference - 11/6/2018


A panel of experts deliver their remarks and take questions from the audience attending the 2018 Society of Women Engineers Annual Conference in Minneapolis Oct. 20, 2018. Air Force Technical Applications Center molecular biologist Julia Ignacek (second from right) represented the Air Force at the event to discuss innovation in the public sector. Pictured with Ignacek are Dr. Alexis McKittrick, research staff member for the Science and Technology Policy Institute and panel moderator; Roslin Hicks, deputy director for NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility; and Col. Michelle Link, assistant program officer for U.S. Army Logistics. (U.S. Air Force photo by Rose Day)

By Susan A. Romano, AFTAC Public Affairs PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.
With more than 14,000 in attendance featuring 300 worldwide organizations, the conference attracts prestigious leaders and champions of industry and academia to encourage women to achieve their full potential as engineers. This year, SWE18's keynote speakers were Cindy Kent, former president and general manager of 3M's Infection Prevention Division; Marillyn A. Hewson, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Lockheed Martin Corp.; and Kim Underhill, group president of Kimberly-Clark's North American consumer business.

Ignacek's panel included Dr. Alexis McKittrick, research staff member for the Science and Technology Policy Institute in Washington, D.C. (panel moderator); Col. Michelle Link, assistant program officer for U.S. Army Logistics; and Roslin Hicks, deputy director for NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility.

"I was honored to be asked to represent the Air Force at the conference, and I'd like to thank Randy Mieskoski (HAF/A1), Rose Day (AFTAC recruiting), Jennifer Abman Scott (SWE Board of Directors), and AFTAC senior leadership for allowing me the opportunity to participate in this incredibly rewarding conference. There is so much to learn when we open our minds to other perspectives, and I believe we grow both personally and professionally from these opportunities."

Air Force Chief Scientist pays visit to treaty monitoring center - 10/22/2018


Dr. Richard J. Joseph, Chief Scientist of the Air Force, speaks to members of the Air Force Technical Applications Center in the nuclear treaty monitoring center's Doyle Northrup Auditorium at Patrick AFB, Fla. Joseph attended AFTAC annual Research and Development Roadmap Forum to discuss innovative concepts that fit into the center's technical forensics mission. (U.S. Air Force photo by William M. Donelson)


Dr. Richard J. Joseph (left), Chief Scientist of the Air Force, meets with Dr. Glenn E. Sjoden (center), chief scientist of the Air Force Technical Applications Center, and Dr. William Junek, AFTAC's senior scientist, during Joseph's visit to the nuclear treaty monitoring center at Patrick AFB, Fla. Joseph came to AFTAC to attend its annual Research and Development Roadmap Forum and took the opportunity to tour the facility and meet the Airmen who perform the mission. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)

By Susan A. Romano, AFTAC Public Affairs PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.
The Chief Scientist of the Air Force paid a visit to the Department of Defense's sole nuclear treaty monitoring center recently to meet with senior leaders and attend the center's annual Research and Development Roadmap Forum.

Dr. Richard J. Joseph was one of 169 mission partners and community stakeholders who attended the Air Force Technical Applications Center's annual forum, which was designed to focus on AFTAC's multi-faceted, global mission.

"The purpose of the R&D Roadmap is to codify pathways to meet forthcoming challenges of our treaty monitoring and nuclear forensics mission," said Dr. William Junek, AFTAC senior scientist. "We were fortunate enough to have Dr. Joseph join us this year, and his contributions during our breakout sessions were invaluable."

Ed Darmiento, project officer for the forum, worked closely with numerous subject matters experts at AFTAC to put together a robust program that included briefings by AFTAC's principal customers and national authorities as well as breakout sessions to allow attendees to network with each other.

The first day consisted of briefings that covered a variety of topics: AFTAC's mission overview, R&D blueprint development, and how new innovation concepts fit into AFTAC's treaty monitoring and technical forensics mission.

Day two was a collection of breakout sessions that gave attendees the opportunity to provide, modify and refine inputs to AFTAC's draft 2019 R&D roadmap.

Ed Darmiento, AFTAC's chief of emerging technologies, was the project officer for the forum, and he and his team invested more than 1,000 man-hours to logistical planning that included the event agenda, lodging, transportation, security, and meals.

"This year, we wanted to incorporate as many suggestions from the previous forums as possible to show a continuous dedication to make it better from year to year," said Darmiento. "We also modernized the registration process, which included commissioning a website to streamline the registration process and make it user-friendly. I think we hit the mark."

Prior to the start of the forum, the Air Force Chief Scientist had the opportunity to tour AFTAC's radiochemistry lab, Innovation Lab, and 24/7 operations center.

Joseph, a former commissioned officer in the Air Force, has more than 40 years of experience as a physicist, directed energy researcher, senior program manager, national security advisor, and government executive. In his role as the Air Force's senior scientist, he advises the Air Force Chief of Staff and Secretary of the Air Force by providing assessments on a wide range of scientific issues. He is responsible for identifying and analyzing technical issues to bring them to the attention of other senior Air Force and governmental leaders.

"I'm extremely proud of the team who navigated all the moving parts to make a program like this such a success," said Dr. Glenn E. Sjoden, AFTAC chief scientist. "Until you actually put together an event of this magnitude, you truly can't appreciate how much work is actually involved. It takes a remarkable team comprised of members working across multiple directorates to make a forum of this complexity successful."

Sjoden added, "I hope Dr. Joseph and the rest of our stakeholders walked away with a greater understanding of AFTAC's global mission, and I hope they will return next year with even bigger and better ideas to discuss."

Downrange 'MacGyvers' creatively get the job done - 10/3/2018

An Airman from the Air Force Technical Applications Center ascends to the top of a wind turbine at McMurdo Station, Antarctica, to inspect components used to power the seismic site. The inspection was part of AFTAC's annual maintenance requirement at its numerous seismic locations around the globe. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Senior Airman Jeremiah H. Odendahl (left) and Staff Sgt. David D. Mose Jr., both seismic technicians at Detachment 421 in Alice Springs, Australia, conduct routine maintenance at one of the detachment's 22 seismic detectors that contribute to the U.S. Atomic Energy Detection System. The seismic work performed at the detachment is part of the Air Force Technical Applications Center's worldwide mission of nuclear treaty monitoring. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)

Seismic technicians from the Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick AFB, Fla., traveled to Vanda, Antarctica to conduct routine annual maintenance on seismic equipment that contributes to the U.S. Atomic Energy Detection System. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Rugged terrain surrounds Staff Sgt. Steven Milliman (seen in center distance) as he conducts periodic maintenance in Morocco on AFTAC's global network of seismic sensors that contribute to the U.S. Atomic Energy Detection System. (U.S. Air Force photo)

By Susan A. Romano, AFTAC Public Affairs PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.
For six successive years starting in 1986, faithful viewers tuned in every evening before Monday Night Football to see what kind of clever solutions Secret Agent Angus MacGyver would concoct to solve cases for the fictional Department of External Services.

The rise of MacGyver's popularity largely stemmed from his innovative and resourceful use of common items to repair things in an improvised way. His ability to use everyday objects to solve seemingly impossible crimes quickly morphed into a verb (to MacGyver something) to describe when someone uses items on hand to make a quick repair.

Today, members of the Air Force Technical Applications Center sometimes find themselves applying a few MacGyver tactics as a last resort when they travel to one of the center's many overseas detachments to conduct periodic maintenance on vital seismic equipment.

AFTAC, the sole organization in the Department of Defense tasked with detecting worldwide nuclear events, has more than 3,600 sensors across the globe to monitor seismic activity. While some of the sites are located in relatively accessible places geographically, many of them are unmanned and positioned at austere locations in extremely rugged territory.

Despite the austerity, Airmen assigned to the 709th Technical Maintenance Squadron at AFTAC must perform periodic maintenance at these sites to ensure uninterrupted access to critical seismic data. From the frozen mountain peaks above the Arctic Circle to the windswept deserts of the Australian Outback to the sub-zero temperatures in the Antarctic, the maintainers trek to some of the most remote corners of the world. And while they travel with a large amount of supplies to repair and maintain their precision equipment, they sometimes find themselves in situations that require MacGyver-like problem-solving skills.

Take for example a recent trip to one of their unmanned sites in an isolated area of the north arctic. The frigid winter temperatures and ten months of precipitation led to build-up on the exterior of the seismic boreholes. The maintainers had to fabricate an ice-catching bucket and ice removal tool due to significant ice incursion. Technicians weren't able to pull the instrument out for repair until the ice was chipped away. But chipping away at the ice posed another problem - the ice chips would tumble down the borehole and damage the seismometer. So the team concocted the bucket-and-pick system they now use at sub-zero locations to catch the ice before it can fall into the hole.

Another unusual situation for the team occurred in eastern Asia. When the Airmen arrived to conduct routine maintenance, they discovered a red-footed falcon had made a nest five feet in diameter on one of the site's solar panels.

"We had to fashion a way to carefully remove the nest in one piece and relocate it to a nearby rock outcropping, all while the falcon was keeping a sharp eye on us as we moved her home," said Master Sgt. Chevis P. Stanley, subsurface maintenance flight chief. "The good thing was there were no eggs in the nest; otherwise, I'm not so sure she would have kept her distance as we moved it from point A to point B."

The maintainers travel with a large kit containing items that are included for obvious reasons -- and some, not so obvious.

"You'll always find standard supplies like electrical tape, all-in-one multi-tools, nuts and bolts, welding materials, etc., in our travel kits," said Stanley. "But from experience, we also travel with other more obscure things we may need at our sites, items like super glue, zip ties, toilet paper, electrical plug adapters, wet wipes, pick-axes, even a few tennis balls."

AFTAC's seismic mission touches every continent on earth through the U.S. Atomic Energy Detection System - the largest sensor network in the U.S. Air Force. Once a disturbance is detected underground, the data is transmitted to AFTAC's 24/7 operations center at Patrick AFB, then analyzed to determine if the disturbance is nuclear in nature.

It's a critical mission that has national command authority interest, and the Airmen who maintain the precision equipment take their role in global nuclear event detection very seriously.

"We go to great lengths to ensure we've made the necessary repairs and calibrated all the sensors before we ship them to our operating locations," said Master Sgt. Joseph King, 709th Support Squadron central repair facility superintendent. "We've also built an entire continuity program on 'unacceptable calibrations.' For the most part, AFTAC's seismic arrays are located in unpopulated, aseismic areas of the world, which is what we strive for in order to analyze and report clean and accurate seismic data. However, when we conduct the calibrations here at Patrick, which by our standards is an industrial area with lots of foot and vehicular traffic, that kind of 'noise' tends to give our calibrators headaches because the seismometers are so incredibly sensitive, making calibration very difficult."

So King and his co-workers in the CRF came up with an ingenious way to perform precision calibrations right here at their home base prior to shipping the equipment downrange.

"To further isolate the seismometer from environmental noise, we used an isolation table and a noise-cancelling sound booth," he said. "Then we concocted a system for the table to ride on tennis balls placed in a bed of sand on a thick rubber mat. I'm very proud of the 'out-of-the-box-thinking' that went down with this particular project. It works like a charm."

The equipment undergoes meticulous calibration in Florida prior to being shipped to an overseas detachment, but a small chord of fear is still struck in the hearts of the Airmen who perform the work. "While we ensure the seismometers are sufficiently calibrated in the CRF, they still need to endure the frightening task of being shipped halfway around the globe," said King. "I think we all know what the word 'fragile' means to a cargo company. More often than not the seismic equipment will need some level of additional repair when it arrives at its final destination."

Of course, the CRF's MacGyver-like techniques are used as a last resort when an unusual situation arises at a maintenance site.

"The Airmen who conduct the repairs at our overseas detachments are governed by some pretty stringent Air Force instructions, policies, standards and contractual obligations," said Dave Merker, AFTAC's Director of Systems Development. "They know the need to follow established technical orders to make any necessary adjustments on the equipment. But at some locations, such as our seismic site in Antarctica, we have an exceedingly small window of opportunity to perform annual maintenance. And sometimes, a bit of old-school ingenuity is required to ensure we have uninterrupted access to that vital seismic data. The 'MacGyver' technique is employed only as a last resort when all other avenues have been exhausted."

When the team returns the following maintenance cycle, they'll adjust the MacGyver'ed equipment to its proper state with the necessary accessories and parts, Merker said.

"We have to make the most of the short period of time we're on the ground to work on the equipment, troubleshoot anything that needs troubleshooting, and leave it better than we found it so the data flows as required," said Stanley. "One of the biggest lessons I've learned in this job is that you never truly know what issues you may encounter, and all you can do is prepare as best you can for every contingency. Once you've done that, you just have to do the best you can with what you've got and be as flexible as possible. It's definitely a challenge."

Chief Master Sgt. Michael Joseph, AFTAC's command chief, has been continuously impressed by the creativity and ingenuity of his maintainers.

"Our Airmen are well trained and prepared to do the mission, but sometimes they are faced with unique challenges," said Joseph. "They just find a way to ensure the mission can continue uninterrupted."

Musical Tesla Coil, 3-D printer draws crowd at Science Bowl - 10/2/2018

James Griffieth, a member of the Air Force Technical Applications Center, explains how a tesla coil works to students from Flint, Mich., who were attending the National Organization of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers annual conference in Orlando Sept. 18, 2018. The students competed in NOBCChE's Science Bowl the day before. Pictured with Griffieth from left to right are students from Flint Southwester Classical Academy: Brook Fordham, 16; Alayna Goff, 17; Kwame Wade, 16; and Keishaun Wade, 17.(U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)

Rose Day (right), chief of recruiting for the Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick AFB, Fla., talks about AFTAC job opportunities with Jada Hoyle-Gardner (center), a biomedical science graduate student at Florida A&M University and Keisha Smith (left), Ph.D candidate in neuroscience at Meharry Medical College in Nashville during the National Organization of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers annual conference in Orlando, Fla., Sept. 18, 2018. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)

Michael Ball (right) and Rose Day (center), members of the Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick AFB, Fla., speak with a visitor to their booth in the exhibition hall during the National Organization of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers annual conference in Orlando, Fla., Sept. 18, 2018. Ball and Day were on hand to explain job opportunities available at the nuclear treaty monitoring center. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)

By Susan A. Romano, AFTAC Public Affairs PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.
With the help of members of the Air Force Technical Applications Center, children and adults alike were drawn to synchronized music emanating from a Tesla coil on display at the National Organization of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers annual conference Sept. 17-18 in Orlando.

The conference is NOBCChE's premier event where visiting students can interact with corporate, academic, non-profit and government professionals in the fields of chemistry, chemical engineering, and other STEM-related fields. Each year, the organization hosts a Science Bowl for students in grades 4 to 12, with questions that focus heavily on well-known scientists and inventors of color throughout history.

AFTAC Airmen volunteered their time to serve as judges, time keepers, score keepers and room facilitators for the Science Bowl on day one of the program. NOBCChE is dedicated to building a cadre of young people from all walks of life, while inspiring and supporting minority students to pursue careers in science and technology.

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. The NOBCChE conference was no exception.

"It was a top-notch experience for me," said Yvette Coleman, one of the 15 AFTAC volunteers. "I enjoyed seeing all the different universities and corporations that took part, but the most important highlight for me was watching the students participate in the Science Bowl."

On day two of the conference, Airmen set up an interactive display in conference exhibit hall that included seismometers, vacuum pumps, 3-D printers and the always-entertaining Tesla coil. The high-voltage wireless transformer created visual bolts of lightning set to music, which has the capacity to generate up to 250,000 volts, and drew quite a crowd.

Alfred Cook, a science teacher at Flint Southwester Classical Academy in Flint, Mich., escorted four of his top students to the conference to expose them to STEM professionals from all walks of life and give them a chance to compete in the science bowl.

"Our goal on this trip was to take first place in the bowl while putting Flint and our school on the map," Cook said with pride. "We've been training for this for months now, both before and after school, using our own curriculum as well as anything we could find online to give us a competitive edge. Of course our biggest challenge is always financing a trip like this, but these students are the best of the best and it's a great experience for them."

Flint has had its share of news headlines recently, most prominent being the water crisis the city has faced. The situation has had an obvious and influential impact on Cook's science bowl competitors.

One of his students, Keishaun Wade, was unequivocal when asked what he wants to be when he graduates: "I will be an urban planner. I want to change Flint."

James "Griff" Griffieth, a frequent AFTAC STEM volunteer, explained why he thinks it's important to stay engaged with the youth of today.

"This year was especially meaningful to me since NOBCChE sponsored a school from Flint," Griff said. "It was great getting to know these kids who have been through so much in their young lives, yet they are persevering in the quest for knowledge and looking at how they can change the future. People ask why I volunteer, and it comes down to two simple things: we are all responsible to give back to our community whenever possible, and I really derive a lot of joy from helping these young adults experience science and technology in hopes to inspire them to be the next Nikola Tesla or Mae Jamison."

In addition to the interactive STEM display, AFTAC's chief of recruiting, Rose Day, managed a booth in the exhibition hall to encourage students to consider employment with the Department of Defense's sole nuclear treaty monitoring center.

"NOBCChE is my favorite recruiting event of the year because this organization really focuses on mentoring and inspiring the next generation of STEM professionals," said Day. "Most of the students we met had been involved with NOBCChE since high school and are now stand-out undergraduate, graduate, and even doctoral students from the best technology institutions in the country such as MIT and Georgia Tech. Many of them were very interested in our SMART Service for Scholars and Palace Acquire Intern programs that help fund their education and guarantee employment upon graduation."

For more information about AFTAC's STEM outreach program or to learn more about a career at AFTAC, send an email to

Creative prototype leads to fielded implementation - 9/20/2018

An computer-generated artist's rendering of a winch mast assembly crate that is now being used by the Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick AFB, Fla., to ship and store precision seismic equipment. (U.S. Air Force illustration)

Tech. Sgt. Timothy Kavanagh, noncommissioned officer-in-charge of product support for the Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick AFB, Fla., explains to Chief Master Sgt. Frank Batten, command chief of Air Combat Command, how he designed a crate to better ship, house and store AFTAC's precision seismic equipment that is used to monitor worldwide nuclear activity. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)

A sketch of a prototype shipping crate to store and house precision seismic equipment for the Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick AFB, Fla. The sketch was used to develop a workable solution to inventory issues at the nuclear treaty monitoring center's overseas detachments. (U.S. Air Force illustration)

By Susan A. Romano, AFTAC Public Affairs PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.
When members of the only agency in the Department of Defense charged with monitoring nuclear treaties discovered shipped equipment was not being accurately accounted for at forward supply points, they took to the drawing board to devise a solution.

Airmen from the Air Force Technical Applications Center here were determined to solve negative inventory trends, so they sketched out a conceptual prototype the old-fashioned way - with pen and paper.

One aspect of the nuclear treaty monitoring center's global mission is to gather seismic data to detect underground nuclear activity. The center uses seismometers positioned throughout the world to accomplish that mission. In order to perform routine maintenance on their precision equipment, AFTAC Airmen rely on what's called a winch mast assembly that is used to install, troubleshoot, remove and replace seismometers that sit in boreholes up to 500 feet below the earth's surface.

When the assembly, with its multiple parts and pieces, is hoisted out of the borehole, it's either placed in storage, shipped back to Florida for maintenance, or repaired on site. Over time, many of the parts were being separated from the main assembly, which ultimately caused inventory, shipping and maintenance issues.

So a team of AFTAC logisticians got together to figure out how to solve the problem. Tom Lehnerz, chief materiel manager and a supply expert with the 709th Support Group's logistics flight, spearheaded the effort. Once he and his team had a viable concept, they built a prototype, modified it a few times based on inputs from depot and field technicians, and came up with a workable solution.

"We noticed there was an issue with inventories of our tilt mass assembly and realized our equipment wasn't being accurately accounted for at forward supply points. With some brain power, some trial-and-error tests, and a lot of ingenuity, the team developed a process that should result in a $20,000 cost savings for the Air Force," said Lehnerz.

"A prototype is worth a thousand meetings," said Tech. Sgt. Timothy Kavanagh, noncommissioned officer-in-charge of product support. "That's why we opted to go straight to the drawing board to diagram out exactly what we needed. We worked closely with the 45th Space Wing's woodworkers from their Transportation Management Office who deal with shipping crates on a daily basis to help us go from concept to reality."

According to David Paynter, 709th SPTG logistics flight manager, the crate the team developed will decrease maintenance preparation time by 50 percent, improve inventory accuracy of $40,000 worth of precision equipment and reduce annual inventory time by 50 percent.

"We received tremendously positive feedback from our remote seismic station operators at several of our overseas sites as well as from our technical schoolhouse in Texas after we completed field implementation," said Paynter. "We showcased it to the commander and command chief of Air Combat Command when they visited AFTAC, and they seemed quite impressed with the team's ingenuity and innovativeness. Any time we can save the Air Force money while simultaneously improving the process, it's a job well done."

To date, Lehnerz' team has built 11 crates and nine of them have been shipped to AFTAC's overseas operating locations.

"As we continue to collect and gather feedback from the detachment chiefs at the OLs, we will build additional assemblies to meet their needs," said Lehnerz.

Chemist at AFTAC earns award from national Hispanic organization - 9/19/2018

Diana Velosa, a chemist with the Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick AFB, Fla., talks about career opportunities with high school students attending STEMversity in Milledgeville, Ga. Velosa spends a good deal of her time, both on and off duty, mentoring students in forensic science and math as part of the organization's STEM/diversity outreach program. (U.S. Air Force photo by Rose Day)

An ever-present participant when the Air Force Technical Applications Center showcases its mission on the road, Diana Velosa enjoys reaching out to America's youth to encourage them to pursue careers in STEM -- science, technology, engineering and math. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)

Diana Velosa (center, in black) a chemist with the Air Force Technical Applications Center, provides mentorship to Dayana Paz (seated) during the June 2015 STEMversity program on the campus of Central State Hospital in Georgia. Velosa and fellow AFTAC member Maj. Allen Cohen (pictured), attended the summer program that focuses on STEM and gives underrepresented middle and high school youth an opportunity to conduct experiments and use precision instruments in real-life laboratories. (U.S. Air Force photo by Rose Day)

By Susan A. Romano, AFTAC Public Affairs PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.
A scientist at the Air Force Radiochemistry Laboratory here was selected to receive the Meritorious Service Award from National Image, Inc.

Diana Velosa, a chemist in the Air Force Technical Applications Center's Ciambrone Radiochemistry Lab, earned the award for "fostering an innovative and harmonic environment between the military and the Hispanic-American civilian community."

As one of two lead technicians in AFTAC's world-class clean room, Velosa safely processed nuclear samples for the International Atomic Energy Agency in an effort to combat nuclear weapons proliferation. She is responsible for analyzing and identifying radiological and nuclear debris from foreign nuclear explosions in support of national security requirements.

In addition to her role at the Department of Defense's sole nuclear treaty monitoring center, Velosa spent countless hours mentoring students and participating in regional community events to help bring science-related demonstrations and exhibits to local schools.

"Diana is a worker who not only has a huge impact on her co-workers and our national security, but also on those outside the walls of the lab," said Lt. Col James Thomas, lab commander. "She has represented AFTAC at STEM fairs, national conferences, recruiting events and science bowls to help promote the importance of science, especially to young Americans who are still in high school, and she always receives the highest praise for her efforts. This award is very well deserved, and we're proud to have her as a member of our scientific team."

The mission of National Image, Inc., is to promote Hispanic employment in the federal government through training, leadership development, education and the advancement for civil rights. It is a non-profit organization and works with federal agencies to promote recruitment.

One of the traits the organization looks for when selecting recipients of their awards is leadership, especially with regard to education. Velosa's resume certainly fits the bill.

"I am greatly honored to receive such prestigious recognition," she said. "I truly enjoy helping my community, especially those in underprivileged areas, reach their full potential. My father moved my family and me from a country that has seen extreme violence and corruption for many years, and through his integrity, determination, honesty and work ethic, he was and always will be an inspiration to me."

She added, "I work with some of the very best scientists in the Air Force and to know they nominated me for this award makes all my efforts so worthwhile. I can't thank them and National Image, Inc., enough for such a great honor."

eFAILution Wall: Failure + Learning = Successful Evolution - 9/18/2018

Projects developed by members of the Air Force Technical Applications Center are on display in the nuclear treaty monitoring center's Innovation Lab at Patrick AFB, Fla. The lab built an "eFAILution" wall - a prominent centerpiece showcasing projects that didn't quite make the grade. It's what lab personnel describe as "a lineage of success born of failure." (U.S. Air Force photo by Matthew S. Jurgens)

Members of the Air Force Technical Application Center's Innovation Lab pose in the nuclear treaty monitoring center's machine shop. The lab encourages and enables innovators at AFTAC to take calculated risks and evolve from failure to achieve success. Pictured (l to r starting in front row): Lt. Col. Christopher Hall, Staff Sgt. Josh Van Horne, Senior Airman James Rensehhouse, Master Sgt. Nathan Shaw, 1st Lt. Drew Belk, Tech. Sgt. Collin Pesicka, Tech. Sgt. Riley Mills, Capt. Barron Stone, and Senior Airman Matthew Goodrich. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)

Pictured: the eFAILution Wall at the Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick AFB, Fla. The wall, complete with motivational quotes and projects that failed to be implemented, is used as a means to cultivate and capitalize on the talent of the workers at AFTAC while encouraging them to take their concepts and make them a reality in a positive learning environment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Matthew S. Jurgens)

By Susan A. Romano, AFTAC Public Affairs PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.
Henry Ford, founder of the Ford Motor Company and captain of industry once said, "Failure is the only opportunity to begin again, only this time more wisely."

One Air Force organization is taking Ford's words to heart. The Air Force Technical Applications Center, the sole agency within the Department of Defense tasked with monitoring nuclear treaties and nuclear detonations around the world, is emphasizing to its workforce the importance of learning through failure.

In 2013, AFTAC formed an Innovation Lab to find ways to improve and accomplish their mission by developing concepts and technologies faster and cheaper. But the number one reason for establishing the lab was to enable innovators within the center to take calculated risks and evolve from failure to achieve success. From that concept grew the center's "eFAILution" wall - a prominent centerpiece of projects displayed on the wall that didn't quite make the grade. It's what lab personnel describe as "…a lineage of success born of failure…" and their central message is simple: continue to learn and evolve from your mistakes.

"AFTAC has some of the most incredibly talented people in the Air Force," said Col. Chad Hartman, AFTAC commander, "but our most powerful attribute is this organization's long-standing culture of continuous learning. We are not simply 'celebrating failure' at AFTAC; what we are celebrating is a willingness to take risks and fail forward in order to learn."

While Webster's defines failure as the state or condition of not meeting a desirable or intended objective, the team of AFTAC's premier enablers of innovation looks at failure as a means to achieve a better, more productive outcome, with an aim at unleashing a innovation mindset.

"When people come to the lab with a concept, we don't want them to feel discouraged if their design doesn't work the first time," said Master Sgt. Nathan Shaw, lab superintendent. "The whole idea is to cultivate and capitalize on the talent of the workers here at AFTAC and encourage them to take their concepts and make them a reality, all while operating in a positive learning environment."

The lab's wall has about a dozen projects ranging in scope from a cooked Raspberry Pi (a tiny single-board computer) to an entirely 3-D printed programmable rover that can be operated remotely or autonomously. The lessons gained from these failures have energized the lab team and AFTAC's 1,000+ strong workforce to rethink solutions to problems.

"There has been a lot of discussion at all levels in the Air Force recently about failure," said 1st Lt. Drew Belk, Innovation Lab flight commander. "The Secretary of the Air Force and the Air Force Chief of Staff have been stressing the importance of 'shaping our competitive edge' through innovation, which includes learning from failure, even if it means accepting more risk."

Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson recently spoke at a conference in Montgomery, Ala., where she said, "It doesn't matter to me if (Airmen) get it right the first time. It matters to all of us that we keep innovating constantly, rather than sitting back and analyzing people for failure."

Belk is encouraged by Wilson's leadership and views on the importance of failing in the name of mission accomplishment. "I believe the key thing to remember is failure is only fatal if it is final. Failure provides us the opportunity to learn and make the next iteration better," he said.

Any successful inventor will tell you that virtually nothing ever works on the first try. That's why AFTAC's senior leaders realize one of the key ingredients to the lab's success comes down to one word: persistence.

"Typically, high-speed thinkers are full of ideas and work hard to transfer their ideas from thought-to-product," said Dr. Dan DeForest, AFTAC's Director of Strategic Integration. "Sometimes, however, their ideas simply don't come to fruition, whether that's due to a design flaw, engineering obstacle, or even a lack of resources. But they don't give up - they continue to persist and seek out workable solutions. It's senior leadership's job to clear the path to allow this persistence."

Couple that persistence with failure and learning, and you have a recipe for success. "The value of learning from failure cannot be overstated," said Hartman.

The Innovation Lab has grown exponentially since its inception and has been benchmarked by other organizations throughout the Air Force. The team of AFTAC Airmen who make up the Innovation Lab possess a diverse set of skills: electrical, chemical and mechanical engineers; computer scientists and programmers; technical applications specialists; and machinists, just to name a few. Each Airman has demonstrated a persistent desire to excel while applying their vast knowledge and abilities.

"One of the more enjoyable challenges in the lab is thinking of ways to improve things that already work," said Tech. Sgt. Collin J. Pesicka, noncommissioned officer-in-charge of rapid development. "When you spend time fixing things that are broken, you can't help but wonder about complacency. That's why we began saying, 'If it ain't broke, make it better.' It's important to investigate all potential opportunities to fail during the continuous improvement process. And sometimes that includes reinventing the wheel."

For example, lab personnel learned the hard way when they engineered a device to capture debris from a routing table by attaching a vacuum. They wanted to create a solution to reduce airborne effluents. However, after debris failed to get sucked up into the vacuum, they realized there was a huge bottleneck near the attachment.

"The initial design contained an unforeseen choke point, which failed to allow for effective dust extraction," said Belk. "Through 'eFAILution' we prevailed and developed a better design that continues to suck to this day, which in this case is a good thing!"

With the requirement to develop more high-power computing capabilities and technologies, the potential for this kind of innovation is a game-changer.

"Failure in the U.S. Air Force has historically been a word whispered behind closed doors and swept under the rug as much as possible," said Capt Barron Stone, 709th Support Squadron director of operations and former officer-in-charge of the Innovation Lab. "It's encouraging to be a part of the culture change that highlights failure as a means of getting to a better final product. Grass-roots innovation and engineering efforts often require assumptions to expedite progress or save money. With these assumptions, failure is inevitable, but it allows us to learn quickly and make adjustments to get a successful prototype. It's been extremely refreshing and rewarding to be a part of this team."

Today, Air Force leadership at the highest levels have challenged its officers and senior enlisted advisors to create a culture where Airmen can and should put innovation at the forefront of their daily actions and encourage them to step outside their comfort zone to kick-start innovation while trying out new ideas.

AFTAC has proven it's an organization that's capitalizing on that challenge.

"Our National Defense Strategy recognizes that we have to be agile enough to deliver performance at the speed of relevance because the complexity and pace of change we face in the world today is only increasing," said Hartman. "AFTAC's mindset of iterative learning from failure is key to enabling the organizational agility we require to be successful. I'm extremely proud of our men and women's ingenuity."

Belk and his team are encouraging their co-workers to come to the lab with project ideas. "If the concept works, we'll celebrate. If the concept doesn't work, we'll still celebrate and encourage them to go back to the drawing board to apply the lessons we've learned to make the next generation prototype a success."

AFTAC Hockey takes trophy at charity match - 9/18/2018

Traveling Challenge Cup trophy earned by members of the Athletes for Teamwork and Charity (AFTAC) based at Patrick AFB, Fla., after their match with the Tampa Bay Fire Fighters. AFTAC won the game 9-7, with all proceeds going to Camp Hopetake, a sleepaway camp for children with burn injuries. (Courtesy photo)

Players from Athletes for Teamwork and Charity (AFTAC) and Tampa Bay Fire Fighters (TBFF) pose for a group photo after the two teams competed in a charity match to raise funds for Camp Hopetake, a sleepaway camp for children who have survived severe burns. (Courtesy photo)

By Susan A. Romano, AFTAC Public Affairs PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.
Players from the Athletes for Teamwork and Charity Hockey Club competed against the Tampa Bay Firefighters Aug. 25 to raise money for adolescent burn victims and walked away with the coveted Traveling Challenge Cup trophy.

The AFTAC Hockey Club, a 501(c)(3) charitable non-profit organization, faced off against firemen from the greater Tampa area for the fourth time in as many years to support TBFF's adopted charity, Camp Hopetake - a sleepaway summer camp for children ages 5-17 who have survived burn injuries.

From the opening faceoff to the final buzzer, it was a see-saw scoring game, with AFTAC tallying the first goal. Quickly, TBFF fought back to take the lead. The second period saw end-to-end action and the fans were energized. As the teams entered the third period with Tampa up 7-6, AFTAC surged ahead, shutting down the firefighters' vaunted offense and won the game, 9-7.

"By far, TBFF is the best team we've ever skated against, and this was probably the best game we've ever played as a team," said Bill Hungate, team captain. "I'm so proud of our effort on and off the ice, especially when the outcome benefits children."

His players had nothing but praise for Hungate's motivational speech that propelled them toward victory.

"In between the second and third periods when we were down by two, Bill got us fired up by saying, 'We've already won this game, guys - they just don't know it yet.' I took those words to heart and we went out there and gave it our all!" said center Mike Nolan. "I could not have asked for a better way to kick off the season."

The matchup was an 'across-the-board' charitable event, with referees offering their services for free, discounted ice time at the rink, and the challenge cup donated by a local vendor. Between ticket sales and direct donations, the teams raised more than $1,500 to benefit TBFF's chosen charity.

"Camp Hopetake provides a safe, comfortable, supportive environment for kids who have been through some pretty traumatic circumstances," said defenseman Paul Bertrand. "The word 'Hopetake' is the Seminole Indian word for children, and many of us on the team are parents ourselves, so we take the game pretty seriously when we know the money raised goes to such a great cause."

TBFF is supported by the Tampa Bay Lightning, a National Hockey League team that has authorized the use of its trademark lightning bolt in the TBFF logo. Members of the Lightning organization were on hand at the game to show support for their community team and were impressed with what they saw.

"The Lightning guys approached me after the game to say they are definitely interested in supporting future events between AFTAC and TBFF, which is a huge compliment to us as a team," said Hungate. "I mean, some of the guys on TBFF have professional minor league hockey experience, and knowing we can impress pros from the NHL is pretty humbling. We're looking forward to more matches with this outstanding club."

Center exercises capability to relocate treaty monitoring mission - 9/6/2018

Keith Ewasiuk, (center) maintenance operations control center manager for the Air Force Technical Applications Center, explains to Col. Ralph E. Bordner III (lower right), AFTAC vice commander, how data is analyzed after the nuclear treaty monitoring center transfers the mission from its primary location at Patrick AFB, Fla., to its alternate location in Millington, Tenn. Also pictured (l to r): Maj. William J. Pattinson, 22nd Surveillance Squadron director of operations; Staff Sgt. Beau Brennan, subsurface analyst; and Lt. Col. Joseph H. Shupert, 709th Surveillance and Analysis Group deputy commander. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)

By Susan A. Romano, AFTAC Public Affairs PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.
Millington, Tenn. - The Air Force Technical Applications Center exercised its capability to transfer its critical nuclear treaty monitoring mission Aug. 14-15 to the center's newly established contingency operations location in Millington, Tenn.

AFTAC is the sole organization in the Department of Defense tasked with monitoring worldwide nuclear detonations and with providing national decision makers with data analysis on atomic events underwater, in the atmosphere, underground or in space.

Because of its no-fail 24/7 mission, AFTAC is tasked with providing uninterrupted access to nuclear event detection data to provide national decision makers at the highest levels in the U.S. government. The center also operates the U.S. National Data Center, the nation's arm of the International Monitoring System that supports the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization to limit nuclear testing and proliferation worldwide.

Millington offers AFTAC leadership the unique opportunity to create a fully operational alternate operations center if needed in the event its primary location at Patrick AFB should become inhabitable due to a natural or man-made disaster.

Referred to as a COOP (contingency of operations), a team of subject matter experts traveled to Tennessee to establish communication lines, ensure connectivity was fully operational, and prepare to transfer the mission from AFTAC's operations center to the alternate facility. While it sounds relatively simple, there are a lot of complicated and moving parts of the transfer.

"We don't just operate off of one network," said Master Sgt. Michael Nolan, cyber operations superintendent. "We collect, process and analyze and report data from three systems - our standard open-source network (NIPR), our secure router (SIPR) and our highly classified system (JWICS). It would be a lot simpler if we were just working from one unclassified system, but due to the nature of our mission, it's critical for us to provide access to all three operational systems. So it does take some time and effort to ensure the team has precisely what they need to successfully transfer from one location to another."

The team is also responsible to inform outside agencies and stakeholders, such as combatant commanders, international mission partners, AFTAC's higher headquarters, and the National Military Command Center, just to name a few.

For this exercise, 2nd Lt. Morgan Snyder served as the senior duty officer overseeing execution of the transfer. Sitting at her side was Master Sgt. Jorge Garcia, AFTAC operations manager, who was responsible for systems validation and ensuring COOP team members were prepared to accept mission transfer.

"It's always challenging to be geographically separated from your primary headquarters," said Snyder, "but as the SDO, it falls upon me to make sure the transfer is seamless and successful. There are times when I feel a lot of pressure and responsibility, especially since our mission is so critical, but I have a lot of SMEs (subject matter experts) I can rely on to assist me if I have any questions or concerns. It's a total team effort."

AFTAC's vice commander, Col. Ralph E. Bordner III, traveled to Millington to observe the process and learn how his Airmen execute the COOP.

"As the nation's leading expert on nuclear detection, we as an organization need to ensure we are prepared for any contingency that may alter how we do business," said Bordner. "One of the ways we do that is to conduct exercises that examine our critical functions, validate our ability to relocate our surveillance operations, and verify the effectiveness of our alert mission."

He added, "For the past several months, the team here has been meticulously planning for the COOP, and by all accounts, the transfer was a huge success. It's a testament to their hard work, and I'm confident should a hurricane head our way this season, we are fully prepared to deliver our findings to national decision makers."

Breaking the STEM mold, one woman at a time - 8/24/2018

When Senior Master Sgt. Tonya L. Cobarruviaz enlisted in the Air Force more than 16 years ago, little did she know she would spend 14 of those 16 years with the same organization. It is a testament to her knowledge, skill and expertise that she remains one of the stalwart senior noncommissioned officers assigned to the Air Force Technical Applications Center. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)

By Susan A. Romano, AFTAC Public Affairs PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.
In 1976, esteemed historian and author Laurel Thatcher Ulrich wrote a book entitled, "Well-Behaved Women Seldom Make History." The premise of her work was to shine a light on famous women throughout history who challenged the way things were done. While the title may seem to be a modern-day rallying cry for women to go out and break the rules through misbehavior, that was not the premise of her message. Ulrich's emphasis was to encourage women to do more - to break with convention, make a mark on history and prove that ordinary people, including women, can have a lasting impact on the world by doing the unexpected.

Today, women from all walks of life are taking Ulrich's words to heart and finding ways to break those proverbial molds as they seek out careers in positions traditionally held by men.

Women make up half the current U.S. workforce, but only 26 percent of them are in STEM - science, technology, engineering and math. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 61 percent of women in STEM are in the social sciences (communication, education, public health, etc.). Only 13 percent of women are in a hard science field such as engineering.

From an Air Force perspective, 64,367 of the nearly 321,000 Airmen currently on active duty are women. Of that 20 percent, even less are in STEM-related fields. Air Force leadership is trying to break that cycle.

In a live session with The Washington Post's David Ignatius last month, Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson discussed new Air Force initiatives aimed at inspiring more women to enter scientific career fields. During the interview, Wilson elaborated on steps the service is taking to recruit more women.

"One of the things we're trying to do is to encourage more young women to go to engineering school," said Wilson. "Sometimes the way in which we talk about engineering is not resonating with our daughters, and it is with our sons. We found that if you look at teenagers, more boys are satisfied by solving the problem. They get satisfaction out of fixing something. A disproportion number of girls want to know why the problem matters. So, if we say, 'Come be an engineer and you can do cool stuff,' we're talking to the boys. If you say, 'If you want to make a difference in someone's life; if you want to have clean water or save the life of a family member you love, or make the environment cleaner, or provide energy to the world, be an engineer.' Then we're talking to both boys and girls."

One Air Force entity has made great strides on making Wilson's STEM goals a reality. The Air Force Technical Applications Center, headquartered at Patrick AFB, Fla., is a highly-technical organization made up of scientists, technicians, engineers and analysts whose role is to detect, identify, analyze and report nuclear detonations underground, in the atmosphere, underwater or in space.

It is the sole organization in the Department of Defense charged with this vital international mission.

Despite its vital role to national decision makers, AFTAC's pool of employees leans heavily male. Of its more than 1,000+ members who make up the center's workforce, only 160 are military or civilian females. Even fewer than that are in STEM positions.

One of the ways AFTAC is looking to increase the number of female employees in technically-skilled roles is hosting its annual Women in Science and Engineering Symposium. For the past four years, AFTAC has invited the best speakers from various industries - academia, defense, corporate and commercial - to share best practices on how to recruit, engage, employ and encourage women into hard science career paths.

Rose Day, AFTAC's chief of civilian recruiting, believes the best way to "break the mold" is to expose girls at an early age to the sciences.

"One of the messages I like to relay to students when we travel for recruiting efforts is very simple: I tell the girls, 'You are needed.' Everyone wants to hear those words because it makes them feel like they are a valuable, needed contributor," Day explained. "We have to be advocates, we have to set the example and we have to collaborate. But we can't do this alone. We also have to partner with the men in the room because their advocacy is a critical part to the partnership. That's how we break the mold."

This year, America celebrates the 38th anniversary of the establishment of National Women's Equality Day, on Aug. 26. The commemoration stemmed out of the National Women's History Project as a way to promote and educate the role of women throughout history.

In honor of National Women's Equality Day, here are just a few of AFTAC's "mold-breakers:"

Staff Sgt. Terica G. Clewis
Staff Sgt. Terica Clewis has been assigned to the nuclear treaty monitoring center performing various roles for the past three years. Her current duties include designing innovated software systems that assist center personnel (as well as the rest of the Air Force) efficiently manage, store and process large-scale data.

"My team and I are responsible for exploring ways to apply machine-learning algorithms to the data so analysts can provide more robust information to leadership at a much faster rate," Clewis explained. "I have been able to demonstrate how the development process can foster greater innovation and better teamwork. Collaborating together requires everyone to see the impact of communicating properly with colleagues. It's extremely rewarding."

But the "reward" didn't always come easy to Clewis.

"I'm a single mom, and right after my daughter was born I was in a predominantly-male maintenance squadron. There were times I had to go above and beyond what was typically required just to prove I was part of the team. I volunteered for every repair job and performed all the preventative maintenance tasks to build up my skills and illustrate I was just as good - if not better - than my male coworkers. Because women sometimes have to juggle so many different responsibilities at once, we are great at finding creative ways to perform tasks faster and more efficiently."

Clewis holds a bachelor's degree in business administration and has her sights on earning her master's degree in data science.

"Ten years from now, I see myself completing my graduate degree, recruiting more women into the 9S100 (scientific applications specialist) career field, mentoring other young female Airmen and preparing for military retirement!"

Tech. Sgt. BreAnne Groth
When AFTAC celebrated National Pi Day on March 14, Tech. Sgt. BreAnne Groth's section was amazed when the NCO picked up a dry-erase marker and began writing out Pi in decimal form from memory. With ease, she surpassed 100 decimal points and stopped only because she ran out of room on the white board and had to get back to work.

Math and science have always been a passion of hers, and she definitely applies her knowledge in her everyday responsibilities at AFTAC. As the center's satellite technique alert officer, she is a qualified national expert in analyzing and reporting global nuclear detonations to national decision makers in accordance with ratified nuclear treaties. She is also responsible for monitoring state-of-the-art health and configuration control of more than 200 sensors on 38 orbiting space vehicles.

"This means I'm not only concerned with ensuring and optimizing current sensor performance; I also advise the treaty monitoring community of future constellations and make recommendations for sensors that will be used well after I retire from the Air Force," Groth said.

During the seven years she's been assigned to AFTAC, Groth progressed through different positions: satellite data analyst, radiation measurements technician, space operations system analyst, and now noncommissioned officer in charge of U.S. Nuclear Detonation Detection System (USNDS) operations. She possesses two academic degrees, an associates degree in scientific analysis technology and a bachelor's degree in applied mathematics. Her goal is to be selected to attend the Air Force Institute of Technology to earn a master's degree in space systems.

"My parents taught me when I was younger to 'do what you love,' and that has never steered me wrong," said Groth. "Any career field may seem like a challenge, but the secret is to embrace and learn from the differences. STEM has so many different kinds of people, including really smart women, but the one thing we all have in common is our passion for science!"

Senior Master Sgt. Tonya L. Cobarruviaz
When Senior Master Sgt. Tonya L. Cobarruviaz enlisted in the Air Force more than 16 years ago, little did she know she would spend 14 of those 16 years with the same organization. It is a testament to her knowledge, skill and expertise that she remains one of the stalwart senior NCOs assigned to the center.

She arrived at AFTAC when she was a tender 20 years old, and over the years she has worked at AFTAC's headquarters at Patrick AFB as well as at several of AFTAC's overseas and stateside detachments.

As the superintendent for the experts who conduct advanced analysis on data received from geophysical and atmosphere and space mission sets, she is tasked with ensuring members of the 23rd Analysis Squadron have the resources they need to get the mission done. She also goes to great lengths to remove any barriers that may stand in their way to achieve the mission.

"I like helping people," she said. "I feel very rewarded when there is something I can do that makes someone else's job or life better, even slightly. It takes a lot of effort to affect change in a large organization like ours, and the few times I've been able to do that were some of the best work moments I've ever experienced."

Cobarruviaz, who holds a dual-major bachelor's degree in interdisciplinary studies and business management, and a master's degree in strategic intelligence, prides herself not only on what she's accomplished academically, but also what she's achieved physically.

"As one of the few women in an organization dominated by men, I have always pushed myself to be at least as good as the average male when it comes to physical fitness," she said. "Male and female Airmen have different requirements for push-ups, run times, sit-ups and body measurements, but I typically use the men's standards to push myself to be better. The older I get, the harder it is, but I still try. I think being mentally fit is equally important as being physically fit."

Capt. Pamela Zhang
Capt. Pamela Zhang joined the AFTAC team in 2016 as a chemist. She's parlayed the education she received at the U.S. Air Force Academy into an important leadership position within AFTAC's 709th Surveillance and Analysis Group. She credits her continued success to a solid upbringing.

"My family was instrumental in creating a foundation where I felt encouraged to pursue science, and hard work made anything attainable," Zhang stated. "I went to summer science camps and participated in a lot of extra-curricular STEM activities while I was growing up, so I think doing all those activities when I was young showed me how to have thick skin and to be OK with being different, especially since most of the camps were made up of boys. I remember one summer some younger boys were teasing me, and I was so infuriated with them for being so immature and unfair. But my parents made me return and taught me to never back down from any problem I faced. From that, I learned to ask a lot of questions of my teachers, instructors and counselors, and I think that had a lot to do with where I am today."

Zhang, who also has a master's degree in chemistry from the University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign, is pursuing a second graduate degree in international relations and contemporary war.

"Being well-rounded is an important part of education and being an officer," she explained. "As much as I enjoy STEM and studying it, if we as STEM professionals fail to understand the greater global environment and how STEM is used by other nations, our work can lack impact and be used in unanticipated ways. I may regret leaving the safety of the STEM field, at least academically, but I'm excited to begin studying a new and foreign subject."

Diana C. Velosa
An ever-present participant when AFTAC showcases its mission on the road, Diana Velosa enjoys reaching out to America's youth to encourage them to pursue careers in STEM. For the past several years, members of the treaty monitoring center have conducted STEM outreach at numerous venues - science bowls, robotics competitions, science fair judging, school mentoring and summer science camps.

Her field of expertise is chemistry, and she puts her degree to good use in the Air Force's only one of its kind capabilities, the Ciambrone Radiochemistry Laboratory.

"I've had the pleasure of being a part of the AFTAC family since 2014," Velosa said. "I assist with separation, purification and analytical chemical techniques, as well as work with spectroscopy instrumentation and alpha, beta and gamma measurement equipment. I am very proud of our mission and what we are able to accomplish on a daily basis, especially when I know I am contributing to the safety of our country and that of our allies."

When asked what it has been like as a woman to work in a predominantly male field of study, Velosa said, "I think our society has come a long way in accepting women as a vital part of the workforce, and we contribute just as much as our male counterparts. However, it is sometimes a lot more challenging for us to be a good mother, wife and scientist all at the same time. I've been very lucky, though - I've had many very supportive supervisors who put themselves in the shoes of us modern-day women, and they understand how much we have to balance."

She added, "Being a Hispanic female scientist whose first language is not English, I've faced a lot of challenges. But if I could give my young self a piece of advice, I would say this: don't worry about fitting into anybody else's mold of what career a girl should pursue. Explore your interests an