Air Force Association: What’s in it for me?

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- On a World War II bombing mission to Bremen, Germany, in December 1943, radio operator Tech. Sgt. Forrest Vosler was hit twice by 20 mm shrapnel after taking the place of one of the gunners.

Despite his injuries, he managed to tend to the wounded tail gunner, repair the damaged radio equipment and send off distress signals before the aircraft pitched into the sea. Vosler was awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroism during the mission.

After the war, Vosler was one of the founding members of the Air Force Association (AFA), and was the first national director of the association. There is a common misconception that the AFA is only for officers, but that is certainly not the case. The AFA has always had a significant representation of enlisted Airmen, and is responsible for the prestigious national recognition given to the Outstanding Airmen of the Air Force each year.

Whiteman Airmen receive AFA recognition at the quarterly and annual awards events, and the opportunity to compete for scholarships offered from the AFA local chapter and national office.

The AFA provides Community College of the Air Force graduates an opportunity to pursue an undergraduate degree by supporting scholarships for deserving applicants during the all schools graduation, which was held here at Whiteman on May 23.

This year, we awarded six individual scholarships valued at $400 in honor Medal of Honor recipient Airman 1st Class Bill Pitsenbarger. The local chapter also authorized a $750 scholarship to one graduate at the rank of senior airman or below who is pursuing his or her next degree level in engineering or science.

Mel Johnson is the president of the Whiteman chapter of the AFA. He served as a master sergeant and a captain in the Air Force, and has been a member of the AFA through most of the years from 1967 to the present. AFA membership has dwindled over the last several years and he is looking to remind the organizations and personnel on Whiteman of the importance of belonging to the foremost professional organization working for the continuing existence and mission of the Air Force.

Most people know about the Air Force Sergeants Association and what it does, but they do not know that the AFA has a strong voice in D.C., as well, and is continually pushing for legislation that supports all active duty, reservists, guardsmen and retirees, whether enlisted, officer or civilian.

The membership meets at 7:30 a.m. on the second Saturday of every month at the American Legion Post in Warrensburg. The address is 733 E. Young Ave.
The membership plans to alternate the meetings on-base in the future to increase awareness.

For more information, contact Master Sgt. Lafoundra Thompson at lafoundra.thompson@us.af.mil or (660) 687-5145, or Mel Johnson at mjohnco@yahoo.com or (660) 429-4027.