Friday, April 29, 2011

BRIEFS 04-29-11

Base housing insurance

Hunt-Pinnacle offers minimal insurance to base housing residents as part of their monthly rent. Affected residents may claim up to $20,000 for personal property, moving expenses and hotel costs. For more information, call 983-9044.

School announcements

Parents of 7th and 8th grade students: Flightline Academy Charter School, which will be located on base, still has openings in its 7th and 8th grade classes for the 2011-2012 school year. Enrollment is open for both military and civilian families. Call 985-1200 or visit their website for details.

Parents of Arnold Drive Elementary students: On-base families who have moved this year from Arnold Elementary attendance zone to the Tolleson Elementary attendance zone must get a transfer permit from Pulaski County Special School District in order to attend Arnold Drive Elementary next year. Call Yolanda Richards, PCSSD Department of Equity and Pupil Services, at 490-6215 for more information.

Retirement ceremony today

A retirement ceremony for Master Sgt. Kirk Doll is scheduled for today at 2 p.m. at the Thomas Community Activities Center. For more information, call Master Sgts. Jonathan Jensen or Chad Alderson at 987-5637 or 6462.

A retirement ceremony for Lt. Col. Norine Fitzsimmons, 19th Airlift Wing Staff Judge Advocate, is scheduled for today at 3 p.m. at Hangar 1080. For more information, call Capt. Ryan Turner at 987-7886.

A retirement ceremony for Chief Master Sgt. Frankie McGriff, 19th Equipment Maintenance Squadron, is scheduled for 10 a.m., May 6, at the Hangar 1080 ballroom. For more information, call Master Sgt. William Jernigan at 987-6983.

Airmen Helping Airmen Tuesday
Airmen Helping Airmen is a program designed to help Team Little Rock families in need. Shoppers can pick up a brown bag of food for $5 or less at the commissary Tuesday. Food is donated to the Airman and Family Readiness Center’s food pantry. For more information, call 987-6801.

CCAF spring graduation

The Spring 2011 Community College of the Air Force graduation is scheduled for 3 p.m. Thursday in Hangar 1080.  The base education office will be closed to support the ceremony.  All base personnel are invited and encouraged to attend the ceremony. For more information, please contact the Education Center, at ext. 7-3417.

Chief’s fun run May 6
The Little Rock Chiefs Fun Run is May 6 at the corner of 6th Street and Vandenberg Boulevard. Registration starts at 6:45 a.m. Run begins at 7:30 a.m. For more information, call or send an e-mail to a Little Rock chief.

Team Little Rock Airmen weather storm, get ready for deployment

By Arlo Taylor
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Airmen and aircraft from the 50th Airlift Squadron “Red Devils” left for deployment to Southwest Asia April 28, 2011. This group is the first of nearly 20 C-130 aircraft and 1,000 Airmen slated to leave for deployments in the next week.

This is the first deployment of Airmen and aircraft from Little Rock Air Force Base following an F-2 tornado that struck the base the evening of April 25 and damaged more than 100 on-base housing units, damaged three C-130 aircraft and blew the roofs off and damaged many buildings in the base’s flightline area.

“My hat’s off to our whole community for the extraordinary work they have done to take care of our deployers and their families while continuing to attend to the urgent needs of Airmen and families impacted by Monday night’s tornado,” said Col. Mike Minihan, 19th Airlift Wing commander. “It takes a total team effort to weather a devastating storm and continue our base’s mission to support warfighters without missing a beat. I am proud of our people and continually amazed by their sacrifice, dedication and professionalism.”

Thursday, April 28, 2011

COMMENTARY>>Achieving greatness through effective decisions

New commanders traditionally provide their squadrons a road map for organizational success. Most road maps incorporate mission statements and visions to help unit members understand the part they play in the larger team effort. Squadron objectives naturally nestle under group objectives to ensure a consistent approach to wing goals. This is a time-tested model that permits commanders to get everyone “rowing in the same direction.” It’s also a model that I, as a first-time commander, chose to ignore.

I chose this path for two primary reasons. First, I have the advantage of assuming command of a large operational squadron in a very small wing. I could argue - quite successfully, I suspect - that there are few differences between the 314th Airlift Wing’s mission and that of the Blue Barons of the 62nd Airlift Squadron. Quite simply, the 314th’s Little Rock contingent seeks to produce the world’s best C-130 combat airlifters to fly, fight and win. This mission statement is short and understandable; it needs no further clarification.

After realizing I didn’t need to clarify our mission to the members of my unit, I worked to understand what would help them achieve our goals. In the end, I chose to offer them a framework of questions that, when answered, would help them make the best choices possible as they strove to achieve our goals. The wing commander’s approach, understood across the wing as MSPIF — Mission, Standards, Partnerships, Innovation and Focus — provides a sound organizational approach to achieving the wing’s mission, but I thought I could further refine it to apply to everyday decisions made at the individual level. Speaking in terms of strategy, with the wing mission as the “ends” and unit members as the “means,” I thought I could help define the “ways.”

What follows is the framework I designed to help identify my best course of action when confronted with a decision that had no clear answer. In short, answering the questions below provides me a way to analyze which choice emphasizes those areas I’ve deemed key to personal and professional success: Increasing my abilities, seeking balance, making a quantifiable contribution and acting in a disciplined manner.

A – Ability. Am I increasing the breadth and depth of my intellectual and physical abilities? Am I the best instructor? How strong is my systems knowledge? Have I completed all educational opportunities appropriate for my rank? How can I seek out continuing educational opportunities? Is my physical fitness up to par?

B – Balance. Am I balancing my personal and professional lives? Am I a workaholic? Do I take time away for family, religion or hobbies? Do I use all my yearly leave?

C – Contribution. Am I contributing to the mission of graduating C-130 aircrew? Do my daily decisions contribute to the overall well being and success of the unit? Am I making a positive impact on those around me?

D – Discipline. Am I exercising discipline in my daily life? From flight discipline to self-discipline, am I applying myself in a manner that best uses my time and energy? Am I doing what’s right even though it may not be easy?

My approach is not perfect; many times, these concepts come into conflict with each other. For example, working out five hours a day might help me increase my physical abilities, but it will also adversely affect the balance in my life. This is just one tool to help analyze the options before me. If it helps me, then as a commander, I am obliged to share it with my unit’s members in the hopes they too can utilize it to achieve greatness.

TOP STORY > >Guard wing called out for tornado damage

Fifty three Airmen from the Arkansas Air National Guard’s 189th Airlift Wing Rapid Augmentation Team Charlie deployed April 26 to Vilonia in Faulkner County to help residents recover from tornado damage.

RAT Charlie is one of three 50-person teams comprised of drill-status Guardsmen. It’s a volunteer force the wing developed to more efficiently respond to state natural disasters.

“We’re doing all of this while we’re also deploying Airmen to support the overseas war effort, while our day-to-day C-130 training mission continues uninterrupted,” said Col. Jim Summers, 189th Airlift Wing commander. “This is a prime example of how flexible our Air National Guard is, but it takes the support of those external influencers - employers and a Guardsman’s family - for it to continue to work. I can’t say enough about how employers and families have stepped up to the plate to support their Guardsmen when they’re needed most.”

The RAT domestic operations chief commented on the team’s deep commitment and capabilities.

“This outstanding effort began [April 25] when we started calling all of the Charlie team members late in the evening and everyone arrived in Vilonia ready to go work around 12:30 a.m.,” said Lt. Col. Dean B. Martin, 189th Airlift Wing RAT domestic operations chief.

The RATs receive extensive training to include the two hours of refresher training once they are notified and before they deploy. The training consists of chainsaw operations, power line safety, self aid and buddy care, traffic control and how to perform safety and welfare checks.

The team deployed with six Humvees, a backhoe, dump truck, two stake bed trucks and several multi-passenger pick-ups. They used six generators, multiple radios, chainsaws and plenty of military muscle to clear debris from the roads.

“Last night, the team provided security and patrolled the roads throughout Vilonia and today the mission has changed to search and rescue, said the RAT chief.”

Traditionally, the Arkansas Army National Guard has been responsible for deploying first responders for natural disasters. Now the Air National Guard also has the opportunity to help Arkansans in their time of need.

“We’re going door to door to make sure everyone is ok and accounted for,” said Lt. Col. Martin. “We are all members of this Arkansas community and it is so great to be able to provide help to our fellow neighbors.”

There was an overwhelming outpouring of community support in Vilonia. Centennial Bank, the Red Cross, and the Salvation Army served hot meals and cold drinks to all. The Vilonia Fire Department even provided a place to set up the 189th Airlift Wing Emergency Management Center.

The RAT members were placed into four task forces to more efficiently help the Vilonia residents. They teamed up with members from the Army’s 77th and 39th brigade to provide an experienced joint effort.

The origin of the RAT team concepts roots evolved from one Guardsman’s experiences of being called to state active duty under similar circumstances and seeing room for improvement.

Teams are rotated seasonally which allows for some members to deal with snow, ice, heat or whatever issues a season may bring. This means that no one person will be out of their duty section for the whole year.

RAT members have deployed to support relief efforts in East End, Ark. for tornadoes that hit the town, northern Ark. after devastating ice storms hit the region, and recently to central Arkansas interstates to help motorists caught in the snow storm.

Friday, April 22, 2011

TOP STORY >> Base entry process to undergo changes

By Staff Sgt. Nestor Cruz
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Team Little Rock members will soon see a change at the base gates which may seem like something from a science-fiction movie.

The Defense Biometric Identification System is an identity authentication system that “serves as a physical access control and critical property registration system, using bar codes and biometrics to identify cardholders,” according to the Department of Defense Common Access Card website.

Once installed, 19th Security Forces Squadron members can scan a CAC or DBIDS card and determine whether an individual is permitted access or not.

“What the system does is it verifies the identity of an individual,” said Cefus Benner, 19th SFS supervisory police officer. “When a person comes [to the gate] and we scan their ID card, DBIDS will give us one of three responses: either the person is ‘good to go’, not ‘good to go’ or ‘good to go’ but we need more information from them.”

Mr. Benner said additional information may be required from someone if something was missed during the registration process.

Information is stored in the DBIDS database. When an ID card is scanned, security forces members will see information about an individual which will determine if they are allowed access to the base.

“A person may not be allowed entry for several reasons, like if they have any active warrants against them or if they have been barred from the base,” said Mr. Benner. He also said Red Cross messages may also appear prompting security forces members to give appropriate instructions to the individual.

DBIDS will also enhance law enforcement capabilities for security forces members.

“Eventually, when all bases are connected [through DBIDS], we will be hooked up to every law enforcement entity such as Homeland Security, state and local police departments, and DEA,” said Mr. Benner.

All Team Little Rock ID cardholders are required to register into the DBIDS once the system is up and running.

“The process is going to be most difficult for some of our retirees because they are not integrated into the everyday working aspect of the installation,” said Capt. Gerald Patton, 19th SFS operations officer.

“Everybody on Little Rock Air Force Base has to be registered into the system. We understand it’s going to be a long process, so we’re asking everybody to be patient.”

Registration will be conducted in four phases: active-duty members, civilians, dependents and retirees. Unit points of contact are needed to help out with ensuring all team members are registered. Volunteers should call Mr. Benner at 987-2272.

Several registration stations are planned to be set up including the visitor center, pass and ID, and a registration station at building 103 for members of the 189th Airlift Wing, said Mr. Benner. Mobile stations will also be available at the Thomas Community Activities Center, the 19th Medical Group clinic and the fitness center, he added.

“Our goal is to begin registration no later than June 1 and our estimated completion date is Dec. 1,” Mr. Benner said.

19th SFS members are planning to begin using DBIDS scanners by July 1.

DBIDS cards are issued to non-ID card holders such as civilian contract workers and area civic leaders, Mr. Benner said. Passes are still issued for visitors.

“We do expect initially a slowdown coming in to the base, especially during peak hours,” said Mr. Benner. “Once the system is up and [19th SFS members] are trained, it’s going to make the base more secure.”

Thursday, April 21, 2011

TOP STORY > >Safely dispose of prescription drugs during nationwide ‘Drug Take Back’

On April 30, Arkansas will hold its second statewide Prescription Drug Take Back Day as part of a national effort by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. Arkansans can bring their used, expired and unwanted household drugs to take back sites around the state from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. for proper disposal. Some sites will offer extended hours. The service is free and anonymous with no questions asked. More than 100 law enforcement agencies across Arkansas will participate in the one-day event.

This initiative addresses a vital public safety and public health issue. Medicines that languish in home cabinets are highly susceptible to theft, misuse and abuse. Rates of prescription drug abuse in the U.S. are alarmingly high – more Americans abuse prescription drugs than use cocaine, hallucinogens and heroin combined.

According to the 2010 Arkansas Prevention Needs Assessment Survey, close to one in five Arkansas high school students have abused prescription drugs by the time they reach their senior year. Nationally, more than seven in ten teens who report abusing prescription medications indicate they obtain these substances from family or friends. Three in five teens report that prescription medicine is easy to obtain directly from their parents’ medicine cabinets.

Arkansas participated in the first DEA Prescription Take Back Day September 2010. More than two-and-a-half tons of drugs –approximately seven to nine million pills – were collected at the first event.

For more information on National Prescription Drug Take Back Day in Arkansas or for additional takeback sites, please visit or

Anyone interested in participating can find more information and a complete list of collection sites at

Thursday, April 14, 2011

COMMENTARY>>Are you the wind or the anchor?

By Chief Master Sgt.
Gregg Kollbaum

314th Operations Group superintendent

“People can be the wind beneath our wings or the anchor on our boat.”

– John C. Maxwell

I find it funny every time I write an article I remember a bad supervisor or a bad situation that drives the topic. To ensure effective leadership, the Air Force spends a lot of time and money sending Airmen through professional military education to show us how to be good supervisors and leaders.

We are taught the textbook answers to discipline, recognition and situational leadership along with many other skills. But it’s hard to forget a terrible leader and I certainly remember my experience that occurred early in my Air Force career.

As an airman first class, I looked up to a sergeant of any rank.

My mentors thus far had been training instructors, military training leaders and technical training instructors. They were sharp, proven and time tested professionals. I relied on them to guide me into a successful career and to show me how to be an excellent NCO. They made sure I had the training and skills I would need when I got to my first duty assignment.

My first assignment was to Fairchild Air Force Base in Washington. I was fired up and ready to put my training into action. I wanted to aim high … fly, fight, win! I quickly had the wind knocked out of my sail by a terrible superior. He was a staff sergeant who worked in the operations flight. He was not a good example for a young impressionable airman.

He was always “on break” and chose to do the minimum to get by. The day was never good. If I said it was sunny he would counter with “It’s going to rain later.” It was frustrating to have to work on any given task with him. The job would always take twice as long, and when it was complete, it would be subpar at best. He was a downer to anyone he encountered.

Since my tour at Fairchild, I have realized that knowledge, attitude and motivation are all vital to being a respected Airman and leader. Providing knowledge is courtesy of the Air Force. However, the attitude and motivation must come from within.

My career started with tremendous examples of professionalism. These phenomenal NCOs taught me the way to be successful. But I also learned a lot from the NCOs who taught me what not to do.

How is your attitude?

What is your motivation level?

I challenge you to look at yourself and decide if you are the wind or the anchor.

TOP STORY > >4-H camps focus on military kids

Registration is now under way for military children to “enlist” the 4-H Operation Military Kids Program.

Operation Military Kids is 4-H and the Department of Defense that offers support to children who are impacted by the deployment of a parent or parents.

“Today’s military heroes are the children of our military personnel - active duty, guard and reserve. When loved ones are deployed (parent, sibling, grandparent, and others) the children also serve,” said Maureen Rose, Arkansas 4H Military Liaison and OMK Director. “Their lives are impacted by the absence of those they love, as well as the stress of the types of missions being carried out. Operation Military Kids works to provide support to children impacted by deployment - at any stage.”

Though the program places priority on children of those who are deployed or whose parents have recently returned from deployed operations, but all military children are eligible to register.

The camps also offer opportunities to make friends with others who understand the unique challenges of being a military family member.

“The campers themselves tell us that they really enjoy being with other military children. This is particularly true for kids who are in communities with few military families. They create instantaneous bonds, and work very well together,” Ms. Rose said.

“Children attending camps develop life skills that will stay with them throughout life: getting along with others, understanding differences, self responsibility, conflict resolution, accepting differences – and many more,” she said.

Parents of children with special needs should consult with Ms. Rose concerning accommodations depending upon the requirements of the camp.

“We have had children with Asbergers syndrome, [attention deficit hyperactivity disorder] and hemophilia attend our military kids camps. We will work with campers to accommodate them, but need parents to consult with us about the individual child,” she said.

Military kids camps are paid for by grant funds from the Army and DOD. There is no charge to campers except for incidental costs such as a $5.00 t-shirt fee. There is also a limited amount of money set aside to assist families with financial constraints with travel reimbursement, according to Ms. Rose.

For information about the camps and how to register online, check out and click on the OMK dogtags graphic, or contact Ms. Rose via e-mail at or by phone at 501-671-2066.

(From compiled reports)

Friday, April 8, 2011

TOP STORY >> GI Bill changes will help families

By Staff Sgt. Nestor Cruz
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Changes were made to the Post-9/11 GI Bill recently and more are expected in the coming months, enabling more Airmen and family members to gain an education and brighter future.

Senate Bill 3447, the “Post-9/11 Veterans Education Assistance Improvements Act of 2010,” was signed into law recently, bringing many changes that expand benefits to members along with a few that limit benefits.

Positive changes include full tuition and fees paid for graduate schools that charge the beneficiary in-state tuition rates, expansion of the bill to include active service by Guardsmen, reimbursement for more than one license or certification test, and partial housing allowance for those seeking distance education.

“The biggest benefit that members are taking advantage of would be the transferability to spouses and children (this must be done while they are active duty),” said Mary Ann Robinson, a 19th Force Support Squadron education advisor.

One Team Little Rock member in particular has already taken advantage of this and passed his GI Bill benefits to his son.

Master Sgt. Rick Pinedo, 19th Force Support Squadron career assistance advisor, passed his GI Bill benefits to his son who is currently a sophomore at Arkansas State University in Beebe.

“After [my son’s] first semester, he needed some additional financial aid … so I submitted all the paperwork that was required,” said Sergeant Pinedo. “I was notified in November everything was approved and the school was getting paid directly by [the Department of Veterans Affairs] through the GI Bill. It worked out very well.”

Sergeant Pinedo said he is glad for the opportunity to help his son gain an education, something very close to his heart.

“We all want to provide for our children, especially in the education realm, and I place great value on education,” he said. “I want to push this on to my children and this benefit allows me to do that.”
Another change to the GI Bill is partial housing allowance.

“Currently, separated or retired members going to online schools are not eligible to receive the housing allowance,” said Mrs. Robinson. “With the upcoming changes, members choosing schools completely online will be eligible for a portion of the housing allowance. This is a great improvement that will encourage more members to attain their education even if they are unable to attend a traditional brick and mortar school.”

According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs GI Bill web site, the Post-9/11 GI Bill currently “pays up to the highest public in-state undergraduate tuition and fees.” Starting Aug. 1, 2011, the GI Bill will pay all public school in-state tuition including fees or up to $17,500 for an academic year at a private school or public schools that charge out-of-state tuition and fees.

The V.A. website also mentions that tuition and fees may exceed these amounts if a student elects to attend a private school or attend a public school as a nonresident student. Some schools of higher learning or degree granting institutions may elect to participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program to make additional funds available for an education program without additional charges to one’s entitlement.

Through the Yellow Ribbon Agreement, the school chooses the amount of tuition and fees to be contributed. Veterans Affairs will issue payment to the school matching that amount. In many cases, this means beneficiaries can attend certain very expensive private schools at no cost to them.

A list of schools participating in the Yellow Ribbon Program for the 2011-2012 academic year will be available on the VA web site in June.

Other Post-9/11 GI Bill changes include the reimbursement of fees paid for national exams such as the Graduate Management Admission Test and the option for students eligible for both Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (chapter 31) benefits and Post-9/11 GI Bill (chapter 33) benefits to choose chapter 33 monthly housing allowance instead of the chapter 31 allowance for subsistence. These changes take effect in August.

Post-9/11 GI Bill changes such as using the bill for non-college degree programs or correspondence training, and the housing allowance for students enrolled in distance learning, take effect in October.
“The most important thing students need to know is that they do not have to convert to the Post-9/11 GI Bill right away,” said Mrs. Robinson. “Although the program has made some great improvements, they should still utilize tuition assistance while they are active duty. Members receive the maximum amount of benefits as a veteran.”

For more information about the Post-9/11 GI Bill, visit

Thursday, April 7, 2011

COMMENTARY>>Airdrop record broken, again

By Capt. Penny Carroll

451 AEW Public Affairs

KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan – Breaking records is becoming routine for the 772nd Expeditionary Airlift Squadron here, as the C-130J Hercules unit broke their squadron’s monthly airdrop record in March from Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan.

The 772nd Expeditionary Airlift Squadron, which has been in place at the airfield since March 2009, previously set a record of 51 airdrop missions in January. However, two years into their Afghanistan mission, the unit has surpassed that effort by completing 72 airdrops of more than 1.5 million pounds in almost 1100 bundles during a one-month period.

1st Lt. Roger Knobeloch, co-pilot on the record breaking airdrop from Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark., said of his participation, “It’s rewarding to get up every day and be part of a team supplying the troops outside the’s pretty cool breaking records as well.”

Excellent maintenance of these cargo aircraft is key to keeping them in the skies, and keeping supplies flowing to soldiers on the ground all over Afghanistan. This C-130 maintenance unit has ensured 255 straight launches, and counting, without having to cancel a mission for maintenance issues.

Master Sgt. Michael Warlick, 451st Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron flightline expeditor, remarked that teamwork is paramount to the daily maintenance operations at Kandahar. “Making this record was really a whole team concept. Everybody pitched in and did their part. Every single person in this AMU (aircraft maintenance unit) played a vital part, from all of maintenance and all of Ops (operations). Without all these people melding together, we could not have achieved this goal.”

The 772nd EAS is currently comprised of members from 41st Airlift Squadron from Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark., and two squadrons that fall under the 403rd Airlift Wing out of Keesler Air Force Base, Miss. The 345th Airlift Squadron active-duty component and the 815th Airlift Squadron comprised of Reservists, make up the Air Force’s first C-130J total force integrated unit, which joined together in August 2010. The active associate units share aircraft while working together to both fly and maintain the C-130s, an initiative that leverages the combined resources of the Reserves and active-duty force.

“We feel proud of our job as maintainers, because keeping the aircraft ready helps to save lives on the ground by providing food and supplies that soldiers need outside the wire to keep their missions going,” said Senior Airman Luis Diaz, an electrical and environmental systems apprentice deployed to the 451st EAMXS from Little Rock AFB, Ark. “We all know how important is to keep the airplanes mission ready at all times, so we work very hard at achieving ‘excellence in all we do.’”

TOP STORY > >Tuskegee Airman visits Little Rock Air Force Base

By Tech. Sgt. Juan Torres

19th Airlift Wing public affairs

The term ‘Tuskegee Airmen’ holds a revered place in Air Force history that continues today at the 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing at Joint Base Balad, Iraq.

Friday, one of those legendary Airmen visited Little Rock Air Force Base to share his story. Retired Col. George Boyd, a 28-year combat veteran who served in World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam, told his story to an eager Team Little Rock audience at the 62nd Airlift Squadron auditorium. His presentation, titled ‘Keeping our Dreams Alive,’ touched on his involvement with the Tuskegee Airmen, the Civil Air Patrol and being awarded the Congressional Gold Medal by President George W Bush.

“In class 45-G, I was one of the first to be washed out. Needless to say I was devastated. I realized that meeting my military career dreams of military service was to be a difficult, serious business,” he said. “I also suspected I’d been up against a contrived quota system, having nothing to do with anything except the color of my skin.”

While the rest of the Army Air corps was increasing entire pilot and aircrew strength for the impending invasion of Japan, the Tuskegee program was designed initially for limited replacement of 332nd Fighter Group in the European theater. The term Tuskegee Airmen refers to the people who were part of the Army Air Corps experimental program to train African Americans to fly and maintain combat aircraft.

The Tuskegee Airmen included pilots, navigators, bombardiers, maintenance and support staff, instructors, and all the personnel who kept the planes in the air.

Following training, Colonel Boyd was assigned to 100th fighter squadron with the 332nd fighter group, at Lockbourne Army Airfield, Ohio. After serving through World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam, he retired from the Air Force as a major. He went on to join the Kansas Civil Air Patrol where he earned the rank of colonel.

In 2007, Colonel Boyd and the Tuskegee Airmen received the Congressional Gold Medal, recognizing the group for its combat record in World War II and for fighting prejudice at home.

Colonel Boyd summed up the changes in racial equality with a pair of experiences he had at Mississippi. In 1944, while in basic military training at Keesler Field, he was responsible for protecting a beach he couldn’t walk on.

“I reported to my first sergeant who told me to remember my oath to defend the entire U.S. and not concern myself that we were assigned to defend a section of the Biloxi beach that we as black persons we were not allowed to walk or swim on. He said when we won the war, most of these problems would change.”

When he returned to Keesler AFB in 2000, he was informed a military exercise was in progress and there was no billeting on base. He ended up in a hotel in Biloxi.

“I gazed out the windows and I asked Mattie to share this experience and look out the window at the Gulf of Mexico and the beach we were ordered to defend but could not walk on in 1944. Later on, Mattie and I took a stroll on the beach front area.”

“That was an epiphany to me, it said ‘this is a great country, things change.’”