Senior Master Sergeant
John Banusiewicz

SMSgt John Banusiewicz

Want to learn how to write, how to edit, and how to publish a newspaper?

John Banusiewicz is the person you need to talk to.

The 1991 winner of the National Association of Government Communicators (NAGC) Blue Pencil Award for Outstanding Government Publication for his work on The Desert Defender, the official newspaper of U.S. Central Command’s air arm, John Banusiewicz knows newspapers. From the start of his career, as the Distinguished Honor Graduate at the Defense Information School Basic Journalist Course when a young airman, to his seventeen-year run as the GS-14 managing editor of the American Forces Press Service — later known as DoD News — John has long been acknowledged and admired as DoD’s top expert in the military newspaper business.

John served in public affairs at all levels — base, major command, Air Force, and DoD. While he specialized in writing and editing, he was, first and foremost, a respected leader. His most notable and impactful contribution was the many years he spent teaching, mentoring, and advising airmen on journalism and newspaper editing.

Gen Thomas and Gen Dalton at Charleston Meeting
In 1984, CINCMAC Gen Thomas Ryan STEP promoted John to Tech Sergeant.

After graduating from DINFOS in 1978, John put his award-winning newspaper skills to work first on the base newspaper at Scott AFB, Illinois, and then at Military Airlift Command headquarters as editor of Rescue Review, while also filling in as editor of the Air Weather Service Observer. Leaving Scott AFB in 1980, he then headed to Lajes Field, Azores, as the base newspaper editor.

John returned to HQ MAC in 1982, where he was a writer/editor and NCOIC of both the community relations and public affairs divisions. His outstanding performance in those multiple jobs at HQ MAC earned him a surprise visit in 1984 from the MAC commander in chief, who came to give John a new set of stripes and a STEP promotion to Technical Sergeant.

In 1985, he returned to Lajes Field for a two-year tour as public affairs NCOIC. His reputation as a skilled writer and editor endured, and he was named the Tactical Air Command newspaper consultant in 1987. While at TAC headquarters, he expanded that skill set considerably, demonstrating a talent for teaching and a commitment to mentoring that greatly benefited base newspaper staffs throughout the command.

The Gulf War provided John another opportunity to display his skills and leadership abilities as the managing editor of The Desert Defender, winning him that coveted Blue Pencil award from NAGC. And luckily for the Air Force, and the other services as well, John's influence on military newspapers would only grow exponentially after he received that well deserved recognition.

John Banusiewicz and Jane Pauley
Two accomplished journalists at Langley AFB in 1991 — Jane Pauley and John Banusiewicz.

In 1991, he headed to DINFOS at Fort Benjamin Harrison in Indiana, where he taught the Basic Journalist Course, preparing hundreds of students for their initial public affairs assignments.

In 1994, he moved to Air Force News Agency at Kelly AFB, Texas, to become the Air Force newspaper consultant, where he helped enhance the quality of Air Force newspapers everywhere.

John retired from active duty as a Senior Master Sergeant in 1996, but he didn’t retire from his commitment to grow and nurture military journalists. As a civilian, he taught the Editors Course at the schoolhouse’s new home in Fort Meade, Maryland, later serving as Chief of the school's Journalism Department and as the first Academic Director for the Public Affairs Department.

In 2003, he moved to American Forces Information Service in Alexandria, Virginia as Managing Editor — and later as Deputy Director — of American Forces Press Service. In 2011, AFIS became the Defense Media Activity, with headquarters at Fort Meade. He served as Managing Editor of AFPS — soon renamed as DoD News — supplying news stories pertaining to the activities of U.S. military forces around the world. He remained in that critical and influential position until his retirement as a GS-14 in 2020.

Journalist, leader, teacher, mentor — John was all that and more. He may now be retired, but his legacy lives on, evident in the quality of military journalism we continue to see today.

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