Recent Updates

Find Out What's Been Happening

Find Out What's Been Happening


Here are some updates on association developments or news about AFPAA members. Click or tap on a headline below for more details.

Best of the Best for 2023:
Senior Airman Rachel VanZale...

Sr Amn Rachel VanZale

Senior Airman Rachel L. VanZale is the the winner of the Brigadier General James W. Hart, Jr., Best of the Best Award for 2023.

She was recognized as the outstanding enlisted, officer, or civilian member who best demonstrated professional excellence and contributed significantly to the effectiveness of the Department of the Air Force public affairs mission. In honor of her achievement, AFPAA will present SrAmn VanZale with the Brigadier General James W. Hart, Jr. Best of the Best Award trophy, a $1,000 check, and a lifetime membership in the association.

SrAmn VanZale is assigned to the 1st Combat Camera Squadron at Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina. She was deployed to Kenya, Somalia, and Djibouti during the first four months of 2023.

In nominating SrAmn VanZale for this prestigious award, her squadron commander, Lt Col William Powell, highlighted her many accomplishments:

Former SAF/PA Director Pins On Second Star...

The Department of Defense Press Secretary was finally able to pin on his second star Dec. 6.

Air Force Maj. Gen. Patrick S. Ryder was among 22 general officers selected for promotion in March 2023 who’s promotions were delayed by a U.S. Senator.

Ryder follows in the footsteps of the last — and only other — uniformed Pentagon press secretary, Rear Adm. John F. Kirby, who pinned on his second star shortly after taking on the job in late 2013.

Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) released most of his holds on officer promotions on Dec. 5, largely ending a 9-month protest that failed to reduce troops’ access to abortion services but left the U.S. military increasingly shorthanded at its most senior jobs. Within hours, the Senate approved the promotion of 425 senior officers long held up by the Alabama Republican.

The GOP senator placed his hold about eight months after the Supreme Court eliminated U.S. women’s right to an abortion. Within weeks of the court’s July 2022 decision, several states had moved to limit access to reproductive health care, including ones that were home to nearly a quarter-million troops, including some 40 percent of female servicemembers. In February, Tuberville imposed a “senatorial hold” on every military promotion and defense appointment that required Senate approval in an effort to stop paying for troops to travel from states that have functionally outlawed abortion. By mid-year, Tuberville’s hold had delayed several hundred promotions.

Senators approved 425 promotions by voice vote hours after Tuberville said he would allow nominations to proceed for all officers below the rank of four stars.

Brig Gen Jerry Dalton Inducted Into DINFOS Hall of Fame...

The Defense Information School honored former SAF/PA director Brig General Jerry Dalton on August 9, 2023 when it inducted him into the DINFOS Hall of Fame. General Dalton’s daughter Cindy accepted the award for her late father and former AFPAA chairman Clem Gaines spoke on behalf of the Dalton family. The keynote speaker at the induction ceremony was Pentagon Press Secretary Brig General Pat Ryder.

Among his many honors, General Dalton was also inducted into AFPAA's Public Affairs Hall of Fame as a member of the Hall's Pioneer class in 2021. At the Pentagon, the SAF/PA conference room is named for him. And in 2022, AFPAA recognized Gen Dalton's commitment to professional education by instituting the Dalton Scholarship program, which since then has provided financial aid to eleven active duty members as they pursue their educational goals.

The 2023 DINFOS Hall of Fame class also included retired USAF Staff Sergeant Stacy Pearsall, host of the PBS television series After Action. Stacy spoke at our 2019 Annual Meeting in Charleston and received AFPAA’s President’s Award.

C.B. Kelly's Artwork Now in Pentagon...

It took twenty-five years, but a labor of love and appreciation has finally found its rightful home.

At the 1997 Annual Meeting in Las Vegas, AFPAA member C.B. Kelly donated "Daedalus," a basswood sculpture of an eagle’s wing, to the association. C.B. had painstakingly carved the beautiful piece of art himself, with the idea that AFPAA would present it to SAF/PA as a gesture of appreciation for its support of AFPAA.

Daedalus Plaque

Over the years, "Daedalus" somehow got lost on its way to the Pentagon, but thanks to Alice Price, the former director of the Air Force Art and Museum program and member of the Public Affairs Hall of Fame, it was not forgotten. In 2021, she called Lou Timmons, AFPAA’s liaison to SAF/PA, and told him there was a piece of art that she wanted him to make sure would get installed in the Pentagon.

Having enjoyed working with Alice in SAF/PA before they both retired, Lou eagerly took on the project to fulfill her last request of him. He learned that AFPAA member Don Brownlee had kept "Daedalus" safely in storage, and learned still more about the sculpture after he tracked down C.B., who at ninety years old was still living happily in retirement in southern California.

Lou Timmons and Jerry Renne
SAF/PA director Jerry Renne accepts the "Daedalus" sculpture and plaque from AFPAA's Lou Timmons.

Thanks to Lou’s dogged detective work, "Daedalus" now has a place of honor in the SAF/PA front office. In an August 1st ceremony at the Pentagon, he presented it on behalf of AFPAA to SAF/PA director Jerry Renne. Fortunately, Lou had been able to report to C.B. and Alice before they both passed away that the sculpture was being presented to SAF/PA. In fact, C.B.’s obituary, which you can read here, mentions that his woodcarving work is displayed in the Pentagon.

Public Affairs lost two great ones when C.B. and Alice passed away. Lou Timmons’ persistent efforts, though, ensured that while they may be gone, their spirit now lives on in the Pentagon, where they both served with distinction for many years.

Dalton Scholarship Selectees for 2023 Announced...

The Air Force Public Affairs Association has selected five recipients for the 2023 Brig. Gen. H.J. Dalton Scholarship Program. They are:

SSgt Casey Dodd, Air Force Regional Bandsman, Band of the West, Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas.

GG-12 Trevor Tiernan, Chief, Public Affairs, 67th Cyberspace Wing, Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas.

MSgt Joseph Vigil, Public Affairs Superintendent, 87th Air Base Wing/PA, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey.

GS-9 Erin Wood, Chief, Community Events, 633rd Air Base Wing/Public Affairs, Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia.

TSgt Izabella Workman, Public Affairs NCOIC, 352nd Special Operations Wing/Strategic Competition Cell, RAF Mildenhall, United Kingdom.

Up to five $1,000 scholarships can be awarded each year. Payment will be made to the scholarship recipients upon successful completion of the approved course work.

Chuck Merlo, chairman of AFPAA’s Dalton Scholarship Committee, said “There were twelve applicants for this year’s Dalton Scholarship Program. All were outstanding, motivated individuals. Our goal in the selection process was to pick those seeking reimbursement for the most effective courses of instruction to improve their public affairs skills with the greatest and most immediate benefit to the Air Force.”

The scholarship program honors the legacy of Brig. Gen. H.J. Dalton, the first career Public Affairs officer to be promoted to brigadier general and lead SAF/PA.

“Jerry Dalton worked tirelessly throughout his military and civilian careers to promote the advancement of the Public Affairs profession. He was well known for his commitment to mentoring and encouraging the professional development of Public Affairs personnel,” said Merlo.

Any enlisted, officer or civilian Air Force member, whether active, guard, or reserve, working in one of the specialties of the Public Affairs career field– Band, Broadcasting, Visual Information/Combat Camera, and Public Affairs–is eligible for a Dalton Scholarship.

For more information about the scholarship program, including how to apply, please go to the Dalton Scholarship page.

Last Flight Out — Dick Cole Recounts A Mission Under Fire...

Recently, AFPAA board member — and association newsletter editor — Dick Cole was invited to speak at a PA career field webinar on his experience as an enlisted Airman documenting the final military evacuation flights out of Saigon — hours before its fall to the North Vietnamese Army on April 30, 1975.

In this gripping account of a mission under fire, marked by chaos and confusion, Dick recounted the many challenges he faced, and, given recent history, imparted PA lessons learned that are just as valuable today as they were then.

Dick served as an enlisted aeromedical specialist and wing historian and a commissioned B-52G electronic warfare officer/instructor before finishing his career as a public affairs officer, with service at SAF/PA and as the Director of Public Affairs for the Defense Threat Reduction Agency. He has also been an adjunct professor for speech and journalism at the University of Maryland and has authored two books on aviation subjects, while contributing photos to 19 others.

Dick’s participation in this SAF/PA hosted webinar is a great example of the value AFPAA brings to the entire PA career field.

Below is the video recording of his presentation. It runs 49 minutes, and is well worth your time.

Meet 2022's Best of the Best — Ken Raimondi...

Ken Raimondi, lead producer and director for the 3d Audiovisual Squadron at Joint Base San Antonio- Lackland has been named this year’s winner of the AFPAA Brig, Gen. James W. Hart, Jr., Best of the Best Award.

As the award winner, Raimondi was honored at the 2023 annual meeting in Tampa, Fla., receiving a $1,000 cash award, an engraved trophy and an AFPAA life membership. Additionally, Raimondi’s name was added to the plaque with the names of all of the award winners on permanent display in the Brig. Gen. H.J. Dalton, Jr., Conference Room in the Office of the Secretary of the Air Force (Public Affairs).

Raimondi was selected the most outstanding public affairs person from the nominated bandsmen, broadcasters, multimedia and public affairs specialists.

Ken Raimondi

Raimondi is responsible for producing high-quality staff and major command video productions. He works independently with senior level officials in determining communications goals, target audiences, and distribution methods for audiovisual productions. This includes writing scripts, shooting video, and editing the products. He also produces live event broadcasts and directs crews of as many as 20 production personnel.

“I am incredibly honored and in all honesty, surprised to have won this award!” Raimondi said. “I've spent most of my career Public Affairs adjacent. I worked for AFN, Air Force Recruiting Service and the 3d Audiovisual Squadron. In each of these capacities, I've created products for Public Affairs efforts but only in recent years do I feel like I've had the opportunity to shape how those products are used. In that capacity, I have felt more empowered and seen more success than I ever had before. I hope that by earning this award, as a non-traditional PA, others in the enterprise feel empowered to use their expertise and knowledge to shape how and where their talents can be most effective for the Public Affairs mission.”

Raimondi was assigned as the lead producer and director in September 2022. Prior to that, he had been working as a producer/director with the 3d AVS for five years. He recently earned a Lonestar Emmy nomination for his work on a docuseries titled, “Basic.” (You can watch it here.)

He has earned multiple civilian of the year honors and was named a “Top Ten Outstanding Young American” by the United States Junior Chamber of Commerce in 2017.

He served in the Air Force, leaving as a master sergeant. His distinguished military career includes being a two-time Levitow Award winner — once at Airman Leadership School and once in the Noncommissioned Officer Academy. He served in Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and served two years in the Republic of Korea.

His work while in uniform was recognized with multiple annual awards to include being named Air Force Recruiting Service’s top enlisted airman and competing for the 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year. He’s also won a number of Air Force and DoD Media Contest awards.

His military awards include the Meritorious Service Medal, Joint Service Commendation Medal, Army Commendation Medal, and the Air Force Commendation Medal.

He has a bachelor’s degree in history from Thomas Edison State University and a master’s degree in fine arts in film from the Vermont College of the Fine Arts.

Meet 2021's Best of the Best — Jennifer Green-Lachoney...

Almost a dozen years ago Jennifer Green-Lanchoney saw a job announcement to fill a student hire position in the Public Affairs office at Vandenberg Air Force Base. She applied and after being interviewed she was hired. Little did she know that this step would shape her new professional life.

Jennifer soon developed an appreciation for the career field and changed her college major to communications. Then, with the support of the PA chief and staff at Vandenberg, she was selected for the Air Force’s Palace Acquire Program.

Palace Acquire is an internship program for recent college graduates that provides an opportunity to get a foot in the door that could lead to a career in Air Force Public Affairs. Those in the Palace Acquire internship program serve 1.5 years at a wing and 1.5 years at major command Public Affairs offices. After her time at Vandenberg at wing level Jennifer went to Air Force Space Command Headquarters at Peterson AFB.

Jennifer K. Green-Lanchoney
Col Denny Davies, 86th AW/CV, presents the 2021 Best of the Best plaque and trophy to Jennifer.

Between the demands of the internship program, her husband’s military career, opportunities to move to various learning experience assignments, and her family, Jennifer had a very busy and full life.

From 2014 through 2020, when she settled into her current position at Ramstein as the GS-11 Chief of the 86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs Command Media Operations Section, Jennifer held multiple position in and out of the military. They included: Community Engagement Section Chief, Hanscom AFB; Research Program Publicity, Apogee Engineering LLC, United States Air Force Academy: Public Affairs Specialist, USDA Rural Development, Santa Maria, California, and Community Engagement Section Chief, Vandenberg AFB.

Has her career decision impacted Jennifer and her family?

“Being married to someone in the military takes a significant toll on a military spouse’s ability to stay on a stable career path. Because of both my husband’s career and my wish to keep our family together, I had to jump around a bit. I am extremely grateful for the experiences and positions I have held as they shaped my view of the Air Force and the world,” she observed.

“Military moves take a huge toll on a family. I like to think that moving and seeing the country and the world has made my five children more understanding and resilient, but it would be naive of me to think it hasn’t had an effect on them during their formative years. I am constantly impressed with how they have handled all the change and what great humans they have become.”

Jennifer’s assignment to Ramstein was fortuitous, “Once my husband retired from active duty (he now works for a tenant unit’s Inspector General at Ramstein) and I saw an opportunity to move my family overseas and take on a challenging position in Germany I jumped on it.”

Shortly after Jennifer arrived, Ramstein became one of the world’s major media centers as the United States withdrawal from Afghanistan began and rapidly and chaotically grew in intensity. Before they knew it, Jennifer and her team were handling a massive influx of national and international media covering what was now known as Operation Allies Refuge.

“Our biggest challenge was the sheer number of requests, emails, calls and the media waiting at our gates. The transparency afforded to Ramstein by USAFE and OSD was amazing,” she recalled.

“We were able to set the tone at the local level and respond authentically to media members from across the world. The information we shared shaped the public perception of thousands of people headed to the U.S., many for the first time. It was incredibly important that we got it right.”

In a six week span Jennifer led her team in an effort that supported 22 press conferences and 222 reporters from 53 outlets who conducted 151 interviews during 36 media visits. They also answered 156 queries related to OAR.

“It was a massive undertaking and it could not have been accomplished without the work done by the amazing leadership and team we have here at Ramstein, they deserve the credit as well for what we did” she said.

That effort was the key to Jennifer being selected by SAF/PA for the Brigadier General James W. Hart, Jr., Best of the Best Award as the top Air Force Public Affairs military or civilian practitioner for 2021.

Each year AFPAA’s Best of the Best Award recognizes the top officer, civilian, or enlisted person in Air Force Public Affairs for professional excellence and significant contributions to the effectiveness of the Air Force mission. Funding for the award is provided by Lockheed Martin Corporation. In addition to the trophy, each recipient receives a $1,000 check and a Life Membership in AFPAA.