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AFPAAA Updates

Here are some quick updates on association developments you may have missed in the most recent edition of the AFPAAA newsletter, or have come up since it was published:

Julie Briggs Appointed as Newest Board Member...

The AFPAAA Board of Directors has appointed Julie Briggs to fill out the remaining term of outgoing director, and former chair, Tom Dolney.

Julie is a retired Air Force public affairs senior NCO. She retired in January 2012 after serving her entire 26-year career in public affairs. She served at wing, DRU and major command public affairs offices in Arizona, Colorado, Guam, South Carolina, Texas, Japan, Iraq, Turkey, United Kingdom, and at the Defense Information School (DINFOS), Maryland, as the NCO in charge of the training department.

Julie Briggs

After retirement, Julie taught Public Affairs Qualification classes at DINFOS. She then took a position at the Defense Media Activity (DMA) where she led a team to develop the new Defense Media Awards program, an annual competition to recognize the work of military public affairs and visual information professionals. She is currently the chief of policy, information and records for DMA.

Julie and Mike, her husband of 32 years and a retired Air Force NCO, live in Maryland. Julie is a Life Member of AFPAAA.

AFPAAA Salutes Major General Ed Thomas...

AFPAAA President Jay DeFrank saluted former SAF/PA director Major General Ed Thomas as he departed the Pentagon on his way to San Antonio, where he will be assuming command of Air Force Recruiting Service. In this video tribute, Jay congratulated Gen Thomas on his achievement and thanked him for his support of AFPAAA.

The first career public affairs officer to earn a second star, General Thomas has had PA assignments at virtually every organizational level, commanded two mission support squadrons, and prior to becoming the SAF/PA director, was the Special Assistant for Public Affairs to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He has been especially helpful to AFPAAA, and no stranger to annual meeting attendees, who have benefitted each year from his consistently informative and insightful updates on Air Force and public affairs issues.

Gen Ed Thomas

You can read Gen. Thomas's biography here.

Know a Potential AF Recruit?
Check Out New "Aim High" App...

Air Force Recruiting Service has released a new smartphone app designed to guide the Air Force's next generation as they consider the tremendous variety of career opportunities available to them. With stunning graphics and interactive features, the app lets individuals participate in events, share content, and invite family and friends to follow their initial training experience.

The app is available on the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store. If you know someone thinking about an Air Force career, make sure you tell them about this amazing app.

You can learn more here.

New, Revised Dates Set for Annual Meeting...

Make sure AFPAAA's annual meeting is on your schedule! The new, revised dates are October 7-10, 2021.

While this year's event had to be cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, planning for next year has continued. Originally rescheduled to April 22-25, 2021, AFPAAA's Board concluded that the continuing uncertainties about the pandemic warranted an additional delay. With the exception of the revised dates, the program for now is expected to be similar to what had previously been planned for this year. Visits to Wright-Patterson AFB, Air Force Materiel Command, and the National Museum of the Air Force will be on the schedule.

Our hotel will also be the same. The Dayton-Fairborn Holiday Inn has agreed to again offer the same special group rate of $109 a night for AFPAAA members. You can use the link below to make hotel reservations when you're ready.

There are obviously many details that remain to be worked out as we navigate this new environment. The health and safety of our members will be the highest priority. The links below will be updated with the latest information as soon as it becomes available, so please check back periodically for updates.

SAF/PA Director Pins on First Star...

SAF/PA's new director is now officially a Brigadier General. On May 15, General Pat Ryder's family pinned on his first star in an outdoor ceremony officiated by the outgoing SAF/PA director, Major General Ed Thomas.

Gen Pat Ryder

General Ryder has an impressive background in public affairs, with PA assignments at wing, major and combatant command, Air Staff, Joint Staff, and SecDef levels. Prior to coming to SAF/PA, then General Ryder was the Special Assistant for Public Affairs to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He has served tours in Turkey, England, Germany, and Pakistan in addition to his stateside PA assignments, and was the Director of Public Affairs for U.S. Central Command.

You can read General Ryder's biography here.

Air Force Announces Public Affairs Award Winners...

Congratulations are in order for the winners of the 2019 Public Affairs Communication Excellence Awards!

TSgt Laura Beckley Best of the Best 2019

TSgt Laura J. Beckley, 436th Airlift Wing Public Affairs, Dover AFB, Del., was named the "Best of the Best" for 2019. This award, sponsored by the Air Force Public Affairs Alumni Association, recognizes the outstanding officer, enlisted, or civilian member who best demonstrates professional excellence and contributes significantly to the effectiveness of the Air Force public affairs mission. In honor of her achievement, AFPAAA will present TSgt. Beckley with the "Brig. General James W. Hart, Jr. Best of the Best Award" trophy, a $1,000 check, and a lifetime membership in the association.

You can read TSgt Beckley's biography here.

In addition to recognizing TSgt. Beckley as the "Best of the Best", SAF/PA director Brig. General Ed Thomas recently announced the Individual Awards for Communication Excellence winners and the Air Force Public Affairs Directors Excellence Award team winners....

The winners of the Individual Awards for Communication Excellence are:

Outstanding Communication Airman: SrA Collette A. Brooks, 35th Fighter Wing Public Affairs, Misawa AB, Japan.

Staff Sergeant Christopher S. Frost Outstanding Communication Noncommissioned Officer: TSgt Laura J. Beckley, 436th Airlift Wing Public Affairs, Dover AFB, Del.

Outstanding Communication Senior Noncommissioned Officer: MSgt Jeffrey P. Curtin, 1st Special Operations Wing Public Affairs, Hurlburt Field, Fla.

Airman 1st Class Darryl G. Winters Award for Combat Communication: A1C Kelly C. Walker, 1st Combat Camera Squadron, Joint Base Charleston, S.C.

Capt. Bradley R. Schuldt Outstanding Communication Company Grade Officer: Capt Lyndsey L. Horn, 60th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs, Travis AFB, Calif.

Outstanding Communication Field Grade Officer: Lt Col Christina R. Hoggatt, HQ Air Force Space Command Public Affairs, Peterson AFB, Colo.

Outstanding Communication Civilian Category I: Ms. Veronica A. Aceveda, 512th Airlift Wing Public Affairs, Dover AFB, Del.

Outstanding Communication Civilian Category II: Ms. Rebekah C. Mattes, 57th Wing Public Affairs, Nellis AFB, Nev.

Outstanding Communication Civilian Category III: Ms. Leslie E. Finstein, Secretary of the Air Force Office of Public Affairs, Pentagon.

The Air Force Public Affairs Directors Excellence Award team winners are:

Brig Gen Harry J. Dalton, Jr., Award for the most effective unit-level communication program: 48th Fighter Wing Public Affairs, RAF Lakenheath, United Kingdom.

Maj Henry H. "Hap" Arnold Award for Public Affairs Communication Effectiveness: HQ Air Force Space Command Public Affairs, Peterson AFB, Colo. Small team members: Ms. Meaghan Dorroh, Mr. Jacob Mosolf, Ms. Amber Whittington, Mr. David Grim, SSgt Justin Armstrong, SSgt Dennis Hoffman II, 2Lt Kristen Shimkus, Capt Lauren Hill, Capt David Liapis, Lt Col Christina Hoggatt.

Best Crisis Communication: 18th Wing Public Affairs, Kadena AB, Japan. Small team members: Ms. Sharise Eldredge, Ms. Yolanda Pone, Capt Katy Blessing, Capt Christina Benitez, Special Agent Meggan McMains, Special Agent Michael Christmas, Lt Col Joel Foster, Lt Col Christy Stravolo, Col Theresa Goodman, Col Jason Wrachford.

Best Innovation: U.S. Air Force Academy Public Affairs, Colo. Small team members: Ms. Jennifer Spradlin, Mr. Raymond Bowden, TSgt Jose Rodriguez, TSgt Charles Rivezzo, MSgt Julius Delos Reyes.