Dear Foundation Members and Friends:
In some respects it seems like yesterday that I assumed this position from Lt Gen Mike Nelson. Our bylaws rightly call for term limits on serving on our Board of Directors. I have now reached that time limit and must step aside.
Not to wax nostalgic, but I believe that we benefit from an examination of where we’ve been in order to have context, not only for where we find ourselves in today’s environment, but where we need to go in the future to remain relevant to our air power community.
The economic environment of eight years ago, and the simultaneous loss of the Air Force contract to purchase 3,800 copies of Air Power History, dealt us a serious financial blow. The Foundation immediately went into a cost-cutting mode; while successful, it was not enough to stem the tide. Little by little, we began to erode our available funds. By 2014 we began to look at the possibility of shutting the Foundation down, developing a plan called “2017 or Bust.” In perspective, this was the same dire situation that our Foundation found itself in the early 70s and late 80s and 90s. As in previous times, our membership came to the rescue. In particular, one of our long-time, lifetime members bequeathed to us a large sum, which we subsequently invested into a portfolio to sustain us for the foreseeable future.
Despite this changing environment, we pressed on with our mission of educating the public of the contributions of air power to our Nation’s defense. We strengthened our awards program by establishing the Doolittle Award, which ties an existing U.S. Air Force unit with its own history and that of the greater air power community. This year we will name our sixth recipient. We addressed stewardship issues to promote better governance. Recognizing the need to shorten the learning curve for new board members and make them immediately effective, we produced a board member handbook. This handbook proved to be a good recruiting tool as well.
We were successful in maintaining the reputation of the Foundation, principally by continuing the regular publication of our highly-regarded Air Power History. We also conducted three symposia that were well received, and returned to the book publishing arena with Hap Arnold and the Evolution of American Airpower by Dik Daso of our Board. The selections for our annual Spaatz and Holley and many other awards routinely drew wide acclaim.
In late 2013-early 2014 we began to make use of bulk emailing and social media to promote our message. This has been very successful, as we now enjoy 1,250 Twitter followers and are reaching thousands daily via Facebook. The daily “This Day in Air Force History” email list stays constant with an audience of about 500, including many influential leaders and serious historians. In 2017, we completely revamped our website make better use of modern communication techniques and imagery. And, very importantly, the website is now under our complete control to manage as required.
I believe that I hand our Foundation over to my successor in sound shape, ready to explore new avenues in fulfilling our mission. Our organization exists and thrives due to the vitality of our membership. Thanks for letting me play a role in this endeavor. A special note of appreciation to Angela Bear, Jim Vertenten, and the Board of Directors. I know that you will all support my successor as you have me. Thank you for the opportunity, your friendship, and passion for air power history!
Dale W. Meyerrose, President and Chairman
Dear members and friends of the Foundation:
As we start our 63rd fiscal year of operation, it is a profound privilege for me to “take the stick” of this distinguished organization. All of us owe a great deal of gratitude to our departing President and Chairman, Dale Meyerrose. General Meyerrose served throughout his long tenure with energy, vision and dedication—and he made a real and lasting difference in the viability of the Air Force Historical Foundation, putting us on a substantive and financial footing that will sustain AFHF’s fundamentals into the indefinite future. Having served on the Board for the last three years, I am very familiar with our operation and status; and while still in uniform, I was fortunate to be mentored by previous AFHF presidents General Bryce Poe and Lt Gen Mike Nelson. Inspired by them and by the confidence your Board has placed in me, I commit to honoring the tradition of all of my distinguished predecessors in serving our membership and air power community to the best of my ability.
We are pleased to welcome three new and very talented individuals to our Board of Directors. They bring distinguished records of accomplishment, and we look forward to great contributions to our Foundation from retired Lt Gen Chuck Heflebower, retired Maj Gen “TC” Jones, and retired Colonel Chris Brunner. This year’s slate of new directors, as recently elected by the membership, included a second term for our Treasurer, retired Colonel Tom Owens and myself.
Your entire board is united in their intent that our Foundation be a strong, independent voice within the air power community, filling a special role of promoting the legacy of Airmen, and educating future generations to understand the monumental footsteps of those who “soared before.” We must continue to place high emphasis on quality research and writing of history—what really happened, why it happened, and the people and machines who wrote the record. AFHF has done, and will continue to do, just that.
Just as importantly, we must recognize that the history of air power is a powerful heritage indeed, even more so when it is shared widely and well. Those of us who are members and friends of the Foundation have taken on a special role in passing the torch of air power to the young men and women who are today engaged in making the history that future generations will write about. Increasingly, we are confronted by military history that includes air power in its largest sense—air, space and cyber operations in defense of our nation. The wide-ranging narratives that emerge are important and all are worthy subjects for air power historians to document and share. Our Foundation’s motto is “Know the Past…Shape the Future.” You can expect that I will fully honor the first part of our motto, and energetically pursue the second.
I echo Dale Meyerrose’s cautions over the years: we need to be realistic. This remains a tough economic environment for non-profits like ours. That’s why your continued support is needed now as much as ever. Invite a friend or colleague to join and share in helping our Foundation remain a strong, viable voice within our air power community.
As always, let me thank you for the part each of you has played in the history and legacy of air power across the decades, and for your generous contributions to the Foundation. Without your support we could not accomplish our mission—and our mission remains important. We are deeply grateful—and welcome your feedback any time.
Christopher D. Miller, Lt Gen, USAF (Ret), President and Chairman of the Board (Effective June 1, 2017)