Dear Foundation Members and Friends:
In some respect it seems like yesterday that I assumed this position from Maj Gen Dale Meyerrose. 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. Your new team – General Mike Holmes as Chairman, and Jonna Doolittle Hoppes – will step in and perform admirably, I am sure.
My predecessors took this time for an examination of where we have 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. I shall do this as well.
The economic environment of ten years ago, and the subsequent 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. As we eroded our funds and looked toward shutdown of our operations, we were most fortunate to receive a very generous bequest that, in conjunction with tight budgeting, in essence replaced the bulk of the Air Force contract. Once again, the Foundation had been rescued!
With 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 ninth 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 reference guide. 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 over 2,000 Twitter followers and are reaching many thousands daily via Facebook. The daily “This Day in Air Force History” email list now stays constant with an audience over 1,000, 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 came under our complete control to manage as required.
Then, at what many would call our peak, the pandemic of Covid-19 totally changed the Foundation’s normal operations. We had to essentially shut down regular activities or change them to virtual events. For example, we delayed Board member elections and extended term limits for those affected. Our major awards – The Spaatz, Doolittle, and Holley – were postponed and will now carry over to 2021. Fortunately, as this is written the CDC has lifted most restrictions and we eye a return to our regular annual activities mask-free.
Members should also anticipate the Foundation resuming book-publishing efforts. One book is fully committed to coincide with the USAF’s 75th anniversary in 2022. Entitled “75 Great Airmen,” it should prove to be an inspirational work, definitely a strong addition to one’s personal library. Another work, a chronology of Air Force history, is also under consideration.
As I conclude my seven years on the Board both as regular member and president, I believe that our Foundation shall be given over to my successors 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. Thank you for the opportunity, your friendship, and passion for air power history!
Christopher D. Miller, Lt Gen, USAF (Ret)
President and Chairman