Letter from the President – Fall 2020

AFHF President Christopher D. “Chris” Miller

Dear Members,

To Foundation members and all Airpower History readers, I again join other AFHF leaders in wishing you and your loved ones good health and good spirits as the world works to overcome challenges and regain normalcy.  Over the last few months, the AFHF has not been immune to the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact.  Despite this, air and space power history continues to be made, dedicated historians continue to document and interpret it, and the Foundation—and growing numbers of loyal members—continue to value and support our mission to know the past and shape the future. 

Among other disruptions, our annual membership meeting and luncheon has been postponed since May to avoid unnecessary risk to members and participants.  Given extant public health guidelines, our current intent is to replicate that meeting via virtual technology before the end of this year, although we will miss the collegiality of a physical gathering and a good meal.

In addition to postponing our annual meeting, ongoing travel and meeting challenges make it sensible to waive the Bylaws term limits for current Foundation Directors, facilitating Board continuity and our ability to recruit into the coming year.  We will soon conduct voting to elect new, and confirm previously appointed, board members both online at our website and by mail (per normal AFHF procedures). When seated, the Board will continue to assess the need to adjust our battle rhythm and we will put any significant changes to the membership as required. 

Pandemic uncertainty also necessitates changes the Foundation’s signature Awards presentations and banquet this Fall, in contrast to last year’s very successful events when we presented the Doolittle Award to the 55th Wing at the Air Force Memorial, then hosted over 160 people for a banquet featuring Chief of Staff General David Goldfein, who introduced our Spaatz Award winner, General John Jumper. Tremendously generous support by corporate partners made this our largest fundraising success in recent years.  Unfortunately, a similar gathering is simply not an option in the near term.  Foundation leadership will continue to evaluate health and travel constraints and make a decision in the coming months on the timing, venue, and mode—virtual or physical—that best balances the well-being of potential attendees and ensuring our awards are fitting and memorable for all involved.

We continue the Foundation’s efforts to document American air and space power in the form of two potential book projects, one of which would be specifically designed to coincide with the Air Force’s 75th anniversary, and another adding to our series of chronicles covering the full span of Air Force history. The Board will soon be deciding whether to invest significant funds in these two projects, given that both projects reflect a core contribution AFHF is chartered to make: documenting Air Force history and celebrating Air Force heritage.  Our mission to “Educate our country concerning the indispensable contribution of Air Power to our nation’s defense” compels us to take this challenge seriously.

Amid all else, our outreach via social media continues its steady growth. We continue to gain active recipients for our daily “This Day in Air Force History” emails (please continue to forward to anyone interested), increased our following on Twitter by nearly 10%, and we routinely see nearly 8,000 Facebook followers for each AFHF post.  Our JSTOR archives have been accessed frequently during the last few months, reflecting increased interest from various students of airpower history.  All of these have contributed to a Membership increase in our Associate (online) category.

Finally, I leave you with a serious request: this is a time for all of us to be introspective, to be forward-looking, and to be bold.  Our nation faces increasing challenges from historical competitors and from the very pace of change across the globe.  These trends are rendering physical borders less meaningful and making the famous OODA loop a matter of microseconds rather than minutes in air and space combat, even as the time required to evolve immensely complex systems begins to exceed our reliable ability to detect and decide on the need for such change.  In this environment, America’s history remains a relevant source of insight on technologies and the amazing men and women who are our nation’s warriors.  We have a role to play.  Hence my request:  if you have ideas for what AFHF can do differently or better, now is the time to share.  I earnestly welcome your thoughts by email to president@afhistory.org.  Thank you for your continued support in every way.

With best regards,

Christopher D. Miller, USAF (Ret)

President and Chairman of the Board