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Biggest and Best AAAA Summit Yet!

President’s Cockpit / By BG Steve Mundt, Ret.: WOW! It is so hard to believe that a year has come and gone since you elected me and the other members of the National Executive Group to our current positions at last year’s Annual Summit. We are all honored and humbled to serve you, our 17,000 members, and your families.

Members of the Army Aviation “Six-Pack” gathered to celebrate at the Hall of Fame Induction Banquet, April 26, 2018 at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel and Convention Center in Nashville, TN. From the left: BG Thomas H. Todd III, Program Executive Officer, Aviation; MG William K. Gayler, Army Aviation Branch Chief and Commanding General, U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence and Fort Rucker, Alabama; MG Douglas M. Gabram, Commanding General, U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Life Cycle Management Command; MG Frank W. Tate, Director of Army Aviation, Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations, G-3/5/7, U.S. Army; and BG John R. Evans Jr., Commanding General, U.S. Army Special Operations Aviation Command. Not pictured is Mr. John L. Shipley, Associate Director for Technology Applications/Director of Special Programs, Special Operations Directorate, AMCOM. / AAPI PHOTO BY BILL HARRIS

Our 2018 Summit was a record setter by every measure but most of all because almost 8,000 AAAA members and families participated in the event in Nashville last month for three days of outstanding Networking, Recognition, Voicing your concerns, and Support.

The opening video celebrating the 35th Birthday of the Aviation Branch on April 12, 1983 really set the stage. The three Soldier-centered tributes by Mike Sheuerman, President of the VHPA; Army Astronaut COL Shane Kimbrough, Ret.; and the very emotional reunion of the support dog Unno team I told you about in the January issue stressed that people are what we are all about. What a pleasure it was to finally meet Unno; his donor, Army SFC Christopher Smith and mom Susana; wounded Marine Garrett Carnes; United Airlines flight attendant Molli Oliver; and United Airlines corporate representatives VP Mike Quiello and Jim Casey.

Some of the professional highlights you will see in the photo wrap up starting on page 46 of this issue were the Keynote address by our own Vice Chief of Staff of the Army, GEN Jim McConville, and presentations by Mr. Jeff White, Principal Deputy AL&T, and members of “The Six-Pack” led by Aviation Branch Chief MG Bill Gayler including MG Doug Gabram, MG Frank Tate, BG John Evans, BG Thomas Todd, and the Safety briefing by BG Dave Francis. All these actual videos are available at www.quad-a.org.

On the Recognition side of our four pillars of Networking, Recognition, Voice and Support, was of course the AAAA National Awards presentations and the Army Aviation Hall of Fame inductions. If you missed the Hall of Fame Banquet I must say you missed an extremely emotional and humbling event and would encourage you to join with us next year.

Whenever I sometimes get concerned about politics or bureaucracy, all it takes is a second of reflection on the achievements and particularly the acceptance remarks of these great Americans to get me revved up on what this country is truly all about. Courage, tenacity, persistence through adversity, family support and care for their brothers and sisters in service were what was on display in a big way. Again, I encourage you to view the videos of the Thursday morning 26 April 18 awards program and that night’s Hall of Fame event for some real inspiration.

Industry support was truly outstanding with record sponsorship and exhibit sales. Our industry members make possible all the programs and Support we provide to our chapters throughout the year and even our support of the Scholarship Foundation. Thank you all.

As far as Networking, nothing was more powerful than our AAAA Chapter Workshop organized by our VP Chapters, LTC Jan Drabczuk, Ret. Again, a record number of officers and chapters were represented and were able to review AAAA policies and procedures and discuss issues of concern at the operational level. Jan will be providing key takeaways to all our AAAA chapters in the coming weeks.

Speaking of AAAA business, the board decided at its Summit meeting to modify the approval procedure for the Order of Saint Michael Knight award and make it mirror the Bronze OSM by having the approval authority rest with the local chapter president. Like the OSM Bronze, the Knights issued will be reviewed quarterly by the Silver OSM committee to maintain standards. Also please note that the Bronze level OSM has been modified at the enlisted criteria level to make sure that our best and brightest enlisted personnel qualify for this recognition.

Socially the event was off the charts with fantastic industry-sponsored receptions, and last but not least the Bell-sponsored Big and Rich Soldier Appreciation Dinner/Concert on Friday night. Not only did the band recognize our award winners and wounded Honored Heroes, they invited Howard Burbank and his wife from the Vietnam-era 227th Reunion up on stage along with Unno’s new dad Garrett Carnes.
Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t ask you all to remember a great man who has just passed, GEN Crosbie E. (Butch) Saint, Ret. A brilliant mind, incredible leader, and a great friend to Army Aviation and AAAA, Butch was a plank holder in initiating our Senior Executive Associates program, he was a recipient of the Gold Order of Saint Michael, and was also recognized with the AAAA Presidents Award for all he had done during and after his career. I know he is now leading Cavalry charges on Fiddlers Green with so many of his friends and colleagues. Sir, we salute you and we miss you greatly. 

Thanks again for making it such a great year. As we look forward to the next twelve months let’s all share the experience of AAAA with fellow professionals who are not yet members.

Think of the impact at your local chapter level if each current member got just one new member over the next year. What a difference that would make for your events, scholarships and even impact in your local communities. Ultimately we all take care of each other by living the AAAA mission statement, “Supporting the U.S. Army Aviation Soldier and Family.” Our dues have not increased since 1998! At $15 for students and enlisted, and $26 for everyone else, that value cannot be beat. Spouses, children and grandchildren can be members and we really need to work on gaining more traction in our junior enlisted ranks. You can do it. Sign someone up today.

Thanks again to all who made our past year and especially our 2018 Summit such a success.
Above the Best!

BG Steve Mundt, Ret.
33rd President, AAAA
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