President’s Cockpit / MG Tim Crosby, U.S. Army Retired:
I trust that everyone enjoyed a wonderful holiday season… seems like Santa Claus sent me all the bills. Maybe you got some too. I hope you were able to take some time and celebrate the holidays and to give thanks for all that we have and especially our families who have stood with us through 20 years of war, the Covid pandemic, and the associated personal challenges over this past year. For those of you out there keeping us safe, we appreciate the sacrifices you make for our country and our Army. We know you missed your families, and they missed you. God bless you for what you do every day.
In November, we hosted our first in-person event in over two years. The Joseph P. Cribbins Training, Equipping and Sustainment Symposium in Huntsville, Alabama was a complete success thanks to the support of our senior army aviation leadership and our industry partners. We had over 2,000 in attendance, and I am very happy to say… mask-less! It was great to see you all in person again. From the chapter sponsored golf tournament, to the Early Bird Opening, to the National Awards and briefings, to the exhibit hall and the amazing Hall of Fame Banquet, we are back on track and caught up on our awards, recognition, and our Hall of Fame Inductions. Our AAAA goal is to continue to improve the Cribbins symposium while keeping it intimate and accessible.
A lot was accomplished from the first day National Executive Board and Scholarship Board meetings, to catching up on an unbelievable number of over 60 awards that we had not been able to present in 2020 and 2021 due to the cancellation of our Summits and even the 2020 Cribbins. Two classes of all National Awardees like the Soldier of the Year, Unit of the Year, Aviator of the Year were honored along with two classes of outstanding Hall of Fame Inductees. It makes us all proud to recognize the accomplishments of all these great Soldiers, civilians, and industry partners. Take a minute and watch the videos of these events, especially the Hall of Fame. The depth of feeling and emotions in that room were truly remarkable.
None of this could have happened without the support of our industry partners. Outstanding Industry participation with over 200 exhibiting companies facilitated critical information sharing amongst the aviation community. Thank you AAAA Corporate members! Special thanks to the entire Six-Pack Plus One who attended as well as our Day one and Two Keynoters, LTG Erik Peterson, Deputy Chief of Staff, G8 and LTG Thomas Todd, Deputy Commander of Army Futures Command. MG Dave Francis, MG Todd Royar, BG Rob Barrie, BG Clair Gill, BG Phil Ryan, and MG Wally Rugen briefed every aspect of the Army Aviation Enterprise from training, to sustainment, acquisition, personnel, special operations and future vertical lift. It was amazing to see all the interactions taking place around the rooms, in the halls and exhibit spaces. Having all of BG Barrie’s program managers there every day really put the icing on the cake. I was so proud that AAAA, a professional and neutral platform, can facilitate this kind of opportunity that fosters these kinds of exchanges which ultimately of course benefit all our Soldiers.
Speaking of Soldiers, what a delight it was to visit with all our young awardees and families at the informal Awardee Dinner on Monday evening. I wish you could all have been there to hear their stories and experience their enthusiasm for our Branch, the Army and our great nation.
Enough about Cribbins. Now I would like to update you on a few initiatives that AAAA is doing to improve, revitalize, and grow our professional organization.
As you are all aware, I vowed to visit all our chapters while your president, seeking feedback and ways that we can better support the chapters and foster their growth. Based on the feedback, we are creating portals for each of the chapter officer positions. Just this month, we launched the first chapter officer training for treasurers using our new online learning platform. This will enable chapters to have continuity when transitioning from one officer to another. We look forward to launching a training course for each chapter officer position throughout 2022.
During our National Executive Board (NEB) meeting, we kicked off a pilot program to formalize our awards selection process. COL(Ret.) Scott Schisser did an amazing job putting together a process and a selection board that will ensure proper representation and experience across all compos and aviation specialty areas with the goal of equity and fairness for each award category. We will run this new process for two years and then reevaluate/refine it for implementation/adoption.
Prior to this NEB meeting, we had separate Strategic Planning and Strategic Communications Committee meetings. To ensure continuity of effort and messaging, we sought and were granted approval by the NEB to combine these under the leadership of COL (Ret.) Shelley Yarborough. Shelley is already off and running; we are blessed to have her leadership and energy.
Also during the NEB, we voted to appoint two great logisticians and a former Branch Chief to the Emeritus status on our standing board –LTG (Ret.) Jim Pillsbury and MG (Ret.) Jim Myles, and MG (Ret.) Rudy Ostovich. Welcome aboard gentlemen.
Announced at the NEB were two new National Executive Board Vice Presidents. As I looked across the spectrum of our aviation family, there are many professionals in industry and many professional Department of the Army Civilians that share the same passion for Army Aviation that we all do. For that reason, I have created a VP for Industry and a VP for Army Civilians, and to fill those positions, I searched for and found career professionals. Cole Hedden has agreed to serve as our VP Industry and Ray Sellers will serve as our VP for Army Civilians. Welcome to you both.
Lastly, from the NEB, an issue carried over from previous NEBs was to conduct a holistic review of the Hall of Fame process. Very soon, we will be appointing a team of Hall of Fame members to conduct this review. We will be seeking advice and counsel from across our professional organization to ensure we get this right. More to follow on this sensitive and critical endeavor.
Your AAAA National Executive Board, a total board of volunteers, is working diligently to help make the chapters better and stronger. That said, the chapters are our lifeline and the reason we exist. I encourage you all to get out and support your local chapters. What makes us so special in aviation is our passion and the relationships we build over our careers. Reach out and mentor the young soldiers, warrant officers, officers, industry, and civilians, showing them the value of being part of this unique professional team. They won’t see it and appreciate it if we don’t demonstrate it. They have to see value, and AAAA is supposed to be fun!!!