MG (Ret.) Todd Royar, Mr. Bill Harris, Ms. Janis Arena and I are just back from the retirement ceremony for Mr. Geoffrey
Downer, Director Special Programs (Aviation), AMCOM and PEO, Rotary Wing, USSOCOM at Fort Eustis, Virginia.
Hundreds of Geoff’s co-workers, friends, family, personnel from supported units and Army Aviation Branch leaders, and our
industry partner representatives packed the Jacobs Conference Center… providing one of the most sincerely heartfelt expressions
of gratitude and appreciation for his incredible service that I’ve have seen in many years.
Since 1983, Geoff has been a singularly consequential leader in developing and providing the most sophisticated and classified
capabilities to U.S. Army Special Operations Aviation forces requirements. He was and is a true humble servant leader.
It was my distinct honor to induct Geoff into the Gold Order of Saint Michael on September 26 and help recognize his amazing
accomplishments, almost all of which will never be made public. LTG Erik Peterson, Deputy Chief of Staff, G-8 was the keynote
speaker and MG Tom O’Connor, Commander, AMCOM was the presiding officer…both of whom did an extraordinary job of
articulating Mr. Downer’s character, values, selfless service, and contributions spanning 40-plus years of faithful service to our
Nation. I was also honored to induct Geoff’s wife Beth into the Honorable Order of Our Lady of Loreto for her unfailing career-
long support of her husband and his organization. Good luck and best wishes Geoff and Beth in your retirement and on behalf of
all our 19,300 AAAA members, thank you for all you have done.
We initiated our AAAA event season with the Aircraft Survivability Equipment (ASE) Symposium, September 11-13 in
Huntsville at the Von Braun Center. Very grateful for a record turn-out of support from both our government and industry partner
attendees and most importantly, we surfaced some impactful issues over the three and a half days of classified and unclassified
sessions focused on holistic Aviation Survivability. See page 50 for more details and photos of our ASE, AMSO, and Avionics
award winners. Special thanks to MG Mac McCurry, our Branch Chief, and BG Ed Barker, PEO, IEWS for their enduring support
and commitment to this forum and their insightful and timely organizational updates.
Now as previously promised, here is an update on the 2024 Summit. The AAAA meeting team went out to Denver for a site
visit for the April 24-26, 2024 Summit a few weeks ago. The latest information is that we are opening registration and housing on
October 26. The Gaylord Rockies Hotel has significantly less rooms capacity than the Gaylord in Nashville. As a result, it will sell
out in minutes once we open. We have 12 additional overflow hotels that will all be visible on the registration site when we open.
We anticipate that we will have a waiting list for the Gaylord and will work that down as rooms become available usually in late
March or early April. We are working on a shuttle transportation option as well and will be seeking corporate sponsors to help
offset that cost. If necessary, we will contract additional hotels.
If current exhibit demand is any indication, the 2024 Summit looks to be ‘off the charts’. We have almost totally sold out of
available exhibit space at this point, and that is even with the construction of an additional 30,000 square foot heated and air-
conditioned tent adjacent to the permanent exhibit hall.
We are also modifying the agenda to open the professional sessions on Wednesday, a day earlier than previous Summits, and
starting each day’s program at a more reasonable hour. This way we can hopefully provide more professional development hours,
as well as exhibit hours.
We are also blessed to have the new Chief of Staff of the Army, GEN Randy George, GEN Laura Richardson, CG,
USSOUTHCOM, and GEN Dan Hokanson, Chief, NGB all tentatively accepting to keynote and help anchor the event. Again, we
ask for your patience and understanding as we work through the coordination and planning with the Gaylord Rockies; we had no
idea years ago when we contracted for Denver, that our AAAA Annual Summit would be growing by 30% in the intervening
Finally, remember the Joseph P. Cribbins Readiness Conference, November 13-15, 2023 in Huntsville, AL. All of the planning,
coordination, and commitment for that event are really positive and I look forward to seeing you all there!
MG Walt Davis, U.S. Army Retired
36th President, AAAA