Lisa Foster met CAF member Konley ‘Kon’ Kelley (B-29/B-24 Squadron member and newsletter editor) at Richard College in 2012 where she enrolled in a Command Spanish certification course. She and Kon discovered their birthdays are just one day apart and Kon revealed he was spending his birthday at “Warbirds on Parade” in Lancaster, Texas where the CAF Dallas/Fort Worth Wing (DFW Wing). On the DFW Wing website, Kon noticed a prominent picture of WWII icon, “Rosie the Riveter.” He suggested Lisa dress up like Rosie on the off chance she’d charm her way into a warbird ride.
It didn’t even take that long. Lisa came down the day before the show to meet the event crew and ended up aboard the R4D watching paratroopers leap out. The next day she came dressed as Rosie and was prepared to share Rosie’s story to all that attended the airshow. She was an instant hit.
Since her first appearance, Lisa has dressed like Rosie at dozens of airshows, special events, aviation museums, Veterans Day parades, armed forces events and the CAF AirPower History Tour, she is currently the Living History “Rosie” for the Frontiers of Flight Museum at Love Field in Dallas. A great honor for Lisa was when she was asked by Women in Aviation at American Airlines to give her presentation entitled “Women of the Greatest Generation” at the C.R. Smith Museum.
Lisa takes pride in the research and time she has dedicated to bringing Rosie to life. She is well acquainted with the story of the women who “did the jobs the men left behind” and has expanded her story to include WASP, nurses, the homefront and the USO.
Lisa also supported the savethebomberplant.org campaign at Willow Run and traveled to the plant to join B-24 Diamond Lil for a tour stop in August, 2014. There Lisa encountered several real Rosies who shared their stories with her and signed the inside panel of Diamond Lil. Lisa also joined Diamond Lil and B-29 FIFI at the Annapolis and Baltimore stops in 2015 where she helped to honor the Rosies that worked at the Martin plant. Lisa is proud to be a member of our CAF B-29/B-24 Squadron and a recipient of the “Above and Beyond” award.
Lisa is honored to represent “Rosie the Riveter” and is forever inspired by meeting real Rosies who she says are as sharp and spunky today as they were 70 years ago. For Lisa, the story of Rosie, WASP and other women of the time are important to tell for they pioneered a new way of life and opportunity for generations of women to follow.
Today Lisa is taking flying lessons from Wally Funk, an aviation pioneer from the Mercury 13 Space Program. She is looking forward to another tour season with the CAF and being a part of the CAF National Airbase project. As a single, working woman, Lisa is a hardworking role model for this century even as she honors women of the last century. She also finds time to keep living “la vida loca” and is the most gracious, fun-loving and friendly person you’ll ever meet.
As a follower and supporter of the CAF Red Tail Squadron you know that we are a volunteer-driven 501(c)(3) charitable organization. It takes a lot of passion, heart and soul to meet our mission day in and day out. And a big chunk of that task is supported by our volunteers – our boots on the ground, if you will! We are fortunate to have several dedicated volunteers that we’d like to publicly thank. With April being National Volunteer Month, now seems the perfect time!
Today we give a big hurrah to our Volunteer Coordinator Ken Mist. He has been with the CAF Red Tail Squadron since 2012. After retiring from a successful 36-year career with a global logistics company, we are very fortunate to have Ken’s attention and skill focused on our mission to educate audiences across the country about the history and legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen.
To say Ken is an aviation enthusiast would be an understatement. Just check out his amazing photography to see for yourself. For years he has been working at air shows, first as a volunteer and then as chairman of the organizing committee for a static show in support of the Canadian Air & Space Museum.
“The camera came out and never went away,” said Mist. “I love to capture the feel of the air shows and aviation museums – the excitement, the people and of course the airplanes. I’m happy when someone likes my work and says it sparks a memory or emotion.”
Mist has been a supporter of the CAF Red Tail Squadron since an encounter with the RISE ABOVE Traveling Exhibit at an event in Dayton, Ohio in 2012. He had seen our P-51C Mustang Tuskegee Airmen at prior events, and knew Squadron Leader Bill Shepard. “The message of RISE ABOVE and the dedication of the squadron members is inspiring,” he says. “I am excited to play any part in sharing the story with today’s generation.”
When asked why he is spending his golden retirement years volunteering with the CAF Red Tail Squadron, he remarks that his service is an incredible opportunity to share the story of the Tuskegee Airmen and spread the RISE ABOVE principles to today’s youth. He also adds, “The Greatest Generation could have no better representation than these Airmen and we owe it to all of them to carry their courage and dedication forward. As their numbers dwindle the torch must be passed on!”
Thank you Ken for your continued service and dedication to the CAF Red Tail Squadron!
If you are interested in joining us in our mission, contact Ken Mist at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more. RISE ABOVE!
The CAF Red Tail Squadron is a volunteer-driven organization dedicated to educating audiences across the country about the history and legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen, America’s first black military pilots and their support personnel. Learn more at www.redtail.org.
Colonel George W. Lodge has been an active CAF member for 29 years. He is a CAF Life Member, CAF Gold Life Member and a CAF Museum Life Member.
With a keen understanding of the importance of an organization which values leadership and honors
history, Lodge became a member of the Commemorative Air Force in 1986. He served on the CAF
General Staff during a crucial time in its history and provided leadership during the name change in 2001. Lodge also served on the CAF Airpower Museum Board, Foundation Board and on numerous committees.
One of his greatest contributions includes the founding of the Gold Life Membership program.
Lodge is a member of the B-29/B-24 Squadron, DFW Wing, Invader Squadron, Air Group One Wing,
Australia Wing, New Zealand Wing and French Wing. In addition to his stateside efforts, he was a founding member of the CAF Swiss Wing in 1999. He has established relationships with businesses
and resources in the Dallas/Fort Worth community to the benefit of many area CAF Units. Lending
his fundraising talents, Lodge was key to the effort which allowed the DFW Wing to burn its mortgage in
1997. He continues to participate today as the CAF establishes itself in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.
George has long believed that the way to keep retention up is to get people involved. After these many years, he continues to recruit new members. His contributions have lifted up the organization's status from a small group of pilots to a serious institute with high goals and limitless potential.
Story By Steve Forsyth
Willard Womack joined the CAF Dixie Wing more than seven years ago. When he discovered the Dixie Wing Hangar at Falcon Field in Peachtree City, Ga. He explained “I found my place.”
He spends every workday at the Wing, doing whatever he can to help maintain the fleet and is frequently a tour guide for Wing guests, which earned him the title Education Officer.
Willard came by his love of aviation early in life, at six or seven, when he watched planes operating at Little Rock, Ark., during WWII. That was one of the many cities his family saw as his father, a minister, moved around Arkansas. In junior high, he spent a lot of time around small airports, and when he enrolled in Arkansas State College, he found flying lessons at $11 an hour. He joined the Army ROTC Aviation group as a senior, and earned his pilot’s license.
Willard attended Army Flight School in 1960, where he graduated first in his class. He started with the L-19 Bird Dog and the L-20 Beaver and moved up to the Otter. He was assigned to Okinawa in 1961, and in December of 1962 his unit was transferred to Vietnam, where it operated an airfield. While flying in that area as an adviser, he was shot at a few times, and took one bullet in the gas tank of his L-19.
He left the Army in January, 1963, and joined TWA as a first officer, flying the Lockheed Constellation. He moved up to the DC-9, and then spent close to 30 years in the Boeing 727. He retired as a captain from TWA in 1996, after 33 years of commercial flying. He bought his first plane, a Beech Bonanza, in 1967. He’s owned seven airplanes over the years. His favorite was a Beech Baron. He started doing some work on his own planes, and got to know a lot about the mechanics of the aircraft.
As a Wing member, Willard sponsored the LT-6, and he continued to fly until March 2014, when he officially retired his wings. He has flown a total of 23,000-plus hours in more than 50 types of aircraft with no accidents or incidents, and received the FAA’s Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award. He received the CAF Dixie Wing’s Colonel of the Year award in 2012, and was selected Best New Colonel in his first year at the Dixie Wing.
He always has time for members with questions, and he has an unlimited supply of aviation history stories.
John Schuck’s “life up in the air” began when a Piper Cub landed in the community pasture near his home. Within seven years he’d become a Civil Air Patrol Cadet; in two more years he joined the U. S. Air Force.
Schuck has had a life-long passion for planes through his service in the Korean Conflict and when he learned of the Commemorative Air Force, then Confederate Air Force, he became a Colonel straight away.
John was a member of one of the first CAF units outside of Harlingen, the CAF Southern Minnesota Wing. In addition to John’s flying background, he also had a career in advertising. He penned the first illustration of Colonel Culpepper the CAF’s mythical Commander that was somewhat of a mascot in the early days of the CAF.
For decades John contributed to the preservation of the history of flight in America. He championed aircraft such as the B-25 Miss Mitchell and was very involved in the establishment and restoration of the CAF’s P-51 created to tell the story of the Tuskegee Airmen.
When he retired, he moved to Florida and occasionally attends events, like Sun ‘n Fun Fly-In Expo as a CAF Volunteer. A few years ago John decided to collect his photos and write a book about his life in aviation. This book, “There They Go,” chronicles his life and enthusiasm towards aviation history and is full of interesting stories of the early CAF days. This book is also available online http://www.cafgiftshop.org/product/282/Books.
Chris Kyler of the CAF Mississippi Wing based in Madison, Miss., thinks he was about 10 years old when he went to his first airshow with his Dad and saw TORA TORA TORA perform. The aviation bug bit his father and he purchased an aircraft and got his license. Chris often rode in the back seat of his father’s aircraft while he was training. Chris knew one day he would be a pilot too. When Chris was in his 20’s he enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserves, a few short months later he was in boot camp in San Diego. Chris served 20 years in the U.S. Marines. His orders were to fly the AV8B Harrier for close air support missions.
Chris served in over 40 countries, finishing out his combat career performing combat sorties in Iraq, when America was just beginning to invade. He retired from the service when he was an instructor pilot in the T-45 Gashawk.
When Chris retired as an instructor from the Marines he continued to fly for the Navy as a contract pilot. Often flying through NAS Kingsville in Corpus Christi, Texas. One day he noticed a bright yellow bi-plane flying and he decided to follow it and figure out the story of that aircraft.
His curiosity led his to the Maxine Flournoy Third Coast Squadron, now based in Aransas Pass, Texas. Chris quickly joined up with the CAF with his sights on piloting the units’ PT-18 Stearman. With his experience he was certain that flying a simple trainer aircraft like the Stearman would be a breeze. He is likely not the first person to make that miscalculation.
Eventually, Chris was able to master the Stearman, or at least come to a mutual respect with the warbird. Chris later became a member of the CAF’s Mississippi Wing, and has served a few terms as wing staff.
This wing recently began a very successful educational program, inviting veterans and historians to visit as part of a speaking series. In the next few months the Mississippi Wing will have a grand opening of its new hangar which houses their Stinson and military vehicle and artifact collection.
Like many members of the CAF, Chris came to the organization with a love of aircraft, but what has kept him involved are the people who he has met and volunteered with. Serving alongside others with the same values of dedication, honor and duty humble him, much like the humility he felt sitting in the Stearman cockpit for the first time.
“There's nothing stronger than the heart of a volunteer,” is a quote often attributed to James “Jimmy” Doolittle – commander of America’s first airborne strike on mainland Japan following the Pearl Harbor attack. In many ways, the CAF embodies the volunteer outlook as tens of thousands of volunteer members have formed the fabric of the organization over the decades.
Sarah Zimmerman is one of these valued volunteers as a long-time CAF Colonel. Sarah is a full-time public school teacher, and donates her time to various CAF squadrons at every opportunity. She serves as support crew on various aircraft and helps out on tours during the summer months. “It takes all of the membership of the CAF to continue to grow and be successful as an organization, and I want to do my part,” she says. “I have learned so much about aviation and our history by being a part of the CAF – it is such an honor and an extreme privilege to get to share our airplanes with the public.”
This past summer Sarah volunteered to crew the world’s only B-29 Superfortress FIFI with the CAF AirPower History Tour. She was able to reunite a veteran with an airplane he hadn’t seen in decades, and helped many family members remember and honor their loved ones by connecting them to experiences during the war. While volunteering with the CAF, she has met hundreds of people and has had the privilege of listening to many veterans retell their story. Volunteering on tour can be hard work, but CAF members also have lots of fun.
When Sarah is not on tour she serves as a communications officer for her local CAF unit in Kansas. In that role Sarah contributes to the unit’s social media network and thinks of fun ways to involve younger people. She believes it is especially important that the CAF reaches out to younger generations – they are the ones who will be responsible for carrying on our legacy of honoring veterans and examining the lessons of the past to help us build a better future.
Sarah says, “The CAF gives you a chance to be a part of something bigger than yourself. As a teacher, the education aspect of the CAF’s mission is most important to me personally, but there is a place for everyone in the CAF to use his or her skills to contribute to the organization.”
By John Cotter
Any of us that have been around organizations like the CAF for any length of time have met, gotten to know and hopefully have learned from many wonderful volunteers. I have had the utmost pleasure and honor over the past few years to have that experience over and over. But there is one individual I would like to highlight.
Sam Bulger gives freely of his time, gives his skills and talents, and pours an abundance of dedication into the Commemorative Air Force.
Sam has been operating the photo pit at the CAF Wings Over Houston Airshow for several years. He turned his love of sports photography into something that has become a huge attraction at the airshow.
At the CAF Houston Wing, Sam volunteered to be our marketing director. Little did he realize how busy this position would be. Sam’s work with marketing started off easy, by just working with a couple clients for flyovers, but soon he was working with the Houston Gran Prix and the Sam Houston Raceway Park for flyovers.
When the Houston Wing staff needed to find other sources of revenue. Sam was instrumental on the team to get the wing more involved in paid flyovers and barnstorming with other CAF units, most notably CAF Gulf Coast Wing. In 2015, the CAF Houston Wing did 10 flyovers and participated in five barnstorming events. All made possible with the efforts by Sam.
Additionally he has taken on the development of recruiting packages that are now at our museum and given to visitors. We also now have a full color 12-page program for our open house that tells our story to our guests and is completely funded with ad space.
Sam’s efforts and dedication to the Houston are CAF units and the CAF Wings Over Houston Airshow are outstanding. I know he gives an uncountable number of hours of his free time to develop and help execute many new programs, recruit new members, photograph wing activities and develop new streams of revenue to keep the CAF Houston Wing thriving!
For the reasons stated above and many, many more that haven’t been mentioned, I believe that Sam Bulger is one of the finest examples of what a CAF volunteer is all about.
Bo has been volunteering at CAF Airbase Arizona for three years. He grew up in western Maryland, attended college in Pennsylvania and lived with family in Ridgecrest, CA, for 30+ years before moving to Mesa, AZ, three years ago with his wife of 33 years, Laureen. How did he come to join CAFAZ? Like many others, he has a lifelong fascination with aircraft and its history. And we were right in his backyard. Bo and his wife moved into a home that’s only three miles away from Airbase Arizona. He discovered that fact almost the same day they moved in and he became a member right away.
Bo channeled his interest in history and aviation into a Physics degree and served with the USAF for almost six years during the 1970s as an Electronic Warfare Officer (EWO) on the B-52G while stationed at Loring AFB, Maine, with the 69th BS. He then worked for the Department of the Navy for over 30 years, mostly in the area of operational flight software test and development for Communication, Navigation and Identification (CNI) on the F/A-18 fighter. And he’s an author and photographer with two published articles in Auto Restorer magazine about the restoration of the TR3A and the ongoing restoration of the Spitfire and several published pictures in Classic Motorsports magazine.
He shares his volunteer hours with his part time job at PDR Services, which does paint repair on general aviation aircraft, mostly executive jets. In addition, Bo is on the planning committee for the Christian Believers Conference’s yearly conference, is a board member for Christian Discipling Ministries International, and he’s helping to organize the Triumphest 2017 event this coming September 2017 for the local Triumph cars club, Desert Centre - Triumph Register of America (DCTRA).
Bo assumed responsibility for the cosmetic restoration of the CAFAZ MiG-15 and is also a loadmaster on the B-25 and the B-17. He’s spent time as a docent and most enjoyed guiding the people from the retirement/nursing homes and the special needs kids the most.
Bo’s hobbies include the restoration of British sports cars, particularly Triumphs. He finished a 1958 Triumph TR3A almost four years ago and is currently working to restore a 1976 Triumph Spitfire 1500. If you visit CAFAZ, you’ll see a model aircraft Bo built currently on display.
What’s his bucket list dream? He and his wife would move to a log home on a lake in Alaska, buy a de Havilland DHC-2 Beaver on floats with the original Wasp Jr. radial engine, learn to fly it, and explore Alaska.
Carol is originally from Oklahoma (and you might hear the occasional “Go Oklahoma State Cowboys!!” echo through the hangars) and moved to Colorado where she worked for 30 years at Vail Resorts Ski Areas. She and her husband, Bob (also a CAF member) moved to Mesa from Colorado about 4 years ago.
She joined CAFAZ initially because her husband spends 3 days a week here and she wanted to be part of his dedication and enjoy the process. While she doesn't work on any of the planes, she firmly believes in the mission to share and honor the warriors who gave so much for our freedom and works behind the scenes to help make the business of the Airbase work smooth.
Carol also volunteers at their church - Red Mountain United Methodist Church – and at Quilts for the Homeless, The Respite Center, and has volunteered at the Gilbert Library for many years. Her favorite job is 'grandma' for her two amazing granddaughters, Ashley and Caitlynn.
What’s on her bucket list? Traveling to Egypt, Greece, and Australia with Bob and the grandchildren.