Providing Support and Recognizing Excellence
The summer has passed quickly and by the time you read this in late September, we will be in full swing at AAAA National working on a string of professional development networking events. It all starts with Luther Jones at Corpus Christi, TX October 6-8, and continues through the Survivability & Support Week in Huntsville, AL November 16-19.
The S&S week features an Aviation Life Support Equipment (ALSE) event on Monday and Tuesday, an Aircraft Survivability Equipment (ASE) event on Tuesday, and the Cribbins Product Symposium on Wednesday and Thursday. We are definitely packing a lot into that week!
A quick update on the National 2016 Annual Summit: registration and housing reservations will open on October 1st. We are presently working the agenda and the entertainment. We want to give a special “THANK YOU” to Administrative Assistant to the Secretary of the Army, Mr. Jerry O’Keefe and his team who have gone above and beyond to guide us through the conference approval and processing of our proffer to ensure that we have max participation from the key Army Aviation decision makers again next year. HQDA recognizes the need for professional exchange and is trying to facilitate, but we must all make these events as efficient as possible to conserve dwindling available dollars.
A subject that has come up from several of our chapters is the Order of St Michael nomination and voting process. As background, the OSM program was established in 1991 as the Army Aviation Branch’s official medallion to parallel the Orders of St. George, St. Barbara, etc., of other combat arms branches. As you can see in the photo above right, the memorandum of understanding establishing the AAAA as the executive agent for the award was signed by then-branch chief, MG Rudy Ostovich, (r) and then-AAAA National President, BG Jim Hesson (l).
The OSM is open to all branch personnel with the caveat that the nominator must be a member of the AAAA. Since that time, 11,199 OSMs have been awarded. AAAA put up the initial $20,000 to have the medallions made. The numbers by grade are: 9,911 Bronze, 925 Silver, and 135 Gold, 228 Knight. It is clear that the numbers drop dramatically the higher the level, with Gold averaging a little over five per year.
The Knight of the Order of St. Michael was created in 2010 to recognize those non-aviation branch personnel who have provided outstanding support to the Branch. Recent recipients have included: the Army Acquisition Executive, HON Heidi Shyu; LTG James L. Huggins Jr., G3/5/7; and CSM James A. Mitchell, Garrison CSM, Hunter AAF.
The approving authority for the Bronze OSM is the local AAAA chapter president. All Silver and Gold OSM packets are voted first by a confidential board of five AC/RC and retired, enlisted, DAC, and officer members. Successful Gold OSM nominations are then sent to the AAAA National Executive Group for vote. Finally, they are sent to the Branch Chief for concurrence. Some local chapters have a review board for OSM nominations before the local chapter president approves a Bronze OSM, or before a Gold or Silver OSM nomination is forwarded to the AAAA National Office for boarding.
The point here is that the Order of St. Michael is our Aviation Branch award! OSM nominees are NOT required to be members of AAAA because it is the Branch award not an AAAA membership award. Secondly, we never want the appearance that someone could feel forced to join the AAAA in order to be nominated for an OSM.
In the last few pages of this magazine, you see a record $451,500 of scholarships awarded to our members this year. Bottom line is we support our Aviation Soldiers and their Families. This is why we continue to maintain our near all-time high AAAA membership numbers in the face of a tough economy and declining Army end-strength. Networking, Recognition, Voice and Support are what AAAA is all about.
Please help us recognize worthy individuals and units by nominating them for our AAAA national awards to be presented at the 2016 Summit. The suspense is January 1, 2016. Check the website quad-a.org for details. Stay safe and I hope to see you soon at one of our networking events in Corpus Christi and Huntsville.
Above the Best!
BG E.J. Sinclair, Ret.
32nd President, AAAA