Notes from May 25, 2021 Ann Arbor Rotary Meeting
President Joanne called the meeting to order at 12:30 P.M. Tom Strode lead us in the National Anthem.
Marlena Studer’s inspirational message came from the book, Johnathan Livingston Seagull, written by Richard Bach and published in 1970. The beautiful message tells of the Johnathan Livingston Seagull’s learning to fly. As Marlena said, it is about the “thrill of his breakthrough, a transcendent moment of insight into the quintessential art of flying”. The passage ends with Johnathan saying “We can be free. We can fly.”
Dave Keosaian treated us to a video of the Air Force Band playing the Air Force Anthem, Wild Blue Yonder. The video was made in 2019 to celebrate the 80th anniversary of the song, itself. The recording was very clever with lots of whistling, singing, and, of course, the band.
President Joanne welcomed special guests attending our zoom meeting from Ghana. She thanked all that make today’s meeting work; she announced the birthdays of the week. Dues are due by June 1; our Club has to pay district dues by July 1, so it is very important that everyone meet the June 1 date.
Lois Stenger asked President Joanne to announce that there will be a Celebration of Life for Len Stenger on Saturday, July 24 from 1:30 to 5:00. Everyone is invited to attend. Please RSVP Lois if you are planning on attending.
There will be another Picnic in the Park on June 5. You can read all about it in the newsletter.
Dan Lewan gave us an update on the COVID project with the Rotary Club of Pune, India. The Pune club reached out to our club to assist in transforming a 75-room hotel into a COVID unit complete with oxygen and medical staff. Our Club’s International Humanitarian Projects Committee directed $3,000 of their budget to the project. An additional $3,850 has been raised from AA Rotary Club members. The money will be wired to Pune within the next few days.
Our Ann Arbor Rotary Club has been working on a major project to help supply clean water for consumption and sanitation for the Volta Region of Ghana. Gofi Ryan explained that this region has historically received water about twice a week by truck or when people walk many miles to carry water back to their homes. Gofi discussed a proposal, the Kporkuva Borehole Project, to provide a water system that was more accessible. In September 2019, the International Humanitarian Projects Committee approved the project and committed $5,000. The total project was estimated to be $30,000. Funds were pledged from our Ann Arbor Club, Mt. Clemons Rotary Club, Ho Ghana Rotary Club, Kumasi-East Rotary Club, District 6380, District 9102, and the Kporkuve Welfare Union. Culturally, it was important to present the project to the King of the Region, the elders, and the community. It was met with approval and jubilation.
The Water Borehole Project will: provide clean and potable water for the Kporkova United Community; serve nine adjoining villages with a population or 12,000 people; directly impact 4,000 members of the community; build three water tanks of 10,000 liters (2,500 gallons) each.
Air Force Colonel Gregory Buchanan, Commander, 911th Operations Group was our speaker today. Robert Buchanan, his father and fellow Rotarian, introduced Greg. Greg is a graduate of Miami University, Ohio in International Affairs, holds an MBA, and attended the Air Force’s Air War College. His sea duty includes serving as a surface warfare officer with a guided missile unit in the Persian Gulf.
Later, Greg joined the Air Force where he flew C130 aircraft. The C130 is the only aircraft that can take off, fully loaded, in mud. He had four Iraq deployments and 2 Afghanistan deployments. He has more than 4,000 flying hours, 600 of those hours in combat. Greg has recently been promoted to Commander, 459th Air Refueling Wing at Andrews Air Force Base where he is responsible for KC135 tankers.
Greg began by telling us that he is not only in the Air Force, he is the Air Force Reserves. The Mission of the Air Force Reserves is “Provide Combat-Ready Forces to Fly, Fight and Win”. Their Vision is “Reserve Citizen Airmen – an agile combat-ready force answering our Nation’s call…. always there?”. The Reserves are headed by Lt. Gen. Richard Scobee.
There are 37 wings in the reserves. There are more than 329,000 active duty members, 106,000 members in the Air National Guard and 70,000 Air Force Reserve personnel. The Guardsmen are managed by States; The Reservists are Federal. The Air Force Reserves work to managed a balanced life for members; military duty, family and civilian careers. Prior to September 11, 2001, the reservists were used for surge capacity, only called up after active duty was spent. Now the active duty and reservists work side-by-side.
After Greg moved from the Navy to the Air Force he began as a Commander in Special Operations Airlift using MC-130P and MC130E turboprops. The aircraft would drop equipment and personnel in unlit fields and other hard-to-reach places. Included in some of the drops were boats, interpreters and dogs. Other unique capabilities of the C130 aircrafts were formation flying and refueling.
Greg moved on to the 919th Special Operations – Non-standard Aviation (M-28). He showed us interesting pictures of flying into African countries including Uganda, where they helped stabilize the local government. At times, they would fly into small fields and dirt runways where village people had never seen a plane land.
Next, Greg served with Tactical Aircraft (C-130H) doing transport. This unit is located in Pittsburg where reservists would stay in their home station for about a year and half with deployments of 3 to 4 months, most often to the Middle East.
The next transition was to Group Commander (C17). Greg was in charge of three squadrons located in Pittsburg. Many of their missions were humanitarian. They were ready for immediate response and often flew 1000’s of miles in a 3-to-6-day period for events that required picking up specialized medical personnel or helping after a hurricane. This plane can also do air refueling.
Greg currently is the Commander of the 459th Air Refueling Wing Structure. He doesn’t fly much anymore but commands a unit of 1,300 members. The aircraft is the KC135 which does refueling of fighters, Air Force One, and others. The 459th wing includes1,068 traditional reservists, 245 full time military support and 30 civilians serving as Wing staff, operations group, maintenance group and mission support group.
Greg’s last topic is the “Great Power Competition”. For two decades, the focus has been on the global war on terrorism. But this is changing. Our world competitors are focusing more on defeating the US: the Chinese military explosion, Russia’s regional aggression/artic dominance, North Korean Nuclear Weapons, Iran. General Charles Brown, American Commanding Officer of the Air Force is on a campaign:
Accelerate Change or Lose He states:
If we don’t change – if we fail to adapt- we risk losing the certainty with which we have defended our national interests for decades. We risk losing the high end fight.
General Brown has issued the following action orders:
“Action Order A: Airmen – Developing our Airmen to compete, deter, and win in the high end fight
Action Order B: Bureaucracy – Speed up decision making process to succeed in the dynamic global environment
Action Order C: Competition – Improve understanding of Chinese and Russian ambitions and ways of war to enhance collective deterrence and drive competitions to areas of U.S. advantages and/or competitors’ weaknesses
Action Order D: Design Implementation – We must learn how to be agile and adapt to the future
Innovation/agility – Top capabilities of our Citizen Airmen”
Greg left us with the following takeaways:
We (the Air Force Reserves) are part of your community; we recruit from the community
We are trained at the same level as our Active Duty counterparts.
We bring incredible strengths to the community (economic/social).
Defense is Total Force. We provide unique capabilities
We depend on YOUR support! Understand the stress we willingly assume. Stay flexible with Reservists/Guardsman in your organizations. Our time is not wasted while in military duty.
President Joanne told us that next week’s speaker will be Rik Harnish, Executive Director, High Speed Rail. She ended the meeting with a quote from Henry Ford:
“When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it.
The meeting concluded at 1:30 PM.
Photography by Fred Beutler