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American Fighter Aces to hold 50th reunion

The American Fighter Aces Association (AFAA) will hold its 50th reunion at the Hyatt Regency San Antonio on the Riverwalk from Sept. 23-26.
The AFAA is an organization that was founded to recognize the 1,442 combat pilots who received a special distinction of becoming an ace by achieving five or more aerial victories in air-to-air combat. Its ranks include pilots from both world wars, and the Korea and Vietnam conflicts. Today, there are fewer than 200 Aces still living, 26 of whom will attend the 50th reunion, including Maj. James Brooks, USAF, who had 13-1/2 aerial victories during World War II and served as the first president of the AFAA.

The first reunion of the AFAA was held in San Francisco, on Sept. 23,1960, with 63 Aces taking part in that meeting, totaling among them 719-1/2 aerial victories. At that reunion, General Thomas White, the Air Force Chief of Staff, addressed the gathering, saying: “As a young boy dreaming of becoming an airman, if I had a choice between becoming Chief of Staff of the Air Force or becoming a Fighter Ace, I would have chosen to become a Fighter Ace. The Fighter Ace organization could have a tremendous impact on the country.”
At this year’s 50th anniversary celebration, the AFAA will recognize three “Top Gun” honorees as the top combat student pilots identified by their service: LTJG Albert Flor, USN, recipient of the McCampbell Award, named for Capt. David McCampbell, the U.S. Navy’s all-time leading Ace; Lt. Kevin Bowler, USMC, recipient of the Foss Award, named for the U.S. Marine Corps leading Ace, Joe Foss; and Capt. Nathan Heguy, USAF, recipient of the Gabreski Award, named for Col. Francis S. Gabreski, the U.S. Air Force’s all-time leading Ace.

The AFAA will also welcome two new honorees at the 2010 reunion: Lt. Col. Richard Cole, co-pilot to Gen. James “Jimmy” Doolittle, and Col. George “Bud” Day, former Vietnam prisoner of war and Congressional Medal of Honor recipient.

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