Edwards CivMil installs new officers, directors

Photograph by Linda KC Reynolds

Right at home–Brig. Gen. Carl Schaefer, Pauline Schaefer, Art Thompson of Sage Cheshire and A2Zfx, Actor R. Lee Ermey, and Lt. Col. Randal “Laz” Gordon, commander of 411th (F-22) Flight Test Squadron, have a little fun at Civ-Mil installation dinner. The organization supports Airmen at Edwards Air Force Base.

Edwards Air Force Base Civilian-Military Support Group held its annual installation banquet at the University of the Antelope Valley, where Brig. Gen. Carl E. Schaefer, 412th Test Wing commander, installed the new officers and directors for the coming year.

The purpose and general nature of the group is to establish a friendly benevolent association of civic leaders and military personnel at Edwards Air Force Base, to act as a host group whenever needed and additionally, to consider an annual service project to benefit EAFB.

The colors were presented by the Blue Eagles Honor Guard. Alis Clausen-Odenthal sang the National Anthem, and Congressman Steve Knight led the Pledge of Allegiance before Chaplain John Von Almen gave the invocation.

Of all of the organizations on which outgoing President John Fergione has served, Civ-Mil is one of his favorite.

“When you have people like Maj. Gen. Curtis M. Bedke, stopping by to say hello because he happens to be town, that says a lot about our organization,” said Fergione, who will continue to support the organization as a director. Fergione is also the chairman of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots Scholarship Foundation, a director with the Antelope Valley Board of Trade and the air show executive for the Los Angeles County Air Show, Inc.

“In Civ-Mill we have some of the best people in the Antelope Valley,” said Knight, who also paid accolades to the late Art Furtado. “I’ve known Art for more than 35 years. Please keep his family in your prayers. I know where Art is today, so he is good to go — don’t worry about him.”

Knight updated guests on the California National Guard saying that Congress fixed the problem in about 50 hours.

Congressman Steve Knight and his wife, Lily, (middle) congratulate outgoing President John Fergione and his wife, Kathy, for their support of the Civ-Mil organization.

Correcting the misinformation that the Los Angeles Times printed, Knight said that approximately 13,500 Guard personnel were affected by the errors made and corrections to them were already being accomplished. Bonuses were to be returned to people who deserved them and taken away from those who did not meet the requirements. “This is nothing new to the armed services,” said Knight.

When Schaefer and his wife Pauline returned to Edwards for their third tour, he said it felt like home to them. Many people in the room have known Schaefer since he first came to Edwards in 2000 as a major.

“I’ve known “Ferg” [John Fergione] since I was a captain. I could not ask for a better group of folks,” said Schaefer. “You continually assist the Airmen at Edwards and personally support me and my chief.”

This past fiscal year, Civ-Mil donated $30,800 in direct support of the Airmen at Edwards. The programs supported are numerous and include Hearts-Apart, supporting families while spouses are deployed, providing emergency funding when required, and upgrading the dormitories and break areas.

“You take care of our Airmen which helps them want to stay in the Air Force,” said Schaefer.

New members to Civ-Mil are: The Antelope Valley Mall, Aerotech News and Review, Randy Ciapponi, Citizens Business Bank, Sue and John Porter, Chuck and Diane Hoey, Patricia Russell, and Dale Ford.

Pass it on–Allen Hoffman of Boeing accepts the gavel from outgoing President John Fergione during an installation dinner for Civ-Mil. Fergione has served as president for two years and will continue to support the organization as a director.

Special recognition went to Brad Smith and Bravery Brewing Company. Diane Nagy received the “Unsung Hero” award for her dedication in producing the book “25 Years Supporting Warriors,” which will also be listed in the Library of Congress.

The Member of the Year award went to Rhonda J. Nelson, who was touring Europe at the time. Robert C. Dempcy, Art Furtado and Frances Lane joined the ranks of the Civ-Mil Honorary Lifetime Members.

The Civ-Mil Officers for 2016-2017 are: Allen M. Hoffman, president; Rhonda J. Nelson, vice president; Matthew C. Winheim, secretary; and George A. “Bud” Reams, treasurer.

The directors installed were Danny Bazzell, Michael Belzil, Ed Knudson, Aida O’Connor, Pan Patel, George A. Reams and Thomas Weil.

On behalf of Civ-Mil, Danny Bazzell and Michael Belzil presented Fergione with a beautiful jacket, which included the Civ-Mil logo embroidered on the back.