Many people have heard the token dinner party question: “If you could trade places with any person for one week, who would it be?” But few people would reflect on the past to find their answer. Lt. Col. David W. Landry, USAF (Ret.), would step into the shoes of George Washington, specifically during Christmas week of 1783 when the founding father abdicated his position as commander in chief.
Col. Landry finds inspiration in the journey Washington took to win a grueling war with a ragtag group of volunteers. “He didn’t have the weapons systems, sophisticated communications, or a highly proficient and trained army. I cannot imagine the courage it took to face these problems knowing that a nation literally depended on him to save them. To emerge triumphant and then to just resign—incredible. He casually did a thousand things that, given the task of performing any single event, each one of us would consider a life’s work.”
And being a history buff is just one trait that has made Col. Landry stand out since he joined the Atlanta Chapter of AFCEA in 2005. The colonel credits the association with helping him into his new role in the high-tech world of fiber optics shortly after retiring from the U.S. Air Force. “I was looking for an effective way to network into the military spaces for IT and telecommunications product placement,” explains Col. Landry. In addition, he saw the association as an opportunity to give back to the community, and the decision to join became “a no-brainer.”
Of all the chapter activities, Col. Landry ranks participation in the USO’s Operation Block Leave as his most salient memory. As part of the program, the chapter assists military members at the Atlanta airport as they travel to and from deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2010, the colonel helped more than 5,000 military personnel and their families as part of the operation. “This is one of our most rewarding endeavors where we get a chance to meaningfully give back to the heroes coming and going to war. Seeing the tears of happiness and sadness on family members’ faces when their loved ones return or go back overseas is a tender moment on any level.”
Col. Landry credits this type of chapter participation with enhancing his professional career. As a government business development analyst for Belden Incorporated, he must understand the volatile government market spaces and determine the most likely opportunities to pursue. “AFCEA gives me the capability to network directly with the U.S. Army communications community on a monthly basis.” Through networking, trade shows and community service with the chapter, the colonel became a “more productive and rounded professional.”