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AFCEA's Heroes Do Not Toil in Obscurity

July 2001
By Lt. Gen. C. Norman Wood, USAF (Ret.)

This marks the fourth year in which I have honored the distinguished efforts put forth by unsung heroes of AFCEA International. This group, known as the President’s All-Star Team, draws its inspiration from well-known sports designations. It serves as an appropriate metaphor to reflect the teamwork, dedication and hard work of this diverse group of AFCEANs who often toil out of the spotlight.

This program identifies chapter activists who ordinarily may not be recognized for their valuable efforts on behalf of their chapter and its leadership. As most AFCEANs may know, I travel to as many chapters as I can to support their field activities. While I cannot possibly visit all chapters in a single year—the best I can do is about 25 to 30—I keep my eyes open on each visit for extra effort by individual chapter members.

AFCEANs are not shy about describing their colleagues’ extraordinary efforts, and as a result I receive many calls and recommendations for the All-Star Team each year. However, one key criterion for being named an All-Star is that I personally witness the individual in operation. This keeps the number of All-Stars consistent with my chapter visit total. Many call, but few are chosen.

One constant among these All-Stars is their devotion to the association. Each one has a unique story, and while space does not permit me to relate every one, I can discuss a few that serve as an excellent representation of the All-Stars.

From the Tampa-St. Petersburg Chapter is Johna Dunn, whose vibrancy, loyalty and dedication are plainly apparent to all who visit the chapter. She has served in just about every chapter capacity open to her, and she never seems to tire in her efforts to help the chapter in any way possible.

Across the ocean in Stockholm, Sweden, Col. Berne Gustavsson, SA (Ret.), has taken on the unenviable position of program coordinator for the Stockholm Chapter’s virtual exposition and seminar this fall. SIGNAL readers can view the advertisement for this event as well as visit its Web site at www. technet-baltic.net. This exposition will take place during five days in five cities ringing the Baltic Sea. The dedication and loyalty required to make this event a reality is emblematic of the qualities that define an All-Star.

Chief Master Sgt. Tom Gwaltney, USAF (Ret.), of the Montgomery Chapter is well known to many longtime AFCEANs. He has done more for bringing enlisted personnel into the Montgomery Chapter and AFCEA than almost anyone else in the association. Despite this ongoing effort, he is never too busy to offer encouragement and a helping hand to his chapter colleagues.

There are not enough words to cover the many good things about Capt. Sheila McCoy, USN. A former AFCEA Educational Foundation Fellow, she has been involved in many AFCEA chapters throughout her Navy career. Earlier this year, she took a dormant chapter in Dahlgren, Virginia, and revived it. Most recently, she has directed programs for the Northern Virginia Chapter, and she has filled in for the chapter president when needed. Capt. McCoy has been a sparkplug wherever she has been active.

In compiling this list, I deviated from normal practice when I named a husband and wife to the All-Star Team. Susan and Lt. Col. Ed Ryglewicz, USAF, of the Hawaii Chapter are a true team unto themselves. Col. Ryglewicz always has played a key role in putting on the TechNet Asia Pacific conference each fall, and his resourcefulness has been essential to that program’s successful coordination. Susan, who always has been involved in chapter activities, last year played a significant role in implementing that event. These two really have been a team and, throughout adversity, worked to ensure the conference’s fulfillment.

This limited sample of achievements does not imply that the other All-Stars lack specific plaudits. Rather, it should serve as an example of the types of selfless activism that is characteristic of many of our hard-working unsung heroes.

Indeed, many well-known AFCEANs also are worthy of accolades. This year’s David Sarnoff awardee is Dr. Ralph Shrader of Booz•Allen & Hamilton, the only AFCEA chairman of the board to serve two separate terms. Dr. Shrader’s legacy to AFCEA is ongoing, as is his loyalty. The Jon Boyes Award was bestowed on Capt. Christopher W. Williams, OBE, RN (Ret.), who has done an outstanding job as the regional vice president in the United Kingdom. He has coordinated the activities of the three chapters in his region, yet found the time to start a fourth chapter. He continues to be unselfish in his devotion to AFCEA. And, this year’s AFCEAN of the Year is Col. Lou Ramos, USAF (Ret.), the regional vice president for Western Florida and president of the Tampa-St. Petersburg Chapter. He presided over that chapter’s recent show, which was one of the best eventsheld in that area in many years.

Those of us at headquarters know that the heart and soul of AFCEA is its volunteer support in the field. Without these loyal, dedicated people supporting the association’s professional development, recruitment, networking and educational activities, there would be no AFCEA. The awards program serves to honor those who are truly outstanding, but in that vein they serve as a sampling of the AFCEA ethos as a whole.

We could not be prouder of all of this year’s award winners. As I continue to travel among AFCEA International’s chapters, I look forward to meeting the future All-Stars in the coming year.