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Media invited to Gathering of Eagles events

Posted 5/27/2010   Updated 5/27/2010 Email story   Print story


Release Number: 060510

5/27/2010 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -- For the first time, media will be given unprecedented access to the Gathering of Eagles event at Air Command and Staff College June 1-6. Media will be able to attend the once-closed interview sessions between the Eagles (distinguished aviation pioneers) and ACSC students (nearly all Eagles have given their approval for media presence during their interview sessions). Media will also have access to the Eagles at other specified times during the week.

A schedule of media opportunities is at the end of this press advisory. All times, however, are subject to change at the last minute, but every effort will be made by ACSC staff to adhere to the schedule and accommodate media requests.

The Gathering of Eagles is a weeklong capstone graduation event at Air University's Air Command and Staff College, Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala.

The program is an annual aviation event that traces its origin back to 1980, when retired Brig. Gen. Paul Tibbets was invited to visit ACSC to share some of his experiences with the students. This visit became the genesis for the Gathering of Eagles program.

The first official Gathering of Eagles (then known as "Great Moments in Aviation History") was held in 1982 when a small faculty and student group was chartered to develop an aviation heritage program. This initial cadre designed a program encouraging the study of aviation history and the contributions of aviation pioneers. Fifteen distinguished aviators were invited to share their unique personal experiences through a series of teaching interviews and social events with members of the class. These legendary figures were a diverse group from many nations and services.

The first "Eagles" -- George Vaughn, Leigh Wade, Jimmy Doolittle, Curtis LeMay, George Gay, Joe Foss, John Mitchell, Chuck Yeager, Gail Halverson, Paul Tibbets, "Gabby" Gabreski, Robin Olds, Mike Novosel, Pete Knight and Neil Armstrong -- spanned aviation history from World War I to the Space Age.
  • This year's GoE coincides with the anniversaries of both the ending of WWII and the D-Day Normandy Invasion. Three of the Eagles who have served during WWII will be available for interviews
  • We are losing an astonishing number of WWII vets at an alarming rate of nearly 1,000 each day. Events such as GoE are crucial if we are to capture this greatest of generations' stories and experiences to pass on to the next Greatest Generation
  • The Eagles typically represent a cross section of the iconic figures from each military service. Their stories enhance the joint professional military education environment at ACSC, whose graduates will operate in joint environments in today's military operations
  • The 2010 GoE also coincides with the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the Wright Brothers' civilian flying school in Montgomery, Ala., at a site on what is now Maxwell AFB.
This year's Eagles are:

World War II
  • Col. (ret) Billy Edens, U.S. Army Air Corps: Flying Ace, earned 7 kills in less than 1 month, also a 2 time POW
  • Lt. Col. (ret) Alexander Jefferson, U.S. Air Force: A Tuskegee Airmen who was shot down and spent a year as a POW
  • Violet Crowden: One of the first Women Airforce Service Pilots, or WASPs, and first female to fly the P-51
  • Lt. Gen. (ret) Charles "Chick" Cleveland, U.S. Air Force: Korean combat kills of 4 MiG-15s, served in Vietnam, developed two-seat fighter pilot/navigator concept
  • Col. (ret) George "Bud" Day, U.S. Air Force: Medal of Honor recipient and POW during the Vietnam War
  • Col. (ret) Charles DeBellevue, U.S. Air Force: Top Vietnam "Ace" and first USAF weapons systems officer to become an "Ace"
  • Col. (ret) Joe Jackson, U.S. Air Force: Medal of Honor recipient, flew combat missions in 3 wars and conducted a heroic rescue
  • Cmdr. (ret) Kenny Fields, U.S. Navy: Aviator in Vietnam, evaded Laotian forces for 40 hours
Special Operations
  • Col. (ret) John Carney, U.S. Air Force: Known as "Father of Special Tactics," participated in Iranian hostage rescue mission, Grenada, Panama and Iraq operations
Sister Service
  • Chief Warrant Officer 5 David Cooper, U.S. Army: Special operations pilot, with heroic achievements in Operation Iraqi Freedom
  • Capt. (ret) John Young, U.S. Navy: Entered space six times, commanded Apollo 16, first space shuttle flight and first shuttle Spacelab mission
Current Operations
  • Gen. James Amos, U.S. Marine Corps: Current Assistant Commandant of the USMC and a commander in Operation Iraqi Freedom
  • Maj. Gen. Gregory Feest, U.S. Air Force: F-117 combat pilot, dropped first bombs of Operations Just Cause and Desert Storm.
Brief biographical information on the Eagles can be found at:

"Student Eagle Interviews" - Venue is an auditorium setting w/about 400 people. Brief interview/narrative by Eagle followed by brief Q and A session w/audience. Media questions will not be taken--coverage only.

June 2, Wednesday
Student-Eagle Interviews
  • Amos, 8:15-9 a.m. (media allowed, but not available following interview)
  • DeBellevue, 9:10-9:55 a.m. (media allowed and available following student interview)
  • Carney, 10:05-10:50 a.m. (media allowed and available following student interview)
  • Jackson, 11-11:45 a.m. (media not allowed, and might not be available following interview - departing for lunch)
Breakfast interview opportunities: 7-7:45 a.m.
Eagles not attending: Amos / Day

Post-lunch interview opportunities: 2 p.m.

Eagles not attending: Amos / Day / Young

Mann Museum Dinner (open to media): 6-8 p.m.

Eagles not attending: Amos / Day / Young
Contact Air University Public Affairs if media plans to attend the Mann Museum Dinner.

June 3, Thursday
Student-Eagle Interviews
Cowden / Edens / Fields / Feest / Jefferson
  • Cowden, 8-8:40 a.m. (media allowed and available following student interview)
  • Edens, 9-9:45 a.m. (media allowed and available following student interview)
  • Fields, 9:55-10:40 a.m. (media allowed and available following interview)
  • Feest, 10:50-11:35 a.m. (media allowed and available following interview)
  • Jefferson, 11:45 a.m.-12:30 p.m. (media allowed, but might not be available following student interview -- departing for lunch)
Breakfast interview opportunities: 7-7:45 a.m.
Eagles not attending / not available: Amos / Day / Young / Cowden / Edens / Jefferson (may possibly be available)

Post-lunch interview opportunities: 2 p.m.

Eagles not attending: Amos / Young / Day

June 4, Friday
Student-Eagle Interviews
Young / Cleveland / Cooper / Day
  • Young, 8-8:40 a.m. (media availability unknown as of May 27)
  • Cleveland, 8:50-9:35 a.m. (media allowed and available following student interview)
  • Cooper, 9:45-10:30 a.m. (media allowed and available following student interview)
  • Day, 10:40-11:25 a.m. (media not allowed during student interview)
Breakfast interview opportunities: 7-7:45 a.m.
Eagles not attending: Amos / Young

Post-lunch interview opportunities: 2 p.m.

Eagles not attending: Amos

Media interested in covering the Gathering of Eagles events need to call Air University Public Affairs at (334) 953-6371 / 2014 / 2015

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