Air University honors airpower legends during 2023 Gathering of Eagles event

  • Published
  • By Billy Blankenship
  • Air University Public Affairs

Air Command and Staff College’s Gathering of Eagles elective hosted its annual capstone event at Maxwell Air Force Base, May 22-24, 2023.

The event brings distinguished airpower legends to speak to students after being the focal points throughout the semester of their studies and book development.

“Being able to interact on a personal level with him was just a dream,” said Army Maj. Justin Wright, who spent time with retired Brig. Gen. Weldon “Blackjack” Honeycutt, a fellow Soldier who served during the Vietnam era.

During the course, students ventured to meet the Eagles, interviewing them for their class’s published book and seeking leadership lessons to carry forward. The class also invested in the local community through outreach opportunities, such as presenting to students about careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields.

“She was so personable, and I couldn’t have felt more at ease when I went to meet with her,” said Maj. Addy Perez, who met with aerobatics pilot Patty Wagstaff at her flight school. “Her ambition and accomplishments were amazing, but the way she interacted with people is something I will never forget.”

The Gathering of Eagles was established when retired Brig. Gen. Paul Tibbets, a pilot of the Enola Gay and former Air Command and Staff College student, was invited in 1980 to visit the school to share his story with a handful of students and faculty. That engagement blossomed into the modern program, which is now an annual ACSC capstone event.

The 2023 Eagles:

Patty Wagstaff

Patty Wagstaff was selected as an Eagle because she is a multi-time U.S. aerobatic medal winner, winning gold, silver, and bronze medals in international competitions for several years. In 1991, she won her first of three U.S. National Aerobatic Championships, the first woman to win that competition. She was the International Aerobatic Club champion in 1993. The following year, her Goodrich-sponsored Extra 260 airplane was put on display next to Amelia Earhart’s Lockheed Vega at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum. From 1988-1994, she won the Betty Skelton First Lady of Aerobatics award six times in a row. In 1996, Wagstaff was the top-scoring U.S. pilot at the World Aerobatics Championship. In 2002, she won the Katherine and Marjorie Stinson Award. In 2004, she was elected to the National Aviation Hall of Fame. Watch the Eagle experience video.

Retired Army Chief Warrant Officer Raymond Wilson

Retired CWO Raymond Wilson was selected as an Eagle for his outstanding contributions to airpower. Wilson overcame adversity at the height of the civil rights movement to attain his dream of flying. He was a Huey pilot who served over a year in Vietnam and helped lead the U.S Army’s transition to the HH-60 Blackhawk. Along with Vietnam, he flew in the Arab-Israeli War, operations in Nicaragua, and Operation Just Cause. Watch the Eagle experience video.

Retired Lt. Gen. Stayce Harris

Retired Lt. Gen. Stayce Harris was selected as an Eagle for her significant contributions to airpower and air mobility. She has more than 2,500 hours in C-130J, KC-135R, C-141B/C, T-38, and T-37 aircraft. She’s also deployed in numerous operations throughout her 36-year Air Force career.  This trailblazer hosts a list of firsts throughout her distinguished military career, including being the first Black woman to earn three stars in the Air Force; to serve as the inspector general of the Air Force; to command a numbered air force; to command a flying wing; and to command an operational flying squadron.  Watch the Eagle experience video.

Retired Space Force Gen. John “Jay” Raymond

Retired Space Force Gen. John “Jay” Raymond was selected as an Eagle for his outstanding contributions to air and space power as the first chief of space operations, U.S. Space Force. Responsible for standing up the newest branch of armed service since 1947, he was a member of the joint chiefs of staff and acted as a key military advisor to the secretary of defense and the U.S. president. He also planned, established, and served as the first commander of U.S. Space Command and as the only non-rated officer selected as the deputy chief of staff for operations in Air Force history. His leadership was instrumental in ensuring U.S. readiness to conduct global space operations that enhance the way joint and coalition forces fight.  Watch the Eagle experience video.

Retired Col. Leroy Stutz

Retired Col. Leroy Stutz was selected as an Eagle for his outstanding contributions to aviation. He served in the Kansas Air National Guard and active duty Air Force.  While serving in Vietnam, he became a prisoner of war, where he remained for 6.5 years. He was imprisoned with Robbie Risner, James Stockdale, and John McCain in the Hanoi Hilton. While serving, he received numerous medals, including two Silver Stars, two Legions of Merit, two Bronze Stars for Valor and the Distinguished Flying Cross. Watch the Eagle experience video.

Retired Chaplain (Maj. Gen.) Charles Baldwin

Retired Chaplain (Maj. Gen.) Charles Baldwin was selected as an Eagle for his outstanding contributions to airpower, specifically to the Chaplain Corps and caring for Airmen. Originally, he flew the EC-121 Warning Star and then volunteered to re-train and fly the HH-53 Super Jolly as a rescue pilot serving out of Da Nang Air Base from 1972-73.  Baldwin was at the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001, where he witnessed the fireball and ministered to the wounded in the immediate aftermath of the attacks. He retired in 2008 after serving as the Air Force chief of chaplains.  Watch the Eagle experience video.

Navy Capt. Victor J. Glover, Jr.

Navy Capt. Victor J. Glover, Jr. was selected as an Eagle for his numerous contributions to air and space. He is a NASA astronaut, an F-18/AF test pilot, and pilot for NASA’s SpaceX Crew-1 mission, the first crew rotational flight of a U.S. commercial spacecraft with astronauts to the International Space Station from Nov. 15, 2020, to May 2, 2021. He is the first African American with a long duration stay on the ISS. He completed 168 days in orbit and participated in four spacewalks. Glover is also selected as an Artemis mission team member for the return to the moon. Watch the Eagle experience video.

Army Brig. Gen. Weldon “Blackjack” Honeycutt

Retired Army Brig. Gen. Weldon “Blackjack” Honeycutt was selected as an Eagle for his outstanding contributions to airpower.  While serving in the Army, he led tactics development in the air mobile concept during the Vietnam conflict. He also designed, recruited, trained, and equipped one of the first complete aviation task forces in Vietnam. Blackjack taught notable general officers to fly and solo, to include Gen. William Westmoreland and Gen. Melvin Zais. Watch the Eagle experience video.