From left: Brig. Gen. (Ret) Scott Van Cleef; Deborah Lee James, Secretary of the Air Force; Jerry Yellin, Andrew J. McKenna and Warren Hegg. (Anthony C. Hayes)
Jerry Yellin – the P-51 pilot who led the last combat mission against Japan during WWII – was honored yesterday to receive the 2015 Hoyt S. Vandenberg Award on behalf of the organization: Keep The Spirit of ‘45 Alive. The award was presented to Yellin and his colleagues at the annual Air Force Association Air & Space Conference. The conference is taking place this week through Wednesday at the Gaylord Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland.
On hand to receive the award with Yellin were Keep the Spirit of ‘45 Alive volunteers Andrew J. McKenna, Cole Kleitsch and Warren Hegg.
“Special recognition goes to the national grassroots campaign and the collaborative efforts of many who share a common goal of preserving the legacy of the Greatest Generation which culminated with the World War II 70th Anniversary Commemoration. Their efforts will continue to inspire future generations, especially the youth of our country.”
The award was presented to Keep The Spirit of ‘45 Alive by the Honorable Deborah Lee James, Secretary of the Air Force. Assisting with the presentation were General Mark Welsh, who is currently serving as 20th Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force, and Retired Brigadier Gen. Scott Van Cleef – Chairman of the Board of the Air Force Association.
Each year, the Air Force Association honors the outstanding achievements of men and women throughout the United States Air Force, government, academia and the aerospace industry. The Association presents the awards at local AFA chapter and regional forums and during the Air & Space Conference and Technology Exposition in the Washington, D.C, area.
Nominations for AFA national aerospace awards are solicited from the United States Air Force, members and leaders of AFA, the aerospace industry and U.S. citizens or organizations having a deep interest in aerospace activities.
Among those also receiving special recognition at this year’s conference were Air Force wife Mrs. Stephanie Ewers (Joan Orr Award Spouse of the Year); Capt. Kathleen Le, SMSgt. Eric Gaona, Mr. Matthew Giles and Ms. Grisel Mundo-Love (International Affairs Excellence Award); Mr. Michael F. Welch for his work with disabled veterans in adaptive sports programs (Dept. Of Veterans Affairs Employee of the Year Award); and the men and women of the16th Air Command and Control Squadron for their surveillance work in several theatres of operation.