Aerospace Education, Advocacy and Support in Minneapolis/St. Paul - AF 213



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Richard Bong AFA Chapter 226: Duluth, MN

    AFA Chapter 226 was founded by the former Commander of the 23rd Air Division, Air Defense Command, Charles Bishop, who in the spring of 1981 went into the Duluth business community and recruited 49 business and other people to charter the Head of the Lakes Chapter. Charter meeting was held May 18, 1981. Edward Orman, Miller Hill Mall Manager was the first president. The First Vice-President was John Soetabier; Second Vice-President, Earl Rogers; Secretary, Vern Bouie; Treasurer, Norm Hewitt.

The second Chapter President John (Jack) Swanstrom, Swanstrom Tools, determined the Chapter name should be changed to the Richard I Bong Chapter. He obtained the permission of the Bong family to do so. This was the year the Richard I Bong Bridge was so named also. He petitioned AFA HQ to approve in December 1984. The charter name was changed with the original charter date of Aug 11, 1981 retained.

Chapter membership grew to over 250 members residing in the surrounding MN and WI area. The Chapter endorsed the MN Air National Guard 148th FW with special recognition of their Airmen of the Year recipients. Unit members continued in chapter leadership roles over the years. The chapter endorsed the USA Today Visions of Excellence School Youth Aerospace Education program with the sponsoring of two schools, eventually up to 15. Bong Chapter supported the University of MN Duluth AFROTC students, inviting them to provide the chapter color guard at their quarterly meetings over the years. The chapter established a $500 Civil Air Patrol Cadet Scholarship fund, in support of the Duluth Composite Sqd Civil air Patrol.

The chapter continues to hold quarterly meetings in the local area at various locations in the Duluth area, with attendance at about 25 to 35 with catered meals. The Annual Dinner is usually held at the Richard Bong Museum in Superior, WI. The current chapter president is a former Air National Guardsman, Keith Johnson.

The Richard Bong Chapter's current partners:

Allete, Inc.
Allison & Associates
Duluth Airport Authority Duluth Travel Agency, Inc.
Monaco Air
Primrose Retirement Communities Richard I. Bong Veterans Historical Center