The Dee Howard Foundation has announced the members of the San Antonio Aviation and Aerospace Hall of Fame Class of 2020. They are June Scobee Rodgers, Ph.D., the widow of Challenger Space Shuttle Commander Richard “Dick” Scobee, Col. Thomas M. McNish, M.D., MPH (USAF Ret.), and The United States Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine (USAFSAM) at Brooks AFB, Texas.
The 2020 Class will be inducted into the San Antonio Aviation and Aerospace Hall of Fame at the Awards Ceremony and Dinner to be hosted by DHF Board Member GDC Technics at its state of the art Hangar at Port San Antonio on 26 March 2020. The 2020 Hall of Fame will feature a reception with entertainment provided by the Southwest High School Mariachi Band, dinner with the presentation of the Colors by the 433rd Airlift Wing Color Guard and the singing of the National Anthem by Lt. Col. Kat Strus, D.M. (USAF Ret.), induction of 2020 Honorees, the presentation of the third annual DHF STEM Education Excellence Award (SEEA), and a display of current and vintage US Military and civilian aircraft. There will also be exhibits by some of DHF’s education partners.
The Hon. Ron Nirenberg, Mayor of the City of San Antonio, will open the 2020 Awards Dinner and that Dr. Bernard A. Harris, Jr. will be the Keynote Speaker.
June Scobee Rodgers, Ph.D., the widow of Challenger Space Shuttle Commander Richard “Dick” Scobee, has dedicated her time and energy to continuing the crew’s educational mission. Immediately following the tragedy ,Dr. Rodgers channeled grief into action and led the Challenger shuttle families, along with others, to create Challenger Center-a living tribute to their loved ones, each year hundreds of thousands of students participate in science, technology, engineering, and math(STEM) focused programs at Challenger Centers across the US including one at San Antonio College(known as the Scobee Education Center) where Dr. Rodgers attended after graduation from Harlandale High School. Dr. Rodgers is an educator (having taught in every grade-level classroom from kindergarten through college), author, and speaker, and an inspiration to everyone she meets. In 2015, Dr. Rodgers received the distinguished Alan Shepard Technology in Education Award.
Col. Thomas M. McNish, M.D., MPH (USAF Ret.), Lt. McNish, a 1964 graduate of the United States Air Force Academy, was shot down in his F-105 Thunderchief over North Vietnam and was taken as a Prisoner of War on September 4, 1966 while flying his 45th combat mission in Southeast Asia. After spending 2,373 days in captivity, he was released during Operation Homecoming on March 4,1973, after a brief hospitalization to recover from his injuries he began his studies to become a physician first taking pre-medicine classes at Emory University and then at Emory University School of Medicine. Capt. McNish graduated from Emory University School of Medicine in June 1978, interned at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio and then began a residency in Aerospace Medicine at Brooks AFB, Texas where he graduated in June 1983.During this time he was selected for the USAF Pilot-Physician Program, had a distinguished career in the USAF and retired from the USAF on July 1, 1994 as Command Surgeon in the Office of the Air Force Reserve at the Pentagon. Col. McNish is a member of and currently serves as President of the 4th Allied P.O.W. Wing (“NAMPOWs”).
The United States Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine (USAFSAM) at Brooks AFB, Texas. USAFSAM is the United States Air Force (USAF) organization focused on education, research, and worldwide operational consultation in aerospace and operational medicine. It began operations on January 19, 1918 at Hazelhurst Field, Mineola, Long Island, N.Y. in August 1926. The School was moved to Brooks Field in San Antonio in October 1931 it was moved to Randolph Field. On May 10, 1957 a groundbreaking ceremony was held for the construction of the New School of Aviation Medicine at Brooks AFB. The first Primary Course in Aviation Medicine was held at the new campus on Brooks AFB on 11 August 1959.On 8 August 1961 the School name was changed to The School of Aerospace Medicine. On 21 November 1963, President John F. Kennedy dedicated the new school complex at Brooks AFB (the photo below is of JFK on that day speaking with an airmen in a pressure chamber)the day before he was assassinated in Dallas. This was President Kennedy’s last official act as president and the location of his famous over the wall speech inviting the nation to embrace space exploration. Accepting the award on behalf of USAFSAM at Brooks AFB,TX at the Induction Ceremony will be Lt. Gen. Thomas W. Travis, M.D. (USAF Ret.), former Surgeon General of the USAF, and a former commander of USAFSAM, Lt. Gen. Travis, M.D. currently serves as Senior Vice President, University Programs, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences.
In addition to the Induction of the Class of 2020, the San Antonio Aviation and Aerospace Hall of Fame will honor all NAMPOWs who will be represented at the Hall of Fame by Col. McNish, Col. Joseph E. Milligan, DVM, Ph.D. (USAF Ret.-Past President of the 4th Allied P.O.W. Wing), and other current members of the Wing who will be in attendance at the 2020 Hall of Fame. Pictured below is the logo of NAMPOWs.
Dr. Harris is the Chief Executive Officer of the National Math + Science Initiative and leads the organization’s efforts to improve teacher effectiveness and student achievement in STEM education across the country. A veteran astronaut, Dr. Harris has logged more than 438 hours and traveled over 7.2 million miles in space. He was the first African-American to complete a spacewalk. Brig. Gen. David E. Petersen (USAF Ret.), Executive Vice President of the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce, will be the MC of this historic event.
To learn more about how you can help honor San Antonio’s aviation and aerospace history, POWs, and STEM teachers you are invited to visit the 2020 Hall of Fame web page and the DHF Facebook page where further updates will be posted as plans progress.
For information on the mission of the San Antonio Aviation and Aerospace Hall of Fame and to view a listing of its cooperating organizations, you are invited to visit the SAAAHoF web page.
Registration for the 2020 Hall of Fame is open through 20 March 2020. You may register online.