AFTAC inducts 12 to historic Wall of Honor


Marc Spurlock, left, Stephanie Spurlock, Mickie Solari, Brian Gaskins and Nick Spurlock, members of the Solari family, point to Delbe Solari’s plaque that was unveiled on the Air Force Technical Applications Center’s Wall of Honor in a ceremony on May 30 at Patrick Air Force Base. Solari, whose career with AFTAC spanned more than 60 years, was unable to attend the ceremony, so his wife, daughter, sons-in-law and grandson attended in his stead.

Photo courtesy of U.S. Air Force by Susan A. Romano

Combined, they have an astounding 347 years working in the field of nuclear technology and long range detection. One alone logged 60 years of federal service — 22 active duty, 38 civil service. And now, they are all part of an initial cadre that will forevermore be memorialized for their significant contributions to the nation.

The Air Force Technical Applications Center at Patrick Air Force Base in Cocoa Beach inducted 12 men and women on May 30 to its newly unveiled Wall of Honor located in the center’s main lobby. The wall was established to recognize individuals who profoundly contributed to AFTAC’s global mission, while personifying the Air Force Core Values: integrity, service, excellence.

For the past eight months, a team of AFTAC personnel established a heritage committee to author and execute a nomination process to induct a select number of former Airmen — military and civilian alike — who demonstrated great character and whose actions truly discriminated them from thousands of other center employees.  

Since AFTAC’s lineage can be traced back to 1947, the committee decided the initial pool of nominees would include all those who were associated with the center since its inception. Twenty-four names were considered for induction; only 12 were ultimately selected. For future inductions, the heritage committee will recognize no more than three names per year. 

The Wall of Honor ceremony was held in conjunction with the 2015 AFTAC Alumni Association Reunion in the center’s 200 plus-seat auditorium, which was filled to capacity.

Col. Christopher Worley, AFTAC commander, presented each honoree or their designated representative with a hefty medallion as a token of appreciation for their contributions.  Pictured on the medallion is an American Bald Eagle clutching a scroll in one talon and a sword in the other.  The scroll symbolizes the Limited Test Ban Treaty and the sword illustrates military strength and might. Above the eagle are the words, “Sapientia Potentia Est,” Latin for “Wisdom is Power.”

The back of the medallion has a personalized inscription that reads, “Let this medallion signify its recipient is a member of an elite and noble group of Airmen who stand in silent vigil for the good of all humankind.” 

“For nearly seven decades, AFTAC has employed some of the most scientifically gifted people in federal service,” Worley said, “and displaying their names on a wall is just one small way we can acknowledge their profound impact on us as an organization. Over the years, the center has seen enormous growth in technology and equipment modernization, yet none of those resources would be possible without the human factor behind them. It’s not the shiny new toys or the latest computer upgrade that drive mission success — AFTAC’s greatest asset remains its people.”

After the medallions were presented, the wall was officially unveiled and the inductees had the opportunity to pose for photos in front of their nameplate with their fellow honorees and attending family members. 

“We established this wall to recognize the superlative work of past members of this organization, but only after it was determined that their contributions to our global mission can be weighed against the judgment of history,” AFTAC historian Dr. Mike Young said. “I consider myself fortunate to have been a part of the nomination and selection committee, and I look forward to being a part of it in the future.”

The inaugural honorees, all whom are retired from federal service, are Col. Thomas Ciambrone, Lt. Col. Howard Hayden, Dr. Marcel Kniedler, Chief Master Sgt. Kathie Leggett, Col. Charles McBrearty, Col. Thomas Niquette, Doyle Northrup, Senior Master Sgt. Marvin Owen, Dr. Frank Pilotte, Dr. Carl Romney, Walter Singlevich and Staff Sgt. Delbe Solari.