YOUNG ALUMNI EXCELLENCE AWARD
Each spring, the Association of Graduates has the pleasure of honoring graduates who attended the United States Air Force Academy within the last 15 years with our Young Alumni Excellence Award. The award is presented on the basis of the recipient's outstanding professional achievement and contributions to community, whether in military or civilian life.
2020 Young Alumni Award Honorees
Lt. Col. Andrew Gray ’06
Lt. Col. Andrew M. Gray is the F-22 Branch Chief, supervising the USAF F-22 fleet modernization for Air Combat Command’s Combat Forces Division at Langley AFB, VA. He recently completed a U.S. Air Force Fellowship and master’s degree. He maintained qualification as an F-22 Flight Examiner and Instructor Pilot supporting the 1st Fighter Wing at Langley Air Force Base, VA while simultaneously completing the fellowship and staff responsibilities. During his fellowship, he authored a comprehensive and innovative adversary air redesign study that was commended by the Commander of Air Combat Command. The study updated analysis on threat replication capabilities and highlighted new options for combat mission readiness versus high-end, near-peer threats. Lt. Col. Gray also penned a three-part series on homeland defense that was published in the Over the Horizon Journal by Air University. The series increased Multi-Domain awareness across the force.
Recently promoted to Lieutenant Colonel, Gray also participates in DARPA working groups synchronizing future air superiority capabilities with the Joint Staff and Office of the Secretary of Defense to advance DOD combat lethality. As the F-22 modernization lead and subject matter expert, he is responsible for overseeing $1B+ in annual spending on F-22 operations, RDT&E, procurement, and sustainment. Furthermore, he provides classified modernization support and guidance directly to the Commander of Air Combat Command and to Headquarters Air Force.
Gray grew up in Phoenix, AZ. He graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 2006 where he played four years on the Falcon Football team, served as the Cadet Wing Commander, and earned the distinction of USAF Cadet of the Year for all commissioning sources. He completed the Air and Space Basic Course at Maxwell AFB and helped lead his flight to the Top Flight award (#1/55) while earning the Exceptional Performer distinction. After completing Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training, Gray completed the F-15C Fighter Training Unit course and was awarded the Top Gun and Warrior Award. His continued leadership and action earned him Distinguished Graduate in Squadron Officer School (#4/768), Company Grade Officer of the Year in two separate squadrons, and Field Grade Officer of the Year. He has been awarded multiple quarterly awards at the squadron, group, and wing levels. Moreover, he garnered operational flying awards when he was selected as Wingman of the Year, Flight Lead of the Year, and three times as squadron Instructor of the Year.
On August 24, 2015, the SECAF, in a live Pentagon press conference, stated that the USAF would soon deploy F-22s to Europe to send a “strong” message to Russia. Support of OPERATION ATLANTIC RESOLVE showcased the “Rapid Raptor” concept, 52 personnel and all maintenance equipment traveled to Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, on only one C-17 for a two-week strategic deterrence mission. Directly supporting POTUS objectives, the 95th Fighter Squadron executed untethered Air Dominance operations deploying jets to Poland, Estonia, and England, reassuring our allies, and strengthening NATO. Only months later in 2016, then Capt Gray was the project officer to plan and execute the next strategic deterrence mission with the first 12-ship of F-22s on another strategic tasking to posture against Russia in Europe. Gray planned and flew in this USAFE F-22 deployment that executed $3.8M with 212 personnel and 12 F-22s flying in 5 nations reassuring NATO allies. His leadership enabled fifth generation fighters to visit Romanian and Lithuanian airfields in the backyard of Russian strongholds Crimea and Kaliningrad. Serving as ambassadors for the United States, Gray and other squadron airmen demonstrated to senior leaders throughout NATO that the Fifth Generation Air Dominance capabilities of the F-22s are rapidly available to protect Europe from further Russian aggression. While a member of the 95th Fighter Squadron in 2015, the squadron received the Raytheon Trophy; given to the most outstanding USAF Fighter Squadron each year. This honor was his second receipt as his squadron also won the award in 2009.
In 2017, Gray distinguished himself as Deputy Chief of Weapons and Tactics for the 525th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron and the Chief of the Wing’s Mission Planning Cell at Al Dhafra Air Base, UAE. During this period, he planned and flew combat sorties over Iraq and Syria in support of Operation INHERENT RESOLVE, executing these missions over hazardous terrain, under threat of hostile fire, while engaging insurgents from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. His actions provided United States, Coalition, and Special Operations forces with critical Air Superiority through offensive counter-air, dynamic air-to-ground targeting, and deliberate strikes. During one mission, he led his formation to join two F-15Es and two A-10s at night in deteriorating weather conditions to eliminate a high priority chemical weapons research facility deep in enemy held territory in Syria. Furthermore, on two occasions, Gray was directed by Joint Terminal Attack Controllers to employ his formation’s entire weapon load against key enemy nodes. One strike synchronized a multi-fighter attack on 14 aim points within an improvised explosive production facility in western Mosul during its liberation from ISIS control. He was the mission commander on 12 separate strikes and directly employed 25K lbs of precision weapons on 38 ISIS targets helping liberate both Mosul, Iraq and Raqqa, Syria.
Prior to the USAF fellowship and current staff assignment, while flying with the 525th Fighter Squadron in Alaska, he was handpicked as the Legislative Liaison to the Commander for 11th Air Force, Alaskan Command, and Alaska-NORAD Region. He developed strategic messaging for 11th AF and ALCOM synchronized with PACAF, INDOPACOM, NORTHCOM, & Headquarters Air Force and actioned all legislative matters dealing with USAF assets in AK, HI, and Guam and Joint Force matters in the state of AK. Concurrently, he completed multiple academic courses through The Government Affairs Institute of Georgetown University and maintained operational instructor qualifications. Both USAF three-star general officers with whom he worked rated him #1 of 37 Joint O-4 officers within their staffs.
As the sole legislative liaison for three organizations, Gray provided insight on all legislative matters, including critical action during the 2018 NDAA and continuing resolutions. His advocacy with Congressional National defense Authorization Act conference committee members to renew H2B-visa waivers in Guam resumed military construction that saved $26M and a 19-month construction delay. His efforts during the 2018 continuing resolution also ensured advocacy for funding support to the bed down of F-35s at Eielson Air Force Base. Gray’s operational mindset and expertise fostered congressional influence to further Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex modernization and arctic advocacy.
Lt Col Gray has deployed to the middle east three times in the F-22 and been tasked to Korea, Japan, and Europe as part of Theater Security Packages and Immediate Response Force taskings to support U.S. government objectives deterring nation state actors. Although currently serving on the staff and not assigned to a deployable combat unit, Lt Col Gray has kept current in the F-22 and continues to upgrade pilots and assist in evaluations. He embodies the core value of excellence in all we do.
Lt Col Gray is married to a supportive spouse and is the father to four wonderful children. They have a quote on a large sign hanging in their home that reads, “The most important work you will ever do will be within the walls of your own home.” They work to live up to that mantra. He enjoys volunteering to support youth sport teams and has coached two girls softball teams, two youth baseball teams, three youth basketball teams, and a High School Football Passing League team. In addition to youth sports, Gray remains involved in his local areas as the Vice President of his Homeowners’ Association, previously in Florida and currently in Virginia.
The most joy Gray receives in service to others is in his spiritual and religious efforts. These efforts have been continuous since 2001 when he left the Air Force Academy to serve a 2-year religious mission with the people of South Africa, until 2003 when he returned to the Academy. Since his commission in 2006 he has served in a lay ministry. He continually seeks opportunities to better himself to better serve others. He instructs and facilitates a bi-weekly adult religious education course for over 80 attendees that focuses on fortifying their emotional and spiritual wellbeing. His efforts to help others find strength in the pillars of mental, physical, social, and spiritual health continue daily without large fanfare. These efforts had to transition to largely online meetings during COVID restrictions, but still focus on continuous and consistent effort.
“I am grateful to the AOG and Academy for this honor and for those I have worked with that also exemplify excellence. The Academy provided an avenue for me to serve and I am grateful for the lessons learned during my cadet days and those taught to me by those that have gone before. A critical piece to my success and the teams I have been involved with, is due to the foundation within my home and family. My wife has helped me remember that the most important work I will ever do will be within the walls of my own home. Her support has allowed me to continue to excel with integrity in my service. I hope my actions continue to inspire others as leaders before me inspired mine.”
Everette Richardson ’14
Everette Richardson is currently a second year MBA at The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, where he is a recipient of the Joseph Wharton Fellowship – a scholarship given in the founder’s name to students with outstanding records of academic, personal, and professional achievement. He demonstrates the quality of intellectuals that USAFA creates and has even built strategic relationships between USAFA and The Wharton School. Everette interned as an investment banking summer associate at Goldman Sachs, and due to his innovative leadership, unmatched work ethic, and business acumen, he earned a full-time offer to join the Real Estate Investment Banking Group at Goldman Sachs upon graduating this spring.
As a 2014 USAFA graduate, Everette earned a B.S. in Philosophy and a minor in Religious Studies. While serving as a Lieutenant, Everette earned an M.A. in Philosophy from Loyola Marymount University where he published a contemporary philosophy paper in a peer-reviewed journal and presented three papers at seven philosophy conferences, including one at Oxford University.
During his time as a lieutenant, Everette served as an Acquisitions Officer at Los Angeles Air Force Base, Space and Missile Systems Center, acquiring technological and manpower solutions. Everette sustained teams through arduous projects, persuading team members to persevere when the finish line seemed far off or unclear. An example of this was leading the successful delivery of the Transportable RBC Antenna Van where he streamlined a high-risk software development program resulting in an 18-month reduction in schedule, enabling the successful testing of a national security satellite prior to launch. Everette's effectiveness as a leader led him to be recognized as the top 1% of 294 lieutenants at Los Angeles AFB in 2017 and 2018.
As a Program Manager, Everette led a 165-member, $243M Systems Engineering and Integration contract which ensured the launch of 7 National Security Satellites valued at over $6B. Through leading multi-functional government and contractor teams, managing complex projects, and evaluating contractor cost, schedule, and performance, he led as an optimistic and effective leader – one that we would be proud to serve under. Building on the skills he developed as a cadet in roles such as Group 3 Deputy Group Commander, he always fosters teamwork and instills a “can-do” attitude in his teams while keeping both the mission and the development of each individual at the forefront of his decisions.
As a Captain, Everette's last assignment was a combat deployment in support of Operation Freedom's Sentinel where he served as the Aide de Camp to Major General Patrick Burden, Deputy Commanding General, Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan (CSTC-A). Less than halfway into his six-month deployment, Everette was by-name requested to support Lieutenant General James Rainey, the CSTC-A Commanding General, across 42 engagements with top Afghan leaders including the President of Afghanistan, the Minister of Defense, the Minister of Interior, and the Minister of Finance. Everette completed the deployment ranked #1 of 83 Company Grade Officers.
Everette proudly acknowledges that his post-military success has been built on the firm foundation that he established while serving and defending our nation. The pillars of integrity and maintaining an industrious work ethic regardless of circumstance follow him after his 5 years in the military into his civilian life.
At Wharton, he is the Vice President of Sponsorships for the Wharton African American MBA Association (AAMBAA) and masterfully led a team of three to raise a record breaking $120,000 from corporate sponsors for the club. Continuing his commitment to the military community, he was selected as a liaison for Wharton Veteran's Club (WVC). Recently he planned and moderated a WVC-AAMBAA-USAFA Way Of Life (WOL) talk on Leadership and Race with Lt Gen. Richard Clark as the guest speaker, establishing further connective tissue between USAFA and Wharton.
Everette's commitment to service has extended beyond his military experience. When he was fortunate enough to get stationed near his hometown of Fontana, CA he co-founded the Tens Scholars, a college preparatory program for 10 high achieving minority high school students. By raising $13,000 and leading a 15-member team, he provided the Tens Scholars with SAT-tutoring, college counseling, and family-workshops, reducing the information gap that precluded these students from gaining admission to top colleges. In addition, Everette was a visionary and driving force that stood up a Top MBA (M7) and Law School (T-14) mentorship program, diligently serving 18 USAFA cadets, junior officers, and young professionals. As the co-chair of the leadership team, Everette recruited senior executive USAFA alumni as mentors for the group. Everette donates hundreds of hours a year to group training, school visits, creating hundreds of posts with lessons learned and informative videos, application reviews for elite MBA and Law school programs, and 1-on-1 career coaching, a testament of his passion and commitment to the veteran community. Not only does Everette provide programming, he gets results. One of the first members of this program, a 2015 USAFA graduate, was accepted to 4 of the top MBA programs in the US and just started Harvard Business School this fall.
Interestingly, outside of Everette's military and academic pursuits, Everette has led philanthropic organizations while also finding time for entrepreneurship endeavors. Everette founded Diversity Capital Partners, a real estate holding group, with three other 2014 USAFA Graduates. They are the proud owners of the Monument "Gallery Center", off of Interstate-25 at exit 161, located just a few exits away from USAFA, their Alma Mater. Everette Richardson not only served his country with distinction, but he continues to serve and empower the veteran community as a civilian.
“It means a great deal to me to get to reconnect with my alma mater as a recipient of this award. This award acknowledges the incredible momentum I have felt both personally and professionally since graduating from USAFA. To the Academy classmates, coaches, professors, and mentors who have helped me get to where I am today, thank you! I truly appreciate the Association of Graduates for this recognition.”
Maj. Michael McVay ’09
Major McVay is currently stationed as an F-35 Weapons Instructor in the 6th Weapons Squadron (WPS) at Nellis Air Force Base, where he melds the F-35s state of the art capabilities and the deep-rooted history of the 6th WPS to train and produce humble, approachable, and credible Weapons Officers charged with maintaining dominance over future battlefields.
Major McVay graduated from the Air Force Academy in 2009, following in the footsteps of his uncle (’75), father (’77), and brother (’03). Upon graduation, Mike proceeded to Undergraduate Pilot Training at Laughlin AFB, where he earned his wings and was assigned to the A-10 Thunderbolt II at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia. At Moody, Mike joined the famed “Flying Tigers,” a unit with ties to Claire Chennault and the WWII American Volunteer Group. There, he quickly stood out from his peers, upgrading to flight lead as a lieutenant. He deployed to Bagram Air Base as one of only two Lieutenant flight leads, flying 111 combat sorties and amassing 458 combat flight hours in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. It was here he honed his close air support, attack, communication, and battlefield awareness skills that would be valuable in future airframes. During this time, the Air Force was debating the future of the A-10. As a result, Mike proactively chose to cross-train into his second weapon system, the F-16 Fighting Falcon. Upon returning from his deployment, Mike proceeded to Osan Air Base, Korea, with a short stop at Luke for training. By the time he pinned on Captain, he was a multi-weapon system instructor with combat, joint, and multinational experience.
Mike again shined immediately, quickly upgrading to instructor and flight lead within 5 months of arrival at Osan. Additionally, the 51 FW Commander recognized Mike for his extensive expertise as the only officer on base that had flown both base assigned aircraft. As Assistant Chief of Tactics for the 36th Fighter Squadron, Mike developed operations plans and tactics while training Airmen to execute combat operations on the Korean peninsula, receive follow-on forces, and defend the base and South Korean populace from attack. Mike ensured the 51 FW, the Air Force’s most forward deployed permanent Wing, was ready to “Fight Tonight!” if required. Not only a competent pilot, but a respected leader and officer, Mike attended Squadron Officer School during this time, garnering Distinguished Graduate honors and the Commandants Leadership Award as the course's Top Graduate.
As his time at Osan came to a close, Mike was hand-selected to attend the highly coveted USAF Weapons School en route to Shaw Air Force Base, SC. At the end of this grueling 6-month course, Mike was recognized as the Top Pilot in his F-16 class. As Chief, Weapons and Tactics, Mike carried on the training/combat legacy of the 79th FS, one of the oldest Air Force squadrons with roots back to 1918, by producing combat-ready pilots for Combatant Commanders. He was recognized as the Wing's 2017 Robbie Risner Award Nominee, bestowed to the Air Force weapons officer who makes the greatest combat impact in their first year after graduation from the Weapons Instructor Course. Recognized as a top expert in combat operations and training, Mike was selected to cross-train yet again into the Air Force’s newest, most capable fighter, the F-35A Lightning Bolt. In addition to his current role as a Flight Commander, he is the Offensive Counter-Air Subject Matter Expert for the entire F-35A community, publishing classified Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures to prepare for future near-peer challenges. Additionally, he was the OIC for one of the Air Force’s largest and most diverse Aircrew Flight Equipment organizations, responsible for supporting 18 Squadrons and almost every major weapon system in the US inventory.
In only 11 years post-USAFA graduation, Mike has accumulated 2100+ hours in three major combat weapon systems spanning from one of the oldest to the newest and is poised to become the Operations Officer of the 6th Weapons Officer before leaving for Intermediate Developmental Education in 2022. Along the way, he has trained 4 classes of F-35 weapons officers, recognized by F-35 Class 20A as the top instructor, and was recently chosen as the Weapons School Flight Commander of the Quarter. He shines above his peers in every way possible, doing so with a humble attitude, and voracious passion for ensuring we are prepared for any threat that challenges America’s vital interests around the globe.
Mike is supported by his wife Bethany and two children, Avera and Abraham. Together they strive hard to support our Airmen and their families. Mike is passionate about sharing his Air Force story and generating interest in aviation. He enjoys speaking to youth and next-generation aviators, always reaching out to give tours of the Nellis AFB flight line and to show-off the jets. He has been an ambassador for the Long Blue Line, volunteering for 2 airshows and leading the F-35 flyover for the 2019 Armed Forces Bowl. He champions military spouses’ service and sacrifice across the Joint Force by supporting a spouse-owned company that provides custom apparel and accessories to military organizations across the world. He actively uses social media to share these spouses’ stories to bolster morale and a sense of community for those that support our men and women in uniform. Additionally, he remains active in the organizations he has served in, continuing to mentor airmen across all three weapons systems and encouraging them to cherish their heritage, such as the famed “Flying Tigers” of the 23d Fighter Group.
For 11 years, Mike has been operationally focused on building next-generation aviators. The United States is prepared for the return of great power competition because of Airmen such as Major McVay who put our forces’ training and readiness above all else. Along with his family and faith, it is his sole focus. One of the characteristics of a good military leader and Officer is how well you treat those around you and ensure they are taken care of; Mike is truly at the top. He represents our core values of “Integrity First, Service Before Self, Excellence in All We Do.” He stands out with personal determination and the unique ability to help lift his peers and those in his life. What sets Mike apart from his peers and what makes him so special is that he values Airmen and their individual stories. He sets his sights on excellence every day and puts developing Airmen as his top priority.
“It’s an honor to be selected for this award and I am very humbled by it. I have been fortunate enough to be afforded many opportunities to both fail and succeed in this career, and they began the day I walked onto the Academy grounds. So many people have seen through the failed opportunities to develop me into the fighter pilot and officer I am today, and I hope I am able to give back in the same manner they have. I am proud to be an Academy product and hope that I have been a positive reflection on the institution to those I have come in contact with during my career.”
Maj. Daniel Walker ’10
Major Daniel Walker, a F-22 Raptor pilot, has consistently performed in the top 1% of his peers throughout his career. Before pilot training, he earned Distinguished Graduate honors during the Air and Space Basic Course - an award given to officers with the highest GPAs and commander and peer ratings. He then graduated pilot training as 1 of 6 pilots (of the 1500 produced that year) selected to fly the F-22. On his way to becoming the first Black pilot to graduate the F-22 Basic Course, he also garnered the Air-to-Air Top Gun Award for his Introduction to Fighter Fundamentals Class. Proving his elite status early as a F-22 flight lead, in 2015 - only five years post-graduation - he became the youngest pilot in his platform to lead a formation into combat. Continuing to demonstrate the highest character, utmost competence, and leadership potential, his leadership entrusted him to plan over 6,800 sorties for 16 nations as the Central Command Air Operations Center Fighter Liaison Officer. Major Walker’s leadership in this position earned him two Top Flight Lead awards at the squadron and group levels recognizing him as the #1/40 amongst other flight leads.
Major Walker is truly extraordinary. He is a four-time recipient of the Squadron Top Gun Award that recognizes the F-22 pilot with the most air and ground training employment points. In recognition of being one of the best in his career field, then Captain Walker, having upgraded to F-22 Mission Commander, was selected as the youngest Detachment Commander for the Alaska NORAD Region F-22 Combat Alert Cell - a position previously held only by Lieutenant Colonels. He led the F-22 Alert Cell to an “Excellent” rating on its subsequent inspection. Shortly thereafter, he led the 3rd Operations Support Squadron’s Aircrew Flight Equipment Flight to the Pacific Air Force’s Large Program of the Year Award in 2019.
Maj Walker is currently a 435th FTS Introduction to Fighter Fundamentals Instructor Pilot to American, Saudi Arabian, Brazilian, Qatari, and Argentinian fighter pilot candidates, providing airborne instruction on surface attack, air combat maneuvers, and tactical intercepts. Additionally, he serves as the 12th Flying Training Wing’s representative to the 19th Air Force A5 Pilot Training Transformation team. In this position, he aids in the modernization of Air Force Pilot Training by integrating leading edge technology and human performance resources.
Upon graduating from USAFA, Major Walker has remained dedicated to service. He serves as the President of Seed Incorporated, a 501c7 that engages and leads mentorship programs for cadets and young officers. In this role, he has worked closely with the Way of Life Alumni Group to advocate through policy for minority cadets and officers. He also serves as the Co-Director of Operations for The Air Gardens Group, a 501c3 for teaching and mentoring Colorado High School students. In acknowledgement of his expertise in advocating for minority service members, AETC Commander Lt Gen Brad Webb hosted Daniel on “Real Talk - Race and Diversity in the Air Force,” a conversation recorded live that received the attention of the Chief of Staff of the Air Force.
If all of this were not enough, Major Walker also earned a master’s degree in Public Administration, and recently received admittance to Harvard Law School. Lastly, Afterburner Incorporated hired Daniel as their youngest ever consultant. He is the fastest to upgrade to an event lead that instructs planning, execution, and debrief mechanics to corporations around the globe. He has a portfolio of 15 clients, including Microsoft, P&G, Google, & VMware. Every action of Major Walker has pointed towards excellence as a young professional. As 1/5 African American F-22 Raptor pilots in the Air Force (1/20 AF fighter pilots), he is truly an inspiration to everyone he encounters.
“While a cadet, our Air Force Academy ignited in me a passion for service in and out of the uniform. After graduation, my consistent and impactful interactions with the Long Blue Line have challenged me to relentlessly pursue ways to give time and energy to the people and causes who might benefit most from my good fortunes. In the midst of social and economic tumult, transitioning out of the Air Force, and endeavoring to be a father and husband to my family, I tap into the character, sense of purpose, and integrity the Zoo started instilling in me almost 15 years ago. For that, I am thankful and honored that the institution I treasure so dearly would find me worthy of this award. Before I have my 15 minutes of fame pried from me, I’d like to encourage the graduate community to turn our empathy and intellect toward leading our nation through this time of friction. We are at a point in our nation’s history that could place us either on a path to progress or regression. If our Academy prepared us for anything at all, I’d assert that it trained us to be the guardians of our nation’s principled founding, by holding it - and ourselves - accountable to the truths we aspire to champion.”
Capt. J Mintzmyer ’12
J Mintzmyer is a PhD Student at the Harvard Kennedy School via the CSAF Prestigious PhD Fellowship. He is researching the relationships between international trade policy and security outcomes to better inform future national security strategies. This program is a continuation of J's excellent academic career during his time at USAFA and where he was also selected for a master’s degree program upon graduation. While completing his Master’s in Public Policy in DC, J also worked as a research intern at the White House with the Council of Economic Advisors and he wrote a policy analysis of the developing Trans-Pacific Partnership in 2014 for his thesis.
Mintzmyer previously served as an MQ-9 Evaluator Pilot at Creech Air Force base where he launched the first RPA survivability cell, coordinated the inaugural Space Operations Officer exchange program to support the RQ-170 and MQ-9, and made significant combat impacts via his leadership in the Wing Weapons Office.
While serving as an MQ-9 evaluator pilot and as an MQ-1 instructor pilot, Mintzmyer evaluated, instructed, and flew over 1,000 combat hours across three AORs. He contributed to pivotal counter-ISIS operations and received an AFCM (R-Device) for locating and destroying a vehicle-borne IED approaching coalition forces. Mintzmyer instructed close air support and combat integration tactics for three squadrons and participated in Red Flag, Neptune Falcon, and several other integration exercises.
Mintzmyer served as Asst. Chief of Wing Weapons and Tactics where he designed a digital strike tracking system to modernize After Action Reports, which allowed for improved statistical analysis to maximize combat lethality and mission effectiveness. His efforts led to significant updates to moving target engagements and other weaponeering inputs in subsequent 3-1 and 3-3 tactical publications. His initial goal was to attend the Weapons Instructor Course, but he received both a WIC nomination and the CSAF Fellowship at the same time and could only choose one.
Mintzmyer subsequently served as Group Chief of Weapons where he oversaw a Marine MQ-9 advisory initiative, which ultimately led to the first successful Marine MQ-9 overseas deployment. He also aided the successful stand-up of the 25th Attack Group at Shaw Air Force Base in early-2019.
Mintzmyer actively improved our community via his work as a Master Resilience Trainer (“MRT”) and by advising a national nonprofit. As an MRT, he trained over 150 Resiliency Training Assistants across Nellis and Creech Air Force bases, facilitated a recovery seminar for sexual assault victim advocates, and advocated for further resiliency training efforts with CMSAF Wright. Mintzmyer has advised and sponsored the Traders4ACause Organization since 2018, enabling three conferences and two virtual seminars which have cumulatively raised over $1M for charity, with subsequent grants to organizations such as the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, A Life You Can Save, and the Honor Flight Network.
Mintzmyer is also active as an independent financial researcher and has been widely published on Seeking Alpha and other investment websites since 2011. He has amassed 14,000 public followers and more than five million cumulative page views across more than 400 published articles and reports. Mintzmyer utilizes these skills to serve the national community by mentoring undergraduate business and finance students and sponsoring collegiate investment idea contests. He has recently assisted with prospective company reviews with the Hivers and Strivers angel investment group, which provides early-stage investments to Veteran-led start-ups.
“I cherish the friendships and lessons from our HAP-tastic experience at the Air Force Academy. These relationships and impacts have made all the difference in my life. Thank you to the graduate community for this honor and to my lifelong friends for being a continual blessing. Luke 12:48.”
Lt. Col. Chad Reger ’07
Lt Col Chad Reger currently serves as a Strategic Planner in the Joint Staff Directorate for Global Operations (J-39), where he leads J-39’s strategic efforts against the Russia problem set. In this role, Lt Col Reger leads planning for maneuver in the information environment (IE) against Russia; coordinates joint and interagency planning efforts to address global influence operations proactively; and provides advice to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS) and the Secretary of Defense on operations, activities, and investments in support of ongoing and planned influence operations. This work entails regular liaison with the National Security Council, Combatant Commands, and other government agencies. Lt Col Reger has earned recognition from the CJCS for his work on the Joint Staff’s Crisis Management Team, authored the Department of Defense’s overarching messaging guidance on Russia, penned the Joint Force’s military messaging guidance for Venezuela, and led planning for the Joint Force’s initial military messaging on COVID-19. He was recently awarded a secondary AFSC as an Information Operations Officer and was selected for RQ-4 squadron leadership.
The Class of 2007’s top American History graduate, Lt Col Reger graduated with military distinction and was a soaring instructor pilot, 94th Flying Training Squadron Cadet Commander, Group Honor Chairman, and Baptist Student Union President. A strong team builder, he has repeatedly received peer-nominated awards during his career. An RQ-4 Initial Qualification Training Distinguished Graduate, Lt Col Reger volunteered to stand up the 69th Reconnaissance Group in Grand Forks, ND, where he served as RQ-4B Instructor, Evaluator, and Chief of Stan/Eval. He has flown over 800 hours of combat support and sensitive reconnaissance operations, served as initial cadre for introducing the RQ-4B Block 40 into five geographic combatant commands, and was recognized as 25th Air Force’s Flight Training Unit Instructor Pilot of the Year in 2014.
In 2012, (then) Captain Reger deployed for one year as Executive Officer to the ISAF Deputy J2, where his duties included supporting eight international general officers and leading their additional-duty personal security detail (PSD). Charged with recruiting and training the PSD, his teams successfully conducted more than 400 outside-the-wire general officer movements without incident. He personally led almost 150 of these missions, for which he received the Bronze Star Medal. Lt Col Reger is an alumnus of the highly competitive CSAF Prestigious PhD Program, where he achieved a High Pass (top 10%, DG equivalent) on comprehensive exams in American history, the history of Strategic Thought, and the theory and practice of Air Warfare. He is currently completing his PhD dissertation at Georgetown University.
Lt Col Reger has also impacted his community. He currently volunteers on the Board of Directors for two different Christian nonprofits and on his church’s first response team. In the past, he has served as a youth minister, a church lay pastor, and a Bible study leader. Lt Col Reger is passionate about mentoring, and he loves spending time exploring the outdoors with his wife Alanna and three young children.
“What a surprise to receive this award from the Association of Graduates, I am humbled and honored! I have had the tremendous blessing of serving on some of the best teams in the Department of Defense, but this recognition really belongs to my faith, friends, and family. My faith compels me towards excellence in every endeavor, because I “work as unto the LORD in all things.” To this day, the brothers I found at USAFA hold me accountable, challenge me, encourage me, and keep me humble…almost daily. Finally, without my family—especially my Godly and amazing wife—I would never have survived the failures or successes of the past 13 years…their sacrifices and selflessness know no bounds. Thank you for this honor, I look forward to many more years working with and serving alongside the Long Blue Line!”