2017 Honored Guests

(additional Honored Guests will be listed as they are confirmed)

General Frank J Grass
Frank J. Grass
USA (Ret)
Major General Arnold Fields
Major General
Arnold Fields
USMC (Ret)
Captain William Bond
William Bond
USN (Ret)
Captain Dan Cain
Dan Cain
USN (Ret)

Willis Rief
USNR (Ret)

Nicholas Paavola

Ron Sharek

Roderick Cox
USA (Ret)

Willy Hackett

Master Sergeant
Danny Hopper

General Frank J Grass Top of PageGeneral Frank J. Grass, USA (Ret)

General Frank J. Grass, US Army, 27th Chief, National Guard Bureau and  Member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.  In this capacity, he serves as a military adviser to the President, Secretary of Defense, National Security Council and is the Department of Defense's official channel of communication to the Governors and State Adjutants General on all matters pertaining to the National Guard. He is responsible for ensuring that the more than 470,000 Army and Air National Guard personnel are accessible, capable and ready to protect the homeland and to provide combat resources to the U.S. Army and U.S Air Force.

Major General Arnold Fields Top of PageMajor General Arnold Fields, USMC (Ret), Deputy Commander, USMC Forces Europe

Major General Arnold Fields, USMC (Ret), Deputy Commander, USMC Forces Europe. General Fields retired from the USMC with over 34 years of active military service.  At the time of his retirement he was serving as the Deputy Commander of Marine Corps Forces in Europe. During Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm, General Fields commanded the 3rd Infantry Battalion of the 6th Marine Regiment in operations against Iraqi Armed Forces. After retirement, he served as a member of the U.S. Department of Reconstruction and Management Office. He then served as the Deputy Director of the Africa Center for Strategic Studies, Department of Defense. He then served as Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction until 2011. He was recently reappointed by the Secretary of the Navy to a second term on the Board of Visitors, Marine Corps University.  He will close the Honored Guests Banquet, as he has for many years, by singing "God Bless America".

Captain William Bond Top of PageCaptain William Bond, USN (Ret)

Captain Bond retired as the Commander, Fighter Wing, U.S. Atlantic Fleet, F-14 Tomcats.   He is a graduate of Hickman High School, the University of Missouri and has a Master's Degree in National Security and Strategic Studies from the Naval War College in Newport, RI.  He received his Navy Wings of Gold in June, 1980.  He was the Squadron Operations Officer for Operations DESERT SHIELD and DESERT STORM.  As Assistant Chief of Staff for Operations he deployed aboard the USS John F. Kennedy in support of Operations NOBLE EAGLE and ENDURING FREEDOM. He is currently the President and Owner of RenCon Industries, LLC. He will be arriving early to be a speaker in the Living History Program at area schools and service clubs.

Captain Dan Cain Top of PageCaptain Dan Cain, USN (Ret)

Captain Cain served six years in the US Marine Corps with a Vietnam tour in 1966-1967, then nearly 3 decades as a Naval Flight Officer.  He has accumulated more than 6,000 flight hours in various fighter aircraft, with over 4,200 hours in Tomcats, while accumulating over 1,400 carrier landings.  He has been awarded the Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal with 3 Gold Stars, Air Medal with 3 Strike/Flight and V, Navy Commendation Medal with 2 Gold Stars, Navy Achievement Medal with Gold Star, Combat Citation, Meritorious Unit Citations, Good Conduct Medals, Vietnam Cross Of Gallantry with Gold Star and the Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with palm and various campaign medals for military services covering the span of three wars.

Top of PageCommander Willis Rief, USNR (Ret)

Commander Rief grew up in Southwest Iowa, graduating from college in Cedar Rapids. His years of active duty included flight training in Kingsville TX where he received his Navy Wings in 1978, F-14 transition training at NAS Miramar CA, two WESTPAC deployments with VF-211 aboard the USS Constellation and two years as an F-14 Instructor Pilot. Upon leaving active duty he continued flying with Navy Reserve Squadron VF-301, which was followed by several augmentation assignments on the Staff of both COMFITAEWWINGPAC and COMNAVAIRPAC.

Major Nicholas Paavola Top of PageMajor Nicholas Paavola, USA

Major Paavola has served in a variety of staff and command positions and has deployed to Kuwait and Afghanistan in support of Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom. He is also the former Commander of the Army's Mid-Missouri Recruiting Company out of Fort Leonard Wood, MO. His awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Joint Service and Army Commendation Medals, the Army Achievement Medal, the Meritorious Unit Citation, the National Defense Service Medal, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary and Service Medals, the NATO Medal, the Expert Infantryman’s Badge, the Recruiter Badge, the Parachutist Badge, and the Singapore Armed Forces Basic Parachutist Wing.

Top of PageCaptain Ron Sharek, USAF

Captain Sharek served for 8 years in the USAF and flew 233 missions in Vietnam. After growing up in Kansas City Ks, Ron Sharek attended Parks College of St Louis University. There he received his degree in Aeronautical Engineering and his commission through the Air Force ROTC program. He received his pilot training at Sheppard AFB in Wichita Falls TX and upon flight school graduation, he went to transition training in the F-100 at Luke, AFB outside Phoenix AZ. After training in the F-100, he was assigned to the 612th Tactical Fighter Squadron of the 35th Tactical Fighter Wing at Phan Rang Air Base in the Republic of South Vietnam. While at Phan Rang, he flew 233 combat missions in the F-100 and during his year tour he was awarded the Air Medal with 13 Oak Leaf Clusters, the Distinguished Flying Cross with one Oak Leaf Cluster and the Silver Star. After Vietnam, he served as an instructor pilot, flight commander and flight examiner back at Sheppard AFB. His final assignment was with Headquarters Air Training Command Standardization and Evaluation team where he was awarded the Commendation Medal and the Meritorious Service Medal. Ron now resides in St Louis Mo.

Top of PageColonel Roderick Cox, USA (Ret)

Roderick M. Cox served as an Officer in the United States Army for over 32 years as an Artilleryman, Foreign Area Officer, Professor, and Historian. His service included numerous Joint and Combined operations both in the United States and overseas to include combat, peacekeeping, humanitarian, and diplomatic duties including Director of the US Army Combat Studies Institute, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff’s Professor of Military Studies and Chair of the Department of Leadership & Strategy at the US Air Force Air War College. Colonel Cox’s over 40 military awards and decorations include the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, the NATO Medal, the Army Superior Unit Award, and the Honorable Order of Saint Barbara.

Top of PageGroup Captain Willy Hackett MBE MA BSc RAF

Group Captain Willy Hackett joined the Royal Air Force in 1987 and was posted to the Tornado F3 Force, where he flew on operations in Gulf War I and the Balkans. In 1997-98 he was the Tornado F3 demo pilot performing at airshows around Europe. Selected to fly the Sea Harrier F/A2 in 1999 with the Royal Navy, he served with 801 Naval Air Squadron on board HMS Illustrious, seeing service in Iraq and Sierra Leone in Africa. Before leaving his time with the Royal Navy he served with 899 Naval Air Squadron as an instructor pilot. In 2002 he was selected for Test Pilot training at the Empire Test Pilots School at Royal Air Force Boscombe Down where he won the Cobham Trophy as the best pilot on 61 Fixed Wing course. After completion of the course he worked as the Eurofighter Typhoon project test pilot. In 2006 he joined the F35 Integrated Test Force as the UK F35B test pilot at Lockheed Martin Fort Worth in Texas. Group Captain Hackett and his family moved to Washington DC in 2013 where he serves as the lead of the UK Lightning Project Team based in the USA with his wife and two daughters. In 1999 Queen Elizabeth II made him a member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire for his services to aviation.

Master_Sergeant_Danny_Hopper.jpg (59015 bytes) Top of PageMaster Sergeant Danny Hopper, USAF

Master Sergeant Hopper is an Enlisted Accessions (EA) Flight Chief in Lafayette, IN for the 338th Recruiting Squadron, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio. He is responsible for recruiting, processing, and enlistment of young men and women into the United States Air Force. Sergeant Hopper meets all assigned recruiting goals through effectively leading, training, and motivating 6 Air Force recruiters and a civilian in an 11K square mile area. In addition, Sergeant Hopper works directly with businesses, schools, and community leaders daily in support of publicity and community relations programs.


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