Three inducted into AFTAC Wall of Honor
By Susan A. Romano, AFTAC Public Affairs
/ Published July 01, 2019
PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Three former members of the Air Force Technical Applications Center here were inducted into the center’s famed Wall of Honor recently.
Col. (ret.) Franklin D. Hall, Lt. Col. (ret.) Michael MacInnes and Dr. George H. Rothe III, were honored with a formal ceremony in April at the nuclear treaty monitoring center as past and current employees witnessed their induction. Col. Chad Hartman, AFTAC commander, presided over the ceremony and presented the recipients with a large gold medallion attached to a blue ribbon as a token of appreciation for their invaluable contributions.
Hall traveled from Satellite Beach, Fla., to attend the ceremony held in the Doyle Northrup Auditorium. Rothe’s wife Donna Jean accepted the posthumous award for her husband, and Doris Bruner, 21st Surveillance Squadron technical advisor, represented MacInnes who was unable to make the trip from his home in New Mexico.
The medallion presented to each inductee depicts the 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.”
AFTAC is the Department of Defense’s sole nuclear treaty monitoring center, and its alumni remain a very active and vital part of the center’s extended family.
“Throughout its existence, AFTAC and its people have been known for their innovative culture,” Hartman said during the ceremony. “It is a rich 71-year history of leaders taking calculated risks and rapidly learning from failure to achieve success and unleash creative solutions. Our three inductees paved the way to help solve what we refer to today as ‘wicked problems’ in the name of national security, and I thank them for the example they set and their service to our great country.”
Selection to the Wall of Honor is no easy feat. AFTAC’s Heritage Committee meticulously reviews dozens of nomination packages of former scientists, analysts, engineers and technicians, while only three per year are considered for induction. The committee looks for nominees who demonstrated great character and whose actions discriminated them from thousands of former center employees, both military and civilian.
On the reverse of each recipient’s award, an inscription 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.”
“Those words really capture the essence of what these giants of nuclear technology stood for during their tenure with AFTAC,” said Dr. Mike Young, AFTAC historian and chair of the Heritage Committee. “They truly were a noble group whose roles were critical to long range detection, but they were so humble in their work – always deferring credit to the Airmen who worked for them. It was an honor to play a part in seeing these three men recognized for their immeasurable contributions.”
The Wall of Honor ceremony has become a time-honored tradition since 2014 when AFTAC moved from its old facility along State Road A1A into its current headquarters just a few hundred yards west.
Here is some information about this year’s nominees:
Col. (ret.) Franklin D. Hall
Colonel Hall began his career as an electronic countermeasures officer aboard Air Force B-52 Stratofortresses in the late 1950s. When the Cuban Missile Crisis erupted, he was sent to Ground Electronics School and ultimately assigned to the 669th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron at Vandenberg AFB, Calif. It wasn’t until 1978 that Hall found himself at AFTAC as the chief of the center’s Acquisition and Engineering Branch. He oversaw the introduction of a new system called the “J” technique – the collection and analysis of electromagnetic pulses. Ultimately he became AFTAC’s Director of Logistics and supported more than 50 alerts that involved the monitoring of nuclear tests originating in three geographically-dispersed regions across the globe.
Lt. Col. (ret.) Michael MacInnes
After earning his Air Force commission in 1967 and graduating from the Air Force Institute of Technology in 1969, Lt. Col MacInnes began his long-term career with the nuclear treaty monitoring center at McClellan Central Laboratory near Sacramento, Calif. MacInnes was involved in the measurement of airborne and ground-based collections and helped analyze debris samples from several dozen atmospheric texts. He worked as a military research associate at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, and ultimately became the chief of the Nuclear Weapons Branch at the Defense Intelligence Agency prior to his retirement in the early 1990s.
Dr. George H. Rothe III
Dr. Rothe served as an AFTAC geophysical research scientist for nearly 27 years. In the 1980s and 1990s, Rothe served as the chief of research in AFTAC’s Treaty Monitoring Directorate. He established geophysics as a key element of interagency cooperation and wrote the charter for the Geophysical Working Group. He was a technical advisor to the U.S. delegation during the negotiations for the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (also known as START I). In 1990s, he spearheaded AFTAC’s implementation of geophysical protocols for the Threshold Test Ban Treaty.