Bill Croom Honored as ‘Enduring Leader’

August 11, 2023

Bill Croom, an AFA member for more than 60 years, was honored in Washington with a special “Enduring Leadership Award” by AFA President & CEO Lt. Gen. Bruce “Orville” Wright, USAF (Ret.).

A retired lieutenant colonel and combat veteran of the Vietnam War, Croom received the AFA President & CEO’s special Enduring Leadership Award at a dinner Aug. 10 attended by board members and AFA staff.  
Croom joined AFA in 1960 and currently is an AFA Director Emeritus with seats on the AFA Board’s Finance Committee and Education Council. His past leadership posts include President of AFA’s Lance Sijan Chapter 125, President for AFA in Colorado, Vice President of AFA’s Rocky Mountain Region, AFA National Secretary, and as a Trustee for the former Aerospace Education Foundation. As a board member, he has served on numerous committees and played an integral part in establishing AFA’s Emerging Leader Program in 2013 as the program’s first Mentor Coordinator. 
Croom was AFA’s 2007 National Member of the Year and received the National Distinguished Sustained Aerospace Education Award in 2018. He has also received the AFA Chairman’s Citation; the AFA Exceptional Service Award; and the AFA Medal of Merit. 
“Now we again have a chance to thank Bill for his dedication to AFA, his service in our Air Force, and his undying friendship to all of us,” Wright said. 

Wright also presented special awards to three AFA staff members for their continuing contributions to AFA’s mission.

Maj. Gen. Doug Raaberg, USAF (Ret.), AFA’s Executive Vice President, was recognized with the president’s “Exemplary Character and Leadership Award.” Wright commended Raaberg for his dedication and support over the course of the past four years, during which AFA grew substantially, despite the COVID-19 pandemic and other headwinds, and for his contributions to that growth and future planning.

Doug Birkey, the Executive Director of AFA’s Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies, was presented with an “Exemplary Air & Space Power Leadership Award” in recognition of his nearly 20 years at AFA. Birkey has been instrumental in growing the Mitchell Institute into the leading think tank on air and space power issues and conceived and created Mitchell’s weekly podcast, Aerospace Advantage. He has strengthened Mitchell’s influence both in the U.S. and internationally through his policy papers, op-eds, and strategic planning. 

Heather Penney, a Senior Resident Fellow at AFA’s Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies, also received an “Exemplary Air & Space Power Leadership Award.” Wright called her one of Mitchell Institute’s “most productive podcast personalities” whose “work epitomizes the value of breaking down bureaucratic stovepipes and bringing technologists together with warriors and industry.”