AFTAC inducts two onto Wall of Honor

  • Published
  • By Susan A. Romano
  • AFTAC Public Affairs
Two former members of the Air Force Technical Applications Center were inducted onto the center’s Wall of Honor May 16.
In front of more than 200 family, friends, and former colleagues, retired Chief Master Sergeant Lloyd French and retired career civil servant Deborah Ward (via proxy) were presented with medals by AFTAC commander Col. James A. Finlayson and his command chief, Chief Master Sgt. Jerome Wright.
The Wall of Honor was established in 2015, shortly after AFTAC moved into its new headquarters building to recognize superlative employees who “profoundly contributed to AFTAC’s global mission, while simultaneously personifying the Air Force Core Values of integrity, service and excellence.”
French spent 30 years with AFTAC, a rare distinction for a military member to be assigned to the same unit for their entire career.  He started out as a gamma spectroscopy technician and steadily advanced through the ranks, ultimately serving as AFTAC’s command superintendent.  He also logged more than 2,500 hours in a variety of aircraft that were used to collect airborne samples as part of AFTAC’s nuclear treaty monitoring mission.
Members of French’s family were in attendance, including his wife Michelle, daughter Lindsey, and son-in-law Christopher.  Ward was unable to attend in person, so she asked her former deputy, retired Air Force Lt. Col. Lisa Shoemaker, to accept the award on her behalf. 
“When I first learned I was selected for this prestigious honor, I was flabbergasted,” said French.  “I had so many mentors during my active duty career who played pivotal roles in helping me achieve such great success, and they taught me so much. One mentor in particular told me that to be successful, one needs to seek out people who have a proven track record of success and ask them how they got there. I carried that throughout my career, and I am indebted to them for helping me achieve this great honor here today.”
Ward began her civil service career in 1998 as a resource advisor for the Air Force.  Over the years, she expanded her breadth and scope of responsibilities in financial management, service as a budget officer, comptroller, fiscal programmer, and ultimately assuming the role of AFTAC’s Director of Plans and Programs, which included oversight of the center’s manpower and international affairs divisions.
“This is a tough day for me,” said Shoemaker, with tears in her eyes.  “I feel so inadequate accepting this award on Deb’s behalf.  I know she wanted to be here, but her health prevented her from making the trip.  The main reason why I agreed to stand in for her is because she cared.  She truly cared, not just about the mission or the money or the resources, but the people.  When she was my boss, that woman was tough as nails – unrelenting, principled, uncompromising, and someone with an incredible sense of humor.  She was always able to laugh at herself. But everyone knew that at the beginning of every fiscal year, the government ‘giveth,’ and come July, Deb Ward ‘taketh away.’ So you had better have a plan to execute your budget, or she’d do it for you!”
Each inductee received a hefty metal medallion to commemorate their induction.  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 Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, and the sword illustrates military strength and might.  Above the eagle are the words, “Sapientia Potentia Est,” which is 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.”
The center’s commander wanted to ensure the current generation of Airmen and Guardians fully understand how they are standing on the shoulders of giants who helped build AFTAC’s proud heritage.
“Displaying their names on a wall is just one small way we can acknowledge the immeasurable impact people like Chief French and Deb Ward have had on us as an organization,” said Finlayson.  “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 equipment or the latest computer upgrade that drive mission success.  On the contrary, AFTAC’s greatest asset remains its people.”