2024 Chapter Distinguished Graduate award, Curt Brown, 1978

2023 Chapter Distinguished Graduate award, Zachary R. Turcotte, 2000

Zach grew up in Roseville and was an All-Conference heavyweight wrestler. He flew the KC-135 in Operations Northern Watch, Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom with a permanent base at Grand Forks AFB. He then joined the North Dakota Air National Guard and flew the Predator drone for four years. For the past few years, Zach has been a financial advisor for AXA Advisors – now Equitable Advisors – where he helps individuals and small businesses build, implement and maintain a financial
plan which helps them achieve their financial goals. Zach met Jessica while traveling in Europe after graduating from the U. S. Air Force Academy. They married and have a daughter, Zoe and a son, Liam. Zach has an MBA from the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota.

The initial organizational meeting of the Minnesota Chapter was held on May 18, 2011, with a representative of the USAFA National AOG present. Zach was at that meeting and was selected as a
“Founding Board Member.” He has remained in this role ever since. In addition to that position, Zach volunteered to head the Membership Committee and to be the internet contact person. Once again, Zach has continued to serve as our Chapter contact leader since that date. For his efforts as a loyal Board member, Committee Chair and strong supporter of our Chapter – as well as a frequent attendee at Chapter events and functions, I proudly announce Zach Turcotte as our TCAAOG Chapter Distinguished Graduate for the year 2023.
Thomas W.C. Wilson, ‘61
President Emeritus

2022 Chapter Distinguished Graduate Award, Jason Joseph VanOverbeke


Jason joined our Chapter around 2016-2017. Int the spring of 2019, he agreed to take over the duties of Program Chairman and to replace Tim Hess on the Board of Directors. He also assumed Tim’s duties as Chair of the Events Committee – a position that he still holds today, along as President.

Since then, he has literally “climbed the board ladder.” Jason became Vice President of the Chapter in the summer of 2019 and president in June 2020. While serving as Vice President, the President came down with serious physical issues and had to step down. Jason, without reserve, took over the position as President. During this period, the covid pandemic hit and things became extremely difficult for our chapter. Jason ended up carrying the chapter successfully through the pandemic while essentially filling all the board positions short of Treasurer and Secretary.

Jason ran for a position on the Board of the National AOG in 2021. Though not selected, Jason has shown his loyalty and dedication to supporting both our Chapter and the USAFA AOG!!!

Our Chapter was founded in May 2011 and has had only two presidents before Jason was elected. He is the first Chapter President that graduated in the 21st century… Jason is also the first Chapter President to serve while holding both full-time civilian employment as well as serving as a Major in the Air Force Reserves with the Office of Special Investigations out of Quantico, Virginia.

He has represented our chapter at the three AOG Presidents Meetings held at the Academy during Parents Weekend, in spite of his busy work schedule.

He and his wife Holli have attended practically every event that our Chapter has sponsored. Even to the point that on a couple of occasions, he was the only grad in attendance. Such dedication deserves special recognition.

For the above reasons, I am proud to announce Jason Joseph VanOverbeke as the recipient of the 2022 Twin Cities Chapter Distinguished Graduate Award.

2021 Chapter Distinguished Graduate award, Terrance Frederick Flower, ’64

Terry Flower has been with our Chapter since our organizational meeting in May of 2011.  He was one of the original “dues-paying” members of our Chapter and has taken on a variety of Tasks and positions ever since.  Terry took over as co-chair of our Finance and Budget Committee in 2013, and also became a Director that same year.  He has served as a Director to this day!

Our Chapter created the Advanced Education Committee in that same year and Terry volunteered to both Chair the committee and to develop (and maintain) our Advanced Education Website to assist local graduates who were seeking advanced degrees at colleges and universities in our local area.  That site provides contacts at most, if not all of the local colleges and universities, advanced programs offered, financial assistance available, etc.  In short, a terrific source of information for a graduate to pursue advanced education opportunities.  Many of our grads have taken advantage of Terry’s efforts.

Terry has also volunteered on numerous occasions to present his original presentation of “The Star of Bethlehem,” an Astronomer’s accounting of that Biblical event.  He and his wife, Margaret, have also hosted numerous “Scotch Tasting” parties in their home.  Both of these events have provided insight and knowledge of the respective subjects and pleased all who have chosen in which to attend. 

As a couple, Terry and Margaret have made significant contributions of time and treasures to facilitate the continued existence of our Chapter.  In fact, for a time Terry also assisted our Chapter through fund-raising efforts as co-chair of that committee. 

Terry has demonstrated a personal passion toward Minnesota politics and as a result, has co-chaired our Congressional Liaison Committee since it’s inception.  He has represented our Chapter and, therefore, our USAFA at numerous Congressional Panels to interview prospective Military Academy Cadet/Midshipmen Candidates at the request of our US Congressmen and Senators.

A few years ago, the Presidents of the local Military, Naval and Air Force Academies met to form a “Tri-Service Academy Working Group” to try to establish better communications and support among and between the three major Academies.  Our Chapter was fortunate that Terry Flower volunteered to be one of two of our grads to be part of that working group.  It remains a “work-in-progress.”

Finally, Terry, along with two other Chapter members, is associated with the development and installation of a Twin Cities “Challenger Learning Center” to commemorate the catastrophic destruction of the Space Shuttle Challenger on 28 January 1986.  The goal, in part, is to excite students and faculty about school and learning in STEM disciplines, to install Mission Simulators, to build a Planetarium and a “hands-on” “Exploratorium;” lastly to bring the last space shuttle –Inspiration – to the Twin Cities Center.

For these reasons, I proudly announce Terry Flower as the recipient of the 2021 Twin Cities Chapter Distinguished Graduate Award.

2020 Chapter Distinguished Graduate award, Robert Hickcox


Bob Hickcox has distinguished himself as a valued leader of our local alumni chapter.  He served a distinguished career in the Air Force.  After retirement, he continued to serve as a valuable asset to various companies including the Girl Scouts. He has served in many civic and professional organizations.

Bob jumped into our chapter as a tireless worker, willing to undertake any assignment. He immediately became a Director and then assisted in the complete overwork of our two websites dedicated to assisting graduates in job searches and advanced education opportunities.

He provided immeasurable technical support to multiple Founders Day Dinners.  He created video presentations to be shown at the dinners as well as providing on site video and audio support.  He was always there to add a helping hand.

With his assistance both in the technical and organizational areas, the chapter has been recognized by the national AOG as a distinguished chapter for each year Bob has been involved.  Bob has advised the national AOG in their employment aid efforts.  Bob accepted the challenge of publishing a quarterly newsletter for all the chapters members.  The quarterly newsletter is critical to our continued communication to our membership.  Bob has created and maintained a facebook page and an active facebook group to keep grads informed.

Bob has maintained an active relationship with various parts of the Minnesota Civil Air Patrol to assist Air Patrol members to attend the USAFA.

Throughout Bob’s efforts in support of this chapter he was also a very dedicated care giver to his lovely wife Jacki during her battle with cancer.

In sum, Bob Hickcox has been an active and valuable asset  to our chapter throughout his tenure. I am proud to announce Robert Hickcox for the chapter’s Distinguished Graduate Award for 2020.

2019 Chapter Distinguished Graduate award, Joseph Eugene Rodwell, '64

Joe Rodwell distinguished himself as a co-founder of our chapter.  He was instrumental in the writing of our original Chapter By-laws and providing vital assistance leading to the organizational meeting of our chapter in May of 2011.

Joe set the tone of our Founders Day Dinners by not only assisting in the planning and organizing, but in the raising of sufficient funds to make the dinner a resounding success.  The guest speaker at the original dinner was the Air Force Chief of Staff, General Norton (Nordy) Schwartz, ’73.  Subsequent speakers have been equally successful in their respective careers, including the following CSAF, General Mark Welsh, ’76.

Joe was a firm believer in presenting as many events as possible to attract as many graduates as we could to join in the development of our chapter and to experience the associated camaraderie.  He advocated the establishment of summer “Happy Hours” that were spread around the Twin Cities to facilitate the attendance at each and did not miss one of them.

In order to establish a more efficient organization, Joe was instrumental in establishing an annual Strategic Plan to better identify the Chapters goals for each year.  He personally developed the plan and made sure that it was in line with the By-laws and brought it to the attention of the Board of Directors for the necessary revisions and approvals.  We still follow the basic ideas to this day.

For these reasons and for Joe’s persistent efforts to insure the viability and continued success of our Chapter, I proudly announce Joseph Eugene Rodwell as the recipient of the 2019 Twin Cities Chapter Distinguished Chapter Award.

2018 Chapter Distinguished Graduate award, Rickell D Knoll

Rick Knoll has distinguished himself as a valued member of the Twin Cities Area Chapter of the USAFA AOG. At the very first meeting in May of 2011 that resulted in establishing our Chapter, Rick volunteered as a Founding Director. He has worked tirelessly since that time to lead when necessary,to follow when appropriate and to continually work to insure the viability of our Chapter. He is always ready to assist in any event or task and, to my knowledge, has never missed a Chapter event if he was in town. He has been known to even show up a day early to some events and to call me wondering where everybody was…

After a distinguished career in the Air Force, Rick retired as a full Colonel and put his varied military background to good use. His training in Data Automation, Missiles, and his Command Positions in Strategic Air Command prepared him well for his civilian career with Bausch & Lomb, Jostens and United Health Group. Currently, Rick is providing business management and acting as Treasurer to two of his children, assisting in their respective business endeavors.

Our Chapter has been able to reap the benefit of Rick’s life experiences since in addition to serving as a Director all these years, he has served as Vice President in the recent past and currently is our Treasurer. He also has been involved with the planning and execution of each of our annual Founders Day Dinners, at which we celebrate the Heritage of the United States Air Force and the founding of our Air Force Academy. In concert with these dinners, Rick has been very involved with joining forces with the Minnesota Parents Club to co-sponsor the last two events. These joint efforts have enabled our Chapter to establish better support and understanding between the two organizations and to assist Cadet Candidates and their parents in their adjustments to the challenges of the Academy.

When our Chapter decided to develop a website, Rick took it upon himself to contact “Waldo Dumbsquat” and convince Waldo to become a regular contributor to our site. Waldo frequently announces up-coming events and encourages our members to attend.

On two separate occasions, Rick has represented our Chapter at the Annual Presidents Conference held at the National AOG. He was present at the last conference when our Chapter was recognized as the Most Outstanding Chapter of all of the 40 active world-wide chapters. Rick Knoll is one of the prime reasons why we received such accolades from the National AOG.

For all these reasons and to recognize the extremely valuable contributions Rick has made to the success of our Twin Cities Area AOG Chapter, I take great privilege in announce Rickell Dale Knoll for the chapter’s second Distinguished Graduate Award.

2017 Chapter Distinguished Graduate award, Thomas WC Wilson, '61

Tom Wilson has distinguished himself as the prime catalyst and tireless leader of our local alumni chapter.  He served 20 distinguished years in the Air Force.  After retirement, he continued to serve as a valuable asset to various companies including starting and running his own company.  He has served in many civic and professional organizations.  He and his wife, Judy have been married for more than 50 years.  They have 3 children and 12 grandchildren.  Two of their children and two of their grandchildren have attended the United States Air Force Academy…so far.

Tom had the vision of a local chapter of the USAFA Association of Graduates when local chapters were rare in this country in general.  He gathered other area grads, shared his vision and recommended steps to achieve an operating local chapter.  The initial organizational meeting was attended by a large number of grads who were excited to participate in creating a local chapter.  That first meeting resulted in the establishment of a 10-member board of directors and a list of steps to “make the dream come true.”

Tom guided the group through the establishment steps, including gaining non-profit organizational status, and establishing a number of valuable committees to oversee the various functions of the chapter.  The decision was made to offer membership to any grad in the Minnesota area without requiring dues.  The Chapter has offered such a rich and varied program of events that 50% of the grads listed in the Minnesota area (375 – 400) have participated in at least one event.  We have a monthly board meeting to which all members are openly invited and many frequently attend.

Under his leadership as president, the chapter has been recognized by the national AOG as a distinguished chapter from our first year and all subsequent years.  We have sponsored a Founders’ Day Dinner every year with speakers that included two AF Chief’s of Staff, a Vietnam POW, the first female grad promoted to the rank of General in the AF, and a graduate astronaut.  The Chapter has supported the Minnesota Academy Liaison Officer organization as well as numerous congressional delegations in the overall military academy selection process.  The chapter created the first web based employment site for grad use which was used later as the basis for the national AOG employment aid efforts.  The chapter publishes a quarterly newsletter for all its’ members.  It has a facebook page and an active facebook group to keep grads informed.

The chapter created a mutually beneficial relationship with the Minnesota USAFA Parents Club to assist incoming cadets and their parents adjusting to the challenges of the academy.

In sum, Tom Wilson personally led to the creation of one of the most successful local chapters of the USAFA AOG in the nation.  For the creation of the chapter, all it’s varied and superior accomplishments, and his leadership of the first 5 years, I announce Thomas WC Wilson for the chapter’s first Distinguished Graduate Award.

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