Sept. 17, 2007
Bob Beckel, a 1959 graduate of the Air Force Academy and Helms Basketball All-American will be inducted into the Air Force Academy Athletic Hall of Fame as part of the inaugural class this October. The Hall of Fame induction dinner is Friday, Oct. 19, at the Broadmoor Hotel. A cocktail hour begins at 6 p.m. followed by a dinner at 7 p.m. Cost for the event is $75 and there is a media opportunity during the final 30 minutes of social hour. Media wishing to attend the event and take part in the dinner may purchase tickets, or arrive for the media session and stay to film the event. Registration for the event is available at goairforcefalcons.com.
Beckel still holds the school record for scoring average in a season at 22.8 points per game. He is one of only two men's basketball players to serve as the Cadet Wing Commander. He owns AFA's top four single-game scoring performances (40, 58, 47 and 46). He was the team MVP in 1959 and played in the East-West Shrine All-Star Game that same season. Beckel returned to the Academy as a brigadier general in 1981 as the Commandant of Cadets. Originally from Walla Walla, Wash., he flew 313 combat missions in the F-100 in Vietnam and was responsible for the worldwide operation of the Strategic Air command air refueling tanker force. A former Thunderbird pilot, Beckel retired from the Air Force in 1992 as a lieutenant general.
Beckel joins Alonzo Babers, John Clune, Chad Hennings, Michelle Johnson and Brock Strom in the inaugural class. The six inductees represent one track athlete, one men's basketball player, one women's basketball, two football players and one athletic director. The group includes an Olympic Gold Medalist, a Super Bowl champion, two Air Force generals, three members of the Academic All-America Hall of Fame and a member of the National Association of College Director's of Athletics Hall of Fame.
Other inductee bios:
Alonzo Babers, a 1983 USAFA graduate, holds the Academy record in the 400-meter, 300-yard and 500-yard dashes. He is a two-time NCAA All-American (1983) and was the team MVP in 1983. He earned the Olympic Gold Medal at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles in the 400m dash and the 4x400m relay. Originally from Montgomery, Ala., he was the 1984 Southland Corporation Sportsman of the Year and the 1984 Touchdown Club Military Athlete of the Year. Following the Olympics, Babers reported to pilot training school and began his career as a pilot. He was an active duty officer in the United States Air Force from 1983 to 1991 and continues to serve as a member of the Air Force Reserves. He is currently a 777 pilot for United Airlines.
Col. John Clune graduated from the Naval Academy in 1954 and was an All-American basketball player. After graduation from Annapolis, he cross-commissioned into the Air Force. A native of Jersey City, N.J., Clune came to the Air Force Academy in 1975 and served as the Athletic Director until 1991. One of the most respected athletic administrators in America, he spearheaded Air Force's successful move into the Western Athletic Conference in 1980. He initiated a comprehensive 10-sport women's program at the AIAW level in 1976 and then moved the women's program to Division II in 1983. Clune served as the president of the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (1984-85), was the chairman of the Board of Directors for the College Football Association in 1988, the associations' president in 1989 and was the chairman of the Division I-A football committee. He was instrumental in working with Colorado Springs officials to bring the Olympic Training Center to Colorado Springs and worked with the Air Force Academy Foundation in 1986 to build the visitor center. Clune lost a battle with bone cancer in 1992. In 1993, the Cadet Field House basketball arena was dedicated in his honor.
Chad Hennings, a 1988 USAFA graduate, is the most celebrated football player in Academy history. He was a consensus All-American in 1987 and won the Outland Trophy that same season as the nation's top interior lineman. A two-time, first-team all-WAC selection, he was named the WAC Defensive Player of the Decade for the 1980's and was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in the 11th round of the 1988 NFL Draft. After graduation from the Academy, he flew the A-10 during the first Gulf War. After fulfilling his Air Force commitment, he signed with the Dallas Cowboys in 1992. He played nine seasons with the Cowboys and won three Super Bowl rings. The Elberon, Iowa, native is the president of Hennings Management Corporation, a marketing and consulting company. He is also a principal in TRW, a rock retaining wall business. He authored his autobiography, "It Takes Commitment", and he is very active in the community. Hennings serves on the board of directors for the Happy Hill Farm Academy Home, is the founder of the "Wingmen Ministries" and speaks to numerous groups on values and motivation. He was inducted into the Academic All-America Hall of Fame in 1999 and the College Football Hall of Fame in 2006.
Brig. Gen. Michelle Johnson, a 1981 USAFA graduate, is the most decorated female athlete in Academy history. A four-year letterwinner on the women's basketball team, she holds the school records for career scoring average (17.6) and career field goals made (689). She was the team co-captain in 1979-81 and was an Academic All-American in 1980-81. Johnson was AFA's first female Wing Commander and was AFA's first female Rhodes Scholar. She was inducted into the Academic All-America Hall of Fame in 1995. Among her many Air Force assignments, she has served as the Air Force Aide to Presidents George Bush and Bill Clinton. Currently a brigadier general in the Air Force, she is the Director of Public Affairs, Office of the Secretary of the Air Force. A native of Spencer, Iowa, Johnson is a command pilot with more than 3,600 flying hours in the C-141, T-41, KC-10, C-17, C-5 and KC-135.
Brock Strom, a 1959 USAFA graduate, was the captain of AFA's undefeated football team in 1958 and helped lead the team to the Cotton Bowl. He was the Academy's first consensus All-American in 1958, earning the honor at tackle. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1985 and the Academic All-America Hall of Fame in 1991. Originally from Ironwood, Mich., he obtained his master's degree at MIT in astronautical engineering and flew 90 missions as a navigator in Vietnam. He earned his PHd from Arizona State in astronautical engineering and served as the Director of Engineering for the Global Positioning System. Strom directed the development of the Air Force Space Defense System. He also taught mathematics and management at the Academy as a visiting scientist. Strom is currently working with Home Front Cares, Inc. This organization provides support for the Pikes Peak Region's military families of all services who have been impacted by deployment in harm's way.