First and foremost, I wish to thank Colonel Charlie Simpson, founder of AAFM and its first Executive Director, who not only allowed me this medium to share my collection, but also spent countless hours posting the scans and creating the layout and architecture of the initial gallery. I also want to thank AAFM member Dennis Brooke (one of my former crew partners), who led the team that renovated the gallery in 2020-2021 to make it more informative; that team consisted of Scott Muessig, Larry Thompkins, and AAFM board member Monte Watts. Monte and Gary Mead (a long-time Northrop Grumman engineer on Minuteman) spent countless hours helping improve the quality of the patch images with high-resolution photography and Photoshop enhancement. The “new and improved” gallery would not have been possible without the volunteer efforts of these five individuals. But most of all, I say “Thank You” to the hundreds of people and organizations who donated a patch to my collection or an image to this gallery. As promised long ago, those individuals are finally recognized in the text that accompanies what they donated. Unfortunately, I have names of some donors for whom I lost track of exactly what was donated, so I will recognize their contributions by listing their names here:
Carl Beamer, Lt Col Paul Burnett, TSgt David Cotton, Capt Ted Egan, Lt Col Mark Eunson, Capt Ray Galik, MSgt John Garcia, Joseph Paul Haley, Capt Tracey Hayes, Maj Ron Hefner, Capt Jim Jennings, Maj (Ret) Rick Johnsten, Capt Rob Kolb, Capt Scott Kramer, Lt Col Jeffrey Kwallek, Capt Tony Mino, Lt Col David Noble, Capt Bob Provost, Lt Col Bob Rausch, Lt Col Angel Rivera, Lt Glen Roberts, Capt Paul Rogerson, Capt Bill Schwinn, Maj David Thompson II, Lt Mike Todaro, and Lt Col Tom Whitten.
Ranks of the above and in the gallery are those the individuals held at the time of the donations. Many contributors had the good fortune to subsequently be promoted, some are now retired from active duty, and sadly, a few are no longer with us.
I also want to thank everyone who provided, or allowed me to make, a photocopy of a patch in their possession that they chose to keep rather than donate--a patch that I later found elsewhere and acquired, so I was able to replace the “paper placeholder” with the actual patch. As a result, the names of those individuals do not accompany the gallery images because the patch that is shown is now in my collection. This group of image contributors numbers well over a hundred, far too many to list here, but I remain thankful for their help and wish to convey that with this written nod.
A very special thank you goes to the aforementioned Monte Watts, who has donated hundreds of patches to my collection--without a doubt more patches than all other contributors combined. Even so, most of the patches have been purchased. In the mid-1990s, after learning that I would soon be publishing a book about missile patches, retired CMSgt Harry C. McAllister (1923-2003) sold me his collection of vintage missile patches for little more than what he paid for them during the 1960s and 1970s--a gesture for which I remain extremely grateful. I met Harry at the Show of Shows in Louisville, an annual militaria extravaganza that, like the now-defunct Great Western in Pomona, provided ample opportunity for me to expand my collection. But since Y2K, most purchases have been made in online auctions--so I must also acknowledge that venue, which continues to aid in the growth of my collection.
Not all patches pictured are in my collection. I am especially indebted to three collectors whose numerous images of patches helped make this gallery much more complete: Alec Fushi, Richard Operhall, and the aforementioned Monte Watts. And for official emblem art, descriptions, significance, and approval dates, I tip my hat to the Air Force Historical Research Agency staff members who initially retrieved the materials I requested and later allowed my unfettered access to the vault containing the records for approved unit emblems.
In conclusion, I acknowledge that I do not own the patches I have collected; rather, I am merely their current custodian. Except for the few I was issued, all were obtained from previous custodians and at some point in the future they will be passed on to another custodian. My hope is that the future recipient will be a museum where the public can view these in person rather than virtually. Time will tell. --G.W.O.