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AFIT honors 2003 distinguished alumni

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio (AFPN) -- The Air Force Institute of Technology honored two 2003 distinguished alumni here Oct. 16. Retired Gen. Lawrence A. Skantze and Retired Lt. Gen. Richard K. Saxer were selected for their pioneering roles in science, engineering and education.

“The title of ‘distinguished alumnus’ is the highest honor that AFIT awards to a graduate,” said Col. Dave Eidsaune, AFIT commandant. “These two men are pioneers in science, research, development and acquisition, and are staunch supporters of the critical role education plays in enhancing the capabilities of our military. They are the epitome of an AFIT distinguished alumnus.”

The distinguished alumni were each presented with a medallion on behalf of the AFIT foundation. They also received a portrait created by AFIT’s graphic artist, Greg Smith, a copy of which will hang at AFIT with portraits of past award winners.

Skantze attended the U.S. Naval Academy, where he graduated in 1952 with a Bachelor of Science degree in engineering, and a commission as a second lieutenant in the Air Force. He received a master’s degree in nuclear engineering from AFIT in 1959. In a variety of assignments Skantze served as a project engineer with the joint Air Force-Atomic Energy Commission Nuclear Powered Airplane program and made vital and significant contributions to the first B-52 and F-111 wings. He also was responsible for several major negotiations including the F-117A Nighthawk production program. Skantze served as deputy chief of staff for research, development and acquisition at Air Force Headquarters, vice chief of staff of the Air Force in Washington, D.C., and retired as commander of Air Force Systems Command at Andrews Air Force Base, Md. Throughout his career, Skantze has promoted and supported AFIT’s mission and the important role of technical education in the officer corps. He served as the first president of the AFIT association of graduates and also served twice as president of the AFIT foundation.

Saxer earned his bachelor’s degree from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1952 and accepted a commission as a second lieutenant in the Air Force. He earned a master’s degree in aeromechanics from AFIT in 1957 and a doctorate in philosophy in metallurgical engineering from Ohio State University in 1962. Saxer was assigned to the department of engineering mechanics at AFIT. As a member of the faculty, he led the development of the graduate materials engineering program and helped develop the AFIT doctoral program. Throughout his career and even in retirement, he has been a strong AFIT supporter. He was the first vice president of the AFIT Association of Graduates and later served as president. He was also an active member of the AFIT foundation board for more than 20 years and, at one point, served as chairman.

“Tonight these men join the ranks with some of the finest Americans our country has ever produced,” Eidsaune said. “As we celebrate the accomplishments of these two alumni, we are also celebrating the rich history of AFIT and the road these graduates, and thousands of others like them, have paved.”

AFIT selected its first distinguished alumni in 1979. At that time Col. Frank Borman, Gen. Jimmy Doolittle, Col. George Holloman and Gen. Bernard Schriever were given the prestigious honor. Since that date, 18 others have been selected. (Courtesy of AFIT)

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