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Society for Aviation History


Col. Ben Donahue Memorial Scholarship

The Society for Aviation History is pleased to announce the revival of the Col. Ben Donahue Memorial Scholarship for 2017. Created in 2009 to honor the memory and legacy of Lt. Col. Benjamin L. Donahue, USAF (Ret.), the scholarship serves to recognize high school students who demonstrate outstanding academic achievement, leadership skills, community service, and aviation-related career goals.

Col. Benjamin L. Donahue (Feb. 10, 1918 - March 16, 2006) was an Army Air Forces B-24 pilot flying with the 15th Air Force in Italy during World War II. He later served as a pilot in the U.S. Air Force, and subsequently as a California Highway Patrolman for a number of years. Col. Donahue served as vice president of the Northern California Chapter of the American Aviation Historical Society, our predecessor organization, and later as vice president of the Society for Aviation History (SAH).

For the school year 2016-2017, the SAH partnered with the leadership of Marin's Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) at Novato High School to identify an eligible scholarship recipient. JROTC Director Lt. Col. Hiroshi Yamaguchi USAF (Ret.) and instructor Master/Sgt. Richard Muench USAF (Ret.) provided valuable guidance in the cadet selection process, and based on their recommendation, Cadet Tech Sergeant Michael Fretz, a junior from San Marin High School was selected. This author proudly presented a plaque and a check for $250 to Cadet Fretz at the JROTC's Promotion and Awards ceremony held at Novato High School, Friday, May 12, 2017. Additionally, Close extended an invitation to Fretz and his parents to an upcoming SAH general meeting. Our Society looks forward to hosting them at our October 7 meeting.

Cadet Fretz's accomplishments within the JROTC program include positions as Color Guard Team Commander, and Commander of Technical Support. Scholastically, Fretz maintained a GPA of 4.0 and posted excellent scores on the SAT/ACT college proficiency exams. Outside of JROTC, he serves as Boy Scout junior assistant scoutmaster, and board treasurer with the Boy Scouts of America (BSA). Soon to be an Eagle Scout, Fretz is also a member of the BSA National Honor Society. Other notable activities Fretz participates in are: church youth leader, varsity track/cross-country, and volunteering at the Marin food bank. His college plans include the Air Force Academy, or another aerospace college for aerospace engineering, and his career goals include military officer, or aerospace engineer/pilot.

Located north of San Francisco, near the former Hamilton Air Force Base, Marin's Air Force JROTC Student Leadership Program is an elective course open to Marin County high school students. Currently in its 51st year, the program offers a diverse curriculum designed to educate and train high school students in citizenship, promote community service, instill responsibility, character, and self-discipline, and provide instruction in air and space fundamentals.

Per U.S. Air Force enrollment requirements, the JROTC program maintains a minimum of 100 cadets each year. Although the majority of the program's cadets are enrolled at Novato High School, students from other local schools (San Marin and Terra Linda High Schools, for example) also participate. Marin's Air Force JROTC program is designated as a National Distinguished Unit with Merit.

Anyone wishing to contribute to the Col. Ben Donahue Memorial Scholarship should send a check to the Society for Aviation History at P.O. Box 7081, San Carlos, CA 94070. Please mark your check “Donahue Memorial Scholarship.”

April 4th 2009

The first recipient of this award is Civil Air Patrol Cadet 1st Lt. Daniel Friesen, cadet commander of Diablo Composite Squadron 44, based at Buchanan Field in Concord. Lt. Friesen received admission to the April meeting and a one-year membership. For a complete interview with Lt. Friesen, please see the March 2009 issue of Touch & Go.

For more information on the Diablo Composite Squadron 44 click on this underlined name.


P.O.BOX 7081, San Carlos California 940702
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