Commemorative Air Force Announces Hall of Fame Inductees for 2018
Dallas, Texas (February 20, 2018) - For more than 60 years, the Commemorative Air Force (CAF) has recognized the contributions of the men and women who built and flew military aircraft from World War II. The organization’s success can only be attributed to its hard-working volunteer-members, called Colonels that have been the foundation and the driving force to keep the organization’s mission and aircraft going strong since 1957.
On March 3, 2018, the CAF will be recognized three long-time members who made significant contributions to the organization’s success at the CAF Hall of Fame Banquet. CAF Colonels Buddy Cooksey, of Mansfield, Texas, Bob Stenevik, of Joshua, Texas and Bob West of Olathe, Kansas were the 9th class to be inducted into the CAF Hall of Fame.
CAF Colonel Buddy Cooksey has been a CAF member for 45 years. He has flown many of the aircraft in the CAF’s fleet of flying World War II-era airplanes. He is most often seen in the cockpit of the B-17 Texas Raiders or the A-26 Night Mission. In his tenure at the CAF Cooksey has held many positions of leadership and been active in many different unit locations and on CAF Headquarters staff. When Cooksey joined the CAF in 1972, he was welcomed into the organization as one of the “younger” members. To this day, he has made an effort to train and mentor new aircrews, especially younger CAF members, to ensure the future of the organization in in well trained hands.
CAF Colonel Bob Stenevik was brought to the CAF staff in 2005 to be the Director of Safety and Flight operations. His task was to improve the safety record of the organization. With a distinguished 32-year military career in the U.S. Air Force, Stenevik retired as Commander and on staffs as The Director of Operations Training for Tenth Air Force. His work within the CAF was much like his role in the Air Force. To accomplish this increased awareness and vigilance of CAF aircrews and maintenance volunteers he created a safety culture within the organization. He employed a much-needed combination of persistence and insistence to raise the standard of the CAF operations. His work made a dramatic impact that exists to this day. The current Operations, Maintenance and Safety department is the result of Bob’s vision as well as the high standards we hold to this day.
CAF Colonel Bob West, will be inducted posthumously. At only 24 years old West began logging flight hours. His passion for flying and living life on the edge, meant that he would quickly take up aerobatic flying. For many years West volunteered with the Heart of America Wing in Kansas City. West was quick to share his love of aviation and the CAF with anyone he met. Many members of the CAF today were introduced to the CAF through West. When a broken arm, prohibited West from flying the PT-19 at a show, he was lured to help out with the show’s pyrotechnics and learned that it too offered a thrill. In 1980 West and a few others formalized the Tora Bomb Squad, a group specializing in the pyro of the TORA TORA TORA airshow performance. TORA continues to please airshow audiences around the world, and owes credit to Bob West for much of its success.
The CAF Hall of Fame was established in 2010 to honor members who have made monumental contributions towards the success and worldwide impact that the CAF enjoys today. The induction banquet is the highlight of the annual Wing Staff Conference, which is attended by representatives from each the CAF’s 70 units spread throughout the country.