Thursday, November 14th, 2013
Air Force vet is St. Marys Rotary speaker
By Amy Kronenberger
ST. MARYS - Members of St. Marys Rotary on Wednesday received a glimpse into the life, work, experiences and patriotism of an Air Force veteran.
Col. Arthur F. Huber II, an acting director with the Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, spoke at the Rotary meeting in honor of Veterans Day.
Huber said he's learned through experience that many people simply view patriotism as waving the flag and believing America is better than other countries. Conversely, some dismiss patriotism as a negative, frenzied and blind belief, he added.
In an effort to define his own patriotism, he focused on the positive side and said Americans' sense of patriotism is truly unique.
"What makes America different than almost any other country in the world is we were founded on a basis of ideals rather than geography, tribe or the dictates of another national power," he said. "In this sense, I hope we are not patriotic because ... we are born here and it is familiar to us, but because it's attractive for what it means and what it can be. This sense that our country is founded on principals and political concepts rather than tribal loyalties or real estate ownership is, in my opinion, what truly makes us exceptional."
Huber believes American patriotism is set apart from the rest of the world because its spiritual basis.
"I think when you look at patriotism this way, it begins to take on a look very different from what you see in the popular media, as merchandized by the market or as experienced elsewhere in the world," he said. "If you accept that our nation is founded on ideas and strives for the ideal, you are naturally drawn to the notion that our patriotism really is different and potentially more enduring."
Patriotism, Huber argued, is not only about pride and sentimental attachment, it's the "constant striving to match ideal with reality" and always works to make the country better. It's the people who truly hold these patriotic beliefs that make America great, he added.
"It's people like you who make me proud and patriotic to wear this uniform," he told Rotary members. "It is you who carry the torch lit by our founders that is the love of freedom and liberty that gives us sound reason to be patriotic at all."
Patriotism is what carried Huber through his distinguished 30-year military career, he said. He graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 1983 with a bachelor of arts in government and international relations and a bachelor of science in aerospace engineering. Shortly after completing his studies he was commissioned as a Distinguished Graduate of the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps program.
Huber went on to receive his master's degree in aerospace engineering in 1985. During his career he served as a test pilot, a flight test engineer, air-to-air missile test engineer, commander of multiple squadrons, assistant secretary of the Air Force at the Pentagon, and an external audits management branch chief in Afghanistan before taking his post at Wright-Patterson.
Huber has logged more than 400 hours flying high-performance aircraft and 100 hours in light aircraft. Some of the aircraft he's flown include the F-4, F-15, F-16 and T-38.
During his time in Afghanistan from Nov. 2012 to March 2013, he supervised much of the infrastructure rebuilding efforts in the country.
"It was good to see all the good things going on," he said.
He also taught classes for Afghan citizens on how to handle contractors, business deals and writing contracts. He said many of the local residents were illiterate or had, at best, a sixth-grade education. Huber also helped collect, package and distribute donations of clothes, food and other items as it arrived in the country.
"It was very rewarding, after all my training, to be able to help Afghanis in a very real way," he said.
Huber currently is working to develop a "revolutionary" new propulsion system for jets and missiles that will allow for longer travel distances. He and his team recently had a successful test flight of supersonic missiles over the Pacific Ocean.
Huber said throughout his career he's never forgot his patriotism and the people he serves.
"When people see me out and about in uniform and warmly thank me for my service, I thank them in return for reflecting such things that are worthy of that service," he said.