By AOC Vice President Myles P. Murphy
As each year comes to an end and the excitement of the holiday season approaches, the Association of the United States Army (AUSA) Monmouth Chapter, the Association of Old Crows (AOC) Garden State Chapter (GSC), the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association Greater Monmouth Chapter, the Army Aviation Association of America (AAAA) Jersey Chapter and the New Jersey Bakers Board of Trade host the annual Gingerbread Ball to benefit the Fisher House Foundation, which they have planned all year. For over a decade, these amazing organizations and the selfless individuals that lead them have assembled and planned an incredibly noble and successful event each year to benefit the Fisher House Foundation. To date, they have raised over $1 million. This year’s Gingerbread Ball was held at the beautiful Ocean Place Resort & Spa in Long Branch, New Jersey on Dec. 3.
The Fisher House Foundation builds Fisher Houses, which are a home away from home for families of patients receiving medical care at military and veterans’ medical centers. Typically, the homes are located within walking distance of the facilities. The program to provide housing began in 1990 and has provided more than 11.5 million days of lodging to more than 430,000 families. There are currently 93 Fisher Houses located on 25 military installations and 36 Veterans Administration centers with more planned. A Fisher House ranges in size from 5,000- to 16,800-square-feet and provides eight to 21 suites. Each house can accommodate 16 to 42 family members.
This year’s Gingerbread Ball featured a cocktail hour, silent auction, numerous raffles, AOC awards, an AOC scholarship presentation, a delicious dinner, speaker retired Marine Staff Sgt. Johnny “Joey” Jones, music by the Jazz Lobsters, dancing and the Gingerbread Ball check presentation.
Staff Sgt. Johnny “Joey” Jones provided a motivating speech about his life to date and what he has learned along the way. Staff Sgt. Jones is currently a contributor to FOX News Media. He also serves as a fill-in host for the “Fox and Friends” franchise, “The Five,” “The Big Saturday Show” and “The Big Sunday Show.” He also provides military analysis across all FOX News Media platforms. He was raised in Dalton, Georgia, and he subsequently enlisted in the United States Marine Corps after high school. Staff Sgt. Jones shared his experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan. He spoke about his role as an Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD/Bomb) technician in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan and the 2010 IED related incident that resulted in the loss of both of his legs above the knee and severe damage to his right forearm and both wrists. He spoke to the audience about helping others, making the most of their talents and the importance of counting blessings.
At the Gingerbread Ball, the AOC was honored to present a 2022 AOC Garden State Chapter Distinguished Service Award, a 2022 AOC Garden State Chapter Outstanding Achievement Award and the 2022 AOC Cyber Corps Warrant Officer Scholarship. AOC President retired Navy Captain Brian Hinkley, AOC Vice President, retired Air Force Colonel Myles Murphy and AOC Garden State Chapter President Miss Nicole Zaretski presented the awards. Miss Nicole Zaretski awarded Mr. Thomas Leshik from L3Harris with the 2022 AOC GSC Distinguished Service Award. Mr. Leshik has over 30 years of service with the Army, Special Forces, and Navy’s electronic warfare communities. He a Technical Fellow for L3Harris and is considered the organization’s Chief Subject Matter Expert for all Power Supply and High-Power Transmitter designs. Tom is one of the most knowledgeable people in Industry on the power supply and transmit capability of the ALQ-211, ALQ-214, and CAT Nulka systems. Over the years Tom has guided multiple designs through Design Verification Test, Environmental Qualification, System Test and fielding.
Miss Zaretski also awarded Mr. Martin Apa from L3Harris with the 2022 AOC GSC Outstanding Achievement Award. Marty has 37 years of service to the warfighting community, with 25 of them to the electronic warfare community. He also holds five US patents. Marty was one of the founding engineers of L3Harris’ successful Advanced Systems business, which serves unique defense customers. In addition, he served for eight years as the Chief Engineer of that business. He was also instrumental in introducing Small Form Factor EW technology to both industry and the warfighting community. Marty’s work resulted in one of the first successful flight test demonstrations of an Electronic Attack payload on a small UAS.
AOC President Brian Hinkley and AOC Vice President Myles Murphy awarded the winner of the 2022 Cyber Corps Warrant Officer Scholarship to Chief Warrant Officer 3 (CW3) Douglas B. Price. The Scholarship was established by the Laurie Buckhout Foundation in August 2020. The Cyber Corps Warrant Officers Scholarship Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing support to US Army Cyber Corps (i.e., 170A, 170B, and 170D) warrant officers by providing them with the opportunity to apply for financial assistance in gaining various levels of formal higher education. To qualify, you must be a CW3 or under, demonstrate excellent promotion potential, be in the Cyber Warfare or EW workforce (i.e., 170A, 170B, and 170D), have a minimum of two years left on active duty and be eligible and accepted to attend a Master’s or PhD program. This year’s winner, Chief Warrant Officer Price, is an Electromagnetic Warfare (EW) Research Scientist within the Cyberspace Operations Research Element (CORE) under the Army Cyber Institute (ACI) at West Point, where he is responsible for conducting basic and applied research on technical topics to advance Army’s body of knowledge and improve EW capabilities in support of key stakeholders within DoD. CW3 Price is scheduled to complete Warrant Officer Intermediate Level Education in the summer of 2023. CW3 Price is a graduate of Western Governors University and holds a Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity and Information Assurance. CW3 Price’s personal decorations include the Bronze Star Medal (BSM) with oak leaf cluster, Meritorious Service Medal (MSM) with oak leaf cluster, the Army Commendation Medal (ARCOM) with four oak leaf clusters and the Army Achievement Medal with four oak leaf clusters. CW3 Price is pursuing a Master of Science in Cybersecurity and Information Assurance from Western Governors University.