Meet Major Henry A. Avellaneda

(Submitted photo) Avellaneda as a JROTC Instructor, with one of his students.

By Danika J. Hopper
Caloosa Belle
Local veteran, Henry Avellaneda, served in the Air Force for 20 years, retiring from active duty, as a Major in January, 1996. “I really enjoyed my time in the Air Force. It was a great experience that gave the opportunity to live in different parts of the world like Panama and Spain, and travelled extensively. Along the way I made many friends with whom I still in touch,” says Avellaneda.

Avellaneda began as a Weapons Controller at Shaw AFB, in South Carolina, and rose up through the ranks to Administration Officer, then Assistant Chief of Protocol at Howard AFB in Panama, and after attending Squadron Officer School at Maxwell AFB in Alabama, he went on to become an Executive Officer and Section Commander, at Dyess AFB in Texas. He then traveled back to Panama where he worked as Chief of the Security Assistance Programs Branch, and then was stationed in Spain, as the Chief of the Executive Support Division. He has also worked as Deputy Commandant for resources, and even International Student Affairs Directorate at the Inter-American Air Force Academy. “I am very proud of having served my country as an officer for 20 years and recommend it to anyone who has the opportunity do the same. The Air Force provides good benefits, the opportunity to travel the world and a retirement if you stay for the long run,” he says. “The Air Force is like a family and we take care of our own.” He eventually returned to Spain, where he worked as Air Base Group Commander at Torrejon Air Base. He completed all base milestones ahead of schedule, and was the last base commander during the last stages of the base’s closure.

After retiring from active duty, Avellaneda explains, “After that I lived in Madrid, Spain working as an English teacher until March 1999. Then I worked for the US Army in Civil Service for several months in Ft Benning, GA as Chief of Protocol for the School of the Americas. I moved to Miami at the end of the year to work as the Senior Aerospace Science Instructor of the Air Force JROTC program in Miami Southridge SH. I was the Dept head of the cadet program which had aprox 300 cadets and I taught leadership and discipline for 18 years.”

A decorated officer, Avellaneda received a multitude of recognition via medals and awards during his Air Force career, such as: 1981 Air Force meritorious service medal and Air Force regular commission, 1982 Company Grade Officer of the Quarter, 1983 Administration Officer of the Year, 1984 Air Force Commendation Medal for meritorious service, 1987 Defense Meritorious service medal, 1989 & 1990 Air Force commendation medal, 1990 Air Force Commendation medal for outstanding achievement, 1990 Homestead AFB Senior Information Management Officer of the Year, 1990 TAC Outstanding Senior Information Management Officer of the Year, and 1992, 1994, and 1996 Air Force Meritorious Service Medals for meritorious service.

Avellaneda went on to say, “The Air Force gave the opportunity to learn different jobs and was very challenging. While working as a JROTC instructor, I reunited with old friends from service and my coworkers, who had been on active duty within the Air Force. I was also very active with the community as a member of the Kiwanis Club and the American Legion as the chapter Vice-President, and the Air Force Association, helping the community. Helping shape my high school students into becoming productive and responsive citizens of our community was very rewarding.”

When asked what advice he has for fellow veterans, he replies, “To my fellow veterans, I recommend you get involved with the community and join the various veterans organizations available.”

About five years before his retirement, Avellaneda and his wonderful wife, Victoria, bought land in Pioneer to build a house preparing for retirement. “Our transition into our new home here in Hendry County has been very easy. People are very friendly and helpful. We felt welcomed from the beginning since Hendry County, and both LaBelle and Clewiston are friendly towns that provide the majority of the conveniences you find in bigger cities but without the traffic, the rush and the long lines. I enjoy living in the country side and love planting and gardening and also have some animals.”

Always working in connection with the community he lives in, he participated in the Keep Hendry County Beautiful- International Coastal Clean-up, where he helped collect and haul hundreds of pounds of trash from the along the banks of the Caloosahatchee River. He is also currently a Precinct Captain for the Hendry County Democratic Party and recently attended the Florida Democratic Convention as a Delegate.

The Avellaneda’s spend many of their weekends beautifying their property in Pioneer, adding gorgeous landscaping, and enjoying each other’s company. Both are very active in our community, working hard to help where they can.

Thank you, Henry Avellaneda, and all veterans for your service and sacrifice.

Danika can be reached at dhopper@newszap.com

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