Michael received his commission in 1979 via the ROTC program at the Senior Military College of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, commonly known as Virginia Tech. He began as an Air Defense officer, transferred to Ammunition (Ordnance), then to Acquisition. In Acquisition he served in Contracts, Program Management, and finally as a Uniformed Scientist. He retired as a Colonel in 2008 following over 28 years of regular Army service. He currently offers consulting services by teaching government contracts and Program Management for DC companies with contracts for teaching courses to Federal Government employees. Michael and his wife live in Sylva, NC.
Dr. Vivianne Cisneros Wersel, Au.D.
Vivianne is the widow of LtCol Richard "Rich" Wersel, Jr. USMC, who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom I and II and died on active duty at Camp Lejeune in 2005. She was instrumental in changing the SGLI and Death Gratuity (SA 1376) policy so that all active duty surviving spouses are now eligible for enhanced benefits. She was also involved in repealing the Widows Tax. Vivianne has testified on survivor issues before Congress twenty times. She served on the Gold Star Wives (GSW} Government Relations Committee for over 9 years and is President Emeritus/founder of Arlington (Texas) Gold Star Wives. She also serves on the Legislative Committee for American Academy of Audiology. She holds a Doctorate of Audiology from Salus University in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, and is a retired staff audiologist at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Bethesda, Maryland. Vivianne continues to work with Congress to help correct inequities and to optimize services provided to survivors. She currently resides in Asheville, NC.
VA Liaison (Alternate)
Marlene is the widow of The Rev. Carroll H. Varner, Jr., CDR, USN (Ret), a career Navy Chaplain, veteran of WW II and the Korean War followed by reserve service. Rev. Varner also served 12 years as a Chaplain in the VA drug rehab program. Marleen holds degrees from The College of Wooster and Syracuse University. Her career as a student financial aid administrator in higher education included service at The University of the South, Commonwealth of Kentucky, UNC-Greensboro and Financial Aid Services. She lives at Deerfield Episcopal Retirement Community in Asheville, NC, where she has served as President of both the Independent and Assistant Living Resident Councils, and on the Deerfield Board of Directors. She has three sons, five grandchildren, two great grandsons, four step children and their progeny.
John enlisted in the Army in 1972 and rose to the rank of Staff Sergeant before returning to NC State University and receiving his commission via ROTC in 1978. He served as an Air Defense, Infantry, and Special Forces officer in the U.S., Africa, Europe, Latin America, Asia, and the Middle East. After retirement, he had a second career with the CIA, serving in the U.S., U.K., Latin America, the Middle East, Central Europe, and multiple tours in Afghanistan and Iraq. John continues to do contract work for the USG and lives with his wife and the family dog, Chelsea, on the side of a mountain in Waynesville, NC.
Senior Advisor / Blue Ridge Honor Flight Coordinator
Rick graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy and was commissioned in 1978. His career spanned 34 years in the Air Force, flying C-5s, KC-135s, and several other aircraft. He retired as a major general in 2012 as the Air Force’s director of operational planning, policy, and strategy at the Pentagon. In retirement, Rick works part time as a consultant, is an Air Force Adjunct Contract Professor, and serves on the boards of several civic and veterans organizations. He and his wife live in Asheville.
Surviving Spouse Liaison
Nancy is a retired Episcopal priest, currently assisting at All Souls Cathedral in Asheville. She lives at Deerfield Retirement Community. She is an Army widow. Her husband, Captain Walter R. McCarthy, Jr., was killed in Viet Nam in 1962 while serving as an advisor. "Mac" was a VMI graduate.
Mike was commissioned via ROTC from the University of Miami in 1970 and served two years of active duty as an Armor Officer. After active duty, he was assigned to the 3220th US Army Garrison (USAG) in West Palm Beach, Florida, and later the 7/9 Field Artillery 8” (203) SP Battalion (USAR). During these assignments, he became branch qualified in the Adjutant Generals Corps, Transportation Corps, and Field Artillery. During Operation Desert Shield/Storm, the 3220th was mobilized and assigned to the US Army Forces Command (FORSCOM) Mobilization Station at Ft. Stewart GA, where Mike’s assignment was to serve as Director of Mobilization. He directed the mobilization of over 12,500 National Guard and Reserve Soldiers who deployed, with all equipment, from Ft. Stewart to King Khalid Military City (KKMC), Saudi Arabia. Following Desert Storm, he oversaw the demobilization and return of all units to their National Guard and Reserve Commands. He retired shortly thereafter as a Lieutenant Colonel. In 2008, after 25 years in the Mortgage Banking industry, Mike formed the Oxford International Corporation, a Florida Licensed Community Association Management Company. Today Oxford manages 15 associations with more than 1900 units and Mike remains the CEO. Mike and his wife of 42 years live in Hendersonville, NC.
Jeff had 30 years of operational aircraft maintenance experience with extensive expertise in tactical aircraft maintenance. He commanded three maintenance squadrons and a maintenance group. After retirement in 2008, Jeff became a consultant for a large defense contractor, where he provided in-depth assessments of maintenance operations. Jeff and his wife, Paula, live in north Henderson County, NC
Donna graduated from Texas Women’s University in 1980 with a BS in Occupational Therapy (OT). She was a practicing therapist when she received a direct commission into the USAF in 1985, serving in the U.S. and Germany and leaving the service in 1992. She retired from OT after a 23-year career in 2003, worked briefly for the Department of State and had a second career with the CIA 2005-2016, serving in the U.S., the U.K., Jordan, Egypt and Iraq. She now lives with her husband and family dog, Chelsea in Waynesville, NC.
Immediate Past President
Mike attended Tufts University on a ROTC scholarship graduating in 1961 with a degree in Civil Engineering. After a short tour on a surface ship, he served aboard the nuclear submarines USS Woodrow Wilson, USS Sunfish, USS Ulysses S. Grant, and USS Sand Lance, also serving as nuclear power instructor, Department Head SSBN Security OP-2, Commander Submarine Squadron 22, and Commanding Officer Submarine Training Facility Charleston, SC. He retired in 1991 and worked in nuclear power plants for 10 years. He now enjoys life in Flat Rock, NC, with his wife and border collies.