ASU Student Receives Aviation Scholarship from Thunderbird Field II Veterans Memorial, Inc.

September 6, 2022 – Scottsdale, AZ

Tbird-LogoArizona State University

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(“Tbird2″) announced it awarded the Tbird2 Aviation Scholarship to Arizona State University (“ASU”), Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, student McKinley Ritchie.  Tbird2 is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to preserving the history of aviation in Scottsdale, Arizona, honoring all military veterans, creating unique educational opportunities for Arizona students studying all aspects of aviation, and supporting Dogs4Vets.

Mr. Ritchie is majoring in Aeronautical Management Technology with a concentration in Unmanned Aerial Systems, as well as pursuing an Associate Degree from the Community College of the Air Force in Aircrew Safety Systems Technology.  Prior to enrolling at ASU, McKinley enlisted in the Arizona National Guard.  After completing basic military training, he attended the Air Force Technical Training School and graduated with the “Flight Chief Award”.  He then returned to Morris Air National Guard Base in Tucson to complete his one-year on-the-job training and was awarded “Airman of the Quarter”.   McKinley works as an Aircrew Flight Equipment Technician for the Arizona Air National Guard as well as being a full-time student at ASU.

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Marc O’Brien, Program Chair of Aeronautical Management Technology, Chief Ground Instructor, and Senior Lecturer, ASU, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, said, “The ASU Aviation Program is proud to announce that McKinley Ritchie is the 2022-2023 recipient of the Tbird2 Scholarship. McKinley is an excellent student who holds an outstanding 4.0 grade point average and will continue with his dreams of becoming an aviator for the U.S. Air Force.”

Rudy R. Miller, Chairman of TB2’s Advisory Board and Scholarship Committee, remarked, “We welcome James as a deserving veteran of the TB2 Aviation Scholarship awardees.  He is the first U.S. Navy veteran recipient, joining other veterans from the U.S. Army, U.S. Air Force, and U.S. Marine Corps.  On behalf of TB2 and as a former member of the military, I would like to thank them all for their service and commitment to their country.”

Steve Ziomek, Chairman and President of Tbird2, stated, “McKinley is a class act, team player, and certainly gives it his all.  He has spent most of his young adult years giving back to the community while serving in the Air National Guard.  We are proud to recognize McKinley with this scholarship and plan to follow him during a successful career in aviation.”

Rudy R. Miller, Chairman of Tbird2’s Advisory Board and Scholarship Committee, commented, “During our interview, Steve and I asked McKinley …. “Why do you merit to be the ASU recipient of the coveted Tbird2 Aviation Scholarship and what motivated you to apply for this honor?”  (I will paraphrase his comments).  He shared with us his passion for aviation at a very early age and his father, a U.S. Air Force veteran (Avionics), and his mother, a businesswoman, taught him to strive for excellence, plus be accountable for your actions in life.  His parents also inspired him to exceed any and all expectations. They instilled in him the significance of individual hard work ethic, which has been essential in achieving his academic, aviation, and military objectives to date.  He has long-term goals and he understands how impactful the Tbird2 Aviation Scholarship honor is perceived by all veterans and the aviation industry overall.”  Mr. Miller continued, “We are extremely proud to have this accomplished young man, who is also serving his country in the military, be our Tbird2 Aviation Scholarship awardee.”

About Thunderbird Field II Veterans Memorial, Inc.

Thunderbird Field II Veterans Memorial, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization formed in 2014 and headquartered in Scottsdale, Arizona.  During World War II, an airfield named Thunderbird Field II was built for the sole purpose of training U.S. Army Air Corps pilots in 1942.  Thunderbird Field II graduated over 5,500 men and women pilots, many of whom saw military action in Europe and the Pacific.  The field and school were deactivated on October 16, 1944, sold to Arizona State Teachers College (ASU), then to the Arizona Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, and finally to the City of Scottsdale in 1966 and is now known as Scottsdale Airport (KSDL).  Tbird2 has a permanent memorial at the entrance of the Scottsdale Airport, located at 15000 N. Airport Drive, Scottsdale, AZ, and a historical display inside the facilities honoring the service of men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces as well as POW-MIAs.

The Aviation Scholarship Program provides scholarships to veteran and non-veteran Arizona resident students who meet specific criteria and are attending Arizona State University, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Chandler-Gilbert Community College, Cochise College, Pima Community College, or Yavapai College.  For more information, please visit

About Dogs4Vets

American Service Animal Society, dba Dogs4Vets, is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to enabling disabled veterans live a more productive life through the use of service animals.  Dogs4Vets offers lifetime support and service dog training for over 100 Arizona veterans each year, at no cost to the veteran.



Steve Ziomek Chairman & President

[email protected]


Rudy R. Miller Chairman, Advisory Board & Scholarship Committee

[email protected]



Jennifer Williams

Development Coordinator, Development Office

Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering

[email protected]