Cochise College Student Receives Thunderbird Field II Veterans Memorial, Inc. Aviation Scholarship Award

November 17, 2022 – Scottsdale, AZ


Thunderbird Field II Veterans Memorial, Inc. (“Tbird2″) announced it has awarded an Aviation Scholarship to Melinda Rice, a Cochise College (“CC”) student pursuing her Professional Pilot Technology Associate of General Studies degree.  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.

Melinda RiceMs. Rice has earned her private pilot license and is currently working towards her commercial certificate.  Her goal is to graduate with her Associate of Applied Science degree, become a certified flight instructor, and fly for a major airline.  Her grandfather was a WWII Army pilot and her uncle a Navy pilot in Vietnam, and her grandmother and dad also flew and had a passion for flying.  Growing up, going to airshows and listening to family stories ignited her passion for flying.  When Melinda isn’t studying or working, she enjoys skydiving, biking, weightlifting, music, art, and photography.

Belinda Burnett, Director of Aviation Programs, Cochise College, commented, “The aviation industry continues its rapid recovery post the pandemic, the pilot shortage is real and will continue for the foreseeable future.  The largest barrier to entry into this industry is the cost of training.  Scholarships are a very important resource for students such as Ms. Rice.  Melinda demonstrates passion in her pursuit of an aviation career.  Financial assistance helps students keep their focus on training.  Melinda works hard to achieve her goals and always seeks ways to improve her skills.”

Steve Ziomek, Chairman and President of Tbird2, said, “Melinda is one of the most well-rounded individuals we’ve seen in the Tbird2 Scholarship Program.  She is a dedicated individual with lofty education and aviation goals.  It is obvious to me that her hard work and dedication will result in a college degree, a commercial and instrument certificate, and a future flying for the airlines.”

Zio MillerRudy R. Miller, Chairman of Tbird2’s Advisory Board & Scholarship Committee, stated, “We appreciate our working relationship with CC and their aviation program.  Melinda is a deserving recipient of the coveted Tbird2 Aviation Scholarship.  She works a full-time job and is a full-time CC student.  She commutes by car from Benson, AZ to Douglas, AZ, the main CC aviation campus, about 73 miles, 3-hours round trip throughout the week.  That is a strong commitment!”

Mr. Miller continued, “Melinda is our fifth scholarship recipient over the past 11 months and we anticipate announcing our sixth awardee in December.”

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

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Rudy R. Miller Chairman, Advisory Board & Scholarship Committee

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Denise Hoyos

Executive Director

Cochise College Foundation, Inc.

[email protected]