Meet Our Founder - Colonel Bruce J. Host, USAF Ret.
Kentucky National Guard 1957-1959, Vietnam War 1962-1963, 1970-1971,
U.S. Air Force 1959 - 1981
Colonel Host is known in Florida as a Visionary and Champion of Community Improvement
From an early age, Host was drawn to service-oriented activities. He loved the uniform, joined the Boy Scouts and became an Eagle Scout while also earning the God and Country Award, was inducted into the Order of the Arrow and received the Explorer Silver Award. In high school he became the commander of the Army Junior ROTC Battalion and while serving, enlisted in the Kentucky National Guard.
Following a year of college, Host was accepted into the Aviation Cadet Program for Navigator Training and was commissioned an Air Force 2nd Lt. at the age of 20. His first assignment was as a navigation instructor in Texas. He then served as a C-130 navigator in Okinawa. During this time, he flew troop carrier and numerous supply missions in Thailand and South Vietnam. A highlight was to be the navigator of the first airplane to land on the new PSP runway at Nakhon Phanom, Thailand, on the Laos border, to retrieve the Seabees that had built that runway. His next tour included flying with C-130 Aerial Survey Teams in Ethiopia, Brazil and Columbia. After earning his bachelor’s degree at the University of Omaha, he became a personnel officer in officer assignments at the Military Airlift Command and was subsequently selected as the Chief of Airman Assignments. He then went again to Vietnam where he served as an HC-130P navigator with the 39th Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Squadron.
During his time, Host distinguished himself as a navigator aboard the aerial refueling HC-130P “Lime Two” during the November 21, 1970 clandestine raid on the SonTay POW Camp in North Vietnam. Upon completion of this tour, he attended the Naval War College in Rhode Island where he also received a Master’s Degree from George Washington University. His follow on assignment was as Executive Officer and Command Navigator for the Unified Commander-in-Chief Alaska where he was promoted three years early to LtCol. He was then assigned to the Pentagon first as Chief of Total Officer Force Programs and then as Executive Officer in the Directorate of Personnel Programs. Following the Pentagon, Host was selected for and graduated from the National War College in Washington. He was then recruited for Attaché service and became the U.S. Air Attaché to Romania in 1979, until he retired from the Air Force in 1981 after 22 years of active duty. During his time in military service, Host received numerous awards, most notably the Distinguished Flying Cross, in 1970.
After retirement, Host settled his family in Tallahassee, Florida where he enjoyed proximity to his in-laws, golf courses and business opportunities. He immediately became involved in various real estate and other ventures. He became the first director of the local festival, was an active member of his neighborhood, a 3,500 member homeowners association, where he served as president and on the Board of Directors for ten years. While serving, he became increasingly frustrated by the lack of progress being made by local government in solving a variety of issues that affected his neighborhood. This prompted his foray into local politics. He was elected to the County Commission and served eight years. Due to his leadership and persistence, the quality of life in his district was remarkably enhanced. He is credited with alleviating chronic traffic congestion by restructuring the local road system, building a new branch library, fire station, and community park, among other improvements. His accomplishments while Chairman of the Commission included initiating his vision of enhancing the gateway to the city, known as the Gaines Street Corridor. His efforts to renovate the area have led to not only a more beautiful first impression of Tallahassee on the drive from the airport to the city, but a zone of new economic development around Florida State University. Host was active in the Tallahassee Retired Officers Association, the Air Force Association and became co-founder and then president of the Killearn Kiwanis Club. He also served on numerous community boards.
However, Host is proudest of founding the Florida Veterans' Hall of Fame. He realized the need, generated its mission, and concept, and lobbied for it to become an institution which is recognized and supported by the State of Florida. Host’s premise was to highlight the value of a military experience in the transference of principles higher than oneself from the military to the civilian world. The establishment of the Florida Veteran’s Hall of Fame was assured by the legislation introduced by Senator Michael S. Bennett and the willingness of Lt. Gen. Robert F. Milligan, USMC Retired, to bring the Florida Veteran’s Hall of Fame under the umbrella of the Florida Department of Veterans Affairs. The Florida Veterans Hall of Fame serves not only to recognize those who have continued giving back, but to broaden public awareness of the character building aspect of military service.
Col. Bruce Host and his wife of over 50 years, Sandra, now divide their time between their homes in Tallahassee and Highlands, North Carolina, where Sandra has become the more active Board participant of the family. Host remains an avid golfer and now also appreciates a competitive game of croquet. The Hosts also enjoy traveling and spending time with their two daughters and five grandchildren.