Carrying the "football" for the President
Steve Chealander’s career included flying with the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, rising through the ranks to colonel, piloting for American Airlines and directing its flight-operations efficiency and serving on the board of the National Transportation Safety Board.
Of all his accomplishments, however, the one he is most often asked about is his service as military aide to President Reagan from 1985 to the end of his term in office. At 10 a.m. Jan. 29, PebbleCreek resident Chealander will explain the duties of the military aide, which include carrying the “football.”
Officially known as the “president’s emergency satchel,” the so-called nuclear “football” — portable and hand-carried — is built around a sturdy aluminum frame, encased in black leather. Contrary to popular belief, the football does not actually contain a big red button for launching a nuclear war. Its primary purpose is to confirm the president’s identity, and it allows him to communicate with the National Military Command Center in the Pentagon, which monitors worldwide nuclear threats.
Chealander commits significant time to the Reagan Presidential Library in Simi, California, regularly participating in various events. Most noteworthy was the procurement of and his participation in the dedication ceremony of the Boeing 707, tail number #27000, which served as Air Force One and is now on exhibit at the library. He also had the honor of speaking on behalf of Mrs. Nancy Reagan at the dedication ceremony of the Air Force C-17, christened “The Spirit of Ronald Reagan.” Chealander was the keynote speaker at the 2008 celebration of President Reagan’s birthday and placed a wreath at the president’s grave site on behalf of President George W. Bush.
Chealander and his wife, Becky, have lived in PebbleCreek since December 2012.
Tickets to all Monday Morning Lectures are $4 at the door of the Renaissance Theater.
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