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Aerospace Industries Association head charts own course

Former secretary of the Army is new to association leadership but determined to make impact at $18 million-revenue group

Photo: James Cullum

Oct. 26, 2018
By Walt Williams

Eric Fanning’s office at the Aerospace Industries Association is decorated with memorabilia from his long career as a civilian leader for the U.S. military. On one shelf sits a display of challenge coins, which have their origins as rewards that commanders gave soldiers when they successfully completed challenges.

“I actually gave one to this World War II vet when I was secretary of the Army,” Fanning told CEO Update during an interview at AIA’s offices in Arlington, Va. “We were at a Padres game … and he was throwing out the first pitch. He gets my coin and was very enthusiastic about it, and goes, ‘This looks just like the one the president gave me.’

“I was like ‘Give mine back because that one beats everybody’s coin,’” Fanning joked.