OSI names 3 inductees to its Hall of Fame

  • Published
  • By Robert Vanderpool
  • OSI Command Historian

The Office of Special Investigations announced its Hall of Fame class of 2022, with three names being officially inducted next September, said Brig. Gen. Terry L. Bullard, OSI’s commander.

The latest OSI Hall of Fame trio is former Special Agents Gale D. Ahern, Kelly D. Harrison Sr., and Richard D. Womble.

“It is my great honor to join the senior leadership of the command in announcing the 2022 OSI Hall of Fame inductees,” Bullard said. “The men and women of OSI are proud of your contributions and grateful for the legacy you have provided for us today and for our future generations of OSI to build upon.”    

The OSI Hall of Fame was established in 1998 as part of the organization’s 50th anniversary year celebrations. It was created to recognize a select few former members of the command who have demonstrated exceptional dedication and leadership in performance of their duties which sets them apart from others who have served with OSI.

Those chosen for induction must have made significant and long-term contributions to the OSI mission or performed an unusually heroic action. From the nearly 75-year history of the organization, only 50 former members have been forever enshrined into the OSI Hall of Fame. 


Ahern served with OSI for more than 36 years. His career in the Air Force began in 1968 when he enlisted to serve as a jet mechanic, completing one deployment overseas during the Vietnam War at Da Nang Air Base in South Vietnam.  

He was selected for duty with OSI in 1974 and served as a special agent for fourteen years before retiring from active duty in 1988. After a short stint with the Defense Intelligence Agency, Ahern rejoined OSI later that same year as a civilian agent.

Ahern was best known for his skills as a polygraph examiner. He was considered by his superiors to be one of the top polygraph examiners in the entire Department of Defense and was often personally selected to participate in high profile investigations.  

His thorough, professional and articulate court-martial testimony was frequently praised by military judges and commanders alike. Rising to become a supervisor, he was credited with greatly enhancing the professionalism of all Air Force polygraph offices.

He was personally responsible for the rewrite and implementation of regulations, policies and procedures governing the conduct and utilization of polygraphs within the Air Force. The results of his efforts were widely recognized as having shaped Air Force and OSI wartime policies and readiness.

Throughout Ahern’s career he was praised by his superiors, his subordinates and his colleagues for dynamic leadership, innovation, tenacity, technical expertise, practical knowledge and his ability to motivate others. Ahern’s last assignment with OSI was as the organization’s Inspector General. He retired from civilian service in 2011, passing away later that same year.   

“He would be very humbled and of course we (his family) are so proud. He was so very dedicated to the organization,said Cody Ahern, his wife. “He really loved OSI and all the people of the organization.”


Harrison served with OSI for more than 43 years. Harrison first joined the Air Force in 1959, initially serving with the Air Police forces guarding bombers during the Cold War. 

Although Harrison left active duty briefly in 1963 to work in private industry, he reenlisted in 1964 and resumed his law enforcement career.

Harrison was selected for duty with OSI in 1970.  He served as a special agent for 13 years before retiring from active duty in 1983. He returned to OSI in 1984 as a civilian agent. Harrison has been described as a true pioneer of the OSI polygraph program.

His contributions to the OSI mission as a polygraph examiner over his career included being the author of several informative “how-to” polygraph guides covering a range of topics such as the use of polygraph in robbery, burglary, sex crimes and bombing investigations.

He was a strong advocate for the implementation and field use of a suspect elimination questionnaire, and he also taught key investigative and interrogations strategies at the Special Investigations Academy at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center.

Harrison’s efforts in support of criminal and fraud investigations allowed him to recover more ‘fruits of the crime’ and collect more probative information than any other of his contemporary examiners in the OSI polygraph program.

His skills as an investigator and as a polygraph examiner also proved invaluable during a deployment in support of the Global War on Terror, which involved the interrogation of detainees to determine their level of affiliation with terrorist groups and possible terrorist-related activities.

Throughout his OSI career he volunteered his expertise in polygraph examination to state and local law enforcement agencies at several of his duty locations. Harrison’s long-term commitment to polygraph testing of criminal suspects, his published “how-to” guides and his almost one hundred appearances at Article 32 hearings, military trials and other administrative hearings proved him to be an invaluable contributing member of the OSI criminal investigations mission.

Harrison retired from civilian service in 2013. The significance of being selected to the OSI Hall of Fame was met with surprise by Harrison. 

“The hair stood up on the back of my neck, I couldn’t believe it!” he said. “The Hall of Fame is an issue of legacy. You’ve got to remember the people that made those contributions. I’m very humble about that.  I’m not so sure that I made great contributions but those people in the Hall of Fame, the ones that are in there now, they sure did. They are the role models that inspire. They are the ones we all should emulate.”


Womble served with OSI for a little less than nine years. His career in the Air Force began in 1970, when he enlisted to serve within the Security Police career field, quickly rising to supervisory status. 

Womble was selected for duty with OSI in 1981, and later retired from OSI and the Air Force in 1990. Though his time with OSI was relatively short, his impact was large, especially in procurement fraud.

During his first assignment, Womble was quickly identified as a special agent with unique investigative abilities and as a probationary agent he led a variety of investigations across the criminal investigative and fraud spectrum.

Early investigative successes in the fraud arena resulted in his selection for specialized Department of Defense level contracting and procurement training. During his career, Womble was assigned to several joint task forces earning him direct praise from several Air Force senior leaders and the Director of the FBI.

In addition to his investigative abilities, Womble was also an early computer specialist and initiated state-of-the-art computer techniques which had applications across OSI and which were also adopted by other DoD agencies.

He eventually became the principal fraud investigative troubleshooter within OSI earning him the moniker as “the top contract fraud investigator in the Air Force.” He was cited during the Hall of Fame selection process as being “one of the primary reasons OSI created a central fraud program.”

After retirement from active-duty, Womble became a civilian fraud investigator serving with multiple government agencies to include both the Department of Veterans Affairs and Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.

He retired from civilian service in 2004.

Ahern, Harrison, and Womble will be formally inducted into the OSI Hall of Fame during a ceremony Sept. 9, 2023, in coordination with the Association of Former OSI Agents bi-annual convention in Arlington, Virginia.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic has caused recent conventions to be cancelled, this event will also recognize and induct former OSI members who were selected for induction into the OSI Hall of Fame in 2018 and 2020 respectively.   

OSI Hall of Fame eligibility is open to all former military and full-time civilian OSI personnel.  This includes all agents, non-agents, and reservists assigned to any OSI field unit from Jan. 1, 1948, through the present.

Candidates must have been retired or separated from OSI for at least five years to be considered. Nominations are accepted throughout the year and must be submitted prior to Dec. 31 to be considered for the next calendar year.

Nominations must be based on genuine knowledge or documented research. Only nominations for individuals will be accepted. Contact the OSI History Office at AFOSI.HO.Historian@us.af.mil for more information.

Editor’s Note: Since its creation in 1998, the OSI Hall of Fame did not have inductees named in 2015, 2017, 2019, or 2021. That, coupled with the COVID-19 pandemic-delayed inductees from 2018 and 2020, means the upcoming induction will mark the 21st time an OSI HoF ceremony will be conducted to honor its ranks.