The original By-Laws called for an annual convention and meeting during the months of October or November. By 1976, none had been convened. Then President Edgar J Bethart attempted to move the membership toward holding a convention, but there was little support evident — an idea whose time had not yet come. The first national convention of the Association would not be convened until 1979, by which time the decision apparently had been made to hold them on a biennial basis.
The first convention was convened in 1979 at Oklahoma City, OK, sponsored by the Oklahoma State Chapter. Subsequent conventions were held as follows:
- 1981 – Washington, DC – National Capital Chapter
- 1983 – Sacramento, CA – Greater Sacramento Valley Chapter
- 1985 – Clearwater Beach FL – Florida Chapter [now Gulf Coast Chapter]
- 1987 – Denver, CO – Rocky Mountain State Chapter
- 1989 – San Antonio, TX – San Antonio Chapter
- 1991 – Philadelphia, PA – Delaware Valley Chapter
- 1993 – Albuquerque, NM – Road Runner Chapter
- 1995 – Caribbean Cruise – Space Coast Chapter
- 1997 – Las Vegas, NV – Silver State Chapter
- 1998 – Washington, DC – National Capital Chapter
- 2000 – Cincinnati, OH – Wright-Patterson Chapter
- 2002 – Seattle, WA – Puget Sound Chapter
- 2004 – Norfolk, VA
- 2006 – St Simons Island, GA
- 2008 – Portland, OR
- 2010 – Colorado Springs, CO
- 2012 - Portland, ME
- 2014 - Nashville, TN
- 2016 - San Diego, CA
- 2018 - Charleston, SC
- 2020 - New Orleans, LA (postponed until 2021)
Up to 2002, Conventions were hosted by a local chapter who did all the work to locate hotels, establish tours, manage hospitality suites and, in general, run the administrative portion of the convention. Essentially, it was a full time job and extremely time consuming for the local chapter. At the 2002 convention, Norfolk was selected as the next location. There was not a local chapter in Norfolk and the Association subsequently contracted with a reunion service, Reunion Brats, to coordinate the convention. They essentially do all the local work which relieves a local chapter where those members can fully participate in convention activities.
Convention programs have been fairly standardized since the initial one in 1979 to include a number of various tours of the local area for sightseeing, a golf tournament, professional seminars, reception and cocktail party, a banquet and entertainment for all participants. The members of the Board of Directors (formerly Executive Committee) also meet with Delegates to conduct Association business, to include a presentation by the chapters or locations that wish to bid for sponsorship of the next biennial convention. Usually, the AFOSI Commander, Vice Commander or a senior AFOSI leader attends to present a “State of OSI” briefing and update on current activities.
It is probably fair to say that each convention has provided enjoyment for all the participants, notwithstanding an occasional glitch caused by unforeseen circumstances such as weather, transportation, etc. Attendance at the conventions has ranged from about 250 to more than 450 persons — location and cost quite logically has had an impact on attendance. There have been unusual events at some conventions. At the 1989 convention in San Antonio, a military parade at Lackland AFB honored AFOSI and its retirees. BGen Francis R. Dillon, AFOSI/CC, was the Reviewing Officer. Also, at this convention, the Association’s Ceremonial Flag was displayed for the first time, having been designed and procured by the San Antonio Chapter after Board of Directors approval.
The 1995 Convention was held aboard the MS Fantasy, a Carnival ship, while cruising to and from the Bahamas Islands. The 1998 Convention was held off-cycle to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of AFOSI, with the traditional banquet jointly sponsored by AFOSI and AFOSISA. There were 755 attendees at the banquet. The highlight of the banquet and convention was the induction of the first six members of the AFOSI Hall of Fame.