SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. --
Team Scott honored 27 outgoing civic leaders and welcomed 29 new ones during an Honorary Commander graduation and induction ceremony Oct. 19.
The Honorary Commander program matches community leaders of influence with a military commander of a unit with the goal to educate and increase their knowledge and understanding of the Air Force and the installation.
“This provides us an opportunity to build strong, positive, and lasting relationships with local community leaders while exploring mutual areas of interest and increasing public understanding of our military missions, our assets, and our people,” said Col. Leslie Maher, 375th Air Mobility Wing commander. “And, it’s those relationships that I really want us to commit to
Since the program started in 2016, the honorary commanders have participated in squadron changes of commands, promotions, and retirements, and quarterly tours of various mission areas on base, as well as special events such as the Air Force ball, the Centennial kickoff, airshow and other related events, as well as a fly-away tour to Macdill and Tyndall Air Force Bases in Florida.
Several civics, such as Patty Barnett, Explore St. Louis, felt that trip was truly a highlight of the program.
“Attending the Community Relations tour was one of the best parts of my life…seriously! The tour was perfectly planned and the things we experienced during our visit to Tyndall and MacDill AFB was more than expected. I loved being a part of the Honorary Commander program and want to remain involved in one way or another. The people I have worked with have been amazing, and I wouldn’t trade any of them. I hope to be able to maintain the relationships that have been built. It truly has been my honor to work with each of you!”
Barnett, along with three other civic leaders were indeed asked to stay another two years as an alumni committee along with the Class of 2020, to continue to chart a way forward to ensure the program stays vibrant during commander turnovers and to follow up on partnerships that have developed during the past two years. The other alumni committee members are Dr. Janet Fontenot, Southwestern Illinois College, Dr. Lauren Hood-Olson, Olson Orthodontics, and Brad Reinhardt of Giltner St. Louis.
Participating along with the 375th AMW are the following units: 635th Supply Chain Operations Wing; 932nd Airlift Wing (Reserve), Air Force Network Integration Center; Air Combat Command’s Cyberspace Support Squadron and the 345th Recruiting Squadron.
While the program is meant to primarily educate those who are not as familiar with the military or how it operates, there have been several blossoming partnerships from these relationships such as the one the 635th SCOW has with their honorary commander, Dennis Wilmsmeyer who manages a large logistics operations—America’s Central Port.
Col. David Sanford, previous 635th SCOW commander, explained that “Dennis Wilmsmeyer is a great fit for the SCOW … and has partnered with the Gateway Logistics Office Association Chapter to provide professional development tours to logisticians assigned to Scott AFB. These tours have provided insight to Air Force logisticians on warehousing techniques and how to maximize multi-modal shipping. Additionally, he has leveraged relationships in the media to highlight the work performed by the SCOW.”
John Marquart, Shiloh’s Village Administrator, spoke highly of his relationship with the 932nd AW team saying that it had been beneficial in understanding the missions and how the commander leads the wing.
“I felt like the Village of Shiloh has a good relationship with the base, but that this program really strengthens it. I’ve learned things about the Air Force I never knew … keep it going!” he said.
Seven members of the group were added late in the season due to various reasons and will continue their journey with the new class of 2020. After the induction ceremony, Maher gave her charge to the new team to be an active participant, and let the graduates know that “they’ll always be part of our Team Scott family as we look for ways to stay connected. We don’t need a formal program to keep reaching out to each other. We need you to keep advocating for our Airmen, and we appreciate your continued support!”