Did you know the majority of the squadrons on base have an active duty commander and a civilian counterpart known as an honorary commander? The 355th Fighter Wing Public Affairs office manages, maintains and coordinates the HCC program here, which allows community leaders from around Tucson to take a closer look at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz.
The intent of the HCC Program is to educate these community leaders who have limited knowledge of the Air Force and the installation. The program works to foster public trust and support by familiarizing community leaders with the customs, courtesies and camaraderie of the U.S. Air Force service at D-M.
The 355 FW commander is the approving authority for all HCC assignments. Honorary commanders can be nominated by unit commanders, the 355th FW command chief or community leaders. An HCC must be a community leader who, because of their position of influence in the community, will have a positive impact on the public support for the base.
“The point of the HCC Program is to get civilian leaders on base, to learn about the base and to interact with our awesome Airmen,” said Col. Kevin Blanchard, 355th Fighter Wing commander. “HCCs can help us understand downtown and help downtown understand us. We look forward to continuing to build our relationships.”
Responsibilities of the unit commanders are to ensure their HCC is a welcome partner of the Desert Lightning Team, invite the HCC to unit functions, and provide opportunities to experience operations. Responsibilities of HCCs are to be a productive supporter of the military community, interact with personnel to learn about the Air Force and the mission, and to attend unit functions.
“The most important thing that I could tell anyone that might be an upcoming HCC is that the hardest part of any task is the beginning,” said Dave Sitton, 55th Rescue Squadron HCC. “The more often you visit the base or the squadron, the more you are going to get out of it, the more you are going to enjoy it.”
Honorary Commanders hold a two-year term with a squadron. They are then moved to alumni status, but are still encouraged to participate in events with their squadrons and with the base.
The HCC program holds quarterly events that are slated to cover the entirety of the major missions carried out day-to-day on D-M.
“We hear from media about what’s going on around the base, but there is so much that is not available to the general public,” said Ruthanne Pitts, 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group HCC. “As an honorary commander, we get the chance to see that these are everyday people doing extraordinary things, and because of that, our community is better and our world is safer. We owe them all the support we can give them.”
For more information about the Honorary Commander Program, contact the Public Affairs office at 228-3407.