The 56th Fighter Wing Honorary Commander Program provides senior wing leaders and Luke Air Force Base a community outreach opportunity and expands the commander’s ability to foster relationships between local, civic and business leaders and base personnel.
“This program is very important to us because I believe in the importance of our interaction with our community,” said Brig. Gen. Michael Rothstein, 56th FW commander. “The military does not work without the support of our community.”
The purpose of the program is two-fold.
First, it allows community participants to become more aware of the Luke, U.S. Air Force and Defense Department military missions. Likewise, it gives those who live and work on Luke AFB a chance to get to learn more about the community in which they live.
Honorary commanders are selected based on their positions in the community and they serve a term of two years. They are leaders in business, industry and corporations, many of whom are company chief executive officers or presidents.
Nick Myers, Phoenix Coyotes manager of group sales, said he is honored to become a part of the Luke family.
“This will allow me to learn more about the military and Luke’s mission, and to interact with our service members to learn about them and why they joined the Air Force,” he said.
It also allows military commanders and their units to learn more about the community in which they live.
The 56th FW honorary commanders are assigned to each of Luke’s squadrons and groups, comptroller, staff judge advocate and wing chaplain, as well as to the wing commander, vice commander and command chief. About 60 honorary commanders are assigned at any given time. Additionally, the 944th Fighter Wing, a tenant unit on base, has 10 honorary commanders, and they were inducted at the Oct. 26 ceremony, as well.
The idea is for host commanders to invite their honorary commanders to base and unit ceremonies, social functions, commander’s calls, graduations, award banquets and other important events.
Lt. Col. Erin Cluff, 56th Logistic Readiness Squadron commander, said she’s looking forward to an amazing opportunity to engage with the community.
“We’ll bring the honorary commanders into our shops and show them what we do,” she said. “I will gain the perspective of some of the community leaders, how they view Luke and what we do. I will also see what’s important to those in the community and how we can contribute to be mutually beneficial to each other.”
After the term is completed, the honorary commanders are invited to become active alumni members by joining the Fighter Country Partnership, a nonprofit organization and the base’s only community support organization, in order to maintain an active participation with the base.
Rick Hearn, Vestar director of leasing, remembers his time interacting with Luke Airmen.
“To be that someone who’s been bestowed with a true honor and privilege can be described as a ‘bucket list’ item,” he said. “We strive to continuously grow and learn as individuals, and I feel there’s no better way to advance that desire than participate in the program and learn about the military practices and camaraderie.”
For more information about the program, call the 56th FW Public Affairs Office at (623) 856-5997.