NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. — Community leaders in the Las Vegas valley have an opportunity to get involved with the Nellis and Creech Air Force Bases’ communities by becoming an honorary commander.
The installation honorary commander program, which boasts approximately 100 participants, was established to promote public awareness of the Air Force’s missions, policies and programs.
“Our honorary commanders represent a breadth of partners from across the region and provide an integral link between the installation and the community,” said Col. Barry Cornish, 99th Air Base Wing commander. “We’re deeply indebted to these folks who share so much of their time supporting our missions, our Airmen and their families.”
Current honorary commanders said the opportunity has helped them better understand how critical the base is to bolstering national security, as well as the installation’s positive impact on the local economy.
“We hear the aircraft and we know they are there, but we don’t always see what the Airmen do and how they affect the community,” said Mark Olson, Cornish’s honorary commander and the vice president of Human Resources for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.
Nellis, Creech and the Nevada Test and Training Range bring nearly $5 billion to the region’s economy.
A stint as an honorary commander provides community and business leaders the chance to get deeply involved with a particular unit and learn more about the unique missions and lives of Airmen across Nellis, Creech and the NTTR.
“The installation is special,” said David Radcliffe, a realtor with Luxury Homes of Las Vegas and honorary commander to the 8th Weapons Squadron commander. “You see the smartest and most motivated people.”
Selection as an honorary commander comes with specific responsibilities and opportunities.
Honorary commanders are encouraged to:
· Periodically visit their assigned unit
· Form a personal relationship with their unit’s commander and Airmen
· Become knowledgeable on any special issues or needs of family members in the unit
· Attend formal and social unit functions
· Integrate their assigned unit into their civilian sphere of interest and influence
· Participate in base-wide honorary commander events
· Attend annual induction ceremonies for newly assigned honorary commanders
· Look for opportunities to support their assigned unit and commander
“I enjoy getting together for different events and talking with the Airmen,” Olson said. “It’s interesting to see what they go through, from deployments to just their daily jobs.”
Base leaders say they see a high return on investment from the time they spend with their honorary commanders.
“My squadron reaps some incredible benefits from our relationship with Dave Radcliffe,” said Lt. Col. Christopher Ingleton, 8th WPS commander. “He provides my Airmen a critical link to the community and is a positive voice for our missions to his colleagues and friends across the region and beyond.”
Honorary commanders are selected based on their high level of community involvement and their reach in the community.
Participants can be non-federal elected or appointed officials, mayors, chamber of commerce-type group members, principals of local schools, and others who, because of their position or influence in the community, can positively impact public support for Nellis, Creech and the NTTR.
“This is a great opportunity for civic leaders to help the Las Vegas community understand more about the daily operations and strategic importance of one of the most critical, complex Air Force installations in the nation,” said Scott Knuteson, 99th Air Base Wing Public Affairs chief of community outreach, whose division administers the program.
But honorary commanders are not the only ones who reap the benefit of information sharing. Commanders and Airmen can better understand their community through the relationship.
“I highly encourage my fellow commanders to treat their own honorary commanders as a precious resource who are able to share lessons learned from their own areas of expertise and backgrounds,” Ingleton said.
The initial term for an honorary commander is four years. After that, honorary commanders or their commander may appeal to extend their participation.
“I’ve spent a lot of time with this program,” Radcliffe said. “I’ve helped out however I can. I know the Airmen in my squadron, and I know their families – they’re all fine people. I never thought I’d be involved, and now I am. I encourage anyone to get involved in the honorary commander program.”
Those interested in becoming honorary commanders may be nominated by any unit, Airman, civic leader, current honorary commander or non-federal entity associated with the installation.
Nominations should be sent to the 99th ABW Community Outreach at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on the nomination process or to obtain an electronic copy of the operating instruction that governs the program, call community outreach at (702) 652-2750.