The 944th Fighter Wing is the Air Force Reserve Command’s most diverse fighter wing as it’s the only wing that trains on four different airframes.
Two of those four airframes are geographically separated, and the wing’s newly inducted civic leaders were able to take a bus ride to visit one of them, May 25, 2021.
Honorary Commanders from the 944th FW learned about the Air Force’s only aircraft specifically designed for close air support to protect combat troops on the ground, the 924th Fighter Group’s A-10 Thunderbolt II at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz.
“The Honorary Commander program is invaluable to providing support to our Airmen,” said Capt. Monique Roux, 944th FW public affairs chief. “Setting up this tour for our newest Honorary Commanders to learn about a major part of our mission builds on their knowledge that they use to advocate for us in the local community.”
Prior to taking their roles in the 944th, the civic leaders toured units at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. They had the opportunity to see the F-35 Lightning II and F-16 Fighting Falcon up-close and learn about the units they will be imbedded in. When the group got the opportunity to visit the 924th, they jumped at the chance to visit another extension of the wing.
“Being able to visit the 924th, down here expands my understanding of the entire unit and the Air Force in general,” said Sean Edkins, 944th FW command chief honorary commander. “Everything is related with different squadrons all over the country. The 944th has different operations all over the country so besides where I am an honorary commander, seeing Davis-Monthan, the facility, and the people expands my overall appreciation for what the Airmen do for us.”
During the visit, the civic leaders were given a tour of the “The Warthog” and met with pilots who fly them.
“The A-10 has been around since 1975 and when I see it up-close and hear from the pilots that fly it, there is a high level of affection and respect for it.” Edkins said. “It has such a unique purpose; people are very proud of it, and ground troops depend on it. It is revered and respected and the pilots’ dedication to the airframe is extremely impressive.”
After a mission brief and lunch, the honorary commanders ended their tour with a flight in the A-10 simulator.
“Being able to witness the A-10 up-close is huge but that simulator was unbelievably intimidating,” Edkins said. “It’s a lot harder than it looks, I crashed and burned.”
Edkins went on the say that this tour opened his eyes to what he wasn’t aware he was missing.
“I think that a lot of folks don’t understand the sacrifice and commitment of reservists that support the greater good of our country,” Edkins said. “More and more folks should step up and support this initiative, that’s what I’m coming away with. That’s been my goal since signing up for the program, to become exposed and to spread awareness.”
Even though these civic leaders are assigned to 944th units at Luke AFB, they seemed appreciative to have been able to visit the 924th and the group was proud to host them.
“The honorary commander program has been a great addition to our unit,” said Col Abel Ramos, 924th FG commander. “Even though we are a [Geographically Separated Unit], we feel the benefits of having these civic leaders on our team. They work hard to support us and they are dedicated to our Airmen. That cross-talking and hands-on interactions is a huge benefit to the Airmen down here at the 924th FG as well as up there at the wing. It is a win, win opportunity for all of us in the 944th.”