Community leaders immerse with MacDill maintainers

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Caleb Nunez
  • 6th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

With armed guards at the gates and regulated access, a military installation can seem like a mystery to the outside community. In order to increase public awareness, the Air Force has a responsibility to inform and educate local community leaders about the mission beyond the gate.

The Honorary Commander Program does exactly this - it helps foster a supportive relationship between the community and the Air Force by providing opportunities to share experiences with each other.

Here at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, honorary commanders are selected every two years and paired up with squadron, group and wing commanders to experience the mission of the 6th and 927th air refueling wings. During this term, the honorary commanders gain access to the base and immerse with units across the wing to gain first-hand experience on how the mission gets accomplished.

On Dec. 12, 2019, approximately 30 honorary commanders from around the Tampa Bay community participated in an immersion tour of the 6th Maintenance Group.

The tour began with opening remarks from Col. Steve Snelson, the 6th ARW commander, followed by a history presentation and an introduction to MacDill’s mission. The honoraries then toured the 6th MXG to include the fabrication flight, fuel cell services, amongst other sections.

“It was extremely rewarding to see first-hand how everyone proudly works together to ensure the tankers are ready to go,” said Shay Romine, director of human resources at ThreeBridge Solutions and honorary commander of the 6th Comptroller Squadron. “Immersion days like these allow the Airmen to educate us and empower us to be the best community ambassadors we can be in return.”

After touring and speaking with maintenance Airmen, the immersion finished with a lunch at the dining facility and words from Snelson about how MacDill’s Airmen impact the overall mission of the Air Force.

“Our mission isn't about generating airplanes,” said Snelson. “It is about protecting our entire way of life and our Airmen, they make the difference.”

The Honorary Commander Program has the significant role of bridging the gap between the community and the military members behind the gate, and immersion days like these have helped make that gap smaller and smaller since its inception in 2009.