Hurlburt Field Honorary Commanders change command, welcome new community leaders

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Ali Stewart
  • 1st Special Operations Wing

Base leadership welcomed their local community counterparts as part of the 2023-2024 Honorary Commander Program here, May 31.

Hurlburt’s Honorary Commander Program, which began in 2004, is a year-long program that sustains mutually beneficial relationships between the local community and base.

An Honorary Commander is a civilian classified as a key community leader, who is selected to partner with a senior military leader to foster a supportive relationship with the community. The experience also allows the Honorary Commanders to strengthen their knowledge and understanding about the Air Force and the installation, which they will then spread to the local community.

Each honorary commander is assigned to a wing or group commander or command chief, which forms a personal relationship. The change of command provided the first opportunity for Hurlburt Field leadership to welcome their newest honorary commanders.

“My tenure as an Honorary Commander for the 492nd was extended due to Covid,” said Charles Nix, Okaloosa County Undersheriff. “The opportunity to meet our military members and to fully witness the ‘behind the scenes’ day-to-day operations of the unit cannot be measured.”

Nix also stated how invaluable to program is to the surrounding community of Hurlburt Field.

“I wonder how many travelers pass Hurlburt Field every day and just think to themselves that it’s just another military installation,” said Nix. “Wow, if they even knew the hard work, sweat, and forward vision thinking/planning/testing that takes place daily to keep this country and the world safe.”

Another perk of the Honorary Commander program allows participants to tour the groups that make up the 1st SOW. Honorary Commanders also can see components of Hurlburt Field's partner units to get a complete picture of the base's mission. In addition, the honorary commanders are invited to attend special events on Hurlburt Field like homecomings, award presentations and change of command ceremonies.

Continuing to build the relationship between the 1st SOW and the local community is an invaluable asset to each wing commander that passes through.

“We deal in trust and relationships are what matter, whether it’s local community neighbors, or our allies and partners around the world -- we must invest in the people we work and live with,” said Col. Allison Black, 1st SOW commander. “Our Honorary Commander’s program puts this mentality to action, allowing us to deliberately foster relationships with the communities that are so much a part of us. These relationships – some standing strong for 10 to 20 years, some blossoming as of this year – are essential to what we do every day and the who and why we do it.”

As its title implies, the Hurlburt Honorary Commander Program is an executive-level program intended to educate influential community members who have limited knowledge about the Air Force and Hurlburt Field to foster public support for the base. It also serves as a forum in which the Hurlburt commanders can solicit advice and support from our civic leaders on matters affecting military and civilian communities

“The most impactful experience for me through the Honorary Commander program has been the relationships I have formed over the years,” said Daniel Gusoff, Owner of Emerald Coast Harley-Davidson. “This program is important because it’s through these relationships you are able to better understand how our community leaders and our bases can work together to achieve common objectives in the community. I’m really proud to be a part of this program and I will continue to support for years to come”

Interested in becoming an Honorary Commander? The 1 SOW Public Affairs office accepts applications through November and December of each year.  For more information on the application process, contact Public Affairs at or call 850-884-7906.