New honorary commanders assume command at Hurlburt

  • Published
  • By Amy Oliver
  • 1st Special Operations Wing Public Affairs
The newest group of 1st Special Operations Wing honorary commanders came on board Sept. 11, as a part of the year-long program designed to build and maintain solid, mutually beneficial relationships between the local communities and Hurlburt Field. 

The 1 SOW Honorary Commanders Program, which began in 2004, allows select local community leaders frequent opportunities to visit Hurlburt Field and learn about the mission, to participate in base functions and to express their views on issues of mutual concern. The program includes tours each of the four groups in the wing over the next year and a flight in a 1 SOW aircraft. 

In addition to the quarterly tours, the honorary commanders will be invited to base events, such as awards ceremonies, Operation Homecoming and changes of command, and will be immersed into their assigned unit as much as possible, giving them a hands-on experience in the program. 

"By the end of their year-long tenure, they will have a comprehensive knowledge of the risks taken every day by 1 SOW Airmen in the name of freedom," said Col Brad Webb, 1 SOW commander. "We hope they will use this knowledge to help us foster understanding and support throughout the local community. It's their support we've come to rely on to preserve the quality of life for our Airmen and families while maintaining our high operations tempo that's become our way of life." 

As the program has become more well-known in the community, nominees from across the Florida Panhandle spill in each year, making the selection process challenging. 

"To know first hand the challenges our military faces along with the successes would be a true privilege and honor," said Heidi Blair, director of the Pensacola USO. "Partnership between the military and private sector are critical for a well-balanced and supported community. Education and understanding about the private sector as well as the military sector are critical for the success of both entities. I would like to have a small part in this success." 

To date, the program has produced 33 Hurlburt Field ambassadors in the community. Many of these former honorary commanders are in the process of forming a 1 SOW Honorary Commander Alumni Association to maintain their connection to the Air Commando family.

The 2008-2009 1 SOW Honorary Commanders are:
Ms. Joyce Shanahan, Fort Walton Beach City Manager (1st Special Operations Wing)
Ms. Heidi Blair, Director, Pensacola USO (1st Special Operations Wing Command Chief)
Ms. Lori Allgood, Director for Business Development for Brookdale Senior Living, Westwood Retirement Resort (1st Special Operations Group)
Lorena Spiller, Wells Fargo Home Mortgage Consultant (1st Special Operations Maintenance Group)
David Sanders, CEO, North Okaloosa Medical Center (1st Special Operations Medical Group)
Nick Chubb, Mayor Pro-Tem (Cinco Bayou); Owner/President of Cabinets RRR Us (1st Special Operations Mission Support Group)
Rev. Betsy Jennings Powell, Episcopal Priest/Rector of St. Augustine of Canterbury Episcopal Church (1st SOW Chaplain)