BEALE AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. --
The long awaited honorary commander program is back in full swing after a 3-year postponement.
The honorary commander program creates an opportunity for Beale Air Force Base to build lasting relationships with the local community and educate community leaders about the missions of Beale AFB and the United States Air Force.
“We can't exist without all of our community partners,” said Col. Geoffrey Church, 9th Reconnaissance Wing commander. “Our mission is global, and their support is vital to our success.”
Honorary commanders are people with influence from the local community to include non-federal elected or appointed officials, mayors, chamber of commerce affiliated group members, school officials and others. They are nominated based on their influence and positive impact on the community.
“We sent questionnaires to potential honorary commanders and base commanders to help determine compatibility between our respective leaders,” said John Schwab, 9th Reconnaissance Wing public affairs chief of community relations.
Local leaders are paired with Beale wing, group and squadron commanders to build and maintain relationships. The pairings connect through various events, like the honorary commander immersion tour and other base and community activities.
The symbiotic relationship between the Beale and honorary commanders is mutually beneficial for both parties. This partnership creates an avenue for them to support one another and their respective areas of expertise.
“In the medical group, we rely heavily on our community partners to make sure we are taking care of our most important weapon system here on base, the human weapon system,” said Lt. Col. Shanita Webb, 9th Medical Operations Squadron commander. “We work with Bi-county Ambulance Services to make sure that we’re able to transport people on this base to higher levels of care.”
Due to Beale’s geographic location, it can be difficult for Airmen to know about what goes on outside the gates and for the local community to understand what's going on inside. The honorary commander program provides the opportunity to learn how each other operates and establish mutual aid during times of need.
“During the most recent flood disaster, we were able to communicate with Beale and the decision makers at the time when we were going through the evacuation process,” said Alex Bumpus, 9th Medical Operations Squadron honorary commander and CEO of Bi-county Ambulance Services. “Beale opened their gates allowing us to set up a temporary care facility for those patients, and there was no way that we would have been able to manage and maintain those patients without Beale’s help.”