The honorary commanders were welcomed by Col. Terry W. McClain, 433rd Airlift Wing commander. The MSG mission briefs were given by Col. Wayne M. Williams, 433rd MSG commander, and Lt. Col. James A. Hearn III, 433rd MSG deputy commander.
The group’s squadron commanders were then introduced and each provided a snapshot of each of their unit’s mission.
Following the briefings, honorary commanders were escorted to the cargo load training facility, where various equipment was on display. There were demonstrations and presentations from an explosive ordnance disposal team, firefighters, security forces, personal chemical warfare defense, personnel, and from an aerial port’s aircraft cargo loading team.
One honorary commander, Texas District 120 State Representative Barbara Gervin-Hawkins, who is partnered with Lt. Col. Ruben Soliz, 433rd Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron commander, spoke about how these events help her better understand the military’s purpose.
“A lot of times we hear about what’s going on, or we look at it from a distance, but when you’re up close and personal, you can begin to appreciate the work that everybody is doing,” Gervin-Hawkins said. “I think that more visits like this, will make us become champions for recruitment for the military. Because if you don’t understand it, you can’t articulate it to our young people. Today opened my eyes to a lot of different things: the functionality of different tools that are available, the importance of the work, and all the comprehensive things that go into it.”
After the demonstrations, the honorary commanders were invited to attend the assumption ceremony, of Williams, who officially assumed command of the group.
Williams offered some insight about how this program helps the wing and local community to grow their relationship.
“Honorary commander tours are a great opportunity to show community leaders a bit about what we do, and to demonstrate specialized equipment, like our EOD robot and the C-5 cargo load trainer,” he said. “But the best way we can build trust and strengthen relationships is to also give our guests and our Airmen a chance to talk with each other. When we provide that opportunity for direct, relaxed, and unfiltered conversation between our Airmen and our community, that’s when the magic happens.”
Andrew Camplen, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 688 post commander and state assistance adjutant for Texas Veterans of Foreign Wars, another of the honorary commanders, who is paired with Col. Bradley G. Butler, 433rd Medical Squadron, spoke enthusiastically about his experience.
“It reminds me of my own service and puts a smile of my face to see so many people out here doing so many wonderful things for America and serving the Air Force so well,” Camplen said. “It is such a privilege and honor to be here with everybody. It is amazing.”
The honorary commander program matches military commanders with local business and civic leaders to foster and grow understanding of the military mission and its impact on the surrounding community.