Fairchild welcomes new honorary commanders

  • Published
  • By Scott King
  • 92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
Eleven honorary commanders were welcomed and inducted into the base's Honorary Commander program during a ceremony Nov. 17.

The purpose of the Honorary Commander program was created to partner with and educate influential members of the community - like business leaders, chamber of commerce members and others - on the similarities and differences of military and civilian operations. The program brings together leaders from the military and civilian communities in an informal program designed to continue to foster mutual understanding and establish bonds of friendship.

“There is something very humbling and inspiring sitting alongside the men and women who have accepted such a noble role and have chosen to use their talents and generous hearts to serve the people of our nation,” said Katherine Morgan, President and CEO of Greater Spokane Valley Chamber of Commerce and 92nd Medical Group honorary commander. “Our chamber is honored and excited to meet and get to know my commander, Col. Michaelle Guerrero. We hope to invite her and others from Fairchild to participate and meet the leaders of our area as we seek to further the mission of forging an even stronger relationship with the base.”

During the ceremony, group and squadron commanders, alongside their honorary commanders, took the stage for the passing of the guidon. The guidon exchange is a symbolic gesture providing a tangible view of command authority.

Larry Soehren, President and CEO for Kiemle & Hagood Company and 92nd Maintenance Group honorary commander, had this to say about the program.

“As one of the region’s largest economic engines, I think it’s important that the community has a familiarity with the mission and Airmen at Fairchild. To go ‘inside the fence’ and see the inner workings of the base is an amazing opportunity. I’m always inspired by the passion and commitment exhibited every day by all those who work to support the mission and defend our country.”

Base leadership believes the program is a valuable asset.

"The honorary commander program is a vital link between Fairchild and our Inland Northwest neighbors. Without a doubt, this base is a success because of the whole-hearted support of the community for the last 75 years," said Col. Ryan Samuelson, 92nd Air Refueling Wing commander. "I look forward to interacting with our new honorary commanders on both a personal and professional level while helping them experience our culture and heritage.”

In addition, Fairchild’s current honorary commanders were introduced and a few were graduated into the alumni program.

Honorary commanders are typically identified through community groups such as Greater Spokane Incorporated and local chambers of commerce. They are then partnered with a base commander and are invited to base functions and in turn can provide their commander and Fairchild Airmen opportunities to get an inside look at their professions.

“I look forward to getting to know my commander, Col. Alan Hart, and connecting him to our region,” Soehren said. “It’s a great opportunity for each of us to share our perspectives and learn more about our communities. This program enables a great partnership for which I’m honored to be a part of.”

Typically, honorary commanders participate in the program for up to three years and then graduate to the alumni program, where they continue to foster a relationship with the base.

“In my 23 years and 12 assignments in the Air Force, I’ve never experienced such support for a military installation – Spokane is a remarkable place!” Samuelson added.