By Master Sgt. Kristian Carter, 433rd Airlift Wing
/ Published September 12, 2019
Steve Young, VIA Metropolitan Transit vice president of information technology, experiences discharging a fire hose during a tour of the 433rd Mission Support Group at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas Sept. 7, 2019. Young is paired with Lt. Col. Travis J. Hatley, 74th Aerial Port Squadron commander. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Kristian Carter)
Senior Airman Taylor D. Mogford, 433rd Logistics Readiness Squadron(right), talks to honorary commanders about the proper donning and wear of the joint service lightweight integrated suit technology, a chemical weapon protection suit, during a tour of the 433rd Mission Support Group at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas Sept. 7, 2019. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Kristian Carter)
Staff Sgt. Oscar Chavez, 433rd Civil Engineer Squadron explosive ordnance specialist, talks with Honorary Commander Andrea Knight, Frost Bank assistant vice president, about weapons on display during a tour of the 433rd Mission Support Group at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas Sept. 7, 2019. Knight is paired with Col. Wayne M. Williams, 433rd MSG commander. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Kristian Carter)
Chief Master Sgt. Vishal M. Rose, 74th Aerial Port Squadron superintendent of operations, talks to the honorary commanders about how the military airlift system moves cargo and passengers during the 433rd Mission Support Group at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas Sept. 7, 2019. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Kristian Carter)
Eleven honorary commanders toured the 433rd Mission Support Group here Sep 7, to view the group’s mission capabilities. This tour is the first of a series of group tours that are given to encourage relationships between the wing’s senior leadership and San Antonio’s civilian business and civic leaders.
The honorary commanders were welcomed by Col. Terry W. McClain, 433rd Airlift Wing commander. The MSG mission brief was 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,” said Gervin-Hawkins. “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 Col. 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,” said Williams. “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.