Honorary commanders visit JBSA-Lackland mission partners

  • Published
  • By Olivia Mendoza Sencalar
  • 502nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

Brig. Gen. Caroline Miller, commander, 502nd Air Base Wing and Joint Base San Antonio, hosted seven honorary commanders from across the Joint Base San Antonio metropolitan area for a tour of JBSA-Lackland March 25.

As honorary commanders, the community leaders participate in a variety of special events during their two-year term, allowing them to interact with JBSA service members and learn more about the missions of different units.

"The 502nd ABW Honorary Commander program is unique,” Miller said. “During the first year of the program, our civic leaders have an opportunity to learn about our mission. The following year, we have a chance to highlight our mission partners and the great things that they do.”

During this year’s tour, the civic leaders gained insight into the operations and responsibilities of the 502nd ABW, as well as learning about the missions of the 433rd Airlift Wing and Special Warfare Training Wing.

At the 433rd AW, the group was welcomed by Col. Terry W. McClain, commander of the Air Force Reserve Command-affiliated wing.

McClain briefed the group about the five different squadrons and their missions, explaining there were two squadrons training Airmen on C-5s; an operational support squadron that supplies logistics; an aeromedical evacuation squadron; and the 68th Airlift Squadron, which is responsible for worldwide mobility.

“The C-5M Super Galaxy is the biggest airplane in the United States military inventory and the second largest in the world,” McClain told the group. 

One of the honorary commanders was curious about how many C-5s the Air Force had.

“There are 52 C-5s in the United States,” McClain said. “They are stationed here at JBSA-Lackland, as well as at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware; Travis Air Force Base, California; and Westover Air Reserve Base, Massachusetts.”

After the briefing, the group went to the flight line to see the inside of a C-5M, which has the primary mission of transporting cargo and personnel for the Department of Defense with a cargo hold capable of transporting up to 281,001 pounds.

“This is awesome,” said Sylvia Rincon, Southside Independent School District communications representative business development officer. “We got to act like kids inside the C-5, see the seating area and had an opportunity to sit in the cockpit. I’m amazed at how big it is.”

The tour continued to the JBSA-Chapman Training Annex to visit the Special Warfare Training Wing facility, where several SWTW members greeted the civic leaders at the Memorial of the Fallen Special Forces Airmen flagpole site.

The group then went to the Special Forces operations training facility where state-of-the-art fitness equipment is provided for service members to conduct physical training and rehabilitation.

The honorary commanders visited six stations, where they were educated on nutrition, body composition, metabolic assessment, strength and conditioning, and the use of the blood flow restriction when using weights.

Air Force pararescue, or PJ, specialists then gave a demonstration on how to use a medical tourniquet. Pararescuemen are Air Force Special Operations Command and Air Combat Command operators tasked with the recovery and medical treatment of personnel in humanitarian and combat environments.

“The paramedics have a more increased scope of practice in San Antonio than in other states, which gives our students the ability to train much closer to our protocols,” said Master Sgt. Sean Anderson, superintendent of the Modernized Pararescue Provider Program, or MP3. “The students have 450 hours of clinical time with the San Antonio Fire Department and Emergency Medical Services. The medical MP3 course has three overall phases that the PJs must complete, which are the EMT, paramedic and combat medic phase.”

"The tour of the 433rd Airlift Wing was fantastic,” said honorary commander Melissa Ochoa, president of the San Antonio LGBT Chamber. “I've lived in San Antonio for 30 years and always see the C-5 planes flying around, but there's something different about walking into one and seeing the inside. I even had the opportunity to sit in the cockpit and also see it from the top outside. It is huge and amazing how it can be so big and heavy and still fly.”

I also learned about the fitness center which is used as a therapy unit as well. I was fascinated by the Personalized Tourniquet System. I learned how to use a tourniquet for bleeding injuries. Overall the tour was very interesting to me and I'm grateful I had the opportunity to attend."

“I’m sad to say that this will be my last 502nd ABW honorary commander’s tour,” Miller told the group before they departed the Gateway Club. “I enjoyed meeting with you all and building a good solid partnership.”