932nd Airlift Wing Honorary Commanders Visit Citizen Airmen During Honorary Commander's Immersion Day

  • Published
  • By Maj. Neil Samson
  • 932nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Five honorary commanders from the 932nd Airlift Wing, representing the Southwestern Illinois and St. Louis regions, visited Gateway Wing Citizen Airmen at Scott AFB, Illinois, on May 5. This visit was part of the Honorary Commander’s   Immersion Day, designed to expose community leaders to the Air Force Reserve Command mission.

The day began with a windshield tour led by Jessica Callahan, the 932nd AW executive officer, and Maj. Neil Samson, the 932nd AW chief of public affairs. The tour highlighted the rich history of Scott AFB, dating back to the early 1900s, and introduced the four groups that comprise the 932nd Airlift Wing.

The tour showcased base housing and headquarters facilities of the host 375th Air Mobility Wing, 18th Air Force, Air Mobility Command, U.S. Transportation Command, as well as various tenant wings and agencies that integrate as part of Team Scott.

After the tour, the honorary commanders had lunch at the Scott AFB Nightingale Dining Facility, where they experienced dining alongside numerous active duty, Reserve, and Air National Guard Airmen.

During lunch, Col. Jeffrey Smith, the 932nd AW commander, engaged the honorary commanders in discussions about a wide range of issues and topics facing both the Wing and the Air Force Reserve. He explained some of the challenges faced by 932nd AW members and fielded questions from the honorary commanders.

Wing award winners were also present at the lunch and introduced themselves, sharing their diverse backgrounds with the honorary commanders. The commanders learned how the combination of military training and civilian expertise allows traditional reservists to blend experiences from both their full-time civilian jobs and their military positions, enhancing readiness and effectiveness.

“My biggest takeaway from today was the level of proficiency held by 932nd Airlift Wing members,” said Linette Warnecke, Senior Vice President of Commercial Lending at Central Bank and honorary commander for the 932nd Operations Group. “The amount of technical mastery is impressive. I’m amazed they can be so proficient in their military jobs on unit training assembly weekends while balancing their full-time civilian roles.”

“I feel honored to participate in the honorary commander program and am grateful for the dedication and commitment the 932nd gives to serving our country,” she added.

Lenny Singh, Chairman and President of Ameren Illinois and honorary commander for the 932nd Mission Support Group, shared his perspective stating that “many civilians like me do not have a good understanding of the military experience, even though I have a strong appreciation for our military. In addition, understanding the economic impact of a large installation like Scott AFB on the surrounding communities is helpful to me in the business world.”

“Hearing firsthand some of the challenges faced by our enlisted and the reserves was eye-opening. The double duty performed by our reservists, balancing a civilian job and military duty, working 14 days nonstop, and the sacrifices their families make, is truly remarkable,” Singh added. “It was also interesting to learn that some of the organizational challenges, such as keeping employees safe and managing the implementation of new technologies, are very similar to my experience in the corporate world.”

After lunch, the honorary commanders attended a Wing Commander’s Call at the Scott AFB theater. This provided them with a deeper understanding of the various roles Citizen Airmen play in national defense. They listened to the 932nd AW commander discuss key topics, including safety, readiness, and enhancing communication processes to stay competitive in the Great Power Competition (GPC).

“It was nice to see and hear about all the new developments on the base, but receiving an in- depth breakdown of the different aspects of the 932nd was tremendous,” said O’Fallon, Illinois Mayor Herb Roach, 932nd Airlift Wing honorary commander. “The discussion on advancing communication methods highlights the importance of the 932nd’s role moving forward.”

Following Smith’s remarks, the honorary commanders witnessed Wing annual award winners receive their plaques on stage.

“The more people are aware of what we're doing, the more they will want to support us,” said Smith. “We believe in this advancement, and we want to share it so others can appreciate and support the mission we’re executing.”

The Air Force Honorary Commanders program seeks to educate key community leaders about the Air Force’s missions and fosters a supportive relationship with local communities. The two-year-long program educates participants on the military’s economic impact and the unit’s role in national defense. This collaboration fosters a symbiotic relationship between the military and the local community, building partnerships for a shared future vision.

“It’s crucial to build bridges and connections with our local community,” said Smith. “Without positive interactions with local leaders, none of our mission goals are achievable.”

The honorary commander immersion is the first phase of multiple opportunities for program participants to learn about the Air Force and Air Force Reserve missions.

“It was an honor to be present at the awards ceremony and see the men and women recognized for their efforts. It shows a deep appreciation for the hard work of each individual,” said Roach.