97 AMW welcomes two new Friends of Altus

  • Published
  • By By Airman 1st Class Heidi Bucins
  • 97th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

Tom Buchanan, general manager of the Altus-Lugert Irrigation District, and Roberta Brady-Lee, vice mayor of Altus, were selected as the 27th and 28th Friends of Altus inductees for their stewardship and longstanding support of the Altus community and “Mobility’s Hometown.”

The Friends of Altus tradition was developed in 1995 by former 97 AMW commander, retired Maj. Gen. George N. Williams, to honor local civilians for their contributions to Altus Air Force Base. The Friends of Altus distinction is the highest honor a local civilian can receive from a 97 AMW commander.

Before unveiling photos of Buchanan and Brady-Lee, Baker welcomed both civic leaders and attendees to the event.

“I want you both to know that you have made positive impacts in bringing our community together, he said. “Your patriotism will have far reaching effects for generations to come.”

Baker introduced Buchanan as the first Friend of Altus inductee, stating that he has been an avid supporter of Altus AFB by connecting the base and agricultural community.

“Tom has devoted countless hours to supporting and educating Airmen at key community events such as Farm City Week and Oklahoma Department of Agriculture visits,” said Baker. “Time and time again he has shared his passion for agriculture and community with many of our youngest, most impressionable Airmen.”

Over the years Buchanan has supported many tours for Altus AFB Airmen to visit local agricultural sites such as Lake Altus-Lugert Dam, Humphrey’s Co-Op Cotton Gin and Abernathy Farms. His efforts have fortified community relations with Airmen and provided insight about the agricultural landscape surrounding the base that drives the local area.

“Less than 1.5% of the population serve in the military. Similarly, less than 1.5% of the population farm the ranches. It’s because of that sameness that this award is so humbling,” said Buchanan. “It is with deep appreciation that I say thank you to the command team and thank you to the people who make up Altus AFB."

During the ceremony, Baker went on to say Mrs. Brady-Lee has displayed a deep love for family and passion for her profession and community that is evident in her service to Altus AFB.

“Mrs. Brady-Lee quadruple-hats as our very own Vice Mayor, 30-year Altus Public School teacher, Altus Wrestling Mat Maid and mom to our vice wing commander,” he said. “We’ve seen her passion through her keynote speeches at events, where she profoundly inspired our Airmen and attendees, we’ve seen this passion during diversity celebrations and I’ve seen this passion in most every interaction I’ve had with her.”

Brady-Lee has been a member of the Altus community since the 1960s when her father was stationed at Altus AFB and was appointed Vice Mayor on Aug. 3, 2019. She has been the director for in-school suspension at Altus Junior High for 30 years and was named Support Employee of the Year for Altus Public Schools for 2022.

“We need to be about the business and power of inclusion, not being separate or leaving anybody behind,” said Brady-Lee during her acceptance speech. “I want the people sitting in this room whether you are in uniform or not to know that you are somebody and the world is yours.”

The ceremony consisted of a social hour, dinner and the unveiling of the civic leaders’ portraits that will be hung on display in the wing headquarters building.