Fostering Community: Altus AFB HCC tour 97th MXG

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Jonah G. Bliss
  • 97th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

Twelve Honorary Commanders with the 97th Air Mobility Wing, toured the 97th Maintenance Group at Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma, June 11, 2024, to gain an understanding of the daily tasks of the A-Team maintainers and why their job is crucial for wing mission readiness.

“The honorary commander program is a wing program where local leaders, business owners, and chamber of commerce members get to shadow and be a part of the squadron,” said Senior Master Sgt. Joseph Vondohlen, 56th Air Refueling Squadron senior enlisted leader. “It’s a way to continue to foster the relationship between the local community and the base.”

The honorary commanders’ day started with a wing mission brief from wing leadership, where they learned the history and culture of the Mighty 97th. The team transitioned over to the flight line to tour a KC-46 Pegasus aircraft and a C-17 Globemaster III aircraft. They concluded the tour by visiting Hangar 285 and Hangar 517.

At the hangars, the honorary commanders were briefed by multiple A-Team members from different flights about why their jobs are important to execute the mission and they learned how the A-Team maintainers clean, maintain, and paint the aircraft assigned to the 97th AMW. Also, the group toured the fabrication shop where different types of metal are precisely cut which are then utilized on the aircraft.

Julio Cedillo, 97th MXG executive officer, was in charge of arranging the locations and the time allotted at each spot throughout the day, in order to maximize the visibility of their mission to the honorary commanders.

“This tour was significant in that it gave the MXG a chance to showcase to the local community leaders what our folks accomplish on a day-to-day basis to make the mission a huge success, not only for Altus, but also the entire Air Force mobility mission worldwide,” said Cedillo.

Throughout the tour, the honorary commanders were able to ask questions, getting a better understanding of operations. Opportunities like this are great ways for Vondohlen to showcase his dedication to Mobility’s Hometown.

“It just so happens that I get to do this mission every day,” Vondohlen said. “So when questions pop up, I can’t help but engage because I am absolutely proud of what we do here at Altus.”

The 97th Maintenance Group’s honorary commander shared what an honor it was to be a community leader that represents this group.

“Altus Air Force base is such a special place, and an event like this MXG immersion tour has only deepened my opinion on that,” said Brodie Butchee, 97th MXG honorary commander. “The years of partnership between the Air Force and our community has produced something that can’t be readily replicated anywhere else in my opinion. Touring the facilities and seeing the level of excellence and resiliency that’s afforded to us by these maintainers and fabricators is truly something to be proud of.”