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97 AMW Honorary Commanders receive sky-high immersion

Altus HCCs take part in 97 OG immersion day

97th Air Mobility Wing Honorary Commanders (HCC) board a C-17 Globemaster III, during the 97th Operations Group (OG) HCC Immersion Day, April 19, 2021, at Altus Air Force Base (AFB), Oklahoma. HCCs received the opportunity to tour Altus AFB and experience the OG training mission first hand. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Breanna Klemm)

Altus HCCs take part in 97 OG immersion day

97th Air Mobility Wing (AMW) Honorary Commanders (HCC) prepare to watch aerial refueling between a C-17 Globemaster III and a KC-135 Stratotanker, during the 97th Operations Group HCC Immersion Day, April 19, 2021, over Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma. HCCs serve two-year terms attached to a particular unit at the 97th AMW, and are given opportunities to participate in events to integrate themselves into the 97 AMW. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Breanna Klemm)

Altus HCCs take part in 97 OG immersion day

Rodger Kerr, Honorary Commander (HCC) to the 97th Air Mobility Wing vice commander, takes a photo of aerial refueling between a C-17 Globemaster III and a KC-135 Stratotanker during the 97th Operations Group HCC Immersion Day, April 19, 2021, over Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma. HCCs take part in wing quarterly events that focus on Airmen, mission and community. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Breanna Klemm)

Altus HCCs take part in 97 OG immersion day

97th Air Mobility Wing (AMW) Honorary Commanders (HCC) prepare to board a KC-135 Stratotanker during the 97th Operations Group HCC Immersion Day, April 19, 2021, at Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma. By serving as active ambassadors for the 97th AMW, HCCs bring knowledge about their units back to the community to building understanding and connectedness in what 97 AMW leaders call the "Air Force's community of choice." (U.S. Air Force photo by 2nd Lt Cameron Silver)

Altus HCCs take part in 97 OG immersion day

Loadmasters assigned to the 58th Air Refueling Squadron stand at the back of a C-17 Globemaster III after a combat offload April 19, 2021, at Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma. During the 97th Operations Group Honorary Commanders Immersion Day, civic leaders flew on a C-17 and a KC-135 Stratotanker to witness air refueling and combat offloading, two training curriculums taught at the 97th Air Mobility Wing. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Breanna Klemm)

Altus HCCs take part in 97 OG immersion day

Preston Gunkel, 97th Air Mobility Wing Judge Advocate Honorary Commander (HCC), prepares to fly in a KC-135 Stratotanker, during the 97th Operations Group HCC Immersion Day, April 19, 2021, at Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma. Along with witnessing the training mission first-hand, HCCs were given insight into the duties and day-to-day operations of the 97th Operations Group. (U.S. Air Force photo by 2nd Lt Cameron Silver)

ALTUS AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- Honorary Commanders with the 97th Air Mobility Wing flew on a C--17 Globemaster III and a KC-135 Stratotanker during the 97th Operations Group HCC immersion day, April 19, 2021.

During the event, HCCs witnessed in-air refueling, assault landing and combat offloading maneuvers, which are just a few capabilities taught at the 97th AMW. Attendees were also given insight into the duties and day-to-day responsibilities of the 97th OG, which  is comprised of the 97th Training Squadron, 97th Operations Support Squadron, 58th Airlift Squadron, 54th Air Refueling Squadron and the 56th ARS.

“In order to build trust and support between the base and community, the public needs to know that they are in good hands by well-trained military members,” said Capt. Kennedy Patterson, 58th AS C-17 instructor pilot. “Exposing the community to the dynamic flying operations of Altus AFB allows them to gain a unique perspective on (our) day-to-day challenges.“

The 97th OG is responsible for initiating global mobility by training airlift and aerial refueling aircrews to achieve global reach and power. Patterson said the mission that starts here in what local leaders call “Mobility’s Hometown” is foundational to delivering these capabilities worldwide.

“The role of the OG is vital to our national security,” he said. “Altus AFB is responsible for training 70 percent of the Air Force’s mobility operators on three major weapons systems. The KC-135 and the C-17 are the workhorses of mobility airlift and the NATO and U.S. students we train here go out into the world and execute.”

During the immersion tour, community and civic leaders witnessed this mission in action, helping to build understanding between the base and community. In turn, the HCCs serve as active ambassadors for the 97th AMW, bringing knowledge about their assigned unit to the community.

“The HCC program is very important for the civic community to understand what goes on behind the gates.” said Mary Beth Tischler, 97th OG HCC. “This program benefits the community by giving us an opening to Altus AFB to communicate with, learn what they need from the community, and how we can help improve our community as a whole.”

The HCC’s serve a two-year term attached to a particular unit at the 97th AMW. While acting as HCCs, they are given opportunities to participate in immersion events focused on learning about the wing’s three core priorities: Airmen, mission and community. The events are also designed to energize HCCs to serve as advocates for the base at the local and federal level.

“Today's flight was one of the most breathtaking things I've done,” said Jason Greer, 97th Logistics Readiness Squadron HCC. “Seeing the mid-air refueling of a C-17 was something I've only dreamed of, it was awesome to actually see for the first time. The level of professionalism and responsibility that I have witnessed first hand and the level of courtesy that everyone has shown me and my family is (unmatched). These guys take their jobs very seriously and expect nothing but the best of themselves and their co-workers.”

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