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.”