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Honorary Commanders Mock Deploy

Dec 2009 --      The Honorary Commanders Association (HCA) is a cooperative effort of the Airport Area Chamber of Commerce, 171st Air Refueling Wing, 911th Airlift Wing and 316th Expeditionary Sustainment Command.  Each year, approximately 15 local business professionals are paired with commanders and senior officers of military units stationed in the local area.  The purpose is to educate the local business community about the Guard's and Reserve's role i the total force structure for national defense.  The HCA also encourages employers to support their employees who are members of the Guard and Reserve.  The organization strives to foster better understanding and community support for military units in the airport area.  In October, we had the opportunity to host the honorary commanders, showcasing the KC-135, and provide a taste of life in the Air Force.
     When determining how we could help increase the understanding of the military for these 15 civilians, it was suggested that we could simulate the mobilization process during their time with us.  To do this the 171st had to train these civilians in a very short time.
     To start the day off, they received an educational briefing from Brig. Gen. Uptegraff on the history of the 171st ARW.  The general was followed by Senior Master Sgt. Katcher who exclaimed, "You all are being deployed!".  He then explained the military's system for tracking who and what materials go where.  This briefing was followed by Lt. Col. Stoebe's Intelligence briefing on Afghanistand and some of the key problems America's military is facing in the region.  The crowd showed a keen interest and desire to truly understand the military as they bombarded Brig. Gen. Uptegraff and Lt. Col. Stoebe with questions on the problems in the Afghanistan region.
     After the briefing the HCA members were transported to the KSPAN, a warehouse for military deployment equipment.  Tech. Sgt. Jason Snyder and Senior Airman Melissa Peace explained the Air Force's Chemical Protective Mask and proper wear of the Joint Service Lightweight Integrated Suit Technology (JSLIST).  Once the HCA members had and understanding of protective equipment utilized by the miltiary, they received training to protect their deployed location at the Fire Arms Training Simulator (FATS) facility.
     In the FATS facility HCA members were instructed in weapons qualification and simulation firing by Staff Sgt. Roger Miller.  Here, HCA members received first-hand the training to qualify on an ArmaLite 15 (M-16).  All member had the chance to test their shooting skills.  At the closing of the day it was time for the group to board the KC-135 to simulate flying to their deployed location.
     Their day's mission complete - the HCA members gathered for a group photo and toured the KC-135 Stratotanker.  Their questions were answered by pilots, boom operators and crew chiefs.