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Shaw honorary commanders observe mission from above

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Jacob Gutierrez
  • 20th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Most people observe F-16 Fighting Falcons take on thousands of pounds of fuel during air to air refueling via photographs. Recently, a group of Sumter community members received the opportunity to watch the action live and in living color.

On Dec. 14, members of the Shaw Air Force Base honorary commanders program flew aboard a KC-135 Stratotanker assigned to Fairchild Air Force Base, to observe a critical aspect of the overall success of the 20th Fighter Wing mission.

“It’s important when people learn what really goes on. All people see is a plane take off, and they just don’t have any concept of what it takes to keep it in the air,” said Dr. Spencer Wagner, 20th Communications Squadron honorary commander. “Every time I come out here I’m amazed.”

Air to air refueling is a necessary task for pilots to train and maintain currency on. The capability to do so allows for them to complete air tasking orders that may require pilots to remain in the air for longer periods of time. All of this was briefed and demonstrated to a group of people who have a unique responsibility to be dedicated liaisons between the base and the surrounding community.

The Shaw AFB honorary commanders program provides an opportunity for commanders and senior leaders to build strong, positive and lasting relationships with local community leaders. The program allows for the exploration of mutual areas of interest and to help increase the public understanding of military missions, assets and people.

“I want to make sure that the local community is supporting the base and supporting their activities and the Airmen feel supported as well,” said Gregory Hoffmann, 20th Logistics Readiness Squadron honorary commander.

The honorary commanders feature community members and leaders from a number of locations around the greater Sumter community.  Additionally, participants represent a wide range of experience from government to private business owners and professionals and serve in their positions for two years.

The program also provides community members the opportunity to gather invaluable experience from those who are serving.

“I work in the chemical manufacturing business, and Airmen here do lots of similar things and it’s very educational for me as well… I’m going to take some of that back to my facility,” said Hoffman. “Hopefully when we do a little more touring around, we can take some of the Airmen out into the community and show them how we do things as well. This opportunity really goes both ways.”

If you would like to be considered or would like to nominate someone to be a Shaw AFB honorary commander, please contact the 20th Fighter Wing Community Engagement Office at (803) 895-1620 or