Honorary Commander Induction Ceremony 2024

  • Published
  • By U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Cody J. A. Mott
  • 100th Air Refueling Wing

ROYAL AIR FORCE MILDENHALL, England – Local community members participated in the Royal Air Force Mildenhall Honorary Commander induction ceremony at Middleton Hall on RAF Mildenhall, England, April 25, 2024.

An honorary commander is a distinguished individual from the local community who is appointed to serve as a liaison between the military unit and the civilian population. Unique to the U.S. Air Force, the historical custom sees bases involving members of the outlying community into the workings of a specific unit.

“They appreciate the partnership, the friendships, the connections, and us taking the time to make sure that we’re engaged with those around us, opening our doors to them and building those relationships,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Ryan Garlow, 100th Air Refueling Wing commander.

These individuals are carefully selected based on their leadership qualities, community involvement and commitment to supporting the mission of the Air Force.

Once appointed, an honorary commander serves as a vital bridge between civilian communities and military units, fulfilling a unique role that benefits both spheres.

“I think it’s a very important connection for the local community in Suffolk, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire, because the base is almost joined by three counties,” said Deputy Lieutenant Bee Kemball. “If we don't have local connection to the servicemen and ladies, they aren’t going to enjoy their experience here in the United Kingdom, and likewise we need to understand their mission, why they're here to protect us, and to make sure they feel a part of our community – because they’ve been here a very long time.”

By bringing together individuals with diverse backgrounds and expertise, the honorary commander program facilitates meaningful connections and fosters mutual understanding.

Through their involvement in unit activities and community events, they provide valuable insight and support, helping to not only enhance the sense of community within military units but also raise awareness of the Air Force's mission and values in the civilian world.

In essence, honorary commanders enrich both the military and civilian communities with their contributions and lasting relationships built on trust and cooperation.

“The honorary commander program is a great example of what Winston Churchill called the special relationship between our two countries,” said Royal Air Force Sqn Ldr Andy Bell, RAF commander. “It fully demonstrates the enduring friendship between the U.K. and U.S. communities of East Anglia.”