Vandenberg Space Force Base, Calif. --
In the black of night, a streak of light rises from the mountains followed by rumblings and a thunderous calamity of noise. As the bright light dwindles into the sky, the silence comfortably creeps back across the California landscape. It’s not uncommon, but those in the surrounding towns still want to know. What’s going on over at that military base? Thankfully there are some who are not only clued in, but who are actively invited to participate in understanding the mission.
Space Launch Delta 30 hosted several key community members from Santa Barbara and surrounding counties and inducted them into the Honorary Commander Program at Vandenberg Space Force Base, Lompoc, California, May 11, 2022. The program is a U.S. Air Force Public Affairs initiative to promote public awareness of U.S. Air Force and U.S. Space Force missions, policies and programs.
The program establishes relationships between local community leaders and unit commanders. They are invited on base to build trust and provide operational transparency to the surrounding community. The new honorary commanders are paired with military unit commanders on base and serve a two year term.
The 2022 honorary commanders:
Doctor Bill Heath, SLD 30
Mr. David Cross, SLD 30 Vice Commander of Operations
Ms. Sherry Olsen, SLD 30 Vice Commander of Support
Doctor Kevin Walthers, Space Force Delta 5
Ms. Laurie Tamura, 30th Civil Engineer Squadron
Mr. John Roger Battistone, 2nd Range Operations Squadron
Ms. Gilda Cordova, Space Force Delta 1
Ms. Sandy Blair, 1st Delta Operations Squadron
SLD 30 also designated several past honorary commanders with honorary commander emeritus status. This is the highest honor the Delta can bestow on a civilian civic leader.
The 2022 honorary commander emeritus recipients:
Mrs. Rebecca Work, Combined Force Space Component Command
Mr. Jim Bray, SLD 30
Mr. Dirk Starbuck, 30th Logistics Readiness Squadron
Mr. Bernie Federman, 30th Security Forces Squadron
M r. Bruce Nash, 30th Operational Medical Readiness Squadron
After breakfast and a short ceremony, the leaders were given a tour of Space Launch Complex 6 where they were told its historical significance and how it was adapted for modern day missions.
Vandenberg‘s mission of safely providing access to space and testing our nation’s missile systems has the potential to impact the surrounding area. Developing one-on-one relationships with local community leaders proactively educates them and fosters friendly cooperation.
“The honorary commanders program is a wonderful way to strengthen the bonds between our Airmen, Guardians and community members beyond our shared location”, said U.S. Space Force Col. Robert Long, SLD 30 commander. “It allows us to exchange ideas, share experiences and develop life-long friendships.”
The next time streaks of flame tear through the sky, local residents can rest easy knowing that their civilian leaders have close ties to the base, and that we are all on the same team.