97th Maintenance Group holds Immersion Day

  • U.S. Air Force photo by Judy Mott                   Tony Jenkins, 97th Maintenance Squadron work leader, watches as Emily Smith, honorary commander, sprays the hose used to clean aircraft, Jan. 14, at Altus Air Force Base. Smith is a financial advisor in Altus.

ALTUS AIR FORCE BASE – It isn’t every day that some civilian leaders get a behind-the-scenes look at what happens inside an Air Force base. The 97th Maintenance Group leaders hosted 12 honorary commanders Jan. 14 and gave them just that.

The honorary commander program pairs leaders in the Altus community with military commanders on base, in an effort to build and strengthen relationships between the 97th Air Mobility Wing and the surrounding area.

Attendees took part in several activities highlighting what the all-civilian maintenance group, nicknamed the “A-Team,” does every day to keep the heavy jets of the 97th Air Mobility Wing flying.

They talked with the wash-rack crew, learned riveting and metal bending from machinists, toured the inside of C-17 Globemaster III and KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft with maintainers, and helped calibrate tools with precision measurement equipment laboratory specialists.

Attendees were also given custom miniature airplanes made by a laser cutter.

“It’s always impressive for me to see the work and the dedication of the people that are here,” said Rodger Kerr, an honorary commander who is also CEO and president of the Altus Chamber of Commerce. “Be it in uniform or the civilian folks, everyone is pulling for Team Altus.”

Kerr is paired with the 97th AMW’s vice commander, Col. Jason Pavelschak.