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33rd FW inducts honorary commanders

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt. Jymil Licorish
  • 33rd Fighter Wing

The 33rd Fighter Wing welcomed 9 community leaders into the 2023 Honorary Commanders Program during an induction ceremony at The Bayview Event Center at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, October 24, 2023.

The wing’s honorary commander program is an opportunity to forge connections between the military and the local community, promoting mutual understanding and cooperation to understand the unique challenges and contributions of the 33d FW.

The 33rd FW is home to six squadrons under the operations and maintenance groups with approximately 1,300 U.S. military, government civilian, and contract personnel. The Nomads contribute to national security, advanced pilot training and providing critical support to various defense initiatives.

Today's ceremony inducted new honorary commanders and recognized returning honorary commanders.

“Learning from each other and actively establishing avenues for the growth of our local community and beyond is of utmost importance,” said Col. Dave M. Skalicky, 33rd Fighter Wing commander. “The 33rd Fighter Wing and Team Eglin is not a distinct community from the Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, and Walton Counties and State of Florida...we are all one community.”

Peggy Brockman, Air Education and Training Command civic leader and former honorary commander, welcomed the new honorary commanders and shared her insight on the program. Brockman encouraged community leaders to leverage partnerships with their military counterparts.

“Fifteen years after I became an honorary commander, I got a call to submit my application as an AETC Civic Leader. I was honored to continue to work with the 33rd Fighter Wing to establish the first active-duty peer-to-peer suicide prevention program here,” Brockman said. “Be an active community liaison for the wing because once you are part of the Nomad family, you are always part of the Nomad family.”

After the ceremony, honorary commanders attended a tour of the wing to receive a first-hand look at the importance of modernization and fifth-generation air superiority. The tour consisted of an F-35A Lightning II capabilities briefing, an aircrew flight equipment orientation, an F-35 Academic Training Center visit, and a viewing of an F-35 aircraft static display.

New honorary commander, Bonnie Barlow, Bridgeway Center, Inc. president and CEO, will be paired with the 33rd Maintenance Group. Barlow is looking forward to strengthening the bond between the civilian and 33rd FW community.

“It is an honor to be part of this program and to see the ingenuity, dedication, commitment and intense training of the 33rd Fighter Wing maintainers and pilots during the tour,” Barlow said. “We are very fortunate to be involved with the wing and work together to support our community needs.”

During the ceremony, each new member was presented a certificate of induction.

The new honorary commanders are:
— Bonnie Barlow, Bridgeway Center, Inc. president and CEO.
— April Branscome, Okaloosa Career and Tech Education program director.

— Mark Franks, Shalimar, Florida, mayor.  

— Diane Fraser, Emerald Coast Science Center executive director.

— Brooke Johnson, Destin Commons director of marketing.
— Charlie Marello, Niceville High School principal.
— Regina Piazza, Florida State advocate and home educator.

Returning honorary commanders are:
— Hannah Wilburn, All In Credit Union, manager of marketing and community relations.
— Mike Smith, BTHawkeyes LLC. manager.