The Tinker Air Force Base 2019 class of Honorary Commanders gathered at the 137th Special Operations Wing at Will Rogers Air National Guard Base on Nov. 13 for one more tour before the holidays ensue. This particular visit had a heavy emphasis on partnerships Tinker AFB has with outside organizations.
The group was greeted by 72nd Air Base Wing Commander Col. Paul Filcek, as well as Col. Dan Fowler, commander of the 137th SOW, who provided them with an overview of the SOW’s mission.
“Our installation isn’t the size of Tinker, but it has a lot of power,” Fowler said. “I’ve been in Oklahoma for a year and a half now and when I came down to this base, I was surprised by how diverse it was. Most guard units are one mission units, but here we have Air Mobility Command, Air Combat Command, Air Force Special Operations Command and then three schoolhouses that are going to realign under Air Education and Training. That’s four different MAJCOMS that we provide support for.”
Overall, the purpose of the 137th SOW is to act as a force provider for geographic combatant commanders, special operations command, theater special operations commanders and task force commanders with manned intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, close air support, agile combat support, cyber, space and aeromedical evacuations.
The Honorary Commanders received a tour of the 137th SOW installation including the en-route patient staging system, fire crash and respond trucks, and fuel and bucket trucks. This tour also included a look at the National Guard Advanced Joint Terminal Attack Controller Simulator, a 260-degree dome meant to immerse Airmen and Guard members into procedural training, and the C-130 fuselage trainer, which is the only aeromedical simulator of its kind in the Air Force.
“The benefit of having the 260-degree dome in here is the guys can actually get immersed in the scenario,” Fowler said. “The speakers are very loud so when there are troops in contact with us, we hear the explosions and you can feel the bass. It also allows them to look for the aircraft, which is one of our objectives during certain types of control we try to do, so we can assess the attack geometry of the incoming aircraft.”
During this day-long tour, the Honorary Commanders also had the opportunity to get a behind-the-scenes look at the operations of the Metro Tech Aviation Career Campus, the Civil Aerospace Medical Institute and the Federal Aviation Administration Academy.
The Honorary Commanders Program lasts one year and is a long-standing tradition of collaboration between community leaders and Tinker AFB senior leaders, with a goal of strengthening relationships and communication between off-base and military leadership.