Laughlin hosts first honorary commander’s induction ceremony

  • Published
  • By Captain Mahalia Frost
  • 47th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs

Fifteen distinguished civic leaders joined some of Laughlin’s leadership and fellow community members for an inaugural honorary commander’s induction ceremony, Wednesday, July 10, 2019, in Del Rio, Texas.

The Honorary Commander’s Program provides community partners, who have allied themselves with Laughlin, a behind-the-scenes look at how the wing builds combat-ready Airmen, leaders, and pilots.

Inductees, who now carry this unique title, are partnered with various wing, group and squadron commanders throughout the installation for two-year terms. During this time, members are eligible to attend unit official and social functions, base-wide events, as well as participate in tours and briefings at the wing and group levels.

Members appointed to this program represent an array of organizations, positions and sections within the community, something the wing strived to capture when invigorating this program.

“Laughlin would have never sustained over the past seventy-seven years without the support of the Del Rio community,” said Col. Lee Gentile, 47th Flying Training Wing commander. “Everyone, regardless of socioeconomic status or professional title, supports and loves serving the men and women of Laughlin Air Force Base, which is the essence of why Del Rio and Laughlin are one. This program is just one avenue we deemed necessary to provide the community with further insight into the wing that their families have supported for generations.”

At the end of each term, honorees can progress within the military organizational structure to one day become the wing commander’s honorary commander.

“Most of our civic leaders have been Laughlin supporters for generations,” Gentile said. “I truly believe that some of our new inductees will one day serve as an honorary commander to future wing commanders, which is a testament to the community's unwavering support.”

Alongside those selected, some have dedicated a large portion of their lives to advocate, support, and serve the base community. For those leaders, as a part of the Honorary Commander’s Program, an elite program was established - Laughlin’s Wing’s of Amistad.

“Laughlin’s Wings of Amistad is that Hall of Fame for community members who have truly made a lifetime impact on this base community,” said Gentile. “As a commander, I interact with many people. Some influence due to position and others influence due to passion, skillset, and knowledge, and the individuals selected for this lifetime honor embody the heart of the ‘We Are Laughlin mantra.’”

Nominations for this honor are not guaranteed during each commander’s tenure; however, each nominee is carefully reviewed and selected. Recipients for this year’s inaugural elite program were United States Air Force Maj. Gen. Retired, Gerald Prather, and Mr. Bill Cauthorn.

“When one thinks of Laughlin, names like Gen. Prather and Mr. Cauthorn quickly come to mind,” Gentile said. “These two gentlemen have placed not only this base but the entire community before themselves and for their selflessness and continued support I couldn’t think of any other two members to serve as the inaugural nominees.”

In addition to Prather and Cauthorn, the following will serve as this year’s honorary commanders: Mr. Sid Cauthorn, Honorary 47th Flying Training Wing commander; Mr. Skip Baker, Honorary 47th Flying Training Wing vice commander; Mr. Roberto “Bobby” Barrera, Honorary 47th Operations Group commander; Mr. Bob Lohr, Honorary 47th Flying Training Wing director of maintenance; Pastor Martin Seca, Honorary 47th Mission Support Group commander; Ms. Linda Walker, 47th Medical Group commander; Mrs. Jeanne Slover, 86th Flying Training Squadron commander; Ms. Janie Garcia, 87th Flying Training Squadron commander; Mr. Chris Ryan, 434th Flying Training Squadron commander; Mr. Polo Del Rio, 96th Flying Training Squadron commander; Mr. Eddie Amezcua, Jr., 47th Operations Support Squadron commander; Mr. Tony Hernandez, 47th Communication Squadron commander; and Mr. Joshua Overfelt, 47th Contracting Flight commander.

As a part of the induction ceremony, the wing noted this ceremony initiates during a significant milestone in the base’s history. This year Laughlin celebrates its 47th anniversary of being named the 47th Flying Training Wing.