NAVAL AIR STATION FORT WORTH JOINT RESERVE BASE, Texas --
“I was blown away, actually,” said Pam Stoker of her first event as an honorary commander. “Since I have not been in the military myself, this is so exciting for me to get an up-close look, and to get to know folks.”
Stoker, the CEO of Stoker Creative Marketing Agency and the 301st Civil Engineer Squadron honorary commander, was one of 12 business leaders who engaged with military members during a wing overview event at the 301st Fighter Wing May 18, 2018.
The event comprised of three components. First, it kicked off with a social to help new honorary commanders get to know each other and learn more about their specific unit they will support for the next two years. Then, the wing commander, Col. Gregory Jones, briefed on aspects of the fighter wing’s mission. Last, the honorary commanders ended the event with a windshield tour of the installation with a hands-on look at an F-16 Fighting Falcon.
Stoker says she hopes her expertise can help bridge relationship gaps between employers and reservists, and enhance her understanding of life in the military along the way.
“Everybody deals with struggles in life, but in the military, it’s very unique,” she said. “I’ve been a career coach, managed a surgical clinic, I’ve dabbled in a lot of different things. If there’s anything I can do to help folks, I have the expertise to do that.”
Some of the events honorary commanders will attend include deployment send-offs and returns, family days and commander’s calls. They will also be encouraged to share their ideas and experiences with military leaders.
Lt. Col. Robert Villarreal, 301 CES commander, welcomes the chance to get perspectives from the civilian side as a benefit not be taken for granted.
“I think most people are accustomed to the military leadership training that we get,” Villarreal said. “It’s nice to have someone with experience on the civilian side, who also has that leadership experience and training, and get her perspective on the squadron.”
The “Wings of Honor” Honorary Commanders’ Program began in 2016 with seven participants. This year, 16 honorary commanders were inducted into the program and will serve until 2020.