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New honorary commanders inducted at Ellsworth

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Jake Jacobsen
  • 28th Bomb Wing Public Affairs

Col. Derek Oakley, 28th Bomb Wing commander, formally welcomed 13 area civic and business leaders into the Ellsworth Honorary Commanders program as part of the Black Hills Military Advisory Coalition’s Chow Hall luncheon at the Dakota’s Club on Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota, Jan. 24, 2024.

Individuals handpicked to begin their terms this year include:

  • Jason Salamun – Mayor of Rapid City
  • Courtney Clayborne – Clayborne, Loos and Sabers, LLP
  • Nathan Larson – President, Western Dakota Insurors
  • Jason Alley – Jackalope Productions
  • Leah Braun – City Culture Strategist, City of Rapid City
  • Ron Jeffries – Director, Central States Fair
  • Stacey Titus – City of Rapid City
  • Mark Osborne – Representative from Black Hills Ammunition
  • Robert DeWald – VP, Black Hills Community Bank
  • Bill London – General Manager Terry Peak
  • Lara Roetzel – Pennington County State’s Attorney
  • Jacqueline Worth – Business Relations Manager, Wells Fargo Bank
  • Tanner Hart – Owner, Profile Plan

“Currently we have Airmen performing a wide range of sortie generation and mission assurance duties around the globe,” Oakley said. “Sustaining this high operations tempo is critical to our nation. One key element is the strong partnerships we have with our community. Our Honorary Commander program is a perfect example of that type of partnership and a way for our Airmen to grow and link Ellsworth with our surrounding communities.”

The honorary commander program is designed to foster positive relationships between Air Force leaders and our neighbors throughout the Black Hills. During the program, a community leader is paired with a designated unit commander at the squadron, group, or wing level for a single two-year term to develop a better understanding of the base and its mission.

Participants are selected among elected officials, mayors, chamber of commerce members, local school principals, Military Affairs Committee members and others who, because of their position or influence in the community, have a lasting impact on public support for the base.

Outgoing honorary commanders were thanked for their commitment to the wing and were presented plaques for their contributions to the program.

“To those who are completing their terms as Honorary Commanders, I want to thank you for your support and everything you have done for our wing,” said Oakley. “Together we have ensured our relationships stay strong in the shared commitment to defend our nation and preserve our freedoms.”

The wing commander selects who participates in the program and which Ellsworth unit they will be assigned to for a two-year term. There are currently 27 civic and business leaders enrolled in the program.

For more information about the Ellsworth Honorary Commanders program, call the 28th BW Public Affairs office at (605) 385-5056.