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Honorary Commanders inducted into 403rd Wing

A group of 15 people, uniformed and not, pose onstage for a photo.

The 403rd Wing welcomed its newest group of Honorary Commanders Oct. 15, 2021 at Keesler Air Force Base, Miss. during an induction ceremony. The eight community leaders peresent were given certificates and sworn in by Col. Stuart Rubio, 403rd Wing commander. This community relations program matches civic leaders with 403rd Wing commanders to foster relationships with the local community and build a better understanding of how both the military and local community can benefit from one another. (U.S. Air Force photo by Jessica L. Kendziorek)

KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. --

The Air Force Reserve’s 403rd Wing took part in an Honorary Commander induction ceremony alongside the 81st Training Wing and 2nd Air Force at the Bay Breeze Event Center here, today.

The Honorary Commander program pairs Mississippi Gulf Coast civic and business leaders with base leadership in an effort to build partnerships and cohesion between Keesler and its surrounding community.

The 403rd Wing has participated in the program since 2007, but this is only the second time they have merged ceremonies with the 81st TRW and 2nd AF, the first time being in 2019.

“We’re all about building partnerships both within the Team Keesler family and in the community,” said Col. Stuart M. Rubio, 403rd Wing commander. “We feel extremely blessed to have such a supportive community surrounding Keesler, and this program is a great way to strengthen our ties and give them exposure to our missions.”

The event began with the inductees being taken on an informational bus tour around the base.

Following the tour, the induction ceremony took place, which consisted of the inductees reciting the Honorary Commander Oath. The oath represents a commitment to support Keesler personnel, be an ambassador for the Air Force and their community, and maintain a partnership beneficial to all organizations involved.

The following are the 403rd Wing leaders and their inductees:

Col. Stuart M. Rubio, wing commander, and Ms. LuAnn Pappas, Scarlet Pearl Casino Resort Chief Executive Officer.

Chief Master Sgt. Barbara J. Gilmore, command chief, and Dr. Alfred E. McNair Jr., Digestive Health Center President and Chief Executive Officer

Lt. Col. Kevin Campanile, 403rd Operations Group commander, and Ms. Keva Scott, Mississippi Gulf Coast Chamber Board of Directors and Chief Executive Officer/Boys and Girls Club of the Gulf Coast.

Col. Reginald Trujillo, 403rd Mission Support Group commander, and Mr. Frank Dawson, Mississippi Power Economic Development Manager.

Col. Steven Fortson, 403rd Maintenance Group commander, Mr. J.D. Hill, Hollywood Casino Gulf Coast and Boomtown Casino Vice President of Marketing.

Lt. Col. Christopher Harris, 403rd Operations Support Squadron commander, and Ms. Leslie Robertson, City of D’Iberville Project Coordinator for Economic Development.

Lt. Col. Costau Bastien, 403rd Force Support Squadron commander, and Ms. Carmelita Scott, Woodforest National Bank Assistant Vice President Woodforest National Bank and Mississippi Gulf Coast Chamber of Commerce Chair of the Diversity Council.

Lt. Col. Matthew Sikkink, 815th Airlift Squadron commander, and Mr. Martin Konrad, Craft Advisory Brewery owner and brewmaster.

Maj. Matthew Goldey, 803rd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron commander, and Mr. George Byrd, D’Iberville/St. Martin Chamber of Commerce president.

“This is a great opportunity, as a local, to learn about what goes on at Keesler,” said Carmelita Scott. “I’m looking forward to learning about what Lt. Col. Bastien does as a commander and the missions his unit supports.”