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162nd Wing welcomes new honorary commander

TUCSON, Ariz. – Master Sgt. Antelmo Morales, 162nd Maintenance Group armament flight aircraft systems ordnance mechanic, talks to the newest honorary commander, Ron Garan, about a wing weapons pylon that is being maintained. Garan is the chief pilot at World View, a Tucson-based company that plans to operate commercial near-space flight for passengers as well as scientific research via balloon. Garan retired from active duty Air Force, and toured the base to get a feel for the Air National Guard and talk to Airmen about drill weekend and their units’ missions.  (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Gregory Ferreira)

TUCSON, Ariz. – Master Sgt. Antelmo Morales, 162nd Maintenance Group armament flight aircraft systems ordnance mechanic, talks to the newest honorary commander, Ron Garan, about a wing weapons pylon that is being maintained. Garan is the chief pilot at World View, a Tucson-based company that plans to operate commercial near-space flight for passengers as well as scientific research via balloon. Garan retired from active duty Air Force, and toured the base to get a feel for the Air National Guard and talk to Airmen about drill weekend and their units’ missions. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Gregory Ferreira)

TUCSON, Ariz.—Tech Sgt. Kyle Hoagland, aircrew flight equipment technician at the 162nd Operations Group, right, discusses the changes in helmet technology with the wing’s newest honorary commander, Ron Garan. As a former fighter pilot, Garan heard pilots and support personnel describe their experiences here at the 162nd Wing and how it fits in with the total force structure. Garan is the chief pilot at World View, a Tucson-based company that plans to operate commercial near-space flight for passengers as well as scientific research via balloon. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Capt. Logan Clark)

TUCSON, Ariz.—Tech Sgt. Kyle Hoagland, aircrew flight equipment technician at the 162nd Operations Group, right, discusses the changes in helmet technology with the wing’s newest honorary commander, Ron Garan. As a former fighter pilot, Garan heard pilots and support personnel describe their experiences here at the 162nd Wing and how it fits in with the total force structure. Garan is the chief pilot at World View, a Tucson-based company that plans to operate commercial near-space flight for passengers as well as scientific research via balloon. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Capt. Logan Clark)

TUCSON, Ariz. – Chief Master Sgt. Leslie Tyree, 162nd Wing fire chief, demonstrates the proper technique for sliding down a fire pole to the Wing’s newest Honorary Commander, Ron Garan July 9. Garan is the chief pilot at World View, a Tucson-based company that plans to operate commercial near-space flight for passengers as well as scientific research via balloon. Garan retired from active duty Air Force, and toured the base to get a feel for the Air National Guard and what a drill weekend is like. According to Tyree, the 162nd Wing’s fire house is one of only a handful in the Air National Guard with a fire pole. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Gregory Ferreira)

TUCSON, Ariz. – Chief Master Sgt. Leslie Tyree, 162nd Wing fire chief, demonstrates the proper technique for sliding down a fire pole to the Wing’s newest Honorary Commander, Ron Garan July 9. Garan is the chief pilot at World View, a Tucson-based company that plans to operate commercial near-space flight for passengers as well as scientific research via balloon. Garan retired from active duty Air Force, and toured the base to get a feel for the Air National Guard and what a drill weekend is like. According to Tyree, the 162nd Wing’s fire house is one of only a handful in the Air National Guard with a fire pole. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Gregory Ferreira)

TUCSON, Ariz. – Ron Garan, the newest honorary commander at the 162nd Wing, poses for a photo with Master Sgt. Jesus Enriquez, left, and Tech. Sgt. Matthew Smith, right, in front of the partner nation flags on display at the International Military School Office here. Enriquez is the Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge of IMSO and Smith is the 162nd Operations Group unit training manager. Garan is the chief pilot at World View, a Tucson-based company that plans to operate commercial near-space flight for passengers as well as scientific research via balloon. Garan retired from active duty Air Force, and toured the base to get a feel for the Air National Guard and what a drill weekend is like.   (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Gregory Ferreira)

TUCSON, Ariz. – Ron Garan, the newest honorary commander at the 162nd Wing, poses for a photo with Master Sgt. Jesus Enriquez, left, and Tech. Sgt. Matthew Smith, right, in front of the partner nation flags on display at the International Military School Office here. Enriquez is the Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge of IMSO and Smith is the 162nd Operations Group unit training manager. Garan is the chief pilot at World View, a Tucson-based company that plans to operate commercial near-space flight for passengers as well as scientific research via balloon. Garan retired from active duty Air Force, and toured the base to get a feel for the Air National Guard and what a drill weekend is like. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Gregory Ferreira)

TUCSON, Ariz -- Over the July unit training assembly, the 162nd Wing welcomed its newest honorary commander, Ron Garan.

Garan is the chief pilot at World View, a Tucson-based company that plans to offer commercial flight via balloon near the edge of space. Garan is partnered with the vice wing commander, Col. Keith Colmer, who did not previously have an associated honorary commander.

Garan boasts an unusual background for an honorary commander. While most honorary commanders have no military experience, he had a distinguished 26-year career in the U.S. Air Force, and was an astronaut. However, his experience with the Air National Guard was limited.

The company will be building on land south of the Tucson International Airport, making the 162nd Wing and World View neighbors.

"The 162nd Wing is excited to have Mr. Garan on as an honorary commander," said Brig. Gen. Phil Purcell, 162nd Wing commander. "We know that Tucson is strategically invested in being a leader in aerospace and space research and development, and Mr. Garan is a great choice to bridge the civilian and military communities here."
Garan believes this is his opportunity to be involved with Tucson's military community, even though he's no longer in uniform.

"I can help support the mission of the 162nd in the local community and broader," he said. "It means that as a representative of World View I can make sure that we are good neighbors since we share the same airspace and we share a lot of the same objectives as well. It's an opportunity to give back to those folks that are keeping us all safe."

He expressed his gratitude and appreciation for those who serve.

"It's one thing to say you support the troops and it's another thing to really get involved and put action to those words, so that's what I'm trying do a little bit here, getting more formally involved with what's going on with the 162nd," said Garan. "Thanks, and hopefully in any way we can we've got your back."

In lieu of an induction ceremony, Garan took a tour of the base to meet with the men and women of the 162nd.

"Walking around base was like coming home," he said. "It's obvious that everybody has a really focused, mission mindset, getting the job done. It was great to see the Airmen in action."

The Honorary Commander program is Air Force-wide, with the overarching goal to promote public awareness of the Air Force's missions, policies and programs.

Honorary commanders play an important role in strengthening ties with our local communities and helping bridge the military-civilian gap by increasing mutual understanding. The Honorary Commanders are partnered with senior leaders in the Wing, primarily group commanders.

The 162nd Wing currently has seven honorary commanders.