The Air Bridge: Connecting to civic neighbors

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. David Bernal Del Agua
  • 22nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
(This story is part of a series to highlight McConnell AFB honorary commanders and their impact on the base and the community.)

Editor’s Note: The Honorary Commander Program is designed to bring the base closer to our civilian counterparts in Wichita and the surrounding communities. Honorary commanders can be doctors, business owners, mayors, professors, police chiefs or others who are well respected in their fields and communities. The ultimate goal of all of this is to inform and educate the local community about McConnell. The honorary commanders help spread the word about all the great things happening here.

Juston White, Boys and Girls Clubs of South Central Kansas executive director, is an honorary commander who has partnered with McConnell AFB to show the community why the 22nd Air Refueling Wing is the premier air refueling wing in the Air Force.

“Along with being the executive director of the Boys and Girls Clubs of South Central Kansas, I’m also a board member of the Child Advocacy Center of Sedgwick County,” said White. “Through that affiliation I was nominated to be a part of the honorary commander program.”

The ties to the military run deeper for White than just being an honorary commander. He has been around the Air Force since he was very young.

“My father was in the Air Force and was stationed at McConnell,” White said. “Becoming an honorary commander and helping the Airmen and their families is, in a sense, me serving in my own way.”

As one of the youngest honorary commanders, White has bonded with young Airmen in his first year of being an honorary commander because of his ability to relate to them.

“He’s very young, energetic and involved in the unit,” said Lt. Col. Clifford Bayne, 22nd Logistics Readiness Squadron commander. “Not only have we benefited from his presence in the squadron, but Juston has found ways to get our Airmen involved in the community as well. It’s unfortunate that there is a time limit on honorary commanders because we would keep him for 20 years if he’d do it.”

While on an immersion tour, White visited different LRS shops and learned about what the Airmen do and their different responsibilities.

“Being an honorary commander has given me a whole new insight into the services the military provides for our country,” said White. “What I have enjoyed the most is providing Airmen with an opportunity to be engaged with the community. I try to be a resource for any needs that anyone may have.”

White’s Boys and Girls Club serves more than 1,300 children. They offer everything from after school programs like reading and sports to mentoring programs.

“This opportunity has allowed me to be a stronger advocate of those who serve our country,” said White. “We strive to help young individuals create positive futures upon high school graduation and I’ve seen here that the military is definitely a good opportunity for our youth.”