CLOVIS, NM (KCBD) - The 27th Special Operations Wing is preparing to celebrate 10 years being stationed at Cannon Air Force Base, just west of Clovis, New Mexico.
Commander Stewart Hammons said there is a certain mystique that comes with the title of his Wing, but he hopes to alleviate some of that by connecting more with the local community and creating an awareness of what is going on there.
"There are certain aspects that we do on a day-in and day-out basis that are classified but the reality is we are regular Airmen just like any Airmen out there," Commander Hammons said. "We want you guys and gals to know across all the communities, whether it's Amarillo, Lubbock, Clovis or Portales, that we have a very large wing out here that is executing a phenomenal mission in support of our national defense."
Commander Hammons tells KCBD one thing going on there, outside of the regular mission, is the focus on upgrades and additions of more facilities to keep up with the demands of the Air Force and the task of providing specialized air, surveillance and combat support to the military.
"The need for the expansion really boils down to requirement on the Air Force side," Commander Hammons said. "We are only building out the requirements to meet what we operationally need to execute our mission."
As the Commander looks to the future, the daily tasks of the 27th SOW are being taken care of by the nearly 5,000 Air Commandos who serve at Cannon AFB.
KCBD was granted access to observe tasks of keeping an eye on things from the air traffic control tower and on the ground in the radar facility. Just a few flights down from the top of the tower, commandos are training to become the next commandos on watch.
There is also the sobering process of being deployed. Air commandos conduct a Personnel Deployment Function line to make sure each other is prepared for what may come abroad or at home with their family during their mission. Of course, the commandos receive the equipment needed to be prepared for the battlefield.
"To ensure your deployment readiness is a huge piece of the job," Installation Deployment Officer Andrew Kibellus said. "Not only is it on the individual to make sure their requirements are met. There are offices like mine that their sole job is to make sure the people and the cargo of this base is ready to go at a moment's notice."
As for those who do the flying, some of the duty falls to the 9th Special Operations Squadron and Captain Brian Roman. It's his third year flying in the Air Force and first year flying special ops at Cannon but he says it has already convinced him to stay in the Air Force.
"Being a part of this base is something special," Captain Roman said. "We do a lot of really great things here not just for war operations around the world but humanitarian, you name it. We do a lot and it's really cool to be a part of such a vast mission set."
The job of the 9th SOS may literally soar above the rest but Captain Roman says they couldn't do it without every fellow Air Commando.
"As much as we air crew like to think we are the only show in town, everyone's job plays a role in what we do here," Captain Roman said. "There are the maintainers that prep our aircraft that make sure we can fly them. There are the people back in the hangars who aren't on the fly line making sure things happen. Everyone has to be proficient in their duties, no matter what their job is for this whole base's mission to be executed properly. There's no doubt about that."
The role the community plays in the operation of Cannon AFB has surprised the 27th SOW.
"I'm not sure I've seen such an active community that was supportive of it's military," Commander Hammons said. "Both the Clovis and Portales communities have probably been the best support anchor that I've ever seen in my career."
But the hope is that support continues as Cannon opens up to people it serves.
"Anything that continues to connect the local community to what we are doing at Cannon AFB, for awareness, for support are going to be important," Commander Hammons said. "I am very, very thankful we have such a supportive community."