Each month, Fighter Country Partnership features an Honorary Commander – both alumni and current members. This month’s feature is on Mr. James Moffett, President of Crescent Crown Distributing, L.L.C., which is one of the top ten largest beer distributors in the country with operations in Arizona and Southern Louisiana selling over 25 million cases annually employing more than 600 people across the Valley. They have three warehouses in the valley located in central Phoenix, Surprise and Mesa.
James “Bubba” Moffett was born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana. He has a business degree with the University of Texas and was on their football team–three-year letterman– from 1988-1990. He is married to Blair Ann Moffett and they have a 4-month-old daughter, Elouise Loren. Bubba enjoys sports to include skiing, hunting, fishing, golf and anything outdoors. He is on the Phoenix Regional Sports Commission.
Where did the name “Bubba” come from? “It is a nickname that my mother gave me when I was an infant,” he explained. “She called her older brother Bubba who was 15 years older than her. He died of a heart attack right before I was born. Walter (Bubba) was a career mechanic in the air force and worked on B-25 Liberators…. so it was more in honor of him and calling me Bubba felt better than James…..but it’s just a nickname.”
Mr. Moffett was assigned as an Honorary Commander to the 309th Fighter Squadron at Luke Air Force Base in 2010. This squadron is known as the “Wild Ducks” or as they prefer “The Mad Mallards from Hell.” The Ducks have given “Bubba” a new nickname… “HOPS.”
When asked what it’s like being an Honorary Commander at Luke Air Force Base, he stated, “My experience with the 309th Fighter Squadron has been absolutely stellar and one of the greatest things I’ve done in my life. Being an Honorary Commander has given me the unique “once in a lifetime” opportunity as a civilian to observe the inner workings of a 56th Fighter Wing Squadron at Luke. But more importantly, the life-long friendship I’ve developed with my squadron commander, Lieutenant Colonel Daniel “Ship” Lasica and his family along with the rest of the Squadron personnel has been the most positive aspect of my commandership.”
Mr. Moffett went on to explain that over the past two years, he gained a much better understanding of what it takes to become a “Viper” (F-16) pilot.
“I have a new found respect for the intelligence, skill, focus and bravery that all of these young men and women must have to become combat ready pilots in less than 11 months. I will never look at an F-16 the same way again when it flies over our Surprise warehouse. The discipline and confidence that these Airmen acquire through their months and years of training will prepare them for success in anything they do in the future, whether they remain within the U.S. military or outside in the civilian world. They are truly “America’s Finest” and I would be honored to work alongside any of them.”
As a business owner in the Valley that sells consumer goods, he learned that Luke AFB is a powerful economic engine that contributes over 18,000 jobs and $1.4 billion annually to the local economy, equivalent to the economic impact of four Super Bowls per year.
“As business owners, we must do everything in our power to ensure that Luke AFB remains the largest active base in the world for many years to come! We should all take pride that we have one of the largest and finest air bases in the world that trains over 80% of the world’s F-16 pilots and hopefully F-35 Lightning pilots in the not-too-distant future.”
When asked what his most memorable time as an Honorary Commander has been, he explained, “I’ve had a lot of memorable times with my fellow Ducks, but the most memorable was when I hosted a Duck “Roll” Call at our distribution facility on Dysart Road not far from the base. I had Jake Leinenkugel from Leinenkugel Brewery in Wisconsin, who is a great friend/supplier partner and supporter of the U.S. Military being an ex-Marine himself, as our honored guest.
After beer tasting with Jake and giving a tour of our facility to the Ducks, they surprised me with an impromptu naming ceremony, where I discovered that the IPs and students had decided that my new Duck squadron call sign would be “HOPS” which stands for “Hero of Pints.” Soon thereafter, I presented the official “Duck One” 32-foot delivery truck to Ship and the squadron honoring the Airmen of Luke AFB and the 309th Fighter Squadron with a life-size image of a Duck Viper on the side of the trailer. That was a night to remember and good times were had by all!! The Duck One truck is officially stationed on the Luke AFB/Glendale route, so be on the lookout for it making a beer delivery if you’re in the West Valley!
The Honorary Commanders program is designed to promote mutual partnerships with the local community and to promote a better understanding of the important Air Force mission. When asked if he thought this program is meeting that goal, he stated, “Absolutely!” “Not only do I have a better understanding of the economic importance of the base, but developing relationships with my fellow squadron members has been a highlight of the program for me!!”
“These airmen are true American heroes and most civilians have no clue what it takes to become an instructor pilot or combat ready F-16 Viper driver.”
“Our distribution business sells on average 65,000 cases of beer throughout the Valley each day and we depend on those 6,000 airmen and a total of 18,000 consumers working directly with Luke as responsible consumers of our products! Luke AFB is vital to the future of our business and is one of the big reasons why we strategically constructed a second distribution facility to handle future growth in the West Valley. We are counting on Luke AFB and its personnel to be around for a very long time!! Most importantly, our Nation’s security depends on it!”
“Hops” has worked hard to help the base and his squadron to learn more about the community in which they live outside the base. On top of hosting the squadron at several off-base events at their Surprise distribution warehouse educating them on how they run and manage their business, Lt. Colonel Lasica was invited to speak at their annual meeting to over 600 Crescent Crown employees where he gave a presentation on what it takes to be an F-16 pilot as well as the value and importance of team-work whether you’re in a fighter squadron or a beer distributor.
“My wife Blair and I have hosted Ship, his wife Kelli and their kids to various company events and they are as much a part of the Crescent Crown family as they have welcomed me into the 309th and their family. Ship and his family are the best this country has to offer and I look forward to watching him advance his career in the Air Force as he becomes Colonel and transitions off to Washington D.C. for War College. Not only is Ship one of the best fighter pilots in the world, but he has the qualities of a great leader as he has proven as the commander of the 309th. I’m certain he will be able to go as far as he wants to go in the Air Force. It’s been a true honor getting to know him along with the rest of the squadron.”
He and his wife have participated in many activities at Luke and the squadron.
“I attended two B-Course (student pilot) graduations. I’ve toured the Barry M. Goldwater bombing range with the students and their families to observe pilots dropping bombs making strafing runs. You haven’t seen anything until you’ve seen an F-16 going 500 knots 500 feet off of the deck on a strafing run. Words can’t describe the sound of that gun!”
Bubba “HOPS” Moffett has been truly phenomenal as a Duck Honorary Squadron Commander. He has hosted many events for the Ducks, contributed a great deal to the squadron, and has been a part of many social and official squadron events. He and his wife Blair have become fully integrated in our squadron and have truly become part of the Duck Family. I have learned many things from HOPS, but one of the most important is that generosity, sacrifice, and selflessness don’t only exist in the military. I am honored to call HOPS my friend!
-Lt. Col. “SHIP” Lasica
“The Wild Ducks are a unique group that work hard, play hard and really enjoy what they do each and every day! The camaraderie within the squadron is second to none. Their storied past goes back to the Third Air Force in 1942 and their Walt Disney designed logo symbolizes the fighter mission celestial navigation pioneered by this squadron, its around-the-clock mission readiness, and its striking power. I feel very fortunate as a “ground pounder” to be taken in as a member of the squadron and it’s an absolute honor to be a Wild Duck!! QQMF! “Quack Quack My Friend”
“I look forward to being a supporter of the Luke mission and its Airmen for many years to come!”