Daniel Ortega has been a Phoenix resident since 1981. He attended elementary through high school eventually finishing at Arizona State University. Along with his wife Chelley, he is raising two sons and resides in central Phoenix. In Daniel’s professional career, he is a commercial real estate broker with Colliers International specializing in retail properties. Mr. Ortega serves on the board of Northrise University Initiative which is a non-profit organization that raises funds and institutional partnerships for Northrise University, the first private Christian university in Zambia. Mr. Ortega served as an Honorary Commander at Luke AFB from 2010-2012 and currently is a member of Fighter Country Partnership’s Blue Blazer Squadron.
Mr. Ortega explains what it was like being an Honorary Commander at Luke AFB.
“Having the opportunity to be an Honorary Commander attached to the 56th Maintenance Operations Squadron (MOS) was overwhelming, inspiring, humbling and downright cool. I was blessed to have two very active and inclusive commanders during my 2010-2012 Honorary Commander class. I was fortunate to be invited to many graduations seated alongside the most professional young people that make a complex training wing like Luke happen.”
“I learned so much about honor, tradition, dedication and excellence that all are the necessary components the airmen embody to create the world’s best fighter pilots and mission ready war fighters. Being attached to a maintenance squadron, I was able to see the precision necessary to keep aircraft in the air. Experiences like launching F-16s at the EOR (End Of Runway), observing engine testing in the “Hush House” and weapons loading competitions were all highlights in my memory.”
“My most fond memory was when my time came to an end as an Honorary Commander and I was presented with a beautiful plaque carved with the squadron mascot, the Roadrunner, and kind words from the squadron commander and others. The men and women of the 56th MOS made me feel like one of their own. Over the two years I asked questions that were probably elementary to them, but they were genuinely excited to tell me what their part in the day-to-day operations were. Leadership at the base really pushes teamwork and excellence.”
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. Mr. Ortega explained that the Honorary Commanders Program is continuing the mission of immersing civilians in the community and the program gets better and better each year.
“The quality people that the base selects to join the program are a wide demographic of public and private leaders throughout the valley,” he said. “The community awareness of Luke AFB and now the F-35 program is evidence that Honorary Commanders and Fighter Country Partnership are getting the word out about why the base is so important locally as well as globally.”
When asked how he helped integrate his assigned commander to learn more about the local community, Mr. Ortega explained,
“During my time as an Honorary Commander, I was able to participate with the Logistics Officers’ Association and help coordinate off-site visits for the association. We would see how large companies operate their logistics and supply chain. It was mutually beneficial for the airmen and private companies to understand that there are many opportunities for airmen in the civilian market when their career in the Air Force is complete. As well, these companies are educated that there is a resource available to them in the form of a highly skilled and dependable workforce that is training in our community.”
Mr. Ortega participated in many base activities from launching jets at the EOR, promotion ceremonies, the squadron holiday party, commander calls, weapons loading competition, flight simulators and BBQs.
“I was fully immersed in our squadron,” he said. “Whenever the commander would call, I’d make my best effort to be there. The 56th Maintenance Operations Squadron was a great squadron to be part of. They had wide-ranged responsibilities at the base; therefore, I was able to see many of the fighter wing’s operations others weren’t able to see.”
When it was time to give back, Mr. Ortega supported the base in many ways.
“Most of my support for the base has been through Fighter Country Partnership (FCP) and their mission to support the men, women and families of Luke. After my time as an Honorary Commander, I jumped in with two feet to do what I could to support the people I spent 2 years being surrounded by. I was honored to help in Christmas Angel projects, Wingman Day barbeques, filming and editing some of the officer’s fini flights (the final flight that a pilot makes before separating from the Air Force) and much more.”
“Being part of the first Blue Blazers Squadron has been the most rewarding part of my activity with FCP. Being able to be the hands and feet for FCP to raise money, awareness and physically serve the men and women of Luke. I am currently organizing FCP’s participation in the Fiesta Bowl Parade to help bring that awareness.”
“Fighter Country Partnership is a well-executed partnership with base leadership. Time after time for the past five years, I’ve heard from base leadership as well as directly from the airmen, that there is no other organization like FCP in the country that directly fills in to help with whatever the leadership needs.”
Ron Sites, President & Executive Director of Fighter Country Partnership said of Mr. Ortega:
“When we refer to honorary commanders being “home runs” and when it comes to support and involvement for Luke and FCP…that doesn’t say enough for Danny. Danny is a Grand Slam!!!!”
Mr. Ortega concludes by saying:
“The men and women at Luke are the pride of the entire valley. They volunteer their lives so that we can continue to live safe here in the United States. When people in the military talk about Luke AFB, I want part of that conversation to say “wow, the community support around Luke is like none other.”