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Mr. Joshua Abel, Imaginary Trout

Joshua Abel, Honorary Command Chief, 56th Fighter Wing, Luke Air Force Base

Fighter Country Partnership is proud to feature Joshua Abel, an alumni member of the Honorary Commanders Program, for its newsletter.  Joshua was assigned “Honorary Command Chief” to the 56th Fighter Wing Command Chief, Command Chief Master Sergeant Rory Wicks, at Luke Air Force Base.  The Command Chief is responsible for the morale, welfare, training, management and professional growth of 5,000 enlisted personnel assigned to the Air Force’s largest fighter wing.

Joshua Abel founded Imaginary Trout in 2008, a web design, development, technology, and internet consulting company specializing in online marketing. The company also develops, manages and hosts a variety of websites and internet-enabled applications. Joshua brings over 20 years of internet technology experience to the forefront.

In his free time, Joshua enjoys mountain biking, skiing, rucking, being outside, and smoking meats.  He also likes stay in shape and train his Chesapeake Bay Retriever. In 2014 Josh escaped Arizona’s heat and relocated to his hometown of Spokane, Washington.  Fly fishing the cold-water streams and rivers of the Pacific Northwest is Josh’s favorite hobby.  Joshua studied Bio-Medical Engineering at Arizona State University and is a lifetime member of Trout Unlimited where he sits on the board of directors for the Spokane Falls Chapter and in 2019 became the chapter’s president.

In 2009, he was approached by Fighter Country Partnership to help improve and develop their website.  He has volunteered his time and resources in managing the FCP website ever since, which has gradually evolved into a strong partnership. This partnership has vastly improved FCP’s customer relationships, automating their constituent membership database for easier management, and enabled methods for recurring and event-based fundraising.

According to FCP President Ron Sites, “Josh truly sets the standard for involvement with FCP through his unending dedication to taking FCP to the next level.  FCP wouldn’t be where it is today without the passion and efforts of Joshua Abel and Imaginary Trout.”

Major Elton Davis and Joshua Abel

Honorary Command Chief Joshua Abel (right) receives an F-16 orientation flight by Major Elton “Elvis” Davis of the 308th Fighter Squadron, Luke AFB

In 2010 Joshua was inducted as an Honorary Command Chief assigned to the Command Chief Master Sergeant Rory Wicks at Luke Air Force Base in Glendale, Ariz.  The two-year Honorary Commander Program expands the 56th Fighter Wing Commander’s ability to foster relationships between local civic and business leaders and base personnel.  It also serves as an excellent vehicle for promoting a better understanding of Air Education and Training Command (AETC) and Luke’s F-16 training mission. Josh also had the privilege of being an Honorary Commander at Fairchild Air Force Base assigned to the commander of the 336 Training Support Squadron (TRSS), a unit of The 336 TRG (Training Group). The 336 TRG is a tenant of the 92nd Air Refueling Wing at Fairchild and is responsible for the USAF SERE program. SERE falls under AETC.

When asked what it is like being an Honorary Command Chief, he stated, “Incredible!”  “I’ve been given an opportunity to learn firsthand what life is like as an Airman at Luke AFB through the Honorary Commanders Program.  I’ve learned the important role that  Luke AFB has in training the world’s greatest F-16 pilots (now F-16 6and F-35 pilots) and maintainers in the world.”

Lyons, Wicks, Abel

Photo above from left to right: Honorary Command Chief Adam Lyons, Champion Partnerships, LLLP; former 56th Fighter Wing Command Chief Master Sergeant Rory “Wicky” Wicks; and Honorary Command Chief Joshua Abel, Imaginary Trout.

Joshua stated, “The HC program has expanded my knowledge and ability to educate civilians at large about the critical mission of Luke AFB. My experience in the HC program at Luke has enabled me to be involved in events and engagements that very few civilians have the opportunity to participate in.”

“I’ve been asked countless times if I was a Command Chief because they see me wear my wing shirt or wear my CCMSgt lapel pin. This opens the door to explain to them the story of Luke and the Air Force.  My response is always that I was an “honorary” and how I became a part of a non-civilian culture that not too many folks have an opportunity to be part of unless they are family or friend of an airman. This has impacted me in several ways, some of which I’m too humble to explain. I can, however, express the fact that I’ve been “enlisted” as an airman vicariously through my host commander, CCMSgt Rory “Wicky” Wicks.  An experience I will never forget. I was presented with the “Big Picture” of leading Airmen.”

American Flag - 2012 Fiesta Bowl ParadeFor the years leading up to his move back to Spokane, Joshua also participated in the Fiesta Bowl Parade as FCP members carry a U. S. Flag balloon the entire parade route.  Also as an Honorary Commander alumnus, he is now a new member of the inaugural “alpha” class of Blue Blazer Squadron.

Blue Blazer Squadron Class of 2013

The 2013 Inaugural Blue Blazer Squadron of Fighter Country Partnership

The Blue Blazer Squadron (BBS) is an opportunity for honorary commander alumni to continue to support the men women and families at Luke AFB. The Blue Blazer Squadron is a group of 56 active former Honorary Commanders who have lived the mission at Luke through their experience on base and now want to continue to exercise their support by becoming a part of an exclusive FCP program.  As a “Blue Blazer”, these individuals will be ambassadors and a visible representative of FCP to the community.

“I’m beyond humbled to be able to continue my support of Luke AFB through this new charter and extension of FCP.”

Friends of Freedom - No One Left BehindJoshua is also an extension of Fighter Country Partnership staff and has sat on the FCP Honorary Commanders Golf Classic committee which is the largest fund-raising event for FCP.  He was also on the advisory council for Friends of Freedom/No One Left Behind founded by another Honorary Commander, David Haddad of Fumar Cigars.  Friends of Freedom (FOF) believes that America’s military veterans deserve the full measure of care and assistance they need to live with dignity, hope and independence with “No One Left Behind (NOLB).”  The purpose is to facilitate the transition from military to civilian life by creating the programs and building the structure that will ensure the most efficient delivery of healing services to the anticipated tens of thousands of veterans expected to reside in Arizona in the coming years.

When asked what event sticks out in his mind the most, he stated, “I attended 56th Fighter Wing Awards Banquet which honored the best of Luke AFB’s Airmen.  Listening to a fantastic speech by then Lieutenant General Robin Rand, 12th Air Force commander, and the presentation of a Purple Heart to a Luke airman brought tears to my eyes as I didn’t know what it meant to receive the Purple Heart.  It was truly a moving event.”

Joshua Abel’s contributions to the Luke Forward coalition ensuring Luke AFB would be chosen for the F-35 aircraft training site were instrumental. He and his partner at the time, Adam Lyons, (also an Honorary Commander Alumnus) worked with the Luke Forward coalition managing the online support campaign.

Luke ForwardThe Luke Forward campaign operated from the home base of The website’s purpose is to educate and update the community on the progress of the campaign and promote statewide support. The campaign used electronic communications, social media, a speaker’s bureau and other outreach tools.

“This was the most important project and rewarding experience I’ve worked in support of Luke AFB” Joshua said.  “I take great pride in being intimately involved in that campaign which could not have happened without my friend and former business associate, Adam Lyons, and others such as then FCP Executive Director, Steve Yamamori and his assistant Nancy Nancy Alvarado-Arreola; then FCP Chairman Charley Freericks, the FCP board, Ron Sites, Susan Lovelace, and all the supporters of Fighter Country Partnership, former Glendale Mayor Elaine Scruggs and her staff, James Rusty “Torch” Mitchell, all the cities and individual supporters in Arizona and across our great nation.”

F-35A in Flight

An F-35A aircraft slated for Operational Test at Nellis AFB, Nev., completes a check flight from the Fort Worth, Texas, F-35 factory Oct. 15, 2012.

After the draft Environmental Impact Statement was published, the Luke Forward coalition’s expectations were vastly exceeded capturing tremendous community support for the F-35 training to be located at Luke AFB.  Nearly 22,000 registered supporters submitted positive written public comments.

“I was heavily involved working closely with the City of Glendale until the F-35 EIS Record of Decision was made.  During a celebratory reception attended by the governor, congressmen, state legislators, and others, Mayor Scruggs specifically recognized myself and Adam for our hard work.”

Luke Forward received Westmarc’s Special 20th Anniversary Best of the West Award for championing one of the West Valley’s biggest accomplishments — Luke Air Force Base landing the F-35 training center.

The Air Force will initially place 72 new aircraft at Luke, likely to arrive in phases over the next couple of years.  In addition to ensuring the long-term viability of Luke, the F-35 training mission will serve as an economic stimulus for Arizona. The new fighter will require construction projects, facility improvements and infrastructure upgrades, which are getting underway this fall. It is anticipated that the construction work can initially bring as much as $110 million and about 2,290 jobs. Eventually, Luke AFB will house 144 F-35A Lightning II fighter jets.

Post updated 6 Feb 2020.