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Darcie McCracken, Honorary Commander, Luke Air Force Base

Darcie McCracken, Honorary Commander, Luke Air Force Base

Fighter Country Partnership is proud to feature Darcie McCracken, an alumni member of the Honorary Commanders Program, for its newsletter. Darcie was assigned to the 63rd Fighter Squadron until the squadron deactivated and then the 309th Fighter Squadron from 2008 to 2010 at Luke Air Force Base.

Since July 2005, Darcie has been the Deputy City Clerk with the City of Glendale.  She worked for the City of Glendale in various positions including the City Manager’s office, City Court, and the Glendale Police Department since 1989.  Her education includes the Arizona State University Advanced Public Executive Program; a Master’s of Education in Leadership at Northern Arizona University; Bachelor of Science, Administration of Justice degree from Arizona State University West; and an Associates Degree in General Studies at Glendale Community College.

Darcie volunteers with the Fighter Country Partnership organization and is a member of the Blue Blazer Squadron (active Honorary Commander alumnus). As part of Fighter Country Partnership, she worked the annual golf tournament to help raise funds for the organization which, in turn, supports the men and women of Luke AFB.  She also proudly walked in the Fiesta Bowl Parade holding the U.S. Flag balloon with other FCP members, just previous to the men and women of the 56th Fighter Wing.

Doris Ong and Darcie McCracken

Doris Ong and Darcie McCracken, both members of the Blue Blazer Squadron, Fighter Country Partnership, participate in the March 2013 Blue Blazer Squadron Annual “Charge” at the Tucson Omni National Resort.

She recently participated in the Blue Blazer Squadron retreat in Tucson visiting with the 12th Air Force Commander, Lieutenant General Robin Rand; the D-M 50 Tucson community leaders and visiting the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group.

Darcie also volunteered her time as a victim’s assistance caseworker with the Glendale Police Department from March 2002 to December 2012.  In 2007, she graduated from Leadership West, Class 14, and continued to participate as the Leadership West secretary from 2011 to 2012.   Darcie is a member of the Arizona Municipal Clerk’s Association and the International Institute of Municipal Clerks since 2005 holding offices as the president, vice president, secretary and treasurer.  She held various offices with the Arizona State University Alumni Association Criminology Chapter from January 2005 to 2010.

When asked what it’s like being an Honorary Commander at Luke AFB, she said, “A rewarding adventure.”

“The people that I have met are the biggest asset of the military.  The support that the families give to their military men and women is inspirational.  Each and every spouse and family member that supports their service member takes on the role of father, mother, daily chores, etc., and makes it possible for the service men and women to serve our country.  The sacrifice made by the families and servicemen and women–missing birthdays, anniversaries and holidays, as well as all the special events–humbles me.”

Darcie explained that she learned how military traditions are practiced and revered at Luke and throughout the Air Force.

“For every event, for every promotion, or change of command, there are certain things that must be done–certain traditions and customs that are expected and part of the event itself,” she said.” “While some of the events are very much procedure, there is that sense of caring throughout that shows how proud the men and women are to be doing what they are doing and to be a part of something bigger than themselves.”

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.  The goal is to gain positive public opinion with influencers.

Darcie McCracken receives an F-16 orientation flight by Lieutenant Colonel Jack “Max” Maixner

Darcie McCracken receives an F-16 orientation flight by Lieutenant Colonel Jack “Max” Maixner, Commander of the 63rd Fighter Squadron, Luke Air Force Base.

“I do feel that the Honorary Commander program is meeting its’ goal to promote mutual partnerships. I work for the City of Glendale, and Luke was annexed by the City many years ago to protect the mission of the base. I’ve had the opportunity to bring members of my squadron to events here at the City and the squadron has been very generous with their time and invitations to include me in the events of the squadron and the base.”

“After my orientation flight, I gained a huge respect and understanding for the men and women who fly and the men and women who maintain the planes so that the job can be done safely and effectively.

Even before I stepped foot on the tarmac, my training began in earnest so that my flight would be done safely and within the regulations of the Air Force.  I learned how to get in and out of the plane and if I had been ejected I would have the instructions on how to float to the ground safely.  (Notice I didn’t say quietly).  When we stepped to our first plane, there was an issue and another plane was quickly found.  That attention to detail and pre-checks made my flight a very safe one.

Darcie McCracken hangs from a mock-up parachute while receiving F-16 Life Support Egress Training from the 56th Operational Support Squadron before taking an orientation flight as an Honorary Commander.

Darcie McCracken hangs from a mock-up parachute while receiving F-16 Life Support Egress Training from the 56th Operational Support Squadron before taking an orientation flight as an Honorary Commander.

Keeping with the spirit of mutual support and understanding, Darcie has been thrilled with her host commanders’ interest in learning about the City of Glendale. She has taken them to special city council installation ceremonies, hosted them at various events in the city’s suite at the arena as well as other city events.

When asked what activities has she participated in at Luke AFB, she explained,

“I’ve been able to attend the F-16 student pilot graduations and changes of command as well as giving each year to the First Sergeant’s Council to assist with the holidays.  I am participating in the ladies crud tournament, been a part of the pre-open house air show activities, invited to the squadron ladies coffees, attended base special events and ceremonies, to include at least one retirement. It’s a great bunch of people and I appreciate how they include me in their events.  With the creation of the Blue Blazer Squadron, I’m hoping to be able to give more in the way of time and tangible projects.”

She concludes saying, “I think my time as an Honorary has allowed me to grow. I still feel a little self- conscious about going up to men and women in uniform and thanking them for their service, but I still do it. They need to know that “We the People” appreciate their service and their sacrifice.”

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