Each month, Fighter Country Partnership features an Honorary Commander – both alumni and current members. This month’s feature is on Rick Hearn, Director of Leasing, Vestar.
The Honorary Commanders Program is designed to promote a better understanding of the mission of the U.S. Air Force and specifically, Luke Air Force Base. It reaches out to business and community leaders to become personally involved by signing up for a two-year program assigned to a particular squadron or group at Luke. They become a member of that unit. In turn, they exchange experiences and opportunities allowing military members to learn about their community outside the gates of Luke AFB.
As the Director of Leasing and Designated Broker for Vestar, Rick; a 25-year veteran of the industry, is responsible for the leasing, marketing, and broker management of the company’s retail portfolios (development, operational, third party management) located throughout the southwestern U.S. (AZ, CA).
He is a member of Valley Partnership since 2005, and its current Chairman (2012), he has been active on the Board of Directors for two terms focusing on the organization’s centric goals of advocacy, education, networking and philanthropy. Focus for 2012 includes board development, organizational communication, strategic alliances, and fiscal policies.
Rick is a long-standing member of the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC), a volunteer executive since 1994, and the recipient of the prestigious “Trustees Distinguished Service Award” (2010). He is a past Chairman of the Western Division Conference, a 13 state regional program (2007 – 2009); Arizona’s former State Political Action Committee Chairman (2005 – 2008); and a past State Director (2002 – 2005). Through both organizations, he is actively involved in promoting responsible legislative agendas and policies that have local, statewide, regional and national benefits, and implications for the retail development industry.
He is community-minded, with his support for many local charities and organizations. Involved with Fighter Country Partnership since 2009, this philanthropic advocacy group supports the mission and the service personnel and families of Luke Air Force Base in Glendale, Arizona. Rick is one of its board members (Financial Development Chairman) and responsible for creating varying revenue streams for the organization.
In 2010, at the invitation of the wing commander for Luke Air Force Base, Rick was asked to serve as an Honorary Commander, assigned to the 56th (MXG) Maintenance Group’s Commander – Colonel Deborah Liddick. This 2-year program is designed to enhance and expand military/private sector awareness, promoting the military/educational role that Luke AFB has locally, nationally and globally, while creating lasting relationships with many of the service personnel and their families.
Additionally, in 2010, this involvement led to a unique invitation by the Secretary of the Air Force to attend the USAF National Security Forum held at Maxwell AFB, participating in the Air Education Training Command’s annual Civic Leaders immersion program. The future class of leadership, from all five branches of the U.S. military, along with global coalition partners, participates in this yearlong program and annual forum.
When asked what it is like being an Honorary Commander at Luke AFB, Mr. Hearn stated,
“To be that someone who’s been bestowed with a true honor and privilege, a rarity that is easily described as “bucket list” item! We strive to continuously grow and learn as individuals. There’s no better way to advance that desire than to participate in the Honorary Commander program and learn about professional military best practices and camaraderie.
During his two years as an Honorary Commander, he explained his perspective. “As a country, we have the best trained, highly educated, and well-rounded military professionals with no equal,” he said. “Whether Airman or Commander, they enjoy their jobs and acknowledge their self-made commitments and that we, the Citizenry, provide them their livelihood and that they truly work for us, as this is “everyone’s” Air Force.”
Mr. Hearn explained that being assigned to the 56th Maintenance Group was “Amazing!”
“I had no idea how much of the base’s functions are integrated under the 56th MXG. Explained in layman’s terms, the guys and gals who maintain those F-16 aircraft are a like a NASCAR pit crew. They change the tires, refuel, clean windows, just like the team that takes the broken vehicles to the infield garages for extensive repairs/overhauls and the team that goes out cleans the track for safety concerns, all are the functions of the 56th MXG. One thing that truly separates the two, that NASCAR might truly desire, is access to munitions that remove the “bad guys” ahead of them in the turns! That’s the 56th MXG!
He stated that one of his most memorable events was attending the farewell and change of command ceremony of his assigned host commander, Colonel Deborah Liddick when she presented him a memorialized 56th Maintenance Group guidon. “Say it Loud, Say it Proud!”
Mr. Hearn thoroughly enjoys participating in the many base functions such as the Maintenance Professional of the Year award ceremonies, bomb loading competitions, base tours, flight simulator training, observing a 21-airship launch from the control tower, an over-night stay with the wing commander for day and night maneuvers at the Barry M. Goldwater Range, to the participation at the National Security Forum at Maxwell AFB. He explained that above all, it is the meeting of the Airmen who are the backbone of the Air Force that impresses him the most.
“Whether it’s a single-stripe Airman or a general officer, I’ve been truly blessed to interact with the “Good Guys & Gals!” All, who are dedicated to the defense of this country, becoming the best military professional pilots and maintainers, while representing the entire Air Force.”
In the past four years, Mr. Hearn has been directly associated with Luke AFB, whether philanthropic, political or social, and all at both the personal and corporate level. As a member of the Board for Fighter Country Partnership, as its Fundraising Development Chair, his role is to create sustainable revenue streams that directly support the base, catering primarily to the needs of all base personnel and their families.
Mr. Ron Sites, President of Fighter Country Partnership states, “FCP has had the privilege to have Mr. Hearn currently serving a dual role within the Luke community. As both a FCP Board Member and current 56th Maintenance Group Honorary Commander, we have been able to utilize his passion for our military to greatly assist FCP with our mission and goals. If FCP had more Mr. Hearns…we could so much more than we already do. A thank you for his time and support isn’t enough, and he wouldn’t want that. He is so honored and proud to be a part of a group that carries the responsibility of supporting military families, that a thank you isn’t needed.”
When Mr. Hearn was asked what is the most enjoyable and rewarding part of being active with Fighter Country Partnership, he said, “Simple, being able to “pay-it-forward” for these very deserving Airmen and their families. I was neither as mature, nor as selfless, as these individuals to enlist in the Services when I was their age 30 years ago. Now, I strive to make a difference in their lives.”
“Fighter Country Partnership is respected and appreciated by the base, the Air Force, and the Department of Defense. It is a national model unrealized anywhere else in the country. To be a part of this group of individuals has been, is, and will always be an honor and privilege for me.”