Each month, Fighter Country Partnership will feature an Honorary Commander–both alumni and current members. This month’s feature is on Mr. Mike Nealy, Chief Operating Officer of the Phoenix Coyotes. He is responsible for overseeing all day-to-day business operations for the Coyotes and Jobing.com Arena. He also serves as one of the team’s alternate governors.
The Honorary Commanders Program partners Luke Air Force Base squadron commanders and others in leadership positions with civilian business and community leaders from the Phoenix metropolitan area. The program is designed to strengthen relationships between the base and local community. Since 1999, more than 400 community and business leaders have been inducted into the program. In November 2010, 65 new honorary commanders joined during a ceremony for a two-year term.
Mr. Nealy, a Minnesota native, has been an active alumni of the program since his term ended in 2008. He was inducted into the program in 2006 assigned to the 56th Equipment Maintenance Squadron. He is currently on the Fighter Country Partnership Board of Directors participating in projects that support the men and women of Luke Air Force Base.
It was an honor to be exposed to the internal workings of Luke and to see, firsthand, how a base operates and to see the skilled airmen perform their duties,” Nealy said. “Being an Honorary Commander gave me access to a world that I knew little about and also allowed me to share my world with the staff and airmen that I met.”
The military commanders are invited by their Honorary Commanders to learn about the community in which they live outside the confines of the base. Although military commanders usually have a short two-year assignment at Luke, they are encouraged to get involved in the local community and this program gives them that opportunity.
Mr. Nealy supports the base in many ways through a great partnership with the Phoenix Coyotes. He and his team go out of their way to ensure Airmen are recognized at every opportunity.
“I always try to think of how to include the base at our home games,” said Mr. Nealy. “For example, at each home game we honor a “Hero of the Game” and often this is an Airman from the base. We get them center ice seats, introduce and recognized them during the game, always to huge cheers from the fans.”
As a board member of Fighter Country Partnership, Mr. Nealy believes that the more you put into a great cause, the more you get out of it.
“When it was time to move on from the Honorary Commanders program, I did not feel as though I have given enough, so for me, I was fortunate enough to be able to join the Fighter Country Partnership and still serve on the board today. This allows me to continue to support the base and stay close to and informed on the needs of the base and its Airmen. With my position at the Phoenix Coyotes hockey organization, I have also been able to support the base by connecting the Team and base with various opportunities.”
Mr. Ron Sites, Executive Director, Fighter Country Partnership, appreciates the great support that Mr. Nealy and the Phoenix Coyotes Hockey Team provides to the men and women of Luke AFB.
“Watching 200 Airmen and their families enjoy a Phoenix Coyotes hockey game is an opportunity a lot of these airmen wouldn’t experience without the support that the Coyotes and Mr. Nealy provide,” he stated. “They have been there for the base on a consistent basis.”
“The Coyotes’ contributions are another example why the Airmen and their families at Luke AFB enjoy a quality of life that is different than other military installations, Mr. Sites explained. “Without the community support, the quality of life within Luke would be significantly different. Thank you Mr. Nealy and the Coyotes!”
When asked what inspires him, Mr. Nealy explained, “For me, I live under the protection of those who serve and have served in our armed forces and I have the opportunities I enjoy because of their service. It is my way of giving something back.