Cobb Chamber of Commerce

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HCA History

Since its inception in 1832, Cobb County, Georgia and its citizens have served and have supported those who served in the military. Our young men and women have heeded the call over those years, leaving behind a solemn but grateful network of family and friends. Facilities on Cobb County soil have housed, educated, trained, and provided arms and equipment to all service branches and employed countless numbers of the local population. Cobb County has for years provided an operational "home" for our nation's Air Force, Army, Navy, and Marine Corps, as well as a community for those soldiers, sailors, and airmen to belong during their time here.

That "community" was formalized in March of 1983 with the formation of a new, hybrid military support program. Providing information on the best examples of active military/civic leader organizations from prior bases, the new Commander of the 94th Tactical Airlift Wing at Dobbins Air Force Base, Brigadier General William W. (Bill) Basnett, with the aid of then Dobbins Public Affairs Officer, Major Robert (Bob) Dubiel, was instrumental in initiating discussions with the leadership of the Cobb County Chamber of Commerce. Chamber President Chet Austin, Vice President of Community Development Jack Wilson, Military Affairs Committee Chairman Jon Allen, Executive Vice President Phil Sanders, Manager of Community Development JD Dennis, and local businessman Walter Kelly Jr. were influential figures in the resulting formation of the Honorary Commanders Association (HCA). At inception, HCA was a joint effort of the Cobb Chamber of Commerce, Dobbins Air Force Base, and Naval Air Station Atlanta.

The initial installation luncheon held March 8, 1983, at Dobbins Air Force Base's Officers Club, announced the appointment of 18 civilian Honorary Commanders along with the new organization's objectives and initiatives, which included continuing community recognition of a "Military Person of the Quarter" at monthly Chamber breakfasts and an annual Military/Civilian Dinner-Dance.

Although there have been major shifts with the missions of the total force structure of the national defense authority since 1983, the HCA has continued to promote interaction between military personnel stationed locally and our community. Annually, following an intensive nomination and application process, approximately 25 civilian business and civic leaders of Cobb County are chosen to participate in the HCA program. Each civilian is paired with a military counterpart selected by the supporting local military commands to become that year's class. Through the course of the next 12 months, the group experiences in-depth tours of the local military installations as well as sponsored visits to out-of-town bases. As the civilians receive an education in military affairs and the resulting economic impact to the community, they are also positioned to provide aid and support to the men and women, both current and veteran, who protect and serve our country through all branches of our Armed Forces, and to promote community confidence in our local military.

The HCA program similarly provides armed forces personnel assigned to the area an insight into a variety of local benefits as they are hosted at various functions along with being introduced to community and business opportunities. HCA military counterparts are welcomed into homes and offices as well as being invited and encouraged to attend and participate in community events. The opportunities offered by the HCA program also offer those involved service men and women an enlightening view of other military branches.

The closely affiliated Honorary Commanders Alumni Association (HCAA) exists for both the civilian and military personnel who have experienced the program. Along with providing an overall volunteer support network for HCA and the local military commands, this association allows the relationships established to continue for years to come. HCAA sponsors charitable events, meals, and attendance for military functions and families. It conducts luncheon programs, presentations, socials, and special military-focused trips for HCAA members.

Over their existence, HCA and HCAA have been led by a number of volunteers who have dedicated countless hours of their time and effort toward the objectives presented above. Those leaders include the program's Past Chairs:

    1983             Jon Allen
    1984             George Beggs
    1985-1986    Walter Kelly Jr.
    1987-1988    Howard DuBois
    1989-1993    Jon Anderson
    1994-1995    Mary Lou Stephens
    1996-1997    Dena Rodrigues
    1998-2001    Mike Worley
    2002-2003    Dan O'Brien
    2004-2005    Brent Brown
    2006-2007    Mary Williamson
    2008-2009    James Hudgins
    2010-2011    Pam Younker
    2012-2013    Travis Ellis
    2013-2014    Glynda Thor
    2014-2015    Joe Gaskin
    2015-2016    Cassy Ferrell
    2016-2017    Lee Davis
    2017-2018    Leslie Hammond
    2017-2018    Alumni Chairs Jodi Martin and Wayne McGary
    2018             Greg Teague

The HCA commitment to active and veteran military service members remains a constant objective as we affirm:

    The mission of the Honorary Commanders Association is to educate business and community leaders about the total force structure of the national defense authority while supporting the men and women who protect and serve our country through all branches of our Armed Forces.

Presently, the Honorary Commander Association is a cooperative effort of the Cobb Chamber of Commerce, Dobbins Air Reserve Base (ARB), General Lucius D. Clay National Guard Center, Navy and Marine Corps.