Council officer tasked with looking after US Air Force at RAF Croughton

Gary Crook is presented with his honorary commader certificate by (L-R) US Air Force Col Ron Cheatham, Lt Col Ray Elmore, Chief Master Sgt Lori Gawan and Col Bridget McNamara. Photo by Senior Airman Chase Sousa.
Gary Crook is presented with his honorary commader certificate by (L-R) US Air Force Col Ron Cheatham, Lt Col Ray Elmore, Chief Master Sgt Lori Gawan and Col Bridget McNamara. Photo by Senior Airman Chase Sousa.

Making sure United States Air Force personnel at RAF Croughton and their families are valued members of the community is one of the duties bestowed upon a South Northamptonshire Council (SNC) worker.

On March 29, Gary Crook attended a ceremony which saw him and others invested in the Honorary Commanders Program for the 422 Air Base Group at the airbase near Croughton.

Due to his dual role as the council’s community safety and emergency planning officer, along with his personal experience as a police Special Constable, Mr Crook has teamed-up with the base’s 422nd Civil Engineer commander Lieutenant Colonel Ray Elmore, who is responsible for civil engineering and emergency planning on the installation.

Mr Crook said: “It came out of the blue, but it was an honour I couldn’t turn down.

"My role at the base is to share best practice and to introduce Lt Col Elmore to colleagues in the community safety and emergency planning environment out here in the civilian world.

“I’m also incredibly proud of South Northamptonshire and I look forward to showing my counterpart the very best of what the district has to offer.”

The Honorary Commanders Program aims to encourage an exchange of ideas, experiences and friendships between representatives of the local civilian community and the military communities that fall under the 422 ABG.

Honorary commanders will also be encouraged to invite members of their honorary unit to their workplaces and will be invited to attend events on the base including the American Independence Day celebrations.

Lt Col Elmore said: "It’s been fantastic having Mr Crook as my squadron’s honorary commander. He’s been extremely helpful by familiarizing me with local emergency response procedures and capabilities.

"For example, he arranged a tour of the mobile emergency command vehicle and invited me to witness large-scale, emergency planning in action during last year’s Silverstone Formula 1 race weekend.

"The insight I’ve received about our joint resources and partnerships helped me provide more realistic training for first responders and input during our military exercises."