VANDENBERG SPACE FORCE BASE -- Community leader and Pastor Bernie Federmann has served as the 30th Security Forces Squadron Honorary Commander for several years.
With Federmann serving as a spiritual leader at Lompoc Foursquare Church, one might not see the immediate connection between spirituality and base security. However, the answer is in the people and the community. Vandenberg Security Forces have one of the most unique missions in the entire Air Force: the daily defense of active space launch at the Air Force's third largest installation.
The expanse of their mission particularly stood out to Bernie, but he will tell you that the most fulfilling aspect of his position as honorary commander is supporting the people.
Federmann reflected on his established connections with military members, "I think the most informative thing is the one-on-one, when you look into the eyes of someone who's serving our country, and you get to ask, 'Where are you from?' I love missile launches, don't get me wrong, but I think the greatest value is fostering the connections between military families and the community.”
During a meeting, Federmann observed 30 SFS Commander Lt. Col. Shannon O’Neal’s interaction with her troops. "I got to hear the commander's heart for her people. I got to check in with her and her concerns," he stated.
Federmann values listening to the commander's priorities and seeking ways that he can support the unit and its members. He noted, "These commanders are busy enough as it is, and I view it as my job to ask how I, my church, my connections, my influence add value to what you do?" More often than not, his answer is family support. Defenders around Vandenberg know the leader for his support of holiday events for service members and their families. The Honorary Commander says that this interpersonal connection is one of the most rewarding aspects of his involvement in the program. During his time as Honorary Commander, Federmann and his church have facilitated Halloween events, Christmas events, Easter events, and more.
Last Christmas, he helped prepare more than 200 ham dinners for military members during Christmas to defenders and their families. The meal distribution was accomplished in collaboration with the Vandenberg Village Coffee Shop and his networks as a local church pastor. "It builds a deeper sense of support when you hand something tangible," said Federmann.
He prides himself on bringing smiles to the faces of Team V and their families. "As a civilian and someone who's never been in the military, it really is an honor to serve those who are serving.”
The Honorary Commander Program at Vandenberg Space Force Base is a paired partnership between local leaders and base leadership. The distinction of the Honorary Commander position comes with a two-year term filled with exposure to Vandenberg missions through a series of tours, volunteering engagements, shadowing programs, and heritage celebrations. The Vandenberg Public Affairs office manages the honorary commander's program. Honorary commander candidates must be U.S. citizens of good character with a leadership position in local, regional, or national affairs. They cannot be an employee of the federal government, an active or retired military member. They must not hold financial interests that conflict with their role as a Vandenberg partner. If you have questions about the program or would like to offer a nomination, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org with a biography and a justification.