ALTUS AIR FORCE BASE – In a recent ceremony at Club Altus, Col. William A. Spangenthal, Altus Air Force Base 97th Air Mobility Wing Commander inducted Joan Wilcoxen as the newest Friend of Altus, the highest civilian honor bestowed at Altus Air Force Base. This selection is made by the Wing Commander to reward the individual who has done the most to promote the welfare of Altus Air Force Base personnel and to further strengthen the ties between the Altus civilian population and Altus Air Force Base.

In making this award, Colonel Spangenthal lauded Wilcoxen’s dedication to the men and women of Altus Air Force Base. Working in her capacity as Executive Director of the Altus Armed Services YMCA for the past twelve years, Joan’s innovative support includes the Washers and Dryers for Airmen program which has provided over 1,000 washers and dryers to the youngest and newest junior enlisted military families through community donations and refurbishment of laundry machines. Also, she hosts weekly Spouses Socials for these newest young families to meet other families while enjoying food and fellowship in a safe and nurturing environment. Through support of the Airmen Against Drunk Driving Initiative, over 13,000 rides have been provided on weekends to keep our Altus Airmen and our local roads safe for all.

The presentation was made in front of about a hundred dignitaries from both the Altus community and Altus Air Force Base. The Friend of Altus tradition began in 1995. It was created by former Altus AFB Wing Commander Gen. George N. Williams, now retired, who chose the first Friends of Altus. To be named a Friend of Altus is the highest honor a local civilian can receive from a wing commander.

The ceremony consisted of a reception, dinner and an unveiling of her portrait. Her portrait will join those of the other Friends of Altus in the Headquarters of Altus Air Force Base. Before unveiling the photo of Wilcoxen, Spangenthal spoke about the importance of the surrounding community, and how they provided unyielding support to Altus AFB through every success and challenge during his tenure as wing commander here. Since the inception of the program, 20 people have previously been honored as a Friend of Altus, and the Colonel expressed his delight in selecting Wilcoxen as the 21st Friend of Altus.

“I am honored beyond words to be selected as a Friend of Altus,” said Wilcoxen. “This honor reflects the work of many volunteers who have joined me to donate their time, and the citizens of Altus who have so generously supported our ASYMCA mission of “Making Military Life Easier” through their donations. I am so grateful for the men and women who keep us a free nation through their military service, and I feel truly blessed to be named a Friend of Altus!”

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