MacDill Day
Leadership Tampa Bay

March 18, 2024

Written by: Luis Velez-Alvarez, Financial Advisor – Northwestern Mutual

Our Leadership Tampa Bay class had an amazing day at MacDill organized by the program committee Nancy Newkirk, Brenda Stewart, Kevin Garcia, Erin Dorrance and Kelly Flannery.

We spend the first half of the day listening to Col Bingham, Commander, 6th Air Refueling Wing and Col Mike Stapleton, 927th Air Refueling Wing, talk about the history of MacDill Air Force Base and how the base has created a $3.9 billion economic impact in our region and that 572 families call MacDill home.  They also described what is to come as the future of refueling aircrafts, moving from the long-lasting KC-135 towards the KC-46A.  We also heard from Chief Master Sgt. Derek Anderson and his role in Operation Wild Boar, the mission to rescue the soccer team from a flooded cave in Thailand.  He described the behind-the-scenes stories of how they achieved the amazing miracle of rescuing all kids safely.  It was humbling being in the presence of a real-life hero.  Lastly, the group had the opportunity to step inside a Blackhawk helicopter and how it became the helicopter of choice for medevacmissions during the Vietnam war.

For the second half of our day, we heard the story of SOCOM (Special Operations Command), established in 1987.  Lt Col John Frazier described SOCOM’s Mission, Responsibility and Truths and that their first priority is always the people.  We also heard from Col Eli Smith who described CETCOM (Central Command) and how they are currently focusing on strategic “choke points” such as the Suez Canal and Strait of Hormuz.  The group had the opportunity to hear from the JCSE (Joint Communications Support Element) Airborne and learn about their incredible tools and operations to provide effective command communications for every type of mission they face.  The last tour took the group to Base Operations where we learned the protocols on how the base keeps evryone safe during the event of large weather storms or a chemical/biological/radiological emergency.

It’s incredible to learn about the base’s crucial role in national security and global military operations.  At the end of the day the group had the opportunity to debrief about their day at Salt Shack, courtesy of our program sponsor, Mega Service Solutions.


The Leadership Tampa Bay class year begins in September and runs through May. Each year, the Board of Directors organizes 11 class days that focus on regional issues and opportunities. The agenda for each day consists of panel discussions with business civic and government leaders, questions and answer sessions, and facility tours. In addition, each class member participates in both an opening and closing retreat and a two-day Tallahassee Trip.






Post Office Box 1315
Tampa, FL 33601


Executive Director
(813) 486-8917