The Chamber > Advocacy > Military Presence > Friends of McConnell
Friends of McConnell
Mission and Goal
The Friends of McConnell (FOM), an affiliate organization of the Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce, is a support group of area business leaders and residents dedicated to providing meaningful social and economic linkage between senior military leaders and their metropolitan civilian counterparts. The FOM seeks to express community pride and appreciation of the area’s military by providing organizational and financial support for Commander directed programs on base. A primary goal of the Friends of McConnell is to make McConnell AFB the most desirable assignment of an Airman’s career.
The Friends of McConnell (FOM) was originally organized in the 1960s when B-47s were based at McConnell. Ten civic leaders stepped forward, each donating $1,000 (anonymously), to an organization they would call “The Friends of McConnell.” The group provided financial support to base programs as requested by base leadership. When the bombers left McConnell and the Missile Wing arrived, the FOM became dormant.
In 1985, the Friends of McConnell was revitalized and expanded. It was suggested that membership be limited to 76, as in the “Spirit of 76.” One hundred invitations were mailed to area businesspeople with the expectation that 76 members would be recruited. The response was so overwhelming that the membership limit was raised to 100. Membership remained at that level for several years.
During the 1990s, the Friends of McConnell’s visibility on base increased and the organization became the commanders’ (active duty, reserve and guard) key link to the area business communities of Wichita and Derby. The Friends of McConnell remains active in supporting activities and programs on base as well as expanding awareness of the area’s military asset to the local region and the State of Kansas. Members enjoy inclusion in base activities, periodic orientation flights and/or civic leader trips, and the satisfaction of knowing their annual dues goes entirely to support our airmen and their families.
Role of the Chamber
The Chamber allocates one staff person to serve as military liaison to interact on a close and frequent basis with area military leaders and installations. Having served McConnell AFB as an Honorary Commander since the program’s inception 15 years ago, Pat Gallagher received Golden Eagle recognition in 2009. Pat serves as secretary/treasurer to the Friends of McConnell and is an appointee to the Governor’s Military Council, a statewide organization that works to grow and preserve military presence in the state of Kansas. She also serves on Senator Jerry Moran’s Military Council and The Air Mobility Command Civic Council at Scott AFB, Illinois.
Individual membership dues are billed annually at the rate of $250. Annual corporate memberships are available at several levels starting at $500 and ranging upwards to $5,000.
Download the Individual Membership application here.
Download the Corporate Membership application here.
Click here to visit the Friends on McConnell Facebook page.
"The Friends of McConnell has had a tremendous and positive impact on the relationship between the business community and McConnell Air Force Base. We have patriots, warriors, outstanding leaders, and strong businessmen and businesswomen in the Air Force...and the Chamber is wise to recognize them and to request their input!"
-- David Hodge, Emprise Bank