Coast Hills

Vandenberg Makes Our Board Chairman an Honorary Commander

by Joshua D. Scroggin
January 26, 2017
Honorary Commander

Hugh Rafferty jokes that he’s trying to take on more unpaid jobs than anyone in Santa Barbara County.

The CoastHills Credit Union Volunteer Board of Directors Chairman also serves on boards with the Committee to Improve North County, the Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce, the Allan Hancock College Bond Oversight Committee, Coastal Business Finance Corp, the Santa Maria Public Airport District, the Santa Barbara Chapter of the California Special Districts Association, Leadership Santa Maria Valley and Luis OASIS Senior Center.

But his latest appointment might be nearest and dearest to his heart.

On Jan. 13, Rafferty was recognized as the Lifetime Honorary Commander of Vandenberg Air Force Base’s 4th Space Launch Squadron, which is responsible for the primary methods of launching U.S. military satellites. It’s a tremendous honor for Rafferty, who spent much of his civilian career working with the military after he was honorably discharged from the U.S. Marine Corps.

“As a Marine Corps. Veteran, I really felt honored to be asked to be an honorary commander of a space launch squadron for the Air Force,” Rafferty said. “It is just such a pleasure to support the military. They really come number one in my life. There’s not enough we can do for active duty and veterans.”

The purpose of the Air Force’s Honorary Commander Program is to establish and maintain personal contact with local civic leaders in order to increase public awareness of its missions, policies and programs. For Rafferty, that means one-on-one opportunities to interact and learn from officers in the unit and the responsibility of serving as conduit to the local community.

Rafferty has served continuously on the CoastHills Board since 2004. He was elected as the Board Chairman in 2007.

Rafferty and wife Arlene have lived in Orcutt since moving to the area in 1979. At the time, Rafferty was a civilian employee of IBM working in the space shuttle program at Vandenberg. Now retired, Rafferty’s paying gigs included work on the first automated air traffic control system for the FAA and then the Navy’s Trident missile, the first submarine-launched, nuclear-powered ballistic missile capable of reaching 6,000 miles.

Upon retirement, Rafferty’s first volunteer opportunity came with the Santa Maria High School District Bond Oversight Committee. Since then, he’s been the epitome of civic leadership. One of his proudest accomplishments was seeing a Wall of Honor instituted at the Santa Maria Public Airport honoring service men and women who deploy and/or return through the terminal. 



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