Sunday, July 22 , 2018, 1:26 am | Fair 67º


VAFB Honors Hugh Rafferty as Lifetime Honorary Commander

Military veteran and longtime Orcutt resident Hugh Rafferty jokes that he’s trying to take on more unpaid jobs than anyone in Santa Barbara County. Rafferty is chairman of the CoastHills Credit Union Volunteer Board of Directors.

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

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

On Jan. 13, he 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 quite a tribute to 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 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 and wife Arlene have lived in Orcutt since 1979. At the time, he was a civilian employee of IBM working in the space shuttle program at Vandenberg.

Now retired, Rafferty’s jobs have 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, his first volunteer opportunity was with the Santa Maria High School District Bond Oversight Committee. Since then, he has been the quintessential civic leader.

One of Rafferty’s proudest accomplishments was seeing a Wall of Honor installed at the Santa Maria Public Airport, honoring service members who deploy and/or return through the terminal.

— Scott Coe for CoastHills Credit Union.


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