173rd Fighter Wing selected for local Chamber of Commerce President’s Award

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Jefferson Thompson
  • 173rd Fighter Wing

KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. – Several 173rd Fighter Wing Airmen including the Commander and Deputy Commander attended the 102nd annual Klamath County Chamber of Commerce awards gala, Jan. 27, 2024.

The wing has a longstanding relationship with the local chamber, and it’s typical for them to attend the banquet along with many from the local community.

However, this year was a little different.  Col. Micah Lambert, 173rd FW deputy commander, explains saying, “When they announced the Chamber’s President’s Award I was just listening to it thinking it had nothing to do with us, to be honest with you, and then I hear them say, ‘and you hear them flying above you…” and I looked at Col. Bouma and said ‘is your speech ready?’ and he said ‘no.’ It was a total surprise.”

Upon taking the stage the first words from Col. Lee Bouma, the commander of the 173rd Fighter Wing, were, “I was not expecting this.” He went on to thank the Chamber and the audience for their respective support to the wing.

Per its namesake, the award is determined by the Chamber of Commerce President, Courtney Shaw, who said, “the base serves as a cornerstone, generating jobs, fostering innovation, and bolstering businesses, creating a ripple effect that positively influences us all.”

She went on to cite the vision and strategic planning that contribute to the continuing mission of the wing and its selection as a preferred location for future F-35 training. “Beyond the skies, the economic impact of the 173rd Fighter Wing resonates deeply within our community. Their presence has not only safeguarded our skies but has also contributed significantly to the growth of our local economy.”

Currently the 173rd FW is the second largest employer in the region with more than 1,200 employees, following Sky Lakes Medical Center.

Summing up his thoughts on this award, Lambert said,  “the community support here is phenomenal and for them to recognize that publicly is pretty special.”