EL CENTRO – As the Installation Public Affairs Officer for the Naval Air Facility (NAF) of El Centro, Kristopher Haugh plays a key role in the relationship between the base and the rest of the community of the Imperial Valley.
In 2007, Haugh was stationed at NAF El Centro as a Chief Petty Officer. Although he retired in 2011, he decided to stay on board and continue his position at the facility as the Public Affairs Officer.
Haugh said, â€œSometimes people just see us as a base, but weâ€™re like a little city. I like to teach them how we fit together with the community.â€
Haughâ€™s responsibilities include acting as an advisor to the commanding officer, community outreach, and acting as point-of-contact for media sources.
Some of the personnel stationed at NAF El Centro live off base, so Haugh is also responsible for communicating with them regarding events and policies. He reaches out to off-base personnel to remind them of family events, road closures, and any other changes that might affect them.
Sometimes considered the face of the base, Haugh is responsible for both internal and external communications. For example, the Blue Angels Annual Air Show is open to the civilian population every year, and it is Haugh’s job to keep the community up to speed on the event.
In preparation for the March 10 show next spring, Haugh plans to create a Facebook event to allow people to check in and see the ongoing process as well as scheduling days for the media to visit the base and interview the Blue Angel Pilots.
Preparing for the air show is a lengthy process and has already begun. According to Haugh, the first meeting just took place and the purpose was to review last year’s show and make adjustments for next year.
â€œThereâ€™s a lot of energy and effort to make the air show the best and safest event possible,â€ said Haugh.
Haugh said he values the efforts of everyone in preparing for the air show, and stressed that it truly is a team effort.
â€œItâ€™s not just one person on the base. Weâ€™re a team, and we try to create an atmosphere of good customer service. We want the pilots to have the opportunity to leave here better prepared than when they got here,â€ said Haugh.
Aside from air show preparations, Haugh’s duties include conveying information to schools and agencies by providing tours of the base. Itâ€™s important for the community to see whatâ€™s going on, he said.
â€œI try to be as active as I can in the community. Iâ€™m building personal and professional relationships and I love when people see our mission,â€ Haugh said.
According to Haugh, the unfortunate June 2014 military plane crash in Imperial was a perfect example of the importance of a relationship between the base and the community. The U.S. Border Patrol and several local law enforcement agencies and fire departments responded immediately.
â€œIt was a long day, but it was neat to see everyone coming together,â€ said Haugh.
Haugh frequently attends trainings and conventions in preparation for any future situations. He said he hopes occurrences similar to the plane crash do not happen, but he wants to be prepared in case it does.
â€œWhen bad things happen, I want to be part of the solution,â€ he said.
Although serving as the Public Affairs Officer for NAF El Centro has its challenges, Haugh said he loves his job and would not have it any other way. He enjoys the strong relationship the base and community share, and he hopes to continue building it through communication and understanding, he said.