86th AW welcomes new commander

by Capt. Erin Dorrance
86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

***image1***Members of the 86th Airlift Wing gathered in Hangar 1 on Ramstein Wednesday to welcome their new commander. 

Col. Bill Bender, a command pilot with more than 4,000 hours in the C-130E, C-17A, C-141B and other aircraft, was previously the executive officer to the deputy commander of the U.S. European Command in Stuttgart.

As the 86th AW commander, he leads a wing composed of four groups, 16 squadrons and three bases in Germany, Spain and Belgium.

In his change of command speech, Colonel Bender explained how his experience as a mobility pilot has gained him a great respect for the importance of the missions at Ramstein.

“I am excited to lead the 86th Airlift Wing from the front and to take on its awesome responsibilities,” Colonel Bender said. 

He encouraged all 86th AW members to uphold these four pillars: patriotism, pride, preparation and professionalism.

“These pillars are vital to the accomplishment of our mission,” Colonel Bender said.

During the ceremony, the men and women of the 86th AW rendered a final salute to Brig. Gen. Rich Johnston.

General Johnston will move on to be the director, plans and programs at U.S. Air Forces in Europe headquarters.

Lt. Gen. Rod Bishop, 3rd Air Force commander, presided over the change of command ceremony.

While addressing the members of the 86th AW, General Bishop said, “Your accomplishments and contributions to the defense of freedom are nothing short of inspiring.”