Monica Mendoza
Kaiserslautern American

***image4***Col. Earl Matthews promised Wednesday to focus on four key areas – safety, readiness, training and personnel – as the new commander of the 435th Air Base Wing.

Colonel Matthews took command of the 435th ABW Wednesday in a ceremony in Hangar 1. Col. Kurt Lohide, who has been the 435th ABW commander since June 2005, relinquished command, and in military tradition, passed the 435th ABW flag to its new commander. Lt. Gen. Rod Bishop, 3rd Air Force commander, presided.

Colonel Matthews comes to the 435th ABW from the 38th Combat Support Wing where he has been commander for the past year.

This is his second tour in Germany from Air Mobility Command headquarters at Scott Air Force Base, Ill., where he served as the director of communications and information for nearly 5,000 people with a $350 million budget.

In his new job, Colonel Matthews commands a wing with five groups and 16 squadrons of 7,200 active duty Airmen and civilians. General Bishop called the 435th ABW a crucial player in world affairs.

“So much of U.S. Air Force history has been written right here by the 435th,” he said.

He said Colonel Matthews is an Air Force warrior at heart and a proven commander.

***image1***“You are inheriting an outstanding team − a dream team,” General Bishop said.

In his change of command speech, Colonel Matthews began by speaking about the importance of safety.

It’s painful to learn of Airmen being killed or maimed by accident, he said.
Colonel Matthews challenged Airmen to review their state of readiness and to take advantage of training opportunities.

“Fighting wars, deployments, force shaping and a myriad of other challenges make it more important than ever that we hone in on our people, and commit ourselves to caring for one another,” he said. “To do that, we must build solid relationships before a crisis hits – between the wing and local governments, between supervisors and subordinates, among co-workers and within families.”

The four cornerstones, he said, reflect both a personal and unit obligation and lead to combat effectiveness in the global war on terrorism.

Colonel Matthews was born in Munich, and lived in several locations around the world while his father was in the Army.

After his commission from the Reserved Officer Training Corps at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Ariz., he became a space and intelligence computer systems officer at Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Base, Colo.

He has served as a commander three other times in his career before taking command of the 435th ABW. He was the 22nd Communications Squadron commander at McConnell Air Force Base, Kan., the U.S. European Command Current and Contingency Operations commander at Stuttgart, and the 38th CSW commander at Kapaun.

And on Wednesday, Colonel Matthews received the 435th ABW flag, got his first salute from the men and women of the 435th and to General Bishop said, “Sir, I assume command.”