To the men and women of Team Ramstein:
In the span of only a few long days, Ramstein Air Base transformed into U.S. European Command’s primary evacuation hub supporting one of the largest, most complex humanitarian airlift operations in history. Forty-eight hours after the first U.S. Air Force C-17 landed, we have had more than 7,000 evacuees on base from more than 30x C-17 and KC-10 flights. Although the plan was to space them out, some landed only minutes apart. After offloading its passengers, many C-17s returned to Southwest Asia the same day to prepare for more humanitarian missions.
The preparation, execution and sustainment of a humanitarian operation this size requires enormous resources, planning and people. It has been nothing short of incredible to see the outpouring of support from the entire Kaiserslautern Military Community including thousands of Airmen from all three wings, our Army partners, NGOs, German polizei, civic leaders, and other host nation partners. It is beyond humbling to see even young family members volunteering their time to help get the ramps and hangars ready for our guests from Afghanistan. I want to thank each and every one of you for the time, talents and tears you have poured into making our guests feel welcome, safe and secure while they wait for transportation to their next destination.
I have been lucky to experience many arrival flights. Our guests are exhausted and unsure of what to expect. Many are traveling with only the clothes on their backs or a bag of their entire earthly possessions. Some need medical attention as soon as they land. But seeing the children and the families step off the plane with huge smiles warms the heart. We are saving lives, we are providing hope and YOU are making a difference.
The responsibility we carry is not easy. We face new challenges every day, in reality every hour. Hundreds if not thousands of U.S. Service members and volunteers are working countless long hours performing tasks that are entirely beyond their normal duties. The world continues to watch in awe, and I’m confident others will conclude what we already know to be true — this is your finest hour.
We are the Global Gateway. This is what we do. This is who we are. I’m honored and humbled to be serving beside you. Stay strong.
— Brig. Gen. Josh Olson,
86th Airlift Wing commander