Commentary: Holiday message from 86 AW command team

To 86 AW Airmen, Team Ramstein, and families,

As 2021 swiftly comes to an end, Chief Kelley and I remain incredibly grateful and humbled by what you accomplished during the last 12 months.

You fought through COVID lockdowns, shortages of vaccines, remote learning, and so much more. You flexed and adapted to ever-changing COVID-19 regulations and preserved our airlift, airdrop, and aeromedical evacuation missions. You saved lives throughout Europe and Africa using our patient transport systems. Despite months of delay, we still became the most #VaccinatedAF community in USAFE, and provided thousands of vaccines to our local teammates. We achieved Agile Combat Employment Initial Operational Capability, and we built multi-capable Airmen through our Cross-Functional Airlift Support Personnel (CASPER) program. On top of all of that, we remained ready.

We answered our nations call when asked to become a safe haven. We were the U.S.’s primary evacuation hub for a historic humanitarian mission, providing temporary lodging, food, clothing, and medical care to thousands of Afghan evacuees. Watching Operation Allies Refuge/Welcome unfold between August and October left most of us with a renewed sense of service and pride. Our entire military, civilian, and family community exemplified incredible humanity and perseverance by transforming Ramstein into a welcoming transient location for strangers-turned-family. You delivered hope and helped more than 35,000 individuals on their path to a new life. Please take a moment to reflect on your role in history.

2021 was a year of challenges, growth, exhaustion, and pride. This holiday season, connect with friends and family, decompress, and enjoy some much earned down time. Please be smart and make safe choices. If your holiday plans involve alcohol, please do not drive (or ride scooters!!). End the year on a high note…not with a DUI.

If you’re in a bind or experiencing personal hardships…you’re not alone. Please, speak out if you need help or just someone to talk to. Seeking help is a sign of strength, so don’t hesitate to take advantage of the services from our helping agencies (numbers below).

Chief Kelley and I are honored to serve alongside this remarkable team. Remember to take care of yourself, take care of your wingman, and have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Humbly, Josh