It takes a team, Ramstein

by Lt. Col. Jeremy Eldred
76th Airlift Squadron

Recently, our squadron held a retirement ceremony for one of our Airmen. The colors were posted, the national anthem was sung (very well, by the way) and gifts were given.

The presiding officer reviewed the officer’s very distinguished 21-year career and highlighted the largest events and the grand successes during his time in the Air Force, which by the way were numerous and pretty impressive. 

After all the certificates were rendered, the medal presented and the photographs completed, the newly retired Airman was given the floor.

I will admit here that I actually pay attention to all of the proceedings, but I especially listen when the newly retired take the floor. 

There are always good bits of advice and nuggets of knowledge to gain. This particular Airman was no exception. He thanked his family for their support and acknowledged the people in his career who had influenced him. But in the end, and very humbly, he deflected the credit of his accomplishments to the people who surrounded him when he had succeeded so many times.

I have attended many retirements and I have heard some interesting comments, but this humble deflection was a poignant reminder that we don’t work in a vacuum. It takes a team all the time. Sometimes it is too easy to take the credit for a job well done individually. 

It is here I would like to pass credit around for some recent missions the 76th Airlift Squadron has accomplished and say thanks for the support often overlooked and underappreciated.

Two missions come to my mind, one being a recent C-40 mission launched with minimum notice.

Usually, the C-40 is the most stable, unchanging schedule we have because of the primary user. This mission, however, was quite different.

We were notified of the mission, and 14 hours later the jet was airborne. Getting the aircraft airborne was the easy part — making sure it, the crew and ultimately the passengers were ready was the difficult part.

The passengers were coming from a downrange location and en route to D.C. for a very important meeting with a return to the downrange location. The list of
agencies across the base to ensure this mission happened was very large. 

Maintenance had to ensure the aircraft was ready to go. The 86th Operations Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment team ensured the proper survival gear and flak vests were loaded onto the aircraft and were ready to go.
The intel shop prepped and briefed the crew on threats and special instructions for the downrange stop. 

Protocol had to be ready for the large number of high-level passengers and their various needs. Vehicle transportation was tapped to transport the passengers around the base prior to the C-40 departing.

Finally, the 603d Air Mobility Division ensured the flight had the right diplomatic clearances and was fully dispatched with the appropriate flight paperwork.
Almost every group in the 86th Airlift Wing had a hand in making sure this high-visibility mission was ready in the short 14-hour window and was launched on time.

The second mission was a very recent aeromedical evacuation mission to Tbilisi, Georgia.

We run a 24-hour-a-day AE alert all year. For me this mission is by far the most rewarding mission we do.

This particular mission was alerted very early in the day. These alerts typically launch only two hours after the alert has been given.

Again, the tidal wave of motion necessary to get everything in place and ready for the launch was immense.

Again, the AMD built the flight plans and flight paperwork for the crews. Maintenance prepped the aircraft and had the petroleum oil lubricant folks fully fuel the aircraft. 

The 21st Weather Squadron prepped the flight forecast and the intel folks prepared needed information, and both sections briefed the crew on very short notice. 
Additionally, the mission required a Critical Care Air Transport Team for the injured person.

The individual that needed transport was in very bad condition with broken ribs and a life-threatening brain hemorrhage. 

Normally, we only take a two-person air evac team.  This mission required the 86th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron to coordinate with Landstuhl Regional Medical Center to get the CCAT together and on-board the plane.

I was told after the flight, the team had just finished a surgery when they were called to go to Tbilisi.

In all, a massive amount of team effort went toward launching this mission. In the end, the team effort resulted in the individual’s safe transportation to LRMC and his eventual recovery.

So, let me recognize Team Ramstein and its tremendous efforts every day that allow us to accomplish our flying mission. It is not only these two missions that you all contribute to, but all past and future missions to come. 

Thank you and keep up the strong work!