Ramstein is a different beast. As my tour comes to an end, I feel honored and privileged to have led the United States Air Force’s premier power projection platform, an installation that serves as the central hub for all military operations in Europe, Africa and the Middle East. I’m also in awe of this place. I’ve spent so many waking hours here and I’m still genuinely impressed with the amount of hard work you all put into this place every day — getting the mission done.
The 86th Airlift Wing and Team Ramstein have been vital to keeping USAFE forward, ready, now; I’m glad that during my tenure here, we were able to keep this train rolling, supporting missions, exercises, and operations all over the world. I’ve been in command here, serving you all, during a very dynamic time in the geopolitical climate.
In the past couple of years, there have been natural disasters, turmoil in Eastern Europe, and an ever-changing threat in the Middle East. Through it all, the three wings at Ramstein Air Base have diligently worked, as a team, to respond, providing critical, rapid aeromedical evacuation, humanitarian aid, and agile, flexible combat support.
I’m lucky enough to have had one of the best seats in the house for all of it. I’m sure everyone has heard me say that I wish everyone could spend a day in my shoes. I will always stand by that — anyone who found themselves fortunate enough to get a complete view of the goings-on at Ramstein would be astounded, just as I have been.
I’ve seen Airmen truly put service before self and commit themselves to excellence across the 86th AW and all the tenant units. I know that this will continue and this gives me great faith in the future of our units and our Air Force. I believe we will continue to see many years like the ones I saw here — years of innovation, service and progress.
I believe Ramstein will see more years like this one, when we brought home the inaugural USAFE Innovation Madness Lt. Gen. William H. Tunner Award. Our Airmen, driven by a culture of innovation, applied themselves to the mission, not only saving costs and helping us execute the mission efficiently, but also netting the base $250,000 for quality of life improvements.
We will see more years of rapid combat response and international exercises, working with our NATO allies and international partners to ensure a stable and peaceful Europe and Africa. We certainly did while I had the stick. We supported Operation Atlantic Resolve and Steadfast Javelin II and III. We reassured our allies and deterred great threats, while simultaneously building partnership capacity and enhancing interoperability with those we fight alongside.
Airmen of Ramstein will continue to remain a force to be reckoned with — just as they were during the 2014 Ebola outbreak. Natural disasters and disease won’t cease to be in the near future, but Team Ramstein will continue to respond, like we did with Operation United Assistance, providing vital aid and properly containing the outbreak.
Ramstein meets a new challenge daily, but the team continues to overcome them with great skill and dedication. I know Team Ramstein Airmen will continue the great legacy of this installation and lead our Airmen through every trial, every conflict and obstacle.
I enjoyed my time here greatly and am proud of all of you for your impactful efforts. I look forward to my upcoming tour with 18th Air Force and continuing to foster innovation and taking care of the USAF’s most important resource — its people. I will miss this place though; but, as the great Dr. Seuss once said, “don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” I’m truly glad I had the opportunity to serve as your wing commander. Thank you.