The 86th Airlift Wing command team reflected on their time at Ramstein Air Base during a final radio interview with the American Forces Network Kaiserslautern at Vogelweh Military Complex, July 24.
Before parting ways, Brig. Gen. Mark R. August, 86th AW commander, and Chief Master Sgt. Ernesto J. Rendon, 86th AW command chief, discussed some of their proudest accomplishments and answered questions about what they valued most during their assignment.
“Ramstein is the main hub for U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa, so airlift operations is an easy choice,” August explained. “Also, Airmen and family were key to both the Chief and I, stemming from our youngest days in the Air Force when we were both newly married and overseas for our first assignments.”
During their last time in the studio, the two leaders also highlighted the importance they placed on training and exercises to build a state of readiness, which was maintained during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It goes to show you, whether you’re an Airman or you’re a Soldier, those basic skills that we teach, everything we learned from our readiness exercises, it actually paid dividends when it was time to go ‘Okay, I need you to trust your leaders, work with your supervisors, and (execute) these skills,’” August said. “We’ll change the context to pandemic, but everything else kind of remained the same. Let’s be Airmen. Let’s get the mission done.”
Another major accomplishment the command team made sure to reflect upon was winning the 2019 Commander in Chief’s Annual Award for Installation Excellence.
“It was truly a credit to our Airmen,” August said.
With all the priorities August and Rendon accomplished in readiness, base improvement, taking care of Airmen and their families, and airlift operations, they acknowledged there is still work that will continue with the next leadership team.
“Two projects that were almost completed were implementing three-year tour lengths for first term Airmen, regardless of marital status, and automating a lot of our systems to accelerate delivery of services,” Rendon explained. “Those were big challenges that we were getting after, and I’m glad to see this new leadership team that’s coming in to move the ball further forward.”
While August is moving on to his next assignment at the Pentagon, Rendon is retiring from the Air Force after 28 years of service.
“So many different Airmen that I’ve seen throughout my career, the Airmen that I see in front of me and in this room — I feel relief knowing that we’re in great hands,” Rendon said. “It makes me feel as if what I’ve done my entire adult life was meaningful, and that you’re going to keep us in the place where we need to be, so I can enjoy a restful retirement.”
The 86th AW leadership team can look back on their time at the World’s Best Wing with pride and a sense of accomplishment, knowing they are leaving it in capable hands and that it will continue to progress forward.
As the wing change of command approaches, August imparted a final message to Ramstein Airmen.
“Take care of the new team,” August said. “Treat the new command team the same way you treated us. Sprint just as fast and hard as you did with us, and I think the Kaiserslautern Military Community, and certainly the 86th AW, will be in great shape.”