Warriors, wingmen: thanks for a job well done

by Brig. Gen. Mark Dillon
86th Airlift Wing commander

Warriors and wingmen: I can never say thank you enough to each and every Airman at Team Ramstein for their contributions to our wing and the incredible feats they accomplish every day.

Feats, such as being U.S. Air Forces in Europe’s only airlift, airdrop and aeromedical evacuation operations flying the C-20H, C-21, C-37, C-40B and C-130J aircraft, as well as providing rapid mobility and expeditionary combat support for military operations throughout the KMC, is huge. In addition, we have hundreds of Ramstein Airmen filling countless deployments throughout the world each day supporting overseas contingency operations.

Leading our Airmen to accomplish these feats are great leaders, and I want to take this opportunity to personally thank two of these leaders who recently left Team Ramstein: Col. Gary Chesley, 86th Civil Engineer Group commander, and Col. Kel Burns, 86th Logistic Readiness Group commander.

Both Colonel Chesley and Colonel Burns have gone beyond their call to service during their time here at Ramstein.

Among other accomplishments, Colonel Chesley has guided the Air Force’s second largest military family housing operation.

His staff is personally responsible for 2,300 military family housing units, 1,400 unaccompanied personnel housing units and more than 10,000 lease contracts in 300 villages. Under his direction, the 86th CEG launched the AF’s largest automated housing referral network, giving inbound members access to thousands of properties before they arrive in Europe.  They also guided the $273 million dormitory campus master plan, paving the way for eight new dormitories and renovations to five others. 

Finally, Colonel Chesley’s EOD professionals conducted nearly 6,000 missions and defeated more than 1,200 IEDs in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Under Colonel Burns direction, the 86th LRG provided logistics support to the 86th Airlift Wing, 435th Air Ground Operations Wing, 521st Air Mobility Operations Wing, 3rd Air Force, USAFE, CC-Air HQ, 125 associate units and the largest Department of Defense military community overseas. They also garnered many awards, from receiving an overall “Excellent” for the group on the 2009 USAFE unit compliance inspection to having 24 group members selected as “outstanding performers.” 

Between January and March, the 86th LRG also accomplished the largest USAFE movement of war reserve material since Operation Desert Storm.

Each day during their tenure, the leadership of these two commanders has played a vital role in our USAFE mission, and they will be missed. 

God speed to the Chesley and Burns families from Team Ramstein.  Thank you both for a job very well done.