What is an air mobility operations wing? This is a great question — the same question that I asked myself when I was selected to command this unique wing.
As Air Mobility Command’s sole representative for Team Ramstein, many may think we just operate the Ramstein Passenger Terminal, but our mission consists of so much more than that.
The reality is that the 521st Air Mobility Operations Wing is made up of 21 units, spread across 16 countries and six different time zones, stretching more than 5,000 miles — from Lajes Field, Azores, Portugal and to Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan. We are AMC’s gateway to Europe, Africa and Southeast Asia and we support five combatant commanders in the process, providing four core competencies of command and control, aircraft maintenance, aerial port operations and aeromedical evacuation.
Here, we provide these capabilities primarily with the C-17 Globemaster III, C-5 Galaxy and Patriot Express missions, but have the flexibility to provide support for any aircraft in the Air Force inventory.
Last year alone, we airlifted 525,752 tons of cargo. That’s the equivalent to a line of bumper-to-bumper Volkswagen Beetles stretching from St. Louis to New York (950 miles).
We also moved 423,566 passengers (roughly the population of Miami), 4,077 aeromedical evacuation patients (11 times the number of beds at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center) and accounted for 63,353 arrivals and departures through the terminal (one every 8.3 minutes).
That sounds like a mouthful, and it is, but the relationships that our Airmen have built with U.S. Air Forces in Europe, our sister service and host nation partners have allowed our mission to become nearly seamless.
The most recent example of this was our role in Operation United Assistance, supporting our nation’s response to the Ebola virus outbreak in Africa. All of our core competencies were put to the test during the global crisis and our wing responded with tenacity. We were instrumental in passenger and cargo handling for missions that originated out of western Africa and we provided Ebola kits to aircraft transiting the “hot zone.”
Our Airmen, with the help of our teammates from each of the host wings, paved the way by working with the German, Spanish and Italian host nation representatives, ensuring proper procedures and protocol were in place for all personnel, planes and equipment leaving the Ebola designated area. In short, we defined the standard for aircrew and passengers transiting through the affected area.
The 521st AMOW is truly a unique, yet vital catalyst to our nation’s rapid, global mobility mission. I could not be more proud of the amazing accomplishments our Airmen have achieved and how they do it with the utmost professionalism and attention to detail. I’m proud to say our Airmen epitomize our wing’s motto of “Flexibility, Tenacity, Velocity … DEPEND ON US!”