***image1***Every commander who takes the flag knows that one day that flag must pass to the next commander.
We don’t think about it much when we take the flag, as the command is full of possibilities and new challenges, and the day of passing it on seems so very far away. The time has come for me, to pass on the flag of the 435th Air Base Wing to a new commander, Col. Kurtis Lohide, who will surely come with the expectation of possibilities and challenges.
The start of my command coincided with the start of the 435th ABW, and so we together built a wing identity and added to the previous history of the flag. Others will record the details of that history, but I’d like to highlight a few things that make it stand out for me.
Ramstein presents a higher ops tempo and continuous string of challenges than any place I have ever seen outside a war zone. Added to that is the burden of living with the largest construction program on any military base in the world.
Working through the challenges of closing Rhein-Main Air Base while readying Ramstein to host their Gateway mission adds a whole new dimension to the activity here.
Complimenting these challenges is the experience of living in Germany, and working and living daily in a culture different from what most Americans ever get to see.
As commander, I found every element of the ever-changing fabric of life at Ramstein fascinating and rewarding. You, the members of the wing as well as all the other members of Team Ramstein, make it look easy every time, no matter how challenging, no matter how little time you have to make it work, no matter how many last minute changes are thrown your way and no matter how many of you are deployed.
In addition to the wing flag, I am also passing on the KMC commander responsibility. Although there is no flag associated with it, this command is filled with challenges and responsibilities. It ensures that the entire American community is supported, that disaster response is managed in partnership with the local communities and the Army and that agreements for solving interface issues with our communities are negotiated and formalized.
Col. Rob Kane, 86th Airlift Wing commander, will take on these responsibilities. And so, you will see new changes coming to the wings in order to support that move. Only time will tell how this new organizational construct will work out, but I know you will continue to provide world-class support regardless of the changes in responsibilities and so the outcomes will remain superb.
I could recall thousands of accomplishments of the last 17 months, or dozens of stories, but the most important memory to me will be the people. From the youngest Airman to the seasoned chief, from the newest second lieutenant to the most senior officers, whether secretaries or admin types or U.S. or local nationals, you are the best.
We have asked you for more at times when it didn’t seem possible you could produce it, and you came through every time.
I wish I could pass on every compliment, note of thanks, and note of astonishment at the level of service, dedication and helpful attitude they experience here. I get them every day, and every one is due to the unrelenting energy, patience and dedication you bring to work. You are the best. The awards confirm it in one way, but the reaction of visitors makes it personal.
And so I must thank every one of you for all that you do.
Thanks to my commanders, who are both trusted advisors and talented leaders who took our vision to all.
Thanks to the chiefs, who with vast experience and inevitable good sense keep all the commanders, as well as the entire enlisted force, on a solid path to success.
Thanks to the first sergeants, who hold the health of the units in their capable hands, and who help their commanders and me make the right decisions for the future of both troubled Airmen and brilliantly successful Airmen.
Thanks to our civilians, U.S. and German, who balance the military and bring special talents and energy to ensure our support to the mission is unwavering.
A very special thanks goes to the family members, for you keep our workforce, military and civilian, able to meet the demands. And another special thank you to our volunteers, for the KMC has the greatest volunteer spirit I have ever seen, and we literally could not run this place without you.
And, here throughout all as we Americans come and go, thanks from my heart to all the Germans who so warmly welcome us and make this a real home away from home.
I salute you all.