Virtus Perdurat

  • Published
  • By Brig. Gen. C.K. Hyde
  • 86th Airlift Wing commander
Our wing motto, "Virtus Perdurat," which translates to "enduring courage," exemplifies our commitment to the combat airlift ethos -- there is no Airman, Soldier, Sailor or Marine ever alone while we are on duty. It defines the excellence we expect of our Airmen and reminds us of the proud heritage upon which we stand.

This year, the 86th Airlift Wing focus is on readiness, and recently, Team Ramstein's readiness was put to the test in the initial response to the attacks on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya. When directed, our wing and partners swiftly and professionally responded to evacuate Americans from Tripoli, returned our ambassador and three other fallen comrades with dignity, and cared for the U.S. Embassy members at Ramstein. Team Ramstein came together to execute myriad missions, and I'd like to highlight a few of the many outstanding Airmen who lived up to our motto, "Virtus Perdurat," in what was a stark reminder of the cost of freedom.

· Staff Sgts. Efrain Perez, Verrick Cubol, Ryan Grove and Christopher Ramos and Senior Airman Nicholas Pumilia, 86th

Security Forces Squadron members, deployed in fewer than two hours from notification. They arrived in Tripoli on the first aircraft to land in Libya, an 86th AW C-130J Super Hercules, and provided six hours of close-in security for a C-17 MEDEVAC and follow-on C-130J missions.

· Capt. Melissa Buzbee-Stiles, 86th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, was deployed to the 10th Expeditionary Aeromedical Evacuation Flight as the operations flight commander. As the medical crew director, she led the aeromedical team that evacuated and cared for four wounded patients on the flight from Tripoli to Ramstein.

· Andy Davis and Senior Master Sgt. Michael Morgan, 86th Logistics Readiness Squadron, our installation deployment officer and installation deployment NCO, rapidly stood up our deployment control center to receive evacuated embassy personnel. In conjunction with our 521st Air Mobility Operations Wing partners, they provided the behind the scenes logistics support for all arrival and departure activities.

· First Lt. Chris Truelove, Master Sgt. Tamala Williams, Tech. Sgts. Chris Starnes and James Vest, Senior Airman Dexter Alejandro, and Airman 1st Class Kevin Potts, 786th Force Support Squadron members, made up our mortuary affairs team. Along with their Army partners, the team followed strict protocols and provided dignified mortuary support for the U.S. ambassador and three embassy personnel killed in the attacks until they were returned home with honor.

· Airmen from the 86th Contingency Aeromedical Staging Facility skillfully transported and provided en route care for the wounded from Ramstein to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center and back to Ramstein for follow-on flights to CONUS.

· Lt. Col. David Zonies, a trauma surgeon, and his multidisciplinary team of medical professionals, performed three surgeries over several days on two critically wounded patients. Staff Sgt. Leteya Tsonetokoy, an 86th Medical Squadron operating room technician, assisted trauma surgeons in their lifesaving work.

· Master Sgt. Jay Berry, 86th Airlift Wing Protocol superintendent, planned, coordinated and executed dignified transfer ceremonies, including the plane-side departure ceremony led by the deputy secretary of state and attended by the consul general, commander, USAFRICOM, and the commander, U.S. Air Forces in Europe/AFAFRICA. He ensured a dignified departure from Ramstein and arrival at Andrews Air Force Base for national ceremonies.

Thank you to these 86th AW Airmen and the many other unnamed Airmen and partners from Team Ramstein for your enduring courage after our diplomatic facilities in Libya were attacked.

For 70 years, the 86th Airlift Wing and our predecessors have served with "Virtus Perdurat" in every air power engagement since World War I. We still live in a dangerous world and face enemies who despise our values of freedom, democracy and equality, but with a tradition of valor and commitment to readiness, we will continue to deliver unmatched combat airlift and strategic installation capabilities.