Col. Matthews bids farewell

  • Published
  • By Col. Earl Matthews
  • 435th Air Base Wing commander
Team Ramstein, it has been an honor for Nadia and me to serve with you for the last twenty five months. Thank you for the continued support of the 435th Air Base Wing. To the men and women of the 435th ABW, those in uniform, civilian servants, host nation teammates and the many more defending our interest to the far corners of the earth, it is my great pleasure to have been your commander and to marvel at all your accomplishments during the last 12 months.

During the last year we honed in on four cornerstones safety, readiness, training, and personnel. Each of these cornerstones reflected both a personal and a unit obligation. All of which led to our combat effectiveness in the Global War on Terrorism.

Safety - Prevention starts with personal accountability, which is a 24/7 job that continues when you leave the office or shop. But it is equally important to be good wingmen and take responsibility for the safety and well-being of those around us. In fiscal year 2007 we had a 62 percent decrease in private motor vehicle mishaps, 21 percent decrease in ground safety incidents. Most importantly, we've not experienced a class A or B mishap.

Readiness - Two days after I took command and for the following eight months we operated in a higher security posture due to a terrorist threat, which was successfully thwarted to due to our security forces and the many of you who augmented the gates and other posts. We also enjoyed the outstanding relationship with the Polizei.

Readiness is the lifeblood of the Air Force, and it affects how the Air Force meets its primary mission--war fighting. With our mission partners in the 86th Airlift Wing, Air Mobility Command, Landstuhl Regional Medical Center and U.S. Army Garrison Kaiserslautern the deployment tempo has seen numerous surges and we have met every challenge with world-class professionalism.

Training/education - We opened U.S. Air Forces in Europe's first National Test Center May 5 to support our off duty education enrollment, which has significantly increased despite the operational tempo. Furthermore, we recently graduated the second largest class of Community College of the Air Force graduates in the Air Force. We are creating knowledge-enabled Airmen! 

Personnel - Fighting wars, deployments, force shaping and a myriad of other challenges make it more important than ever that we hone in on our people, and commit ourselves to caring for one another. I believe we have done that über-sucessfully. Our superb medical support and care for the wounded are second to none. Our Airmen and Family Readiness Center's outreach program to deployed spouses and families have grown exponentially in participation. The improvements by in housing, water privatization, child care centers, our beloved libraries and hundreds of other projects are all now bearing fruit. 

We were relentless in tackling big issues like civilian hiring backlog, installation command responsibilities and fighting for a new Kaiserslautern high school. We are the Air Force vanguard for Air Force Smart Operations 21 making huge leaps in mission effectiveness and efficiencies. Keep the ingenuity and creativity going at the highest levels.

Your efforts have not gone unnoticed! To your credit the number of USAFE, USAF, and Department of Defense awards bestowed on the wing are well over 100 for the last year alone. What a remarkable achievement.

Nadia und ich haben die Freundschaft und Gastfreundschaft zu unseren Vermietern schätzen gelernt. Wir hoffen, daß unsere Zeit zusammen das deutsch-amerikanische Verhältnis verstärkt hat. Wir verlassen Deutschland mit vielen guten Erinnerungen und Freunden für ein ganzes Leben.

Finally, we are a nation at war against terrorism. We are likely to remain a nation at war for some time. That thought should be ever-present in our lives. It is a thought that bears reflection upon by each and every warrior in this wing from the moment we wake up to the moment we go to sleep.

We are warriors working to win that war. And we here in the 435th ABW, as our motto reflects, "Swift and Sure," are, individually and collectively, expected to do our part, our utmost best, to helping win that war. And with that in mind, I'm honored and humbled to have been your commander...Auf Wiedersehen.