RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany — The 9,000 or so airmen of the Air Force’s largest wing in Europe ended their day Friday with a new boss.
During a change-of-command ceremony at Ramstein Air Base’s dual-bay C-130 hangar Friday morning, Brig. Gen. Charles K. Hyde was ushered in as the new leader of the 86th Airlift Wing. He took over from Brig. Gen. Mark Dillon, who, after 25 months at Ramstein, has been selected for reassignment to the Pentagon to work for the Secretary of the Air Force on international affairs.
Dillon, in his remarks, said the wing was comprised of airmen who didn’t shirk hard assignments, who stepped forward to say, “Send me,” even if the missions were dangerous or meant extended periods away from family.
Dillon shared anecdotes of 86th Airlift Wing airmen, who he said stood out for their devotion to the mission, such as Tech. Sgt. Chris Ramakka, an explosives ordnance technician who lost his leg in 2005 from a landmine in Afghanistan.
Ramakka is deployed to Joint Base Balad, Iraq, one of the few EOD technicians to return to full-duty status after losing a limb, Dillon said.
“History will record you making the world a safer place,” Dillon said of Ramakka and the rest of the wing.
Lt. Gen. Frank Gorenc, 3rd Air Force commander, lauded Dillon for his “inspired leadership,” noting several highlights of Dillon’s tenure. They included standing up the Air Force’s only deployment transition center for troops returning from downrange, and nearly doubling Ramstein C-130 flying hours when the Libya crisis broke out, all while continuing to provide “support to operations all over the world.”
Dillon enacted some policy changes while at Ramstein. Earlier this year, he banned smoking in all family stairwell housing units at U.S. military bases in the Kaiserslautern military community. And in an effort to keep base neighborhoods looking neat, Dillon last year enacted a “three strikes and you’re out” policy for base housing residents in Kaiserslautern who failed to comply with housing standards.
Base officials said Friday it will be up to the new commander whether to continue those policies.
Hyde is a 1987 distinguished graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy, according to his official Air Force biography. His last assignment was in Arkansas commanding the 314th Airlift Wing at Little Rock Air Force Base, the Defense Department’s only C-130 training base. His oldest son is a cadet at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.