Former top NCO of Ramstein airlift wing cited in two unprofessional relationships

KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — The former command chief master sergeant of the 86th Airlift Wing at Ramstein Air Base has accepted nonjudicial punishment for conducting unprofessional relationships with junior enlisted members at two bases, officials at Ramstein said in a written statement issued Friday.

Zefrem A. Smith was relieved of his duties as the wing’s top enlisted leader last year after it was alleged he had an unprofessional relationship with a junior enlisted airman at Ramstein, base officials said.

The wing commander, Brig. Gen. Charles K. Hyde, relieved Smith on Nov. 21, citing a loss of confidence in Smith’s ability to perform his job, and ordered an investigation into the allegation, according to base officials. The allegation was substantiated and Smith accepted nonjudicial punishment on Dec. 2, according to base officials.

Shortly thereafter, an additional allegation was made against Smith concerning an unprofessional relationship that occurred while he was stationed at Columbus Air Force Base, Miss., base officials said in the statement.

Hyde directed an investigation into the second allegation, which “involved chat messages of an unduly familiar nature,” the statement said. That allegation involved a junior enlisted airman assigned to Columbus, said Ramstein base spokesman Juan Melendez. The allegation was substantiated and Smith accepted nonjudicial punishment on March 5, base officials said.

Base officials declined to release the details of Smith’s punishment.

“Our leadership is held to the highest standards of professional conduct,” Ramstein base officials said in the written statement. “Smith failed to meet these standards, with the result that the commander lost confidence in his ability to perform his duties as the wing’s senior enlisted adviser.

“Although this incident was unpleasant, it reinforces the message that the 86th Airlift Wing leadership enforces standards and takes discipline seriously,” the statement said.

Smith remains on active duty with the U.S. Air Force, but base officials would not reveal where he is currently assigned.

At Columbus, where Smith served prior to assuming wing command chief duties at Ramstein in July 2011, Smith was the command chief for the base’s 14th Flying Training Wing.


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