AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy — Brig. Gen. Philip Breedlove was named the most community-friendly commander in U.S. Air Forces in Europe, winning a 2004 USAFE Public Affairs Achievement Award for “special achievement for community support,” the Air Force announced this week.

Breedlove, commander of the 31st Fighter Wing, has been a critical factor in gaining local support for the Air Force when public opinion in Italy is opposed to U.S. policies, according to Capt. Eric Elliott, a base spokesman who nominated Breedlove for the award.

Breedlove takes questions from callers on Z-FM radio for an hour every other week and has participated in 36 community events in the past six months, including an Italian-American Friendship Day in September that drew more than 2,000 participants, Elliott said.

Fire destroys renovated range

An early-morning fire Tuesday destroyed the recently renovated Range No. 5 at the Wackernheim Range near McCully Barracks in Wackernheim, Germany.

German and American firefighters and police responded to the 1 a.m. fire. No injuries were reported.

The range, which is 50-by-30 meters or roughly half the size of a football field, was renovated in September and had $100,000 worth of work done to it. However, the entire cost of the fire damage has not been determined, said Donna Dean, 221st Base Support Battalion spokeswoman.

The Wackernheim Range is a standard U.S. Army rifle range consisting of six ranges used to train and qualify soldiers on a variety of weapons.

The cause of the fire is not known. American and German authorities are investigating.

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