Wing commander bids farewel l to Patriot Wing

  • Published
  • By Brig. Gen. Steven D. Vautrain
  • Commander, 439th Airlift Wing
Men and women of the Patriot Wing, the time has come for Katie and I to move on to the next adventure in our lives.

The last three years at Westover have been the highlight of my 31-year career. I have never worked with such a professional, hard-working, group of people. You have held together as a team through hurricanes, snowstorms, deployments, furloughs, a government shutdown, and numerous other challenges. You have been awarded many honors for your performance.

You are leaders in excellence, and I will always remember you.

My tenure as commander began with the earthquake and hurricane in August 2011 and the destructive snowstorm in October 2011.

I learned quickly that I had an experienced, battle-hardened team, ready to take on whatever challenges were thrown your way. The intervening Family Day in September 2011 showed me the fun side of the wing. In a short time I had seen both the professional and the personal sides of the Patriot Wing.

Over the next three years, you performed the first-ever deployment of a C-5 Expeditionary Airlift Squadron to Diego Garcia, met shortnotice deployment taskings, and won numerous awards. You excel at accomplishing the mission and winning awards, but there is more to the excellence of this wing than awards and mission accomplishment. You've organized numerous community support programs and offered aid and comfort to people in New York and New Jersey following Hurricane Sandy. You hosted World War II veterans at a first-class airshow with an attendance of over 200,000. You have done this all with dedication, professionalism and compassion.

The greatness of the Patriot Wing has attracted many distinguished visitors over the last three years. In 2012 we were visited by Sen. Scott Brown.

In 2013, Sen. Elizabeth Warren visited. And there were more that year: Congressman Richard Neal, 19 Massachusetts state legislators, the Chief of the Air Force Reserve, the Command Chief of AFRC, and the Acting Secretary of the Air Force.

In 2014 we were visited by the Vice Commander of AFRC and the Secretary of the Air Force. These visits were prompted by your contributions to the defense of our great nation and the desire to learn more about how you are so successful. Each of these distinguished visitors was impressed with the professionalism and dedication displayed by the Airmen and civilians of the Patriot Wing. All of them left Westover with a greater appreciation for what you do and had nothing but great things to say about the entire wing.

When I first arrived at Westover I was impressed by the feeling of teamwork that permeates the wing. I am leaving three years later even more impressed than when I arrived. You have excelled at accomplishing a difficult mission during difficult times.

I wish you well in the future. You are the best wing in the Air Force.

It has been an honor to be your commander.