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Elmendorf Airmen prepare for redeployment with final commander’s call

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Jennifer Redente
  • 36th Wing Public Affairs
Deployed and permanently assigned leadership from the 36th Wing held a final commander's call for the deployed Airmen from Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska, Sept. 14 at the base theater here. 

The leadership used the commander's call to highlight the accomplishments of the Airmen during their four-month deployment supporting the Pacific Command's Theater Security Package, thank members of the 36th WG community who assisted the deployed Airmen and recognize superior performers. 

Lt. Col. Christopher Niemi, 525th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron commander, said the leadership felt it was important to recognize everyone together. 

"Although we are not organized in one squadron, this is the way we go to war," Colonel Niemi said. "When that Raptor rotates and points its nose toward enemy airspace, it doesn't do that unless the guys from ammo build the bombs up and deliver the bullets; the weapons guys load them; fuels guys operate the equipment to fuel them; a crew chief marshals the plane out; the [aircrew equipment] guys make sure you have the equipment that will save your life at 55,000 feet and mach 1.5; the specialist who's sitting there repairing the radar, so that you can find that guy 50 miles away, and then the pilot has the best deal of all - he gets to close the deal and get the job done at the end, but none of that would obviously happen without each one of those players, so I hope you recognize that." 

The commander acknowledged the deployment to Andersen was tough, but the Airmen did their jobs well, despite the weather, which was a challenge while deployed here. 

"What I want to convey to you today is what your efforts brought to the table," he said. "The Raptor is going to be with the Air Force for decades. It is the only fifth generation operational platform we have in the Air Force, and you all are part of that." 

After Colonel Niemi, 2nd Lt. Brian Struyk, 525th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Unit officer in charge, and Lt. Col. Brian Stuart, 36th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron commander, gave awards to superior performers for the deployment, Col. Barry Miller, 36th Maintenance Group commander, presented awards to the 36th MXG winners for August, and also addressed the Elmendorf AFB Airmen. 

"I am definitely humbled to be in your presence," Colonel Miller said. "The presence and the capability that you guys have demonstrated out here ... you are setting history. I'm talking to the maintainers, and I'm talking to the pilots. Every single one of you have made history happen here." 

Plaques of appreciation for the work done between 36th Operations Group and 525th EFS were also presented, and Col. Tod Fingal, 36th OG commander, spoke and praised the Airmen for setting the example. 

"As you remember when you first showed up, one of the things I asked of you ... was to set an example out here at Andersen AFB, and I got to tell you, you have," Colonel Fingal said. "I got to see what you do day in and day out, and indeed you did set the example. You set an example for the rest of the wing to follow. You guys did that with such a small group of people, yet your impact was huge, and I got to thank you for that." 

Brig. Gen. Phil Ruhlman, 36th WG commander, was also given a plaque in appreciation for his support to the 525th EFS and closed the commander's call with his own comments. 

"I am very pleased in what we learned," General Ruhlman said. "You men and women busted your butts, like your commander said, and I just want to thank you for that on behalf of Lt. Gen. Herbert Carlisle, 13th Air Force commander, Gen. Gary North, Pacific Air Forces commander, and previous commanders. They are absolutely thrilled at what happens here." 

General Ruhlman told the Airmen he appreciated their achievements. 

"You had absolutely phenomenal accomplishments, and you should be extremely proud," he said. "I'm proud to have been your host; I'm proud to have called myself your commander. Thank you so much for what you did. You had absolute professionalism in the most dire circumstances in this kind of environment. Be very proud because we are very proud of you in what you all did. Have a safe travel."