436th Airlift Wing welcomes new leader


Photos: Delaware State News/Marc Clery

DOVER — Col. Ethan C. Griffin officially replaced Col. Michael W. Grismer Jr. as commander of the 436th Airlift Wing in a ceremony Friday at Dover Air Force Base.

The two men shook hands and the unit flag was handed over to Col. Griffin in front of hundreds of airmen, dignitaries and others, marking the close of Col. Grismer’s career and the start of Col. Griffin’s tenure as the 33rd commander of the wing.

Col. Grismer, who took charge two years ago, officially retired Friday after 24 years in the Air Force, after a career that saw him stationed in seven different states.

“You committed yourself to the people, the mission and the families here at Dover, and you delivered excellence by all measures,” Col. Griffin said in praise of his predecessor. “You leave Dover Air Force Base, the airmen and surrounding communities better than you received them. You’ve cared for our airmen and partners, all along empowering the teams to execute critical missions safely.”

Col. Griffin, who joined the Air Force in 1994, most recently served as vice commander of the 62nd Airlift Wing at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Tacoma, Washington.

The commander of the 436th, one of two wings at the base, helps oversee operations of the base’s C-5s and C-17s and its Mortuary Affairs Operations Center.

On Friday hundreds of airmen gathered in a large hangar to honor the outgoing commander and welcome his replacement at the formal ceremony. A giant American flag hung behind the makeshift stage where the commanders stood, facing out to two large airplanes sitting near the hangar.

For Col. Grismer, it was an emotional event.

“I dreaded this day for two years,” he said.

Among those present was Brig. Gen. Patrick X. Mordente, the vice commander of the 18th Air Force, to which the 436th reports. Brig. Gen. Mordente thanked Col. Grismer for his service, applauded the Dover community for embracing the base and congratulated Col. Griffin on his new position.

Under Col. Grismer, Dover Air Force Base upgraded its fitness center and dining area and is in the middle of a $98 million renovation of one of its runways. That work is supposed to be largely finished by next month.

The base has also been honored for its relationship with the community, receiving the Abilene Trophy with the Central Delaware Chamber of Commerce last month.

At the close of Friday’s ceremony, gifts were presented to the families of Cols. Griffin and Grismer, greeting the new commander and thanking the outgoing administrator for his service.

In his speech, Col. Griffin expressed excitement about joining “Team Dover” and working with officials in the First State.

“The state of Delaware has a rich and storied legacy of leading our nation in pursuit of its most essential values.

“From Caesar Rodney’s momentous all-night ride to Philadelphia in 1776 to secure the Delaware delegation’s vote for independence to Wilmington’s John Dickinson — known as the ‘Penman of the Revolution’ for his eloquent discourse for independence — this state’s forefathers built a foundation of firsts in defense of freedom,” he said.


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