Former Dover Air Force Base commander relieved of post in California

Col. Joel Safranek (left) is congratulated by outgoing commander Col. Ethan Griffin after he assumed command of Dover AFB. Special to the Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh

DOVER — A former Dover Air Force Base commander was relieved of his duties Monday as head of the 60th Air Mobility Wing at Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield, California, due to an investigation into alleged personal financial misconduct, officials confirmed.

Col. Ethan C. Griffin had lost the “trust and confidence” of 18th Air Force Commander Maj. Gen. Sam Barrett in his “ability to continue serving as commander,” according to an 18th Air Force Public Affairs staff report.

According to the Air Force, its Office of Special Investigations is investigating Col. Griffin for alleged personal financial misconduct.

Citing the ongoing investigation, the Air Force said “additional details surrounding the alleged misconduct cannot be released to ensure the integrity of the investigation.

“All Airmen are innocent until proven guilty.”

According to Maj. Gen. Barrett in the report, “The Air Force’s core values are at the center of who we are as Airmen, and we hold ourselves accountable to those values.

“The decision to remove a commander is not an easy one, but this is the best step to ensure continued mission success and care for the Airmen of Team Travis.”

The Air Force named 60th AMW Vice Commander Col. Matthew Leard as interim commander at Travis effective Monday.

Col. Griffin commanded DAFB’s 436th Airlift Wing, also known as the “Eagle Wing,” from August 2016 to May 2018. He was replaced by Col. Joel W. Safranek.

In a ceremony marking his departure from DAFB in late May, Col. Griffin received the Legion of Merit medal given for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services and achievements.

The Eagle Wing consists of operations, maintenance, mission support and medical groups and 14 staff divisions.

During Col. Griffin’s tenure a $120 million, 22-month runway reconstruction project with a life span of at least 50 years was completed.

In the midst of his Dover departure, Col. Griffin reminisced about his stay at the air base.

“In short, it’s been absolutely spectacular for (my wife) Erin and the boys and I,” he said in late May. “We will always have a place in our heart for you and for Dover.

“We have an amazing team. We here at Dover have made readiness not just an acronym, but something real. We made it a state of mind, making our nation’s leaders stronger at the bargaining table.”

The wing also earned an Air Force Outstanding Unit Award under his leadership.

“During my time with the Eagle Wing, I have been honored to serve alongside some of the nation’s most dedicated, professional and positive airmen, civilian and uniformed alike,” Col. Griffin said.

“To the mighty Eagle Wing team, all our mission partners and the community, you are all absolutely wonderful and a testament to delivering excellence in everything you do. We will always call you home. Aim high with great Dover pride, Eagle Wing.”

Staff writer Mike Finney contributed to this report.

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