COMMENTARY: Dover Air Force Base commander gives thanks to Dover

DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. — “Dover is a special place.”

This was the phrase most spoken two years ago as our family prepared to join Dover Air Force Base. It didn’t take long to understand the true meaning.

Nestled in rural Delaware alongside the capitol city of Dover and its quaint downtown area — the seat of our great nation’s founding — amidst several metropolitan areas, scenic beaches, and the broad expanse of the Atlantic Ocean, Dover Air Force Base certainly feels like a home to everyone who visits. Yet it’s the people … the civic leaders, community partners, numerous volunteer organizations and the everyday townsfolk that bring the “special” to Dover AFB. Erin and I have been honored to be a part of this special community.

Col. Ethan Griffin

Eagle Wing, we’ve also been honored to serve with you and work alongside some of our nation’s most dedicated, professional, and positive Airmen, civilian and uniformed alike. Our Eagle Wing is like no other in the Air Force, rich in heritage, proud in service, striving each day to be better than before. Thank you all for your commitment to upholding our heritage, as you “Deliver Excellence” in your primary job and with those you encounter.

You’ve given flight to our mission of “… fostering a community that develops innovative Airmen to deliver excellence in trusted global mobility!” In short, you’ve given the pride to “Aim High…Dover Pride!”

You’ve accomplished so much in two years! You returned the air show to the Delmarva region for the first time in eight years, showcasing airpower across our main ramp for the first time since 1999. You delivered excellence alongside the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds while telling our Airmen’s story to over 75,000 excited spectators with precision and class.

You developed Airmen through our inaugural and second annual Transition Summits with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, carrying a Dover-specific message of caring and developing Airmen throughout their careers, whether in recruitment, retention or transition ensuring that they were educated and prepared for future opportunities.

You’ve returned the mighty C-5M fleet to global operations, serving as the “pathfinder” for multiple agencies to research, prepare, and execute a solution to a significant mechanical failure with safety and efficiency. You’ve developed an innovative application for smartphones, paving the path for new, current and future Dover Airmen to connect, inform, and share “The Dover Experience!”

You’ve rebuilt the infrastructure that carries our fuel, mission support, medical, maintenance, operations, and mission partner personnel to execute their vital missions in support of our nation’s founding values.

From massive cyber and communications upgrades, including miles of fiber optics and state-of-the-art switches for our network, to major rework on Atlantic Avenue pavements and roads throughout the installation, to the procurement of a state-of-the-art Ground-Air Transmit Receive (GATR) radio suite that replaced 50-year-old equipment for more efficient and safe flying operations.

Our hard-working civil engineer, contracting, finance, communications, and other personnel have turned inspiration to reality.

Finally, who could forget the incredible team effort, over 22 months and $120 million, to reconstruct our runways and provide the nation with the best east coast strategic options for utilizing the Department of Defense’s largest aerial “superport,” and Central Command’s hub for cargo flow to the Middle East theater of operations!

You’ve delivered the closed hand of U.S. resolve throughout the world in support of national interests while expediting the open hand of U.S. assistance through the provision of 1.2 million pounds of supplies and over 750 passengers for Hurricane relief efforts in Florida and Puerto Rico following Hurricanes Harvey, Maria, and Irma.

You’ve flown alongside US Marine Corps CV-22s, F-5s, and F-18s as you integrated with the Red Forces of the Marine Aviation Weapons Tactics Squadron One in major exercises across Arizona. You’ve studied the global security environment, assessed the risks, forecast the potential calling, and dove into Full Spectrum Readiness preparations with a passion and professionalism beyond question, ensuring that our nation’s forces are prepared to deliver on our leadership’s promise.

And perhaps most importantly, you’ve joined, alongside the president and vice president of the U.S. and other dignitaries, with our cross-service teams within the Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations, Joint Personal Effects Depot, and Armed Forces Medical Examiner System, to ensure our nation’s fallen return with honor to their loved ones and ultimately, their final resting place.

“Dover is a special place.” As we prepare for our Air Force journey to carry us to the West Coast, Erin, the boys, and I wish the Eagle Wing, our amazing mission partners, and our many community friends the very best. We will fondly remember the work done, smiles shared, and memories built together and know that we can always call this place and these people “home.” Thank you all.

Aim High … Dover Pride!

Col. Ethan Griffin, outgoing commander of the Dover Air Force Base’s 436th Airlift Wing, is moving on to Travis Air Force Base.

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