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NEWS | July 31, 2008

Commander says farewell and thanks

By Col. Paul R. Ackerley 316th Wing Commander

Today marks my final day as the 316th Wing Commander and installation commander for Andrews Air Force Base. It will be several days of reflection as I drive west to Randolph Air Force Base but I am already filled with pride and thanks for what the 316th Wing and Team Andrews has accomplished these past 25 months. 

Andrews has always made its mark in U.S. history and the past two years have been no exception. From the State Funeral for former President Gerald R. Ford to the Papal visit of Pope Benedict the XVI, Andrews was the keystone for both events. What are yearly events at other bases are often daily at Andrews. From Presidential and head of state transits to the frequent visits of our most senior civilian and military leaders, Team Andrews was constantly at the ready to meet their personal and mission needs. 

Since 9/11 Andrews has assumed a greater responsibility for the defense of the national capital region. With a total force and multi-Service contribution of active duty, guardsmen and reservists, Andrews provided a 24/7 response to threats to our nation's capital and operational and medical capabilities postured to react when needed to natural or man-made disasters. Andrews defended our nation and you should be proud of your part in that mission area.

In the past two years with our installation deployment responsibilities, Andrews deployed over 1100 Airmen, Sailors, Soldiers, and Marines to operations throughout the world. Many to Iraq and Afghanistan. These warriors made sacrifices to serve their nation and many displayed valor in the heat of battle. To those of you that deployed, I thank you and your families for being there when your nation called. 

These past two years we have seen many changes to Andrews. Through the support of the Air Force District of Washington and Headquarters Air Force we have started an extensive capital improvement program to prepare Andrews for the next 50 years. We have invested more than $40 million dollars since the stand-up of the 316th Wing and through these dollars have repaired roads and roofs, updated the electrical infrastructure, improved the airfield, updated facilities to support our missions, and demolished old and no longer needed facilities to make room for future mission growth. This was just the start as in the near future you will see a new Visiting Airman Quarters,a new Temporary Lodging Facility and new and rennovated homes through housing privatization. Andrews is a strategic base for our nation and planning is in full force to keep it viable for all of Team Andrews and our families. 

It has been my highest honor and privilege to serve as the 316th Wing commander and installation commander. I have been so impressed with the officers, enlisted and civilians who make up Team Andrews. I thank each of you for your service to Andrews Air Force Base and our nation.