Farewell Team Little Rock

Col. Greg Otey, 19th Airlift Wing commander

Col. Greg Otey, 19th Airlift Wing commander

LITTLE ROCK AIR FORCE BASE, Ark. -- It seems like just yesterday I received the flag of the 19th Airlift Wing from Maj. Gen. Winfield Scott, but in fact on Wednesday, July 28, it was 18 months of command for the Otey family. It's truly been a remarkable journey, and the remarkable journey is all attributable to the people who make up the 19 Airlift Wing Black Knights and Team Little Rock.

When I first took the command flag 18 months ago, I talked about commander's intent and used the words Mission First, People Always, 19th Airlift Wing Excellence and having some fun along the way. As Black Knights you executed commander's intent to perfection.

Our mission as Black Knights is to safely employ the world's best C-130 Combat Airlifters. You are the best! Black Knight aviators, maintainers, support personnel, medical personnel, and all those who make up the 19th Airlift Wing staff display excellence in all you do every day. In July of 2009 you showed the rest of the world just how good Black Knights are by winning seven Air Mobility Command RODEO trophies and being named "Best C-130 Wing." Out of those seven trophies, one made me smile just a little more than the others as you were named The Best Aerial Port Squadron, and you did it with an Aerial Port flight. With 16 U.S. and five foreign C-130 wings represented at the RODEO you hold the title "Best C-130 Wing in the World" until the next RODEO in 2011, and then you will be known as the Best Air Mobility Wing in the world after you win the entire competition.

The AMC RODEO was a relatively small display of your talent and capability, your true mettle was displayed as we led the standup of an Operation Enduring Freedom C-130J bare base in support of the president's troop surge for Afghanistan. You continuously maintain two lead C-130 packages in support of Iraq and Afghanistan operations, providing 40 percent of the U.S. C-130 tactical airlift for the Central Command combatant commander. While you were doing this, you surged during Christmas to support European theater operations, and when an earthquake hit Haiti, Black Knights were some of the first to bring relief to that ravaged nation. Your mission excellence was topped off when you placed second out of 12 Air Mobility Command wings in the Commander In Chief's Installation Excellence Award and garnered command recognition and $100,000 for quality of life improvements. Eligible for this competition for the first time in 15 years, you showed all of Air Mobility Command how Little Rock Air Force Base and its personnel best use the resources we have in support of our mission to produce C-130 Combat Airlift.

As part of your display of mission capability you were inspected and recognized numerous times over the past 18 months and with those inspections you continued your record of excellence. You earned an "Excellent" rating during our Unit Compliance Inspection and as part of that inspection received an "Outstanding" for the emergency management exercise--one of only two "Outstanding" ratings given out by the AMC Inspector General. You received pinnacle Logistics Compliance Assessment Program grades as the maintenance group and mission support group earned "Excellent" ratings. In your Air Traffic Evaluation you were graded 96-percent compliant, and your weather inspection was rated "Excellent" with 94-percent compliance. Recognition came to Black Knights numerous times at the Air Force level. You earned the Air Force Air Traffic Control Facility of the year, Air Force's Command Post Best large unit of the year award and the Air Force's Maintenance Effectiveness Squadron of the year. The bottom line is you placed mission first with Black Knight excellence!

As you made the mission happen with excellence you ensured we took care of our No. 1 resource with People Always. From Airmen, to our civilian work force, to families and our great community, you enabled the mission by bettering our ability to provide for each other. You improved our ability to deploy, sustain, support and then reintegrate our Airmen and their families during deployments. We spent more than $230,000 to upgrade our mobility processing and reception building. You hit homeruns with our deployed family dinners as you recognized and supported those with the toughest job in the Air Force--families at home during a deployed spouse's time away. We garnered $10 million to build a new 19th Security Forces Squadron building to give our defenders the quality place of operations they deserve. We combined CINC's IEA $100,000 and money given to us from AMC to upgrade the entrance, access to and quality of our fitness center--helping our Airmen ensure they are fit to fight. You continue to improve our privatized housing as we were able to remove "Jurassic Park" and start new and renovated construction of our base housing. In conjunction with privatized housing, we have moved out on bettering the education opportunities for all children throughout the base community as we start a charter school for sixth to eighth grades to open in the fall of 2011.

A huge step in better education opportunities came when we broke ground on the new Joint Education Center. A one-of- a-kind joint venture between an Air Force base and its surrounding community, the people of Jacksonville raised $5 million dollars, which we combined with $9 million from the Air Force to build a $14 million Joint Education Center to be used by the community and the Air Force for continued education opportunities. The base's community plays a large role in our ability to ensure People Always. Our Airmen and their families live in communities that understand the sacrifices Airmen make every day to ensure the freedoms sometimes taken for granted by others. It was only fitting that the our community was recognized as the best community in all of Air Mobility Command when they received the AMC Abilene Trophy--we truly have the best community partners in all of the Department of Defense.

As you executed mission excellence, took care of the people we did find a way to have some fun. In September of 2009 we honored the Air Force's birthday where over 750 Airmen, their guests and community supporters gathered at the famed Peabody Hotel in Little Rock to celebrate 62 years of excellence and you even got to see the King, Elvis Presley, and the debut of Tech. Sgt. Jerry "Grandmaster" Graham--a good time was had by all! Thanks to the support and donations from our community we were able to celebrate our Team Little Rock RODEO victories and our CINC's Installation Excellence top placing with parties and recognition for all. Under the leadership of Col. Ken Walters, we celebrated our heritage as Black Knights and ate and competed as medieval warriors--the maintenance group still owns the spirit sword! There were many other gatherings to celebrate, most led by our force support squadron warriors, that enabled us to ensure recognition and fun for all you do to provide our nation with C-130 Combat Airlift.

I want to close by saying thanks to our Team Little Rock partners. It has been an honor and pleasure to serve alongside Col. C.K. Hyde, 314th Airlift Wing commander; Col. Jim Summers, 189th Airlift Wing commander; and all our community supporters that help make the base a great place to command. To all Black Knight warriors and your families, thank you! It's been an honor to serve with you all, and I am very proud to be your commander! We Are--Black Knights!