TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – Ask an Airman what they like doing on warm, summer mornings and more than likely, you won’t hear, “Get in my blues and stand at attention for two hours.”
For members of the 60th Air Mobility Wing, though, that’s exactly what they did, but for good reason. They, among many Airmen around Travis Air Force Base, California, were given the opportunity to bid a final farewell to departing 60th AMW commander, Col. John Klein, as well as welcome his replacement, incoming 60th AMW commander, Col. Ethan Griffin, during a change of command ceremony July 10.
Griffin, who previously served as base commander to Dover Air Force Base, Delaware, is no newcomer to Travis. Having held the position of commander of the 21st Airlift Squadron from 2009 to 2011, Griffin made it apparent in his opening speech how keenly attune he was to the Travis mission.
“The energy of our American and Air Force pioneers is most certainly alive and well at Travis AFB where our innovative DNA knows no bounds,” said Griffin. “In actions large and small, our Airmen and service members, families and community partners work together to pioneer beyond bounds and find better, more efficient ways of accomplishing our respective jobs.”
Griffin went on to underscore the responsibility each member of Team Travis has in “upholding the calling to protect (the United States’) gateway to the Pacific.”
There was, perhaps, no better person to understand the breadth of that responsibility than Klein in his eventful two-year tenure as Travis’ commander.
Amid natural disasters, security incidents and a sometimes unpredictable diplomatic climate, it’s no exaggeration to say that Klein’s time at Travis has been storied. Though, it wasn’t his almost 24-year career that Klein chose to chalk his success up to, but to those who succeeded with him.
From Airmen from the 60th AMW, the 349th AMW and the 621st Contingency Response Wing to family, friends and mentors, both past and present, Klein took time to laud all those who he said made him into the Airman he is today. It’s a praise that he carries with him even in the simplest of interactions.
“As I’ve been getting ready to depart, people have asked me, ‘What has been your best day at Travis?’” said Klein. “And my answer to them is: ‘Yesterday.’ Yesterday because every day we’re a little bit better. We’re more ready, more resilient and more relentless. And yesterday because I appreciate you all and what you do more and more each day.’”
Ending his official time at Travis, it was the responsibility of Klein in the ceremony to hand off the 60th AMW guidon, representing, he said, the privilege of its command, to Griffin. Mediating the assumption, and assuring those in attendance of the continued resolve of Travis’ leadership, was Lt. Gen. GI Tuck, 18th Air Force commander.
“The command of Travis AFB is an extremely important one,” said Tuck. “Not only is Travis the largest mobility platform in our major command, but it’s also strategically located as a jumping-off point for our many critical missions in the Pacific. We could not have picked a better commander to fill the immense shoes left behind by Col. Klein than Col. Griffin.”
Before closing the ceremony, Griffin wished to impart a few last words to his new command.
“You can count on me to serve each of you, Airman, Soldier, Marine, Sailor, civilian, family member, retiree, veteran, community partner and more, with commitment, positive energy and the best interests of Team Travis in mind,” he said. “It’s good to be back home. Let’s get to work and let’s have some fun doing it.”