Leader Blues

Monday, May 21, 2007

TOP STORY >>Schatz takes command

IN SHORT: It’s a homecoming for the California native, who commanded the award-winning 50th Airlift Squadron here.

Leader staff writer

It was a beautiful day at Little Rock Air Force Base when Brig. Gen. (Select) Rowayne A. Schatz, Jr., assumed command of the 314th Airlift Wing from Brig. Gen. Kip Self during a change-of -command ceremony Wednesday.

Gov. Mike Beebe, as well as the Jacksonville, Cabot and Ward mayors, attended the base’s ceremony showing their support of Little Rock Air Force Base. (See editorial, page 8A.)

Beebe is the first governor in years to attend a change-of -command ceremony on base.
As Maj. Gen. Irv Halter, commander of the 19th Air Force and officiating officer for Wednesday’s ceremony, said, Col. Schatz is yet another Air Mobility expert taking command of the wing.

“Wayne is no stranger to the C-130 and Little Rock. This provides the wing an unusual advantage…he knows this mission and he knows this community. Minimum spin-up required, he’s ready to roll,” Halter said.

“We have great confidence in you,” Halter told Schatz. “We have given you one of our toughest units at a pivotal time and we could think of no one who is better for this job.”

The new commander said he and his family, wife Kim and children Marissa and Wayne, were excited to be back at Little Rock again after eight years; Schatz was assigned to The Rock from 1997 to 1999 as commander of the 50th Airlift Squadron.
“We are thrilled at the chance to lead such an outstanding wing of America’s finest combat air lifters,” Schatz, a Lodi, Calif., native, said.

“I promise to do my best to support our airmen and their families at Team Little Rock to do the best we can,” Schatz said to Halter on giving him the opportunity to command the 314th.

“Kip and Sue Self, thanks for your superb leadership for the past nearly two years, clearly the 314th Airlift Wing and Team Little Rock are in outstanding shape thanks to your hard work and selfless dedication. We wish you fair skies and tail winds always as you move on,” Schatz said to Self, who relinquished his command after only 20 months at the helm.

“To the men and women of the 314th Airlift Wing, Team Little Rock has a tradition of excellence and I promise to give you 100 percent to help maintain that position. For now, all standing orders remain in effect,” Schatz told his airmen.

“The Hercules community is our roots, so you can bet we’re excited to be back in Little Rock. We’ll be proud to call Little Rock Air Force Base home again, honored to command such a great wing, and excited to be in the C-130 training wing,” Schatz said during the close of ceremonies.

Schatz says mission, people and community are his main areas of concentration and he plans to continue with a lot of the same trends Self started at Little Rock.

“We’ve got some challenges with the base realignment and closing commission. A big part of what we do here is working to plan to bring other C-130s from Pope (Air Force Base, S.C.) and do that smoothly.

“Continuing our deployment responsibility with support of soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines in Iraq and Afghanistan will be key to staying ready to do our mission when called upon. And of course, training for over 1,800 C-130 air lifters from the United States, all the joint services, as well as 31 nations, will keep us busy,” Schatz said in an interview after the change of command ceremony.

Little Rock is losing Self to the Air Force Expeditionary Center, Air Mobility Command at McGuire AFB, N.J., where he will take command next Wednesday.

He was asked to give up his wing command after only 20 months on the job.
“Good commanders take care of their wing, great ones embrace and love them, and there is no doubt about in which category Kip Self falls into,” Halter said.

“He was the perfect choice to command the place where America’s C-130 professionals get their start,” he said of Self’s selection as commander of the 314th AW.

“Kip, thank you for your stewardship to the 314th, its airmen and its mission; Sue, thank you for your great care of our airmen and their families. You two have executed your unofficial but truthful duties to perfection; you will be missed both here and back at Randolph (Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas),” Halter added.

The Legion of Merit award was presented to Self during the ceremony for the work he performed during his tenure at Little Rock Air Force Base, but Self said those things could not have been done without the men and women of the 314th.

“That citation was nicely written by my executive officers, but it’s all about these folks in blue. Sue and I were cheerleaders the last 20 months. We did very little but we were always there,” Self said.

Self said he owed thanks to his “exceptional wing command” for the great things that occurred on base and was lucky to have had them. “It wouldn’t have been without y’all,” Self added.