TOP STORY >>Broader mission for air base
Leader senior staff writer
It was nothin’ but blue skies Wednesday at Little Rock Air Force Base as Brig. Gen. Rowayne Schatz, Jr. changed hats but not homes to become commanding officer of the newly minted 19th Airlift Wing, while remaining Little Rock Air Force Base commander.
“Although I’m handing over the flag, I’m not leaving,” Schatz said. He said he was glad he would still be working with many of the same airmen in his new command.
The 19th AW took operational control from the 314th Airlift Wing, which now becomes the tenant.
“Thanks to the community leaders,” he said. “We could not do what we do without your support.”
“The community will embrace the Hydes,” Schatz said. “Colonel, you are in for the ride of your life.”
Col. Charles Hyde took command of the 314th, Air Education and Training Wing, a vacancy created by Schatz’s new post as commander of the 19th Airlift Wing.
Schatz had commanded the 314th AW at Little Rock since May 2007.
Airmen in fatigues, flight suits, service dress blues and open-collar short-sleeved uniform as well as retirees, guests from the community, local mayors and representatives of the area’s congressional delegation were cooled by the breeze and warmed by the sun as the change of command ceremony took place on the tarmack against a back drop of C-130s and C-130Js. The Air Force Band of Mid America performed.
The 19th AW is an expeditionary wing and is charged with planning and executing airlift operations around the world, now hosts the base. But as the world’s primary C-130 schoolhouse, the 314th will continue its indispensable task of training virtually all C-130 and C-130J pilots, crews and maintainers for all U.S. Armed Forces and allies.
Units involved in base operations were formally transferred from the 314th to the new host, the 19th Airlift Wing, while those involved in training remained in the 314th.
“We must win today’s fight while preparing for the future,” said Maj. Gen. Windfield W. Scott III, Commander of the 18th Air Force, based at Scott Air Force Base in Illinois.
“Schotzie, you have a vital role as the Air Force moves forward with new ways of doing business,” Scott said. “Your leadership is key to their success.”
Hyde told his new command, “The one constant is change,” but he said they would “continue the mission of training the best and depending upon the strength and professionalism of the trainers.
The 463 Air Lift Wing, which had distinguished itself in extensive action in Iraq, Kuwait and Afghanistan, was deactivated during the ceremony, its flag—guidon—furled until perhaps some future time.
Hyde is a command pilot with more than 3,700 hours in both the C-130E and C-130H, as well as the T-37.
Hyde comes to Little Rock from Ali Al Salem, Kuwait, where he was the vice commander of the 386th Air Expeditionary Wing, the primary tactical airlift hub for resupply missions supporting coalition operations in Iraq and providing combat support to land-component forces throughout Kuwait and Iraq.
The 463 Air Lift Wing, based at Little Rock and which has seen extensive service in the Middle East was deactivated and it was replaced by the 19th Air Lift Wing.
Gen. Schatz led the 314th with distinction, training over 2,000 crew members and maintainers, said Major Gen. Gregory A. Feest, commander of the 19th Air Force, a training command based at Randolph Air Force Base in Texas.
Feest called Hyde “the perfect leader” for the 314th, noting he was a distinguished graduate of the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.
“The 314th stands tall, he said, providing airlift support any time, anywhere, embodying the expeditionary sprit.”
He said the 314th had received the outstanding unit award for exceptional, meritorious service.”
At the ceremony’s end, three distant, northbound airborne C-130Js turned east for a low-altitude flyover.