by 1Lt. Alexandra Trobe
65th Air Base Group Public Affairs
8/14/2015 - LAJES FIELD, Azores -- Lt.
Gen. Timothy Ray, Third Air Force and 17th Expeditionary Air Force
commander, presided over a special redesignation ceremony that took
place here to mark the changeover of the 65th Air Base Wing to the 65th
Air Base Group 14 August, 2015. Brig. Gen. Jon Thomas, 86th Airlift Wing
commander, presided over Col. Richard Sheffe's assumption of command of
the newly redesignated 65th ABG.
Col. Martin Rothrock served as the 65th ABW commander since June 2014,
and departs to Ramstien Air Base Germany, where he will serve as the
deputy director of logistics, engineering, and force protection for
Headquarters USAFE - AFAFRICA A4.
"Know that today when we change this command, that this is not a shift
in the commitment of the United States to the Portuguese people," said
Ray. "Portugal it is an incredible strategic partner and we remain
committed to that relationship both as a bilateral friend and ally, and
as part of the NATO alliance."
The distinguished history of the 65th has a proud heritage tracing its
roots to World War II. Though the designation of the unit will change,
all lineage and honors of the wing will continue under the 65th ABG.
"To the Airmen, you conduct an incredibly important mission, and I
applaud your style and performance. I look forward to continued news of
your success and accomplishments as the 65th Air Base Group," said Ray.
During the ceremony, Ray presented Rothrock with the Legion of Merit for
his outstanding leadership. Rothrock relinquished his command, and the
65th ABW guidon was furled. The unit was then redesignated as the 65th
ABG under the 86th AW.
"I want to extend my greetings to the Airmen of the 65th Air Base
Group," said Thomas. "You are now part of the mighty 86th. You can now
count on the other members of the mighty 86th to work with you in the
success of your mission here at Lajes Field."
After assuming command and receiving the 65th ABG guidon from Thomas and
Chief Master Sgt. Justin Walker, 65th ABG command chief, Sheffe spoke
to Lajes Airmen, calling it an honor to lead them.
"My promise to the 65th Air Base Group is simple, I will serve you all
by leading justly and professionally as we open a new chapter in the
story of Lajes Air Base," said Sheffe.
Sheffe, a senior pilot with more than 2,600 flight hours in the C-5,
arrives at Lajes Field from NATO Allied Joint Force Command, Brunssum,
the Netherlands where he was the Chief of Nuclear Operations.
"When you research the history of this airfield and the nearly 70 year
relationship with the U.S forces and our Portuguese hosts you can
clearly see the strategic capability resonant in this installation,"
said Sheffe. "This is a war fighting platform capable of contributing
greatly to the defense of our allies and partners in the pursuit of
He is a 1994 graduate of the United States Air Force Academy, where he
earned a Bachelor of Science degree, and is a graduate of the Naval
Command and Staff College and the NATO Defense College.
Thomas addressed Sheffe, with advice for the incoming 65th ABG.
"Command is fundamentally a human endeavor, and we need to remember this
at each step of the way, said Thomas. "We need to remember the dignity
of all individuals: Americans, Portuguese, military and civilian. That
is how we conduct ourselves, and that is how command is successfully
Before closing, Rothrock reflected on the valued relationships he and his family built with Lajes Airmen.
"I could not ask for better professionals to work with than the
Portuguese and U.S. Airmen at Lajes Field," said Rothrock. "Although in
the midst of change, there is a culture of excellence, loyalty and
dedication shared both by Americans and Portuguese.
The 65th Air Base Group is the American unit stationed at Lajes
Field, Azores, Portugal. This U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces
Africa unit is the largest U.S. military organization in the Azores. The
group plays a vital role in combat operations by enabling the
expeditionary movement of war fighters, warplanes and global
communications to combatant commanders and supporting Joint, Coalition
and NATO operations as part of U.S. and Allied Air Expeditionary Forces.