Monday, January 26, 2009

TOP STORY>>Commander of 314th AW loves his job

Leader senior staff writer

If enthusiasm alone could end a war, Col. Charles K. Hyde could have brought home all the troops safely by now.

Instead, he’s in command of the 314th Airlift Wing of the Air Education and Training Command at Little Rock Air Force Base, where he’s thrown himself into safeguarding the national interest by overseeing the training of virtually all U.S. and allied C-130 airlift crews.

An animated Hyde speaks quickly and with apparent affection for his job as commander of the airmen, trainers and equipment that make up that wing.

Hyde took command of the 314th, the training wing at the world’s premiere C-130 base, in October as part of the reorganization that moved Brig. Gen. Rowayne Schatz Jr. from the 314th to the newly created 19th Airlift Wing expeditionary force and transferred command of the base from the 314th to the 19th.

Schatz has been reassigned to the joint staff at Pentagon, where he will serve as deputy director for global operations.

In a change of command ceremony on Wednesday, Col. Gregory S. Otey, former Air Force Expeditionary Center vice commander at Fort Dix, N.J., will replace Schatz as commander of the 19th Airlift Wing.

Hyde’s command includes 900 airmen, 26 E model C-130s, seven C-130 Js, and at Keesler Air Force Base at Biloxi Miss., three C-21s.

“To fly, fight and win,” is the motto, Hyde said. “That involves developing the professional skills needed to win on the battlefields our soldiers will be on in the future,” he said.

“We fly to the sounds of guns,” the colonel explained. “We carry the fight to the enemy.”

That includes “beans, bullets and med evac,” he added. Soldiers will often arrive in theatre in the belly of a C-130 and whether they leave at the end of their tour, injured or killed “we will return them home with dignity,” he said.

“No soldier, marine or airman is ever alone when we’re on duty,” the colonel said.

“Being a good wingman means never leaving a fallen comrade behind,” Hyde said. The wing also takes care of families while loved ones are deployed.

Because all U.S. C-130 crews are trained at the Little Rock schoolhouse, regardless of service branch, it’s possible for a crew to be composed of members of different services if necessary.

Currently at the base, a C-130H simulator that includes advanced avionics is being completed and a second one is under construction. They train crews to work in the older planes that have be retrofitted with digital cockpits instead of the analog instruments that date back to the Eisenhower administration.

The old planes require a crew of five, Hyde said, the retrofitted planes a crew of four and the new C-130Js, with increased capacity, range and speed require a crew of only three.

Because crews from 34 nations train at Little Rock, Hyde said some of those trained could eventually head air forces in their own country or even be leaders in that country, with warm positive feelings from the time they spent at Little Rock Air Force Base.

Although this is Hyde’s first tour assigned to Little Rock Air Force Base, he had been to the base previous for C-130 training and had himself enjoyed the hospitality of local residents and the outdoors.

His two children are attending the local public schools, one at Northwood Junior High School, the other at North Pulaski High School.

“It’s working out pretty well for us,” he said.

Hyde says the biggest challenge he has faced is to help redefine the 314th’s relationship with other wings on the base. Until October, it was the host wing, with responsibility for housing, logistics of living and providing services to airmen and families on the base.

Now they are helping reinforce new policies that recognize that the hosting responsibility has been shifted to the 19th Airlift Wing.

“We need to figure out how to leverage and use that support. We need to know what to ask for,” the colonel said.

“We are lean and mission-focused,” he added.

When Otey arrives to take the command of the 19th Airlift Wing, he and Hyde will hardly be strangers to each other. Both are career C-130 airmen who were deployed together during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

“We understand the mission of combat airlift, and that will pay dividends,” Hyde said.

“Greg will be one of my biggest customers,” he said, referring to the C-130 crews that the 314th trains and graduates.

He will be able to get feedback on the strong and weak points of the training as the result of feedback from Otey, and can make changes to training if necessary.

Hyde calls the 314th Airlift Wing “the foundation of America’s combat airlift capacity.”

According to Hyde, goals for the wing are to produce the world’s most professional, highly skilled combat crewmembers, to accomplish their mission safely and effectively, to develop airmen and leaders, to take care of the Air Force family and to represent the Air Force to the community, joint partners and allies.

Combat airlift traces its roots back to north Africa in 1942. Airlifters were the lead group for the D-Day invasion and have flown in Korea, Vietnam, Grenada, Panama and Desert Shield.

Since the invasion of Iraq, the C-130 has taken 13,000 convoys off the dangerous roads.

In 2008, the wing won the Air Force’s Outstanding Unit Award, in addition to several other excellence awards.

In the future, increased C-130J sales to China, India and perhaps the United Arab Eremites translate into job insurance for the 314th, which will train all those crews.

Hyde graduated from the Air Force Academy in 1987 with a bachelor of science degree in international affairs. He earned a master of science degree in organizational and human- resource development from Abilene Christian University in 1997.
He is a 2000 graduate of the College of Naval Command and Staff, Naval War College and a 2005 graduate of the Army War College. He commanded the 39th Airlift Squadron and served as 317th Airlift Group deputy commander, at Dyess AFB, Texas.
He commanded the 320th Expeditionary Operations Group at Seeb Air Base, Oman, during Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom, and was vice commander of the 388th Air Expeditionary Wing, Southwest Asia, from 2005 to 2006.

Before his current position, Hyde served as chief, distribution division, directorate of logistics, the joint staff, at the Pentagon.

He is a command pilot with 3,900 hours in C-130s and T-37s.