Friday, August 20, 2010

TOP STORY > >New 314th head welcomed

Leader staff writer

Col. C.K. Hyde on Friday morning turned over command of the 314th Air Education and Training Wing to Col. Mark Czelusta, with Maj. Gen. Mark S. Solo, commander of the 19th Air Force, officiating.

Hyde, the well-liked commander of the 314th, was visibly choked up at the end of his address to the troops, saying, “Families, your support has made a big difference to the airmen behind you.”

Czelusta, a command pilot with more than 3,100 hours at the stick, most recently commanded the 386th Expeditionary

Operations Group in Southwest Asia in support of Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.

His major achievements include selection as the Fifth Air Force Mobility tactician of the year.

He returns to Little Rock Air Force Base, where he commanded the 463rd Operations Support Squadron. While in command, that unit won the 2005 and 2006 Air Mobility Command Outstanding Operations Support Squadron of the Year award.

He was a senior fellow at George C. Marshall Center at Garmisch, Germany. He has been contingency plans branch chief of the U.S. Transportation Command at Scott Air Force Base and chief of the European Deployment and Distributions Opera-tions Center at Stuttgart, Germany.

He has won an outstanding aca-demic award at the Air Force Weapons School Nellis Air Force Base.

Major awards include the Bronze Star with one oak-leaf cluster and the Defense Meritorious Service Medal with one oak-leaf cluster.

Hyde leaves to become deputy director of intelligence, operations and nuclear integration for flying training at Randolph Air Force Base.

He told the airmen that with their sturdy aircraft and teamwork, they own the mission of training C-130 and C-21 airlifters, and with “focus on what matters.”

Solo said, “We don’t make all of this happen without the support of family. He cited many accomplishments under Hyde and noted the 314th’s storied history dating back to the early days of WWII.

“It’s been filled with warriors who didn’t know how to fail,” Solo said. “Leading from the front, the 314th was an integral part of every major operation in the European theater.

“Today the 314th is the benchmark for combat-airlift training around the world,” the general said.

He cited Hyde for “impressive achievements including the 314th earning the Air Force Outstand Achievement Award.

He maintained right mission focus, supported its people and was an excellent steward of the base, Solo said.

He said Hyde “pushed advancement of technology, settling for nothing less than perfection.”

During his tenure, the 314th graduated 3,400 students and overcame a C-130E training deficit in six months.

He cut 3,600 from in-air flight training time through use of state-of-the-art simulators and saved the Air Force $17 million.

In citing Hyde’s accomplishments and awarding him the Legion of Merit, Solo noted that the on-time training-graduation rate was 15 percent when Hyde arrived at Little Rock Air Force Base but 95 percent by the time he handed over command to Czelusta.

He praised Czelusta, who commanded in Kuwait and Iraq, as “a proven warfighter with an extraordinary career that has prepared him well.”

Solo called him “the perfect leader with an outstanding Air Force record.”

“You exceeded every expectation, every goal,” said Hyde. “You continue to accomplish our mission of training the best C-130 and C-21 combat airlifters to fly, fight and win. We are linked to our Air Force mission and the end is not flying. The end is winning.

“Combat-delivery skills are not enough. A strong foundation is essential for success in the long wars against terrorism and success on battlefields that we can’t predict.

“Most of you are combat veterans. It’s more than where you’ve been or what you’ve done that makes you warriors. It’s what you believe and what you are as part of an airlift-combat team.

“Teamwork starts at the 314th and extends around the world,” Hyde said.

“No airman soldier, sailor or Marine is ever alone while you are on duty. We deliver our troops, sustain them, bring them back home, Medivac them and return them with dignity when they fall.

“Your legacy is more than accolades. It’s the commitment that you instill in future warriors.”