Friday, May 29, 2015

TOP STORY >> New LRAFB commander

Leader staff writer

Col. Charles Brown Jr. was officially put in charge of the 19th Airlift Wing during a change-of-command ceremony Wednesday at Little Rock Air Force Base. Brown replaces Col. Patrick Rhatigan, who retired after 24 years of service.

Lt. Gen. Carlton Everhart II, commander of the 18th Air Force at Scott AFB, Ill., presided over the ceremony. Everhart was stationed at LRAFB for seven years.

“We can’t do what we do every single day of our mission had it been without the support of our families,” Everhart said.

“You are looking at two great Air Force leaders whose reputations reflect their commitment to the airmen and their families and to the mission, as well strong characters firmly rooted in the core values of integrity, service and excellence,” Everhart said.

The general said Rhatigan had been successful in leading the wing and is leaving it better than he arrived.

“It is my honor to be back at Little Rock Air Force Base, the true home of combat airlift,” Brown said.

Brown was at LRAFB from 2008 to 2011. He was chief of wing safety for the 314th Airlift Wing and then was commander of the 62nd Airlift Squadron.

Brown said the secret of LRAFB’s success is the seamless integrated and interdependence with the teammates in the 314th Airlift Wing, our National Guard Airlift partners in the 189th, the 913th effort partners and our teammates in the 29th weapons school.

As commander, Brown leads the world’s largest fleet of C-130 aircraft and is responsible for providing worldwide deployable C-130 aircraft, aircrews, expeditionary combat support personnel and equipment for Air Mobility Command and Air Expeditionary Force missions.

“None of this would be possible without the love, support and leadership that the Little Rock Air Force Base’s surrounding communities have provided us for over 60 years,” Brown said.

“This has been the true core of our excellence. We will continue this legacy and excel in the future by fostering a climate of trust, one of teamwork and one of continuous training to provide the world the best combat airlifters we can,” Brown continued.

He told the airmen of the 19th Airlift Wing that he owes them and their families a tremendous amount of gratitude for the sacrifices they have made and that he was in awe of their accomplishments.

He said he would continue to provide them with the resources to be effective in their mission, a safe work environment and a quality of life for the airmen and their families.

Rhatigan is retiring after an Air Force career that began when he graduated from the Air Force Academy in 1991. He became base commander in July 2013.

“You have all taught me so much of what it means to serve others,” Rhatigan said.

He said airmen serve to protect freedom and are the beneficiaries of the community partners who reach out to help the base.

“It is one thing to constantly tell your airmen to take care of each other, but it is certainly something else to be on the receiving end of that care. Because of your support, our son is leaving Little Rock cancer-free,” Rhatigan said.

He led the base during the government shutdown, when the civilian employees were furloughed, and during the recovery efforts following the Vilonia and Mayflower tornadoes last April.

“We never let the mission suffer,” Rhatigan said, pointing out that the wing delivered C-130s to Aghanistan and deployed forces in the Horn of Africa and elsewhere.

“We have 500 airmen deployed around the world,” said the former commander, who retired after 24 years of service.

He also oversaw the first phase of work on a $107 million runway to replace a 1950s-era airstrip.

“Karen and I are full of hope for tomorrow. We will never forget how all of you served us in our time of need,” Rhatigan said.

Brown’s previous assignment was as assistant deputy director, Joint Strategic Planning, Strategic Plans and Policy, Joint Staff at the Pentagon.

He advised the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on global defense, as well as strategy development and joint operational war planning for the Department of Defense.

He was a national-security fellow at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University from 2011-12.

Brown was vice commander of the 374th Airlift Wing at Yokota Air Base in Japan from June 2012 before moving back here. The 374th is America’s only airlift wing in the Pacific.

He is a senior pilot with more than 1,600 hours flying F-15Es, C-130Es and C-130Hs.

Arlo Taylor of Little Rock Air Force Base public affairs contributed to this report.