News: 374th Airlift Wing welcomes new commander
Story by Tech. Sgt. Christopher Marasky
YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan - Airmen from the 374th Airlift Wing gathered to observe the wing’s change of command ceremony along with their Japan Air Self Defense Force counterparts and local community leaders at Yokota Air Base, Japan, June 26.
Col. Mark August relinquished command of the 374 AW to Col. Douglas DeLaMater in a ceremony presided over by U.S. Forces, Japan and 5th Air Force Commander, Lt. Gen. Salvatore Angelella.
“As a commander, Col. August has made our Air Force and our nation proud with his outstanding leadership,” Angelella said. “Buzz is a dedicated commander, passionate leader and by staying true to the Air Force core values, he did a fantastic job of caring for the people and improving operations here at Yokota.”
Angelella also welcomed the new commander, DeLaMater, and his family during the ceremony.
“I’m proud to say the Air Force has sent another remarkable leader and an outstanding Air Force family to Yokota,” he said. “Col. DeLaMater’s wealth of command experience at the squadron and group level will serve the 374 AW, 5th Air Force, and our nation well.”
August addressed the wing for the last time after two years of leadership in which the wing faced many challenges, including a government shutdown, sequestration, and record-setting weather events.
“While many wings in Pacific Air Forces have airlift assets, you are PACAF’s Airlift Wing,” August said. “You did this through flying hour reductions, regional instability and capped aircraft. Through all that, you moved distinguished visitors, created new PACAF aeromedical evacuation capabilities and created a new airdrop capability for our Air Force and those of our allies.”
August also highlighted the support the wing received from both the local community and Yokota’s JASDF partners.
“The mission of Yokota would be difficult or even impossible without the incredible support of our local community,” he said. “This is also true with our partners in the JASDF. We started an alliance, and we grew into friends. This deep friendship is the foundation for the future of Yokota.”
At the closing of his speech, August highlighted the work of the 374 AW during his two years as commander, recognizing the wings involvement in numerous humanitarian missions including Operation Christmas Drop and Operation Damayan, where Airmen from Yokota provided aid to the Philippines after Typhoon Haiyan.
“You were always prepared and you brought hope in the darkness of every humanitarian operation,” he said. “You proudly bore the U.S. flag and U.S. Air Force name tapes, you embodied three powerful words: ‘Here I am.’”
August passed the guidon of the 374 AW to DeLaMater in a time-honored military tradition that ensures that the unit and its Airmen are never without official leadership. This represents a continuation of trust and signifies an allegiance of Airmen to their unit’s commander.
DeLaMater greeted the wing by speaking about the responsibility of command, highlighting the importance of safety balanced against the need to remain ready in a dynamic region.
“Safety is and must remain paramount; it’s absolutely essential to our mission,” he said. “With that said, this is a dangerous world we live in, so we must fight to stay ready, to keep our combat edge sharp, so we are prepared if we are called upon.”
The new commander finished his speech by emphasizing the importance of teamwork in accomplishing the many missions of the 374 AW.
“I believe that teamwork and camaraderie matter,” DeLaMater said. “I believe these things have the power to see us through any challenge. I am deeply grateful for the support and teamwork I’ve seen demonstrated here at Yokota already. It’s pervasive and it’s infectious, and I very much look forward to getting to meet and know you all in the days ahead.”
As the 374 AW commander, DeLaMater is responsible for the management, training and command and control of the Department of Defense's only airlift wing in the Western Pacific. Yokota provides mission ready forces and base operating support to guarantee U.S. forward presence and crisis response.