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Commander retires after 38 years of service

by Capt. Joel Harper
HQ USAFE Public Affairs

12/10/2007 - RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany (AFPN)  -- With one last review of a formation of Ramstein's finest Airmen, and along with it, one last coin challenge, Gen. William T. Hobbins, commander of United States Air Forces in Europe, was retired at a ceremony here Dec. 10 after more than 38 years of service.

General Hobbins cited cooperation as key to the resounding success of USAFE during the past two years -- from alliances in NATO to individual Airmen coming together as a team.

"Over time, we've helped create the security conditions necessary to foster stability in places like Kosovo, Lebanon, Iraq and Afghanistan," said General Hobbins. "It is often a 'can do' spirit, it's a passion for excellence, and it's a collaborative effort from a team of Airmen that overcomes unforeseen obstacles."

General Hobbins' wife, Robbin, was also honored at the ceremony for her contributions to the Air Force. Mrs. Hobbins received the Exceptional Service Award for her volunteer work through out their 27 years of marriage and particularly for her involvement with the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center.

Mrs. Hobbins worked with wounded warriors, especially those who sustained traumatic brain syndrome. She is the european coordinator for Sew Much Comfort, a charitable organization with groups from the U.K. to Stuttgart, Germany, that sews adaptive clothing for people with combat injuries.

General Hobbins said that he's fortunate to have such a special "wingman for life."

"I am blessed to have a spouse who willingly said 'let's go' regardless of where it was we were going, and I think she has that 'service before self' enthusiasm," said General Hobbins.

General Hobbins will best be remembered for his dedication to training, mentoring, and preparing Airmen, said Gen. T. Michael Moseley, Chief of Staff of the Air Force, who was the presiding official for today's ceremony.

"Whether it's combat in Southeast Asia, whether it's serving as an instructor, or whether it's transitioning to new aircraft, you've been an example to all of us," said General Moseley.

General Hobbins' push for USAFE contributions to recapitalize and modernize the Air Force had a great impact, said Secretary of the Air Force Michael W. Wynne.

"As we continue to fight our fight, to recapitalize our great Air Force, what has been done here with our Air Force Smart Operations program, with energy efficiency, is remarkable," said Secretary Wynne.

General Hobbins was presented with the Defense Distinguished Service Medal and NATO Meritorious Service Medal by Gen. John Craddock, Supreme Allied Commander Europe. 

Also attending the retirement ceremony were U.S. Ambassador to Germany William Robert Timken, Jr; Commander, Joint Force Command Brunssum, German Army General Egon Ramms; Commander, United States Africa Command, Gen William E. Ward; Commanding General, United States Army, Europe & 7th Army, Gen David D. McKiernan; Air Chiefs from 13 nations, and other senior government and military officials from all branches of service.

General Hobbins entered the Air Force in December 1969 as a graduate of Officer Training School. In the following years he moved on to command a numbered air force, two tactical fighter wings and a composite air group.

General Hobbins is a command pilot with more than 5,100 flying hours primarily in fighter aircraft. Recently, USAFE's enlisted corps bestowed General Hobbins with their highest honor, the Order of the Sword, a testament to his commitment to their well being.

Last week, General Hobbins was honored by the German Armed Forces with a "Grand Tattoo" military ceremony at the Ministry of Defense in Bonn, Germany. The nighttime ceremony, which featured precision marches and performances of U.S. and German patriotic music, was lit by torches carried by German troops.

According to the German military, the Grand Tattoo is the most important ceremonial act in the German Armed Forces.

"Our Air Force has always engaged in the good fight," said General Hobbins. "We have been pushing the principle of ensuring freedom's future, the advancement of mankind, and the desire to go beyond what's 'good enough' to what's best."

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