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Hidden treasure

Col. Tyler Schaff, official photo

Col. Tyler Schaff, official photo

DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. --

Serving in the military is a noble profession; however, it comes with many challenges. One of those challenges is moving to a new community every few years, feeling like a stranger in your own community and struggling to become meaningful amongst “people who grew up together.”

I’m here to tell you that the amazing people surrounding Dover AFB continue to welcome our Airmen with open arms. This sentiment truly makes Dover a treasure among Air Force assignments.

My command of the 436th Mission Support Group is quickly coming to a close here at Dover AFB, but before I depart for my next assignment, I want to express a heartfelt “thank you” to the community for an amazing assignment. I realize that Airmen come and go, in and out of your lives, and yet, we were truly treated as part of the community, despite the knowledge that many of us would depart in two or three quick years!

I’d like to thank the entire community for your ever-present support of Dover AFB. The Delaware congressional delegation and state leadership have been a pleasure to work with, as they continually strive to make Dover AFB a better place to live and work. I would also like to thank Mayor Robin Christiansen, Dover City Council President Bill Hare and the rest of the City of Dover’s leadership for your unwavering support. Although I can’t name each city in the area, all the surrounding cities/communities continue to be amazing throughout the “First State.” You have lived up to your reputation, for sure!

The Honorary Commander program at Dover AFB, led by Dawne Nickerson, is beyond amazing. The opportunity to show off our mission, while learning from you, has been the experience of a lifetime. I’d be remiss to not thank each of the past and current honorary commanders for their time, interactions and dedication to the program. I would especially like to highlight my honorary commander, Janie Libby. She is amazing! My only regret is that I didn’t have more time to learn from her – I will miss you, Janie!

Although I’m hesitant to single out too many individuals, I would like to express my appreciation to a few individuals who stood out to me: Mr. Mike Tatoian, Mr. Bobby Pancake and Ms. Lori Ewald, you are great Americans – Thank you for being passionate about supporting the Airmen of Dover AFB. I know you don’t do it for the recognition but because you want to contribute to the lives of our Airmen.

I personally have had the privilege of being a part of many local organizations that I’d like to personally recognize. The Central Delaware Chamber of Commerce, led by Judy Diogo, and the subcommittee of the Military Affairs Committee, led by past chair Lynne Schaefer and now Evans Armantrading, have made a concerted effort to include the base in all their events. Another organization, the Downtown Dover Partnership, always includes Dover AFB in their events. Also, thank you to the Downtown Rotary Club for embracing me as a member and for the friendships; what you do for the community is really humbling! 

Dover AFB is also fortunate to be a part of the Caesar Rodney School District. Thank you, Dr. Kevin Fitzgerald and the entire school board, for including Dover AFB as an integral member of the board and for always taking into account our military children. Also, thank you to Principal Nicole Jones of Dover Air Base Middle School, Principal Jason Payne of Major George S. Welch Elementary School, the friendly staff and dedicated teachers; your commitment to our military children is so appreciated!

Last but by no means not least, the USO – The entire team is awesome, to include the many, many volunteers. Thank you for always being there, regardless of the occasion or time of day. 

I challenge each of you from the great state of Delaware to continue to reach out to our Airmen and their families. Welcome them to your community, and keep on putting your heart into long-term relationships. Ellen, Alexis and I are grateful for the memories made from our time at Dover; they will truly be with us forever.  

Col. Tyler R. Schaff is the commander of the 436th Mission Support Group, Dover Air Force Base, Delaware. He provides complete combat support, emergency services and the base infrastructure for over 7,200 personnel supporting the C-5 and C-17 aircraft assigned to the 436th and 512th Airlift Wings as well as the largest aerial port and only stateside mortuary in the Department of Defense. The group includes over 1,400 Airmen in six squadrons: Civil Engineers, Security Forces, Logistic Readiness, Communications, Force Support and Contracting.