COMUSAFE visits downrange Published March 13, 2006 By Tech. Sgt. Paul Dean 407th Air Expeditionary Group Public Affairs ALI BASE, Iraq (USAFENS) -- Maybe it was Uncle Joe or Aunt Grace. Maybe it was just Dad’s old Air Force buddy or Mom’s best girlfriend from across state. Everybody seems to have somebody who whizzes into their lives much too infrequently, makes them laugh, has them talking about anything in a matter of seconds, leaves too soon and always leaves them with great memories to talk about.Gen. William T. “Tom” Hobbins, commander, U.S. Air Forces in Europe, left Airmen here basking in the afterglow of his energy and asking themselves and others why he had to leave so soon.There were no tactical rollups, budget debriefs, crisis overviews or security policy workgroups in the schedule. The general, who had been at his new job as USAFE commander a few weeks before embarking on a trip downrange, was here Dec. 27 in the spirit of the holidays and to meet and inspire his USAFE Airmen and anybody else he could get hold of.“Hey, come here,” he repeatedly asked the photographers. “I want to meet this guy, this gal; they are all heroes.”USAFE, other Air Force commands, U.S. Army Soldiers, Italian servicemembers -- the general didn’t hesitate to make the first move when it came to introductions; his smile and outstretched hand working together, sending a message loud and clear: ‘Hey, come here: I’m proud of what you’re doing and want to tell you that face to face.’Once he arrived at each location, there was no doubt who was in control: escorts could step aside and relax.At dinner with a group of Airmen, the general made time for everyone -- sitting with an Airman or two, chatting until they all shared a smile, and then moving down a few chairs and starting up again as if revisiting old friends.Putting people at ease almost immediately, he quickly and deliberately searched for problems, peeves and possibilities for improvement in his command.“I’m not telling you that everything you don’t like is a problem I’m going to solve,” he said. “But I’ll know about them.”“I’ve never met a ‘four-star’ before,” said Staff Sgt. Caroline Parker from the 407th Expeditionary Operations Support Squadron and deployed from Ramstein Air Base, Germany. “I can’t believe how friendly and nice he is. I can’t wait to get back to Ramstein to work for him.”Sergeant Parker also enjoyed her acting debut during the general’s visit. She and about two dozen fellow USAFE Airmen joined General Hobbins while taping an American Forces Network television spot that highlights the accomplishments of Ali Base Airmen.Shot on location behind the 407th EOSS Area Control Center, which controls 50,000 square miles of airspace in southern Iraq, the spot ends with the cast enthusiastically joining the general as they affirm in unison: “Flying, Fighting, Winning!”And win was what the general’s band accomplished, too.Introduced by General Hobbins as an extension of his desire to spread inspiration and gratitude, the USAFE band Touch and Go had the crowd bebopping and swinging by the end of their afternoon performance. Of course, the general joined the groove section center stage, dancing with more than two dozen Airmen, swinging around and giving somebody else a twist or two.In just six short hours, General Hobbins introduced himself to the men and women who had a different commander when they deployed here. He left each one of the USAFE Airmen with the realization that he’s looking forward to their return and is proud of what they’ve accomplished.He probably inspired a lot of Airmen to move USAFE to the top of their dream sheets.