Thursday, August 28, 2008

New commander says Travis counts on community

New commander says Travis counts on community
By Ian Thompson | Daily Republic | August 27, 2008

Travis Air Force Base 60th Air Mobility Wing commander Col. Mark Dillon. Photo by Brad Zweerink

TRAVIS AFB - Col. Mark 'Marshal' Dillon, the new commander of the 60th Air Mobility Wing, came to Travis Air Force Base knowing the base has a strong relationship with the communities surrounding it.

'It is one of the crown jewels of Travis,' Dillon said Wednesday. 'Travis provides a huge underpinning to the community and our community partners provide a lot of support.'

The Aug. 16 wildfire that consumed nearly 200 vacant homes on the base's west side confirmed how deep that support is.

'The proof in the pudding was that day,' Dillon said of the rapid, massive response by fire departments and fire districts across Solano County that ensured the fire did not reach any occupied homes.

'I have seen bases with strong community relations, but I have seen none stronger than here,' said Dillon, who draws personal support from his wife, Sara, and their three sons, Charles, Jack and Luke.

Dillon, 46, took over command of the 60th Air Mobility Wing from Col. Steven Arquiette on June 30.

'My goals are the same at the Air Force's -- win today's fights, take care of our own and prepare for tomorrow's challenges,' Dillon said. 'If what we are doing doesn't fit one of those goals, then we probably should not be doing it.'

While Dillon doesn't consider himself to be a history buff, he strongly believes there are numerous lessons to be learned from what the nation and the Air Force has done in the past.

During his address at the change of command ceremony, Dillon compared the challenge of waging the war on terror to the trying times during the darkest winter of the American Revolution.

Dillon, who was born in San Jose, has worn Air Force blue since he graduated from Arizona State University and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in 1984 through the Officer Training School there.

Since then, he has risen through the ranks with assignments that included his arrival at Travis in June 2000 as an operations officer for the 22nd Airlift Squadron.

Dillon served as the 22nd Airlift Squadron's commander and then deputy commander for the 60th Operations Group before heading to the Air War College at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala., in July 2003.

His first impressions of Travis in 2000 were that of 'a big base, big mission and global responsibility.'

The heart of that mission, Dillon said, is to project the nation's military and humanitarian capabilities anywhere in the world on a moment's notice.

'Any type of capability, this wing can project it,' Dillon said of the missions, which have ranged from typhoon relief to supporting the global war on terror.

See the complete story at the Daily Republic online.