Story by Capt. Stephen Hudson on 07/11/2019The 386th Air Expeditionary Wing held a change of command ceremony July 11, 2019 as Col. Patrick Schlichenmeyer relinquished command of the wing to Col. Rodney Simpson.
Simpson accepted the 386th guidon from Maj. Gen. Alexus G. Grynkewich, the 9th Air Expeditionary Task Force -- Levant commander; signifying the baton of leadership had been passed from one commander to the next.
"Your leadership will be critical," Grynkewich said to Simpson. "I look forward to working with you."
Simpson, a Command Navigator with more than 3,000 hours, is coming to Ali Al Salem Air Base from Air Mobility Command at Scott Air Force Base, Ill., where he served as Chief, Contingency Operations Division overseeing the global airlift, air refueling, aeromedical evacuation and contingency operations for 12 wings and one direct reporting unit.
"I could not be prouder to stand here today," Simpson said. "Our mission is very clear. I have no doubt we will conquer every challenge."
Simpson entered the Air Force in 1993 through Reserve Officer Training Corps at the University of Kentucky. He has served in a variety of positions at the squadron, wing and staff levels. He is also a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Weapons School where he was "Top Flyer," the U.S. Army's Command and General Staff College and the U.S. Air Force Air War College. He has more than 500 combat and combat support hours in direct support of Operations Southern Watch, Joint Endeavor, Joint Guard, Joint Forge, Allied Force and Enduring Freedom.
Schlichenmeyer wrapped up a one-year tour as the 386th AEW commander moving on to U.S. Northern Command.
"There isn't a Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine that isn't touched by this wing. 'Schlich,' your leadership made this wing successful," Grynkewich said.
Grynkewich presented Schlichenmeyer with the Legion of Merit for his leadership over the past year.
The 386th AEW is the primary tactical airlift hub for resupply missions and provides combat service to the Air Forces Central Command Area of Responsibility, and is the busiest aerial port in the AOR in direct support of Operations Inherent Resolve, Freedom Sentinel and Spartan Shield.