Tragic events at Frankfurt remind us to stay vigilant



by Gen. Mark A. Welsh III
Commander, U.S. Air Forces in Europe


3/17/2011 - RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany -- Like the rest of you, Betty and I were deeply saddened by the senseless attack at Frankfurt International Airport that claimed the lives of two of our Airmen and left two others seriously wounded. Our hearts and prayers remain with all those affected by this tragic event.

I've been touched by the outpouring of sympathy and support to the victims, their families, and their units from our Air Force communities at Ramstein Air Base, Royal Air Force Lakenheath, and around the Command. Your response makes me prouder than ever to stand beside you. I was humbled by the incredible response of our German and British hosts, and immensely thankful for our strong, enduring partnership. I'd like to specifically thank the German police who responded to the scene of the shooting and the medical professionals who literally performed miracles treating our wounded warriors - thanks to them, and some excellent initial buddy care from the victims' Wingmen, our Airmen are on the road to recovery. The United States Ambassador to Germany and his staff were also immediately involved, caring for family members of the wounded, coordinating medical care with the hospital in Frankfurt, and providing translators for family members, escorts, doctors and security officers.

This attack is a grim reminder that we must stay vigilant. Force protection is part of our core business; it's everyone's responsibility. We shouldn't be scared to walk down the street, but we should always do our best to avoid threatening or dangerous situations, and report things that just don't seem right. We're working closely with German authorities to fully investigate the attack. Rest assured, we'll use the lessons learned to determine the best way ahead to protect our Airmen, our families and other service members serving in and traveling through Europe.

Despite the tragic incident in Frankfurt, I firmly believe Germany and the rest of Europe are safe places to live and work. We're lucky to be stationed here. I encourage you to continue to go about your business, travel, have fun and make friends - but maintain good awareness of your environment and do your best to blend in. Talk with your family and friends about potential risks and threats and have an emergency response plan both at home and while traveling.

As we mourn our fallen colleagues and support the survivors, we must remain proud of who we are and what we represent. We're a strong family - we'll get through this, and together, we'll continue to Ensure Freedom's Future.