RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany -- Gen. Philip M. Breedlove, U.S. Air Forces in Europe and U.S. Air Forces Africa commander, presented the USAFE-AFAFRICA Medal of Distinction to a German politician here March 8.
Minister President Kurt Beck was honored for his commitment to partnership and his support to American Airmen while serving as minister president of Rheinland-Pfalz from October 1994 to January 2013.
"Throughout his tenure, he has been a friend to many of us individually, and most important, a friend to our Air Force," said Breedlove. "He has supported our military programs time and again-successfully striking a difficult and sometimes delicate balance between citizens and leaders."
The USAFE-AFAFRICA Medal of Distinction is awarded to a non-U.S. citizen in recognition for extraordinary service, achievements, or support to the accomplishment of the USAFE-AFAFRICA mission.
Breedlove attributed the success of several initiatives to Beck's involvement, including the Kaiserslautern Military Community Center and the Build-to-Lease Housing Program.
"What impresses me most is how he went above and beyond to support our Air Force," said Breedlove.
He added that Beck was also instrumental in providing for the safety of Americans in Germany after the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.
"We had the opportunity to work very closely with our American friends to ensure their safety and security in Germany, and we took various measures to secure the housing areas over all military installations. This has deepened the bonds of friendship between our people," said Beck.
Beck also said that having an American military presence in Rheinland-Pfalz was mutually beneficial to both nations. As a result, the local population has formed a very close relationship with the U.S. forces over the years.
"We owe the personal freedom that we enjoy to our American counterparts," he said. "We have to thank the American people for our liberation from the oppression of the National Socialists."
Beck emphasized that having U.S. forces in Germany was key to maintaining peace, liberty and freedom throughout the world.
"I would like to pass on my regards to those service members who have been stationed here in Germany and those currently deployed around the world, and we wish for their safe return."