NATO HQ Allied Air Command Izmir commander bids farewell to Izmir

  • Published
  • By Tanju Varlikli
  • 425th Air Base Squadron Host Nation Advisor
Lieutenant General Ralph J. Jodice II, NATO HQ Allied Air Command Izmir commander, bid farewell to Izmir during the AC Izmir deactivation ceremony held on May 22, 2013. He is a respected leader within the military and local community. During his final speech, the general mentioned how he would miss everything about the city, to include the food, weather and the warm hospitality of its people.

NATO HQ Allied Air Command Izmir has been an integral part of the NATO command structure since its formal activation on Aug 11, 2004. Serving at the General Vecihi Akın Headquarters in Şirinyer, İzmir, NATO AC closed its doors with an official ceremony as a result of NATO's new organizational structure.

Among its mission sets, AC Izmir was prepared to plan, execute and support air operations in an effort to deter aggression and maintain peace for NATO's southern region. AC Izmir also played an integral part by ensuring the security and territorial integrity of alliance member states within and adjacent to NATO's area of responsibility.

Jodice has served across the globe in multiple jobs and assignments during his 37 years in the U.S. Air Force, to include squadron, group, and wing equivalent commands. Aside from his most recent tour at AC Izmir, General Jodice has served in three other overseas assignments to United Kingdom, South Korea, and China. In China, he served as the Defense Attaché at the U.S. Embassy.

Prior to the deactivation ceremony, Jodice spoke about his recent tour and shared his experiences.
"The things I've enjoyed most have been working in an international environment with the people we had here. At one point, we had 14 different nations represented in the headquarters and there were a lot of challenges that went with that. The challenges we faced were training for our certification for the NATO response force, which we went through twice, and to be called upon to lead NATO's military operations for Operation Unified Protector and to lead as the Combined Forces Air Component commander."

During the general's tenure at NATO AC Izmir, OUP was a NATO operation to enforce UN Security Council Resolutions 1970 and 1973 regarding the protection of civilians during Libya's internal conflict. The operation officially ended on Oct. 31, 2011. During OUP, Jodice directed NATO's air operations in Libya as NATO's CFAC commander.

Jodice began his career at Wright Patterson AFB, Ohio, where he worked as a jet engine propulsion structural durability engineer. He entered the Air Force in 1976 through the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps program, graduating with an aerospace engineering degree from Parks College of Engineering, Aviation and Technology in St. Louis.

When asked what influenced him to join the military, the general reflected upon his childhood dreams. "As I watched the space program on TV during the height of the U.S. Space Program from third to eighth grade and as I got into high school, I decided to be an astronaut. I was told that if I wanted to be an astronaut, I had to be a military pilot and get a degree in engineering..."

Family also influenced the general to join the military.

"There was another influence which was my dad, who enlisted in World War II, like many young American men in that time period. He served in the U.S. Navy for a few years on destroyers. He did not make the military a career but I think that had some influence, too," Jodice said. "My dad was a police officer for 39 years in the town where we lived. As you know, one of our core values in the U.S. Air Force is service before self. My dad was doing that every day and my mom was dedicated to taking care of the family. That is all about the service before self and I think those were the key influences about why I joined the military."

In response to a question asked about his best memories the general said, "There is not a best memory, but there are a whole lot of memories and most of those revolve around the opportunity to work with great men and women -- not only from the United States, but from many other countries." He continued to say, "I think some of the best memories are in working with people from different walks of life, different cultures and backgrounds, getting to see them have accomplishments and achievements that they didn't think were possible, and getting to see them excel."

The Izmir military community would like to thank Jodice for his unrivaled leadership over the past three years. His dedication to people and the mission are unmatched. He will surely be missed.