436th Airlift Wing, Dover Air Force Base, DE

Lt Col John Habbestad, 436th Airlift Wing (AW) Chief of Safety at Dover Air Force Base, DE, received a nice surprise recently. He was at a holiday party when he learned the 436 AW won AMC’s Safety Office of the Year award.

“I can’t take any credit because I got here about when the package was submitted,” he said. “But I can tell you they deserve it! I inherited a great organization that is accustomed to recognition. This was wonderful for them because of their hard work.”

According to Habbestad, many safety offices (even at Dover) deal with the unexpected most days—along with projects worked on regularly and some only occasionally. Regardless, all safety efforts pay dividends.

“A big recurring event is our annual Motorcycle Safety Day,” he added. “It receives many accolades. Another is the Line Operations Safety Audit [LOSA], where folks go observe other flight crews, get familiar with operations and get feedback, and take notes on safety operations.”

SSgt Kenny Reid, Occupational Safety Journeyman, was quick to talk about the stellar motorcycle safety record.

“Dover AFB riders, the local community, and vendors work together on Motorcycle Safety Day,” he explained, “to provide training, presentations, equipment, speakers, and more. We have had zero Class A/B accidents and can see how effective our program is over the last five years.”

While it is hard to know how many accidents they prevented, Reid feels sure there would be more accidents without Motorcycle Safety Day each year.

“Other bases doing different programs have more accidents,” he said. “I think our record is rare among riders and the whole Air Force.”

Occupational Safety Manager Lorie Bellamy agreed the motorcycle safety piece is critical.

“We have done Motorcycle Safety Day for about 13 years now, and I suspect it is one reason we won the motorcycle award repeatedly,” she said. “Even though I represent Occupational Safety, vehicles and motorcycles are the number one killer of our Airmen. Like Kenny said, I wish we could measure what we have prevented.”

Indeed, Habbestad admitted it is hard to quantify a program’s impact sometimes. But ridership at Dover, especially in the summer, indicates their motorcycle safety efforts make a big difference.

Maj John Trombetta, 436 AW Chief of Flight Safety, is equally and deservedly proud of the Safety Office of the Year award.

“We sent pilots, engineers, and loadmasters to train with a company run by a former commercial pilot who won the contract to execute this LOSA,” he said. But they first invited the man to Dover and introduced him to air refueling and many other functions for a better understanding of LOSA training needs.

“Those folks are now out flying the line with and capturing data from crews all over the world. They pick out the highest threat or abnormal occurrences and assess how the crews handle it to see if we need changes to tech manuals or publications.”

Habbestad also noted several Weapons Safety projects last year; one concerning land adjoining Dover AFB. He then described one of the biggest events: the Operational Safety Assessment, an event pertaining to the “health” of the wing in terms of safety.

Robert Brown, Weapons Safety Manager at Dover AFB, agreed the last few years were busy for his folks—due in part to a munitions storage area issue.

“Our explosive arcs go beyond the base boundary,” he explained, “so the government does not allow civilian landowners to do anything there. Yet we found people building things in easements and wanted to buy the lands back. Plus, we can use the land for incoming shipments so trucks are not parked alongside the highway. Getting them off the road to secure spots is a better way to handle explosives.”

A separate concern was ongoing work by contractors. When Mr. Brown arrived, he found a fuel facility site being built inside the arcs, so he negotiated with contractors and the Corps of Engineers to move it and avoid violations. He then developed a waiver for workers in the area for the duration of their contract, thus ensuring Dover continued its mission. Weapons Safety also did a Nuclear Surety Training exercise last year—the first of its kind for AMC.

“People may not like Safety coming around, but it is a necessary evil,” he continued. “The ultimate goal of everyone in this room is to make sure Airmen get home safely.”

Perhaps the greatest accomplishment at Dover AFB was the Operational Safety Review. About a month before, Trombetta said they requested an Operational Safety Assessment from the Air Force Safety Center.

“They came and reviewed our ops and maintenance relationship, looking at publications, culture, and leadership,” he said. “It got everyone on the same page, and we adopted many of their recommendations. At the Operational Safety Review about a month later, we had met most of the requirements so we just put everyone in a room and looked for gaps and seams. We discussed safety issues within units by sampling different ranks and career fields. Then we broke into groups and captured data we pushed out to AMC and up to Chief of Staff of the Air Force.”

Habbestad closed by giving a heartfelt nod to the 512th Safety Personnel co-located at Dover.

“We could not do what we do without them. I want to give them credit and thank them,” he said. “Many great things happen here at Dover. A lot of initiative and internal leadership occurs with these programs. The people here all count on each other to come up with good ideas. It is no coincidence this team earns these accolades year after year, and I am really proud of them.”


Lt Col John Habbestad, Chief of Safety

Maj John Trombetta, Flight Safety Officer

Maj Shannon Murphy, Flight Safety Officer

Capt Ricardo Morales, Flight Safety Officer

MSgt Philip Camp, Flight Safety NCO

Lorie Bellamy, Occupational Safety Manager

Timothy Hahn, Occupational Safety Specialist

TSgt Lance Hughson, NCOIC Occupational Safety

SSgt Kenneth Reid, Occupational Safety Journeyman

Robert Brown, Weapons Safety Manager


Lt Col Harlan Nelson, Chief of Safety (deployed)

Lt Col Anne Lueck, Flight Safety Officer

Alexis Lynn, Occupational Safety Manager

Carl Palmer, Weapons Safety Manager