Airmen bid farewell to F-16 at load competition

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HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah — Airmen in the active-duty 388th Fighter Wing and Reserve 419th Fighter Wing competed July 21 for “Weapons Crew of the Quarter” bragging rights.

During the weapons load competition, teams were evaluated on how safely and quickly they could load munitions on the F-16 Fighting Falcon and F-35A Lightning II.

The 4th AMU won the competition; however, the competition may have been more about nostalgia and history than about winning or losing, because it marked the last time the units will compete loading munitions on the F-16.

The last of the 388 FW’s F-16s are scheduled to depart Hill AFB for Holloman AFB, N.M., this September as the wing continues to transition to the F-35A.

Master Sgt. Emmette Cornelius with the 388th Maintenance Group’s Weapons Standardization Section said weapons loading competitions are a time-honored tradition that bolsters comradery within the weapons community.

“This competition was a way of honoring the past 38 years of great work F-16’s have performed around the world from here,” Cornelius said. “We are sad to see a platform such as the F-16 go away because we have had great success with it. But, we are also very excited for what is to come with the F-35.”

Staff Sgt. Christopher White, 388th AMXS, agreed.

“It was a big deal because it’s the last F-16 load competition,” White said. “Hill was the first base to get F-16s and this was the last big event with them here. It is great to be part of history.”

A total of 78 F35A jets will be delivered to the 388th FW through the end of 2019.

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