Utah reservists stand together with European allies

MICAH GARBARINO/U.S. Air Force
Staff Sgt. Joseph McGrath, 419th Security Forces Squadron, stands beside an F-35A Lightning II at Amari Air Base, Estonia. SFS personnel provided security for the aircraft’s arrival in the country, which is one of several stops for the F-35 during its first European deployment.
MICAH GARBARINO/U.S. Air Force
Maj. Jayson Rickard, F-35 pilot in the 419th Fighter Wing, and Tech. Sgt. Ryan Johnston, 419th crew chief, conduct a preflight check while deployed to Europe. In their civilian lives, Rickard is a pilot for Delta Air Lines and Johnston works for SkyWest Airlines. Both reservists are currently on full-time orders to help fortify F-35A operations at Hill AFB.
By Kari Tilton
419th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
May 11, 2017

HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah— Citizen Airmen from the Reserve 419th Fighter Wing are currently at Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, in support of the first F-35A overseas training deployment to Europe.

The reservists deployed alongside eight F-35As and about 250 personnel from Hill’s active duty 388th FW and are training in support of the European Reassurance Initiative, which bolsters the security of our NATO allies in the region. 

While in Europe, the F-35A pilots and support personnel will travel to other NATO nations to build partnerships with allied air forces and gain a broad familiarity of Europe’s diverse operating conditions.

The 419th FW’s F-35A pilots and maintainers completed rigorous training to operate and maintain the Air Force’s newest and highly advanced fighter jet. Most are on extended leave from their civilian jobs in the local community for several years to help fortify F-35A operations at Hill AFB. On any given day, nearly 5,000 Air Force reservists are serving worldwide.

The first operational F-35As arrived at Hill in October 2015. The base currently has 20 F-35As and will eventually be home to 78 aircraft and three operational squadrons by the end of 2019. The 388th and 419th FWs fly and maintain the aircraft in a Total Force partnership, which capitalizes on the strength of both components.