Outreach of community spirit

What better way to spend a Saturday than to climb inside and around 25 airplanes — from the modern A-10 Warthog to the C-131 Samaritan? More than 4,800 people spent Aug. 29 at the Hill Aerospace Museum doing just that and more to celebrate this year's Food for Life Day.

"The whole point of Food for Life … was to have a day that the public could come out and show support for the community by giving canned food," said Scott Wirz, director of the Hill Aerospace Museum.

This year's show of support brought in 3,320 pounds of food. "That's a little more than 1,000 pounds more than last year," said Beth Halperin, volunteer coordinator for the museum.

Visitors were also treated to weapons demonstrations by the 75th Security Forces Squadron, vehicle displays by the 729th Air Control Squadron, music by the Ogden Concert Band, a chili cook-off and a car show featuring more than 150 classic and modern cars.

"It's nice to create an environment where folks can come out and show off what they're doing and build an understanding," Wirz said in reference to the displays and demonstrations.

The hulking C-124 Globemaster was one of the planes open for investigation, and as visitors clambered up the ladder and investigated the C-124's interior, including its seats, Jim Thurrell, a museum volunteer, and Senior Airman Jereamy Day of the 388th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, described the history and use of the plane.

"I didn't think things like that could fly back in the day," Day said in regard to the C-124.

Staff Sgt. Cole Rehse, of the 75th SFS, and his fellow 75th SFS Airmen provided visitors with a hands-on look at some of the modern weapons soldiers use today. Included in the display were M11 and M9 semi-automatic pistols, and an M16 rifle. There was also a chance to take a glimpse inside the 75th SFS mobile command post.

Repeat museum visitors, who came to this particular event, probably noticed a few extra displays alongside the aircraft outside and through the open museum doors, provided by the 729th ACS.

"The 729th got a really good response last year for their vehicles, so they worked hard to bring a few more vehicles out," Wirz said.

The vehicles helped remind visitors that the Air Force isn't just about flying airplanes, Wirz added.

Though it was only the second year Food for Life Day featured a car show, there was quite a crowd wandering through the cars on display. As visitors peered inside and under the hood, J.C. Hackett of 1060AM KDYL and Jeff Holm, a veteran of the Air Force's 355th Tactical Fighter Group, played oldies from the 1950s and 1960s and chatted about the event.

A car show might seem like a stretch when it comes to celebrating Food for Life Day at a museum that features airplanes, but with community support a key feature of the day, even cars seemed like a perfect fit.

"These people — when you put out the call — nobody does it better than these people," Hackett said in reference to classic car owners.

Many of them made extra food or gave donations in addition to paying the fee, Hackett said. As a thank you, each registered car owner received a special commemorative coin, much like the ones Airmen receive from their commanders and other superiors.

"I wanted to bring this into the food drive and make it more visible and fun for families," Holm added as he explained his reasons for the car show.

One other car happened to draw a lot of attention with its orange and blue exterior and classic appearance. The Mormon Meteor III, on loan from the Price Museum of Speed in Salt Lake City, was built in 1938 by Ab Jenkins and Augie Duesenberg. It still holds 13 records for speed endurance today.

Around noon, tummies started rumbling, including those of Col. Calvin Williams, vice commander of the 75th Air Base Wing, and his wife, Linda.

Williams and his wife, along with Col. Scott Zobrist, commander of the 388th Fighter Wing, and his wife, plus two others, had the honor of judging 10 contestants in the Air Force Association chili cook-off. Each judge weaved through lines of hungry customers, tasting each chili and grading it on items such as zest, aftertaste and aroma.

"I really would have preferred to make another round," he said.

"They were uniquely different, very flavorful, and I'd love a lot of those recipes," his wife, Linda, added.

After putting in their vote for their favorite chili, Williams and his wife were off to the car show, where they selected Karl Hossman's 1958 Pontiac Chieftain as the winner of the car show's Commander's Choice award.

Winners of the chili cook-off included team Big Red Chili, captained by Jim Elsey, for the People's Choice award, the Utah State University's Reserve Officer Training Corps team, captained by Rob Nelson, for favorite military team, and Northrop Grumman's Hot Hick Hillbilly Chili team, captained by Deborah Yamane, for the favorite nonmilitary team. Proceeds from the cook-off will go to the Airman and Family Readiness Center's Hearts Apart Program. More than 100 volunteers participated in the event.

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