HILL AIR FORCE BASE — In the face of a global pandemic, the 75th Air Base Wing and Team Hill were still able to successfully meet the demands of providing mission-ready Airmen and equipment, outstanding support to Team Hill, and supreme care to its people.
Where we were
Among 2020’s accomplishments, the 75th ABW reached a milestone in 2020 by celebrating its 80th anniversary.
Hill held a series of events and activities to commemorate its history and to honor the base’s innovations and achievements, along with the mission platforms that have been operated and supported throughout the decades.
Retired Air Force members Col. James Sullivan, Col. Gail Halvorsen, Lt. Col. Jay Hess spoke about their personal experiences during a kick-off event in January at the Hill Aerospace Museum.
The 75th ABW Historian, Jon Bingham, compiled a Hill Air Force Base 80th anniversary series of articles to feature the base’s historical innovations and achievements, and highlight mission platforms that have been operated and supported at the base throughout the decades.
In July, the 75th ABW said farewell to Col. Jon Eberlan and welcomed its new commander, Col. Jenise Carroll. As the installation commander, she leads the host wing in providing support to more than 50 mission partners and 27,000 personnel, oversees support to the Utah Test and Training Range and several other geographically separated units. Carroll vowed to lead with transparency when she assumed command July 23.
Amidst the pandemic, the central theme of 2020 for Team Hill was undoubtedly about readiness.
The 75th ABW performed herculean efforts deploying more than 900 personnel from Team Hill and conducted several readiness, training exercises alongside the active-duty 388th Fighter Wing and Reserve 419th Fighter Wing to increase joint synchronization with its mission partners.
Airmen from the 75th Medical Group, 75th Security Forces Squadron, 75th Logistics Readiness Squadron, and 75th Force Support Squadron provided vital services and support to ensure the safety and health of those departing and returning from overseas.
The 75th ABW successfully showcased the wing’s ability to deploy at a moment’s notice during real-world deployments and readiness exercises.
The deployment exercises tested overall unit readiness and brushed Airmen up on essential combat skills.
In addition, Hill implemented a new HEART program, or the Hill Expeditionary Airman Readiness Training program, to equip first-term Airmen with the necessary skills to be effective in a deployed environment.
The program provides skills essential to Airmen in chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear defense, expeditionary active-shooter response, and hands-on self-aid buddy care, all required for deployment.
How COVID affected us
In March, when concerns surrounding the virus grew, the 75th ABW and its mission partners were compelled to find new ways of operating, including temporarily scaling back some services, and implementing telework, sanitation, and social distancing to avoid virus spread.
To combat the spread of COVID-19, the installation implemented HPCON (Health Protection Condition) Bravo March 19 and then HPCON Charlie March 25 to impose strict hygiene (no handshaking, wiping of common use items), self-isolation if exposed, and avoidance of risk areas for its personnel. On July 23, the installation again entered HPCON Bravo, consistent with DoD, Air Force and state of Utah directives, where it has remained for nearly six months.
The 75th Medical Group implemented a drive thru pharmacy curbside services on March 23 to combat coronavirus and to ensure the safety of their patron were of the upmost importance.
With the 421st Fighter Squadron set to deploy, 75th MDG Airmen conducted medical pre-deployment screening and testing to ensure their immunizations, public health, and other records were in order before they deployed.
The screening and testing were all done while the deploying Airmen remained in their vehicles to maximize social distancing.
The 649th Munitions Squadron at Hill adopted new procedures and precautions to balance the safety and health of its Airmen while supporting worldwide warfighter requirements. The squadron also celebrated the opening of a new $10.2 million Standardized Air Munitions Package facility.
Due to protective measures and a strong Wingman culture, the 309th Aircraft Maintenance Group continued depot maintenance, repair, and overhaul on A-10, C-130, F-16, F-22, F-35, and T-38 airframes with minimal delay due to COVID-19.
The 75th Comptroller Squadron, working behind the scenes to ensure employees get paid, projects get funded, and the mission is accomplished, successfully closed out the fiscal year.
Managing to work effectively through COVID-19 protocols, they successfully ensured funding in excess of $17.5 billion was executed to support Team Hill’s Ogden Air Logistics Complex, two fighter wings, and more than 50 mission partners.
A number of programs offered to Airmen and their families played a critical role in readiness and helped them to prepare for increasing mission demands.
A new platform Hill recently received was a sensory deprivation, bio-responsive mindfulness pod known as the “infinity cube.” The waterless float tank is currently being used by EOD and aims to decrease error rates and improve reaction time under stress, improve sleep quality, and reduce stress-induced fatigue in Airmen.
Numerous education and assistance programs continued to be offered at the Airman and Family Readiness Center. The 75th Force Support Squadron team also delivered dozens of COVID-safe events and activities for Airmen and their families including drive-in movies, bowling activities, arts and crafts, fun runs, art contests, back-to-school giveaways, and holiday parades just to name a few.
Today and the Future
Team Hill is a different place since the beginning of 2020.
What hasn’t changed during unprecedented times is the fortitude, innovation and talent of the civilian and military Airmen in the air base wing, depot and other mission partners to generate readiness for the nation’s warfighters and to deliver combat power for America.
Tech. Sgt. Joshua Feekes, weapons safety manager for the 75th ABW, represented Hill well by being selected as one of the two AFMC finalists to compete at the Air Force-level for his Fire Symbol Tracking System initiative.
He will soon be competing in the 2021 Air Force Spark Tank competition, an annual campaign designed to spur and empower innovative ideas from Airmen to further strengthen Air Force culture and capabilities.
In addition, Hill promoted 112 officers and 1,102 enlisted members in 2020 who will continue to serve the Air Force for years to come.
Hill continued to receive an outpouring of tremendous support from a network of state officials and community partners who support Hill’s Airmen and families.
Organizations such as the Top of Utah Military Affairs Committee expand quality of life programs for Airmen and their families funds including newcomers socials, promotion parties, and military appreciation nights throughout the community.
In September, civic leaders Gary Harter and Linda Kelley were awarded the Hill Air Force Base Community Wingman Award. The annual honor recognizes the community for their support and, specifically those who have made a significant service contribution to the base.
On Christmas Day, 16 of Team Hill’s leaders stopped-by the Dining Facility to wish happy holidays and serve meals to nearly 100 Airmen, military retirees, and spouses.
Also in December, Airmen received more than 21,000 holiday greeting cards filled with messages of love, support and genuine caring. The cards were crafted by military supporters from around the country and sent to Utah courtesy of the Holiday Cards for Our Military Challenge.
This summary of the year’s undertakings demonstrates Hill’s ability to enhance readiness, employ combat power, and support its people.