HILL AIR FORCE BASE — There are many notable missions at Hill Air Force Base, including one that is recognized throughout the world — the Utah Test and Training Range. For one man, keeping the range ready at all times has been his duty for nearly 39 years.
Hal Sagers is the director of the Range Support Division, which falls under the 75th Civil Engineer Group. Although he is eligible to retire at any time, he finds too much job satisfaction to give it up just yet.
“I’ve been here a long time and have put a lot of work into this place,” he said. “I take a lot of pride in what we do here and the support we provide for the Air Force.”
The UTTR is used in a test and training capacity for air-to-air-combat, air-to-ground inert and live practice bombing and gunnery training by DoD and allied aircrews, and is the only location capable of supporting overland testing of cruise missiles.
With a land space of more than a million acres, the range provides a vast area of realistic terrain for world-class test and training scenarios, as well as munitions disposal operations. Range assets are valued at close to a billion dollars, and those real property assets are maintained by Sagers and his team.
“We have a whole compound out here, about 125 buildings that we maintain,” Sagers said. “Facilities include administrative buildings, a fire station, security and ready rooms. We also maintain radar facilities and lots of equipment needed to keep the range safe and ready.”
He said some of those buildings are used to store ammunition and weapons, and they must be kept within a specific temperature range. This alone requires Sagers and his team of 45 full-time CEG personnel — as well as full time 75th Security Forces personnel — to be on site all year.
“Without us here, you would have to dispatch everyone from Hill. To make sure those buildings are safe, secure and maintained and within the right temperatures, that is not feasible,” Sagers said.
Sagers’ team also maintains roads and signs, a robust fire suppression system, and 300 miles of boundary fences and fire breaks. In the last fiscal year, they spent 1,200 man hours creating fire breaks, which are large areas cleared of brush and debris serving to stop a fire from spreading. The Range Support fire department are often called upon to respond to large fires, not just at the range but also in the surrounding areas, thanks to a mutual aid agreement with the local county.
Sagers said COVID-19 impacted the UTTR’s mission for a short time, but they are back to normal, which means being busier than ever, and he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“We have a unique mission here, and we’re proud of how we carry it out,” he said.
He said it’s exciting to be such a critical part of the UTTR’s very important mission. That’s why, despite being retirement eligible, he’s not ready to call it quits.
“It’s such a great place to work,” he said. “A lot of people come out here and just see a patch of desert but if you take the time to look around there’s so much beauty in this patch of desert.