Tag Archives: Hill AFB

“Hometown Hero” flight during AF Week Salt Lake City

There’s more to the mission of the Air Force Thunderbirds than performance, precision and indescribable skill.  Recruitment and retention are at the core of their operation, and with that comes participation in the community as well.

While the Thunderbirds are the center of attention at air shows, they like to share the spotlight with citizens of the communities that support them through their “Hometown Heroes” program. Ogden-area resident Megan Funk was one such local hero to be honored by the Thunderbirds team during Air Force Week Salt Lake City June 4.

Megan recently completed her first year as a second grade teacher. It’s early in her career as an educator, but she’s been around long enough to provide infinite life lessons to her seven- and eight-year-old students, namely “teaching young kids about giving to others.” It was this theme that brought Megan into the back seat of Thunderbird #7.

While the media hype may surround the Thunderbirds the moment they land, this particular flight was to recognize Megan as a Hometown Hero.

“You run the ride,” Thunderbird #7, “Taz,” told Megan before he briefed her on what to expect during her F-16 flight. Their signature diamond formation, the delta, rolls, turns and pulling Gs… she would experience it all.

“You’ll do what everyone will see this weekend,” he said.

Like his fellow pilots, Taz boasts an impressive flying resume, illustrated by a few notable numbers. His flying career started with the F-15 in Japan and Florida, and his F-16 career followed in Nevada where he flew with the National Guard. Taz’ flight times are no small feat: he has spent over 1500 hours in F-15 and 700 hours in the F-16.

An amusing connection was made between pilot and copilot during their pre-flight briefing, Megan mentioned that her and her husband, Curtis, had their first viewing of Top Gun the night before her flight. Taz smiled and reminisced that Top Gun was the movie he took his wife to on their first date in 1986. Megan was born just one year prior.

The Thunderbirds’ aircraft are the most mission-capable, mechanically-sound F-16s in the fleet. The maintainers and support crew are the cream of the crop: they are perfectionists in all they do, from their support to their sharp uniforms. They are primo representatives of who we are as a United States Air Force, supporting a vast mission through excellence in all they do.

Thanks to 2nd Lt. Shannon Laubenthal for writing this post and Alex Lloyd for providing the photos.

USAF Art Collection Visits Air Force Week, Salt Lake City

AF ART EXHIBIT @ Salt Lake City Library

Local artist shines

Many facets of the military, particularly the Air Force, were on display last week in Salt Lake City, Utah. Air Force Week sheds light on another area of the Air Force which is not common knowledge to the public: the United States Air Force Art Collection. The Air Force Art Program began its extensive collection in 1950. This week’s display features unique, original artwork spanning from present day to one piece that dates back to 1963.

Air Force Week Salt Lake City was honored to have Air Force Art Program member, Richard “Buz” Sawyer in our area—both he and his own artwork were on display last week in the Salt Lake City library. The library sees many notable exhibits pass through its doors, and the work of Buz and his fellow artists were right on par with the best—a privilege for Salt Lake City area residents to view and appreciate.

Mr. Sawyer has had an impressive career in the Air Force, spending 34 years in the Reserves. He spent eight years as a weapons loader and well over 20 years working in the Intelligence career field. One significant point in his profession was being sent to the desert within a month of the September 11 attacks. Such a hearty career allowed many travels, and Buz claims he’s been “everywhere but Australia, Africa, and China.”

His artistic abilities allowed him to keep the military close; Buz was a technical illustrator at Hill Air Force Base for eight years. Today, his work goes far beyond technical orders and diagrams. Several of his displayed pieces depict the F-16s gained by the Air Force Reserves in 1984.
Sawyer retired from the Air Force Reserves on April fool’s Day, 2006, but he hasn’t strayed too far from his military roots. His talents portray the pride we all share as members of the United States Air Force.
Thanks to Jason Carrion, 75 ABW Public Affairs, for providing this story and James Arrowood for the photo.

Air Force Week–Salt Lake City

Due to some technical issues, these stories from last week’s Air Force Week are running a bit late. Thanks to 2nd Lt. Shannon Laubenthal for reporting from Air Force Week and sharing these posts with us.

LUNCH BUNCH Falconaires Concert @ SLC Gallivan Center

The Wasatch Front is an explosion of military connections between service members old and new, past and present. Air Force Week Salt Lake City is home to infinite venues in which such connections are fostered and continued.

Such was the case on Tuesday afternoon. The Air Force Academy Band Falconaires’ jazz tunes and big band sounds, in addition to the park-like, summer setting of the Gallivan Center, catered to a unique social scene.  Many sauntered in and out of the concert, while others sat and enjoyed lunch with coworkers and comrades. Recruiters manned their posts near the Air Force Super Car and other promotional pursuits, while patrons struck up conversations with fellow attendees.

One such conversation was a discussion between a brand new military member and a soldier of yesteryear named Fred. He joined the Army Air Corps in 1947. Fred served a short three years, but like many veterans of his era, he could easily write a novel about his time. He was trained in electronics and started his time in Guam, working primarily with the Emergency Rescue Squadron.

After moving through several states, Fred eventually settled as a civil servant. He has since retired and now lives in the Salt Lake City area near three of his children. His present-day connection to the military resides in several areas, one of which is through collecting Air Force art. Another is listening to the playing of live music, from the era when he served.

A great venue, great scene, and great atmosphere… The phenomenal summer setting was the perfect backdrop for a conversation with a new Air Force connection.

IMAX MOVIE: “Fighter Pilot” @ Clark Planetarium

As we settled ourselves in front of the massive IMAX screen at Clark Planetarium in Salt Lake City, there were mixed expectations as to how our pilot community would be portrayed by the movie, “Fighter Pilot.” Their career field is, after all, an Airman’s reason for being; all of our efforts and support ultimately exist to sustain our flying, fighting, and winning through ‘Airpower.’

“Fighter Pilot” allowed the audience to extend its appreciation for our fighters in the sky—their intense training, dedicated time, and finely tuned talents are awe inspiring. Watching the IMAX big-screen flick as it focused on two weeks of their training—a small slice of time in the grand scheme of their career. Audiences are exposed to their efforts, with support from their maintenance counterparts, allowing us to put a few of the pieces of the intricate Air Force operations puzzle together.

The IMAX movie was another excellent showcase of America’s Airmen, enabling us to applaud and appreciate a group of Airmen whose world is full of wonder.

Air Force Week–Salt Lake City

Air Force Week Salt Lake City is currently in full swing in Utah (running June 1-7). Some of our fellow PAs from Hill AFB sent along some stories and photos of the events.

Pride. Precision.
It’s a theme that is hallmark in our United States Air Force; a theme that is evident and on display in Team Hill’s Air Force Week Salt Lake City efforts. The people, places, and power involved will certainly follow suit during this unique week in an effort to “bring the Airmen to the community.”

It’s pride and precision clearly demonstrated by our USAF Drill Team’s four-man unit, who opened Monday morning’s proclamation ceremony at the State Capitol. Their captain made five as he stood in the center of 11-pound M-1 rifles slung through the air within inches of his eyes.

It’s pride and precision offered in the synchronized sounds of our USAF Stellar Brass Band who accompanied the infectious wave of salutes rendered by Airmen from all of Team Hill.

It’s pride in our leadership, well-represented on the steps of the Utah state capitol building during the ceremony. Governor Jon Huntsman, Jr., noted the amount of “stars” present during broad daylight, illustrating the strong presence of several distinguished guests. Escorting all these ‘stars’ was Secretary of the Air Force, Michael B. Donley; such stars included our Air Force Chief of Staff, General Norton Schwartz, Air Force Materiel Commander, General Donald Hoffman, and our own Ogden Air Logistics Center Commander, Major General Kathleen Close.

It’s pride in who we are as an Air Force; a pride in something bigger. Our fellow service members can appreciate the sentiments of 75th Air Base Wing Vice Commander Calvin Williams, who noted that “This isn’t just about the U.S. Air Force… this is about jointness.” While the focus is certainly on the Air Force and our local Hill AFB, the efforts of our sister services are also highlighted.

The morning ceremony was truly a showcase of America’s Airmen, kicking off a week that will focus on pride in our Air Force and pride in the community that supports us.

AIRMEN’S OPENER AF Night with the Salt Lake Bees @ Spring Mobile Ballpark
Hot dogs… flags… flyovers… and fanfare…

Even the baseball team was in “uniform” at Monday night’s Salt Lake City Bees Airmen’s Opener. They sported camouflage jerseys and followed the theme of Air Force Week as events unfolded to propel our local Air Force community and supporters into a unified frenzy.

Top-notch entertainment was available even before the first pitch was thrown. Four parachute team members parachuted onto the Bee’s baseball field, and the final skydiving daredevil floated down with an American flag flying for all to see. The flag was proudly displayed by six Wings of Blue skydivers for the playing of the National Anthem, which was accompanied by a phenomenal flyover of four F-16s and a KC-135 Stratotanker.

General Donald Hoffman, leader of over 70,000 airmen as Commander of Air Force Materiel Command, also led 40 of our newest airmen in the enlisted oath during the pregame show.
Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker noted that the night “couldn’t be much more American.”

Forty right hands were raised as America’s newest airmen repeated the words of General Donald Hoffman, Commander, Air Force Materiel Command, as our newest troops took their oath to join the United States Air Force on Monday night. The event highlighted a massive evening of honor and entertainment at the Salt Lake Bees Airmen’s Opener at Spring Mobile Park.
One of those who stood in front of the booming crowd was Thomas Prusso of Sandy, UT.
“The only thing that really got me going was the military,” Prusso said of his decision to pursue a career in the Air Force.

Thomas won’t be the only Prusso family member making his way into the military; his older brother, Brett, will also enlist into the Air Force next week. “We’ve been military buffs since we were little,” Thomas said. His own Air Force quest started last November when he first met with his recruiter, and the process continued on Monday night with an exciting swear-in led by a four-star general.

Prusso has numerous Air Force goals, but will begin his trek as an armament systems technician. Eventually, he’d like to join the officer ranks. Prusso plans on making the military a lifetime career.

Staff Sergeant Jacob Reyes, 368th Recruiting Squadron team member, noted that such large-scale swear-in events like the baseball game are common for new recruits in our region. We all look forward to another ceremony this Saturday as new recruits are enlisted by the United States Air Force Thunderbird Commander.
To our newest airmen: we salute you, and we look forward to you joining our family in the world’s best Air Force.

Photo Credits (Skydiver and Swearing-In): Alex R. Lloyd. Thanks to Jason Carrion, Air Force Week Coordination Team, 75 ABW Public Affairs for sharing the stories.