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Hill Air Force Base Fighter Wing Maintainers named “Best in Air Combat Command”

Staff Sgt. Justin Crosby, a reservist in the 419th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, prepares an F-35A Lightning II to receive munitions

Staff Sgt. Justin Crosby, a reservist in the 419th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, prepares an F-35A Lightning II to receive munitions Sept. 14, 2020, at Hill Air Force Base, Utah. The team moved quickly and methodically to load an inert bomb onto the jet before it conducted a simulated targeting mission. Reservists participated in a two-week exercise to simulate a deployed environment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Anthony Pham)

A photo of an F-35 training course at Hill Air Force Base, Utah.

Staff Sgt. Matthew Peterson, 388th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, marshals an F-35A Lightning II during an F-35 Crew Chief Upgrade training course at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, Aug. 21, 2020. The course was jointly developed by the 372nd and the 388th Maintenance Group to help alleviate training backlogs for new maintainers. The three-week course will help participants progress from 3-level to 5-skill level. (U.S. Air Force photo by R. Nial Bradshaw)

A photo of an F-35A prior to flight.

An F-35A pilot from the 388th Fighter Wing at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, conducts pre-flight preparations prior to taking off. (U.S. Air Force file photo by R. Nial Bradshaw)

An Air Force maintainer stops an F-35A Lightning II on a flight line.

An Airman directs a U.S. Air Force F-35 Lightning II pilot to stop for a hot pit refuel with the aid of marshalling wands Sept. 14, 2020, Hill Air Force Base, Utah. Airmen and pilots practiced hot pit refueling during a base-wide, total force exercise in September 2020. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Phil Cowen)

a photo of a weapons load crew

Staff Sgt. Shaka Battle and Senior Airman Irvin Padilla, both 388th Fighter Wing, participate in Combat Hammer exercise, August 12, 2020, at Hill Air Force Base, Utah. The 34th Fighter Squadron, along with Reservists from the 419th Fighter Wing, recently completed the Weapons System Evaluation Program West (WESP), employing a variety of munitions with the F-35A Lighting II. (U.S. Air Force photo by Todd Cromar)

A photo of Staff Sgt. Cameron Westin working on an F-35A ejection seat

Staff Sgt. Cameron Westin, 388th Fighter Wing, works on the powered inertion reel device on the F-35A Lightning cockpit seat May 20, 2020 at Hill Air Force Base, Utah. (U.S. Air Force photo by Cynthia Griggs)

An Airman works on an F-35A canopy.

Tech. Sgt. Nicholas Westover with the 419th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron Egress Flight works on an F-35A canopy at Hill Air Force Base, Utah on Nov. 12, 2019. (U.S. Air Force photo by R. Nial Bradshaw)

A photo of F-35A maintenance

Airman 1st Class Braxton Hill, 388th Aircraft Maintenance Group, aligns a component for installation on an F-35A Lightning II during a newly developed hydraulics course at Hill Air Force, Utah, Dec. 18, 2020. The 40-hour course, developed by the 372nd Training Support Squadron Detachment 3 in conjunction with the 388th Maintenance group, provides maintainers with hands-on hydraulic system experience. During the course, maintainers are taught and certified on more than 60 tasks. (U.S. Air Force photo by R. Nial Bradshaw)

An F-35A Demonstration Team Maintainer stands before two F-35A Lightning IIs prior to take-off.

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Lance Murphy, F-35 Lightning II Demonstration Team superintendent, prepares to launch two F-35A Lightning IIs after the 2020 Stuart Air Show Nov. 8, 2020, Stuart, Florida. The F-35 Demo Team performed alongside the three other Air Force single-ship jet demonstration teams, to include the F-22 Raptor Demonstration Team, the F-16 Viper Demonstration Team, and the A-10 Warthog Demonstration Team. (U.S. Air Force photo by Capt. Kip Sumner)

HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah – The 419th Fighter Wing Maintenance Group, along with its active duty counterpart, the 388th Fighter Wing Maintenance Group, have been recognized as Air Combat Command’s nominees for the 2020 Clements McMullen Memorial Daedalian Weapons System Maintenance Trophy.

Awarded annually by the Secretary of the Air Force, this award is given to the Air Force unit with the greatest weapon system maintenance record for the prior year. This means that the two maintenance groups’ efforts maintaining and employing the F-35A Lightning II, the Air Force’s newest 5th-generation stealth fighter, were recognized as some of the best maintenance operations in Air Combat Command. As the Air Force’s first operational F-35A units for the active duty and reserve, they will now go on to compete for the title of “Best in the Air Force”.

“I could not be prouder of each and every single one of our Airmen,” Col. Steven Behmer, 388th Fighter Wing commander, said. “Our maintainers have persevered and overcome every obstacle, deploying F-35 airpower through three combat deployments, multiple training exercises, and the COVID-19 pandemic. This nomination is just a small show that our people are some of the best in the business.”

Next to the 388th Fighter Wing is the Air Force Reserve’s 419th Fighter Wing, which operates alongside the active-duty component in a Total Force partnership, working together to fly and maintain the 78 F-35As stationed at Hill AFB.

“Generating combat airpower is a team effort, and we wouldn’t be able to do it without the close relationship that our Fighter Wings maintain,” Col. Matthew Fritz, 419th Fighter Wing commander, said. “This nomination is entirely due to the outstanding work of both our active-duty and Citizen Airmen maintainers. We wouldn’t be competing at the Air Force level if not for their accomplishments.”

Throughout the year 2020, the two maintenance groups, also known as the Total Force Integrated Maintenance Group, were responsible for generating over 9,000 flights and 20,000 flight hours, while simultaneously implementing safety precautions against COVID-19. They were also responsible for supporting and generating airpower across three deployments overseas, dropping 16,000 pounds of munitions and eliminating five high-value targets in support of the missions of Air Force Central Command.

"We’re the Air Force’s only on-call F-35 option, and this nomination further validates our ability to deliver 5th-gen airpower, anytime, anywhere,” Col. Jeremy Anderson, 388th Maintenance Group commander, said.

"I’m extremely proud our TFI maintenance team has achieved this recognition at Air Combat Command and we look forward to the Air Force-level competition,” Col. Brett Newman, 419th Maintenance Group commander, said.

The Air Force level winner for the Clements McMullen Memorial Daedalian Weapons System Maintenance Trophy will be announced sometime in 2021.