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In History: Wing looks back on friendship with Navajo

  • Published
  • 419th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah – Humanitarian projects have always been a part of the unit’s history. Before the wing began flying fighters, its era of cargo aircraft offered numerous opportunities to fly passengers and cargo across the world, often delivering vital supplies following natural disasters or other crises.

In 1962, Utah reservists launched Project Navajo after flying “mercy missions” into the Four Corners area to deliver hay and feed for livestock following an especially harsh winter there.

The unit continued their friendship with the Navajo for years to come, donating and delivering clothes, school supplies, and other gifts in a growing partnership with Utah businesses, schools, church and civic groups. Organizations and military units for other states joined the effort as well, especially during the holiday season.

By the 1970s, Air Force Reserve medical personnel deployed to southern Utah to perform physical exams on 600 Navajo children who had limited access to healthcare.

For a time, one of the unit’s C-124 aircraft sported a stylized mural of the Advent of Christ painted by Navajo students from the Intermountain Indian School in Brigham City, Utah.

During the unit’s C-124 era alone, which ended in 1972, reservists here flew five-and-a-half million miles and carried roughly 6,000 passengers to virtually every point on the globe. The wing would go on to fly the F-105, F-16, and F-35.