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2020: A Year in Review

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  • 419th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah – Despite a year of changes and challenges worldwide, the 419th Fighter Wing continued its legacy of national defense, humanitarian aid, and community support.

The wing launched into 2020 on a high note, with a colossal show of force that highlighted the F-35A Lightning II’s full war fighting capability. Alongside the active duty 388th FW and a fleet of 78 F-35s stationed here, the wings were deemed fully equipped and fully trained after receiving the first F-35A five years ago.

Of course, 2020 was defined by the global COVID-19 pandemic. In the spring, when concerns surrounding the virus grew, the 419th scaled back, holding limited unit training assemblies with mission-essential personnel only that included F-35 flying and maintenance.

While the pandemic swept across the United States, the wing deployed skilled nurses from the 419th Medical Squadron to hard-hit New York City to help treat coronavirus patients. The virus also delayed homecomings for 419th reservists who were deployed to the Middle East and set to return in early spring. Eventually, they returned safely to a much different world than the one they’d left six months earlier. 

As experts learned more about how the virus spreads, the 419th FW was able to safely resume monthly training for reservists so they could prepare for deployment, including exercises conducted throughout the 419th Mission Support Group – such as the Force Support Squadron and Security Forces Squadron – along with operations and maintenance.

The wing also continued its critical national defense mission with a third F-35 deployment to the Middle East

In the midst of change, the 419th welcomed a new commander, Col. Matthew “Eddie” Fritz. With social distancing in full effect upon his arrival, Fritz relied on virtual innovation to meet and connect with the roughly 1,300 reservists who work at the 419th FW.

The 419th also managed to stay connected to the local community with a July 4 flyover tradition and a virtual field trip for Utah students to watch from home. Reservists also carried out cherished holiday traditions to spread cheer to local children.

The wing also set new milestones with the F-35’s first-ever participation in Red Flag Alaska alongside our Total Force counterparts in the 388th FW.