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In History: 419th CES helps rebuild Honduran village

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  • 419th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah – With F-35 fighter jets flying over Utah skies daily, locals have come to know the 419th Fighter Wing primarily for its combat mission. But since the unit activated in 1955, Air Force reservists here have also deployed countless times in support of humanitarian missions.

In February 1990, about 100 members of the 419th Civil Engineer Squadron deployed to Choluteca, Honduras to work major construction for a poverty-stricken village. Located about three miles from the northern Nicaraguan border, the remote site posed challenging working conditions, including temperatures up to 120 F and a significant language barrier. Some squadron members served as translators. The reservists built and repaired a school, among other facilities. The project was dubbed Ahuas Tara ’90, and was conducted jointly by the U.S. Army, Navy, Marines, and Air Force. 

In more recent history, the 419th CES sent Airmen to a remote part of Alaska to relocate a village left uninhabitable due to melting permafrost. The nearest interstate highway was roughly 600 miles away, so CES personnel were transported to the village by helicopter, and their tools and supplies delivered via barge on local waterways. The massive project was part of the Innovative Readiness Training initiative that joins Army, Air Force, and Navy forces to support key community services across the United States.

Today, the 419th CES is home to nearly 150 reservists who train in a variety of specialties. Most are traditional reservists, who serve a minimum of one weekend per month and two weeks per year. At times they are called away from their civilian employment for longer periods of military service to accomplish missions such as those in Honduras and Alaska.