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MXG hosts picnic for families of deployed reservists

  • Published
  • 419th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah – The 419th Maintenance Group teamed up with volunteers throughout the 419th Fighter Wing and local community to host a picnic here Saturday for the families of deployed reservists.

The MXG transformed a basketball court at the Warrior Fitness Center into an indoor park that featured a bouncy house, games, therapy dogs, display tables, and lunch provided by businesses surrounding Hill AFB.

“It’s so important for us to bring families together,” said Col. Aaron Milner, 419th MXG commander. “The goal is to take their minds off things and just have some fun, enjoying time as a 419th family.”

Milner said making personal connections at the event is one small way to show the wing’s appreciation. He took time to introduce himself and key MXG leaders to family members whose loved ones are currently deployed to Spangdahlem, Germany in support of NATO efforts in Europe.

“I’m not worried about our folks down range. They’re doing what they’re trained to do, and I’m confident in their abilities,” Milner said. “But families aren’t always trained for deployments, so this event is also a means to show what help is available to them.”

The 419th Airman and Family Readiness Flight briefed families on some of those resources, from childcare to counseling to the Yellow Ribbon program.

“I think this is great,” said Nikki, spouse of a deployed reservist who works on the F-35A Lightning II aircraft. “It’s nice to know there’s an extended community here that understands our situation.”

Nikki said this is her first deployment experience as a wife and a new mother.

“We’ve been through a couple of these deployments, but this is a different experience,” Nikki said. “We’re hanging in there and staying positive. My husband and I have been able to communicate quite frequently on video chat, so that helps a lot.”

Col. Matthew Fritz, 419th FW commander, also had a chance to personally thank families for their sacrifices and support of deployed Airmen as they accomplish the mission overseas.

“Without you, our Airmen down range would not be able to do the job they’re doing right now,” Fritz said. “You’ve given so much, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.”

While deployed, Airmen from the 419th FW have supported NATO’s Enhanced Air Policing mission from forward operating locations at Estonia’s Amari Air Base, Lithuania’s Siauliai Air Base, and Romania’s Fetesti Air Base. Those Airmen are working alongside active-duty personnel from the 388th FW. Together, the wings fly and maintain Hill's fleet of F-35 aircraft in a Total Force partnership that utilizes the strengths of both the Reserve and active duty components.