A Boost from the Hill | Urban Living
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A Boost from the Hill

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According to several websites, the largest employers in the state are the University of Utah and its health care system, Brigham Young University, Micron Technology, Skywest Airlines, Nu Skin, Smith's Food and Drug, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and, of course, the state itself. If you live in Davis County, though, you or someone you know likely works as civilian or military personnel at Hill Air Force Base. According to HAFB, there are 5,788 military members, 3,621 military dependents and 16,300 civilians who work and live near the gates.

The base recently released its 2018 economic impact statement, which shows it had a $3.6 billion impact on the Utah economy last year. That's up from $3.4 billion in 2017. The figures include $1.43 billion in payroll, $760 million in expenditures and $1.38 billion worth of jobs created. From the people who replace the fighter-jet windows and the military police who let them in the gate, to the gas station cashier and tire salesman down the street, the money the base spends and the off-base economic impact spreads far and wide, from generals down to grunts.

HAFB was built in 1939 and is controlled by the Air Force. It was named after Major Ployer Peter Hill of the U.S. Army Air Corps, who died test-flying a prototype of the B-17 Flying Fortress bomber. You might have driven by the base a million times but never actually stepped foot inside the gates. What goes on there is pretty phenomenal. First, they provide engineering and logistics management for the F-16 Fighting Falcon, A-10 Thunderbolt II and Minuteman III. Second, they provide base operating support for the 388th and 419th Fighter Wings of the Air Force Reserve Command; the 84th, 309th, and 508th Sustainment and Maintenance Wings; the 729th Air Control Squadron; and the 75th Civil Engineering, Medical and Mission Support Groups.

Originally, the field just south of O-Town was intended to be a temporary western terminus for airmail operations, but as World War II ramped up, the base became an important military supply and maintenance facility, with 24/7 services rehabilitating and returning warplanes to combat. What was formerly known as Hill Field became Hill Air Force Base in 1948, just after the Air Force was created. The personnel became instrumental in providing fighter planes for the Korean War and the Vietnam War, and they continue to maintain and rehabilitate fighter jets, air-to-ground rockets and air combat missile systems.