388th and 419th FW airman return to Hill following Middle East deployment Published Sept. 30, 2023 By 1st Lt. Nathan Poblete 388th Fighter Wing Public Affairs HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah – Pilots, maintainers, and support personnel from the U.S. Air Force’s 388th Fighter Wing and U.S. Air Force Reserve’s 419th Fighter Wing have returned to Hill Air Force Base after completing their deployment of the F-35A Lightning II to U.S. Central Command’s area of responsibility (AOR) throughout the Middle East. The 421st Fighter Squadron and Fighter Generation Squadron have been deployed since July 26 as the 421st Air Expeditionary Squadron. Their mission focused on bolstering readiness, enhancing regional stability, supporting the Defeat-ISIS mission. They also played a pivotal role in U.S. Naval Forces Central’s maritime surface warfare mission by providing air support alongside U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcons and A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft to provide safe and secure passage to civilian maritime vessels throughout the Central Arabian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz. “Our men and women deployed rapidly and provided cutting-edge air power to support the fight against any adversary and maintain regional stability,” stated Col. Michael Gette, commander of the 388th Fighter Wing. “We’re proud of the work everyone put in to support that our friends and allies overseas, but we’re glad to have them back home. Now, they’ll all get some much-deserved time off with family and friends.” Today, hundreds of family members filled a spacious aircraft hangar, eagerly awaiting the return of their loved ones. In a way, every family member serves on any deployment, said Gette. “We talk a lot about the capabilities and strength of our military members,” said Gette. “Our family members back at home must be just as strong in a lot of ways.” Among those that make these missions successful, are the troops of the 419th Fighter Wing who were mobilized and deployed to support the 388th. “The cohesion demonstrated by the excellent active duty and Reserve men and women on this mission demonstrates our execution of ‘one team, one fight’,” said Col. Ronald Sloma, the 419th Fighter Wing Commander. “For us, it demonstrates the agility of the multi-capable airmen who are postured to succeed regardless of the task; we couldn’t be happier to have them back home.” The 388th Fighter Wing stands as the Air Force’s first and largest active-duty combat-capable F-35A Lightning II unit. The F-35 is America’s most advanced multirole fighter, which combines stealth, sensor fusion, and unprecedented situational awareness. Hill AFB proudly houses 78 F-35A Lightning IIs. The 388th and Reserve 419th Fighter Wings represent the Air Force's first combat-capable F-35A units, flying and maintaining the jet in a Total Force partnership, capitalizing on the strengths of both components.