Military News

Friday, July 24, 2015

Scott area earns Abilene Trophy

by Christine Spargur
375th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs


7/23/2015 - SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. -- The Abilene Chamber of Commerce's Military Affairs Committee presented the annual Air Mobility Command Community Support Award, the Abilene Trophy, to the Leadership Council Southwestern Illinois July 15 at MidAmerica Airport. The award recognizes the Leadership Council's and the greater St. Louis metropolitan region's support to Scott Air Force Base in 2014.

The achievements in 2014 include the Air Force Times' ranking Scott as the best assignment for Airmen. Scott AFB tied with Wright-Patterson AFB for the No. 1 spot. The Air Force Times compared several factors such as costs of living, availability of affordable housing, the quality of schools, area attractions, and overall quality of life both on and off base in its survey of bases.

Illinois' elected leaders also passed House Bill 3939 in June 2014 strengthening the state's participation in the Interstate Compact. "This assures for the first time ever that prior schooling counts for the children of military personnel transitioning to Scott," said Gerry Schuetzenhofer, Chairman of the Military Affairs Committee of the Leadership Council, during the trophy presentation. "In 2013, Illinois had the weakest set of protections for military children among the 46 participating states in the voluntary Interstate Compact for Educational Opportunity for Military Children.

"The Scott AFB Task Force led by St. Clair and Madison Counties and the Leadership Council made these concerns known to then Illinois Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon and Illinois State Representative Eddie Lee Jackson, whose district includes Scott AFB," said Schuetzenhofer. "They took an active interest and introduced a bill to fix the compact's deficiencies. With overwhelming support, House Bill 3939 passed both house of the Illinois General Assembly and Governor Pat Quinn signed the bill into law..."

Other highlights of community support in 2014 were the creation of a new networking event to help veterans, military spouses, separating and retiring servicemembers meet local employers and the Leadership Council's Salute to Scott at its in annual dinner.

Speaking to community leaders, Col. Kyle Kremer, Installation Commander and Commander of the 375th Air Mobility Wing, said, "The Air Force Times No. 1 ranking, the Abilene Trophy--these awards are your awards. We didn't win the Abilene Trophy. You won the Abilene Trophy. On behalf of all the mission partners on Scott, thank you for all you have done to support the base. We are incredibly proud to celebrate your victory."

The Abilene Trophy was established in January 1999 to recognize the best community support to an AMC base each calendar year. Communities submit a binder documenting their support to the Abilene Chamber's Military Affairs Committee. With approval by the AMC Commander, the Abilene Chamber's Military Affairs Committee then determines the winning community.

Kristina Jones, Vice Chair of the Abilene Chamber's Military Affairs Committee, said, "Depending on the year, there are five to seven judges looking at a stack of binders from communities across the United States. What the judges are really looking for among all the words and pictures is what the communities are doing for their base."

Gray Bridwell, Chair of the Abilene Chamber's Military Affairs Committee, said, "What really stood out above the other submissions is the collaboration among your communities. Communities have to work together to achieve the goal of supporting Airmen and you [the Leadership Council and the St. Louis region] did it better than anybody else."

"It is impossible to truly understand the depth of the sacrifices made by the Airmen of AMC without walking in their combat boots; nor, can we fully comprehend the extent to which this type of service impacts the personal lives of their family members," Schuetzenhofer said. "What the community can do however is what the businesses and individuals of this region are doing by continually seeking out ways to honor these servicemen, recognize their contributions, and work to enhance their quality of life while they live here with us."

The Abilene Trophy, which will travel to the surrounding communities for display, depicts an eagle with wings spread perched on a rock. Jones explained the symbolism and said, "I really see the eagle as our military, our Air Force and what they do for our freedoms. ... The rock is the mountain, the solid foundation the eagle has the power of leverage to take off from to soar to the missions that need to be accomplished. This is the spirit of the Abilene Trophy."

This is the second time the Abilene Trophy has been awarded to the Leadership Council and the communities surrounding Scott AFB. The first win recognized the communities' support in 2012.

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