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
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
"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.