Community around Hill Air Force Base concerned as F-35s rerouted to support NATO forces

Feb 24, 2022, 9:47 PM | Updated: Jun 13, 2022, 4:53 pm

LAYTON, Utah — Just across the street from Hill Air Force Base’s south gate, Ashley Jasper and her staff often find themselves in the thick of the military community.

“Ninety percent of our clientele comes from the base,” Jasper explained. “We worry about our community, you know? We want to make sure that they’re okay.”

Sometimes a regular trim can become a chance to unload. Jasper says word of deployments started trickling in over the past week.

“We’ve even had clients talk about like being drafted,” Jasper said. “It seems silly, but it’s really and actually like a topic that people are actually talking about. They’re worried about it.”

Some of those concerns grew Thursday, as word came of several F-35s from the 388th Fighter Wing, being redirected from a training mission, to help support NATO forces in Romania, Estonia and Lithuania.

While all indications are that the US military will not become involved in a conflict with Russia, some of Jasper’s customers, like Alex Dunsire, admit it’s hard not to catastrophize about what could happen.

“It’s really rough watching,” Dunsire explained. “We’re in the 21st century, where everyone has a smart phone, and you’ve got real-time footage of all of this happening.”

Dunsire, who grew up in an Air Force family himself says he can’t help but worry about the families around him who might have loved ones in Eastern Europe.

“My dad got deployed twice to Afghanistan and Iraq,” Dunsire said, starting to tear up. “When my dad was deployed you know, we didn’t know if he was ever going to come back. He did of course, but he doesn’t talk about it very much.”

While deployments can be tough for the military members sent abroad, Dunsire explained that the families back home have to sacrifice too.

“I love my dad you know? I would have hated to see him be gone,” Dunsire said. “So I feel for all these families.”

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Community around Hill Air Force Base concerned as F-35s rerouted to support NATO forces