Pictured at the Abilene trophy announcement are (from left) Air Mobility Command Command Chief CMSgt Victoria Gamble, Evelyn McDew, Air Mobility Command Commander Gen. Darren McDew, Chair of the Military Affairs Committee for the Abilene Chamber Gray Bridwell, Installation Commander and Commander 375th Air Mobility Wing Col. Kyle Kremer, Deb Kremer and 375th Air Mobility Wing Command Chief CMSgt Wes Mathias.
The coveted Abilene Trophy is returning to Southwestern Illinois for a second time in three years in recognition of the extensive support demonstrated during 2014 for Scott Air Force Base’s military members and their families.
Also known as the Air Mobility Command Community Support Award, the award recognizes the community that provides the finest support to an Air Mobility Command unit. The Leadership Council Southwestern Illinois spearheaded this year’s nomination on behalf of the St. Louis region, submitting an application that highlighted a series of “firsts” that brought to life the depth of the region’s ongoing commitment for the men and women at Scott.
“2014 was a remarkable year in ‘Scott Country,’ during which new programs, initiatives and milestones, combined with ongoing efforts, helped to build on the region’s solid foundation of support for the men, women and families of Scott Air Force Base and further strengthened the unique bond we share,” said Ellen Krohne, executive director of the Leadership Council Southwestern Illinois. “As with the win in 2013, it was widespread regional support that propelled us into the No. 1 slot again, and we thank the many individuals, businesses, organizations and communities whose continuing passion to serve our military families has us now looking forward to bringing the Abilene Trophy back to Scott Air Force Base.”
Among the firsts showcased in the nomination were:
Air Force Times ranking of Scott AFB as the No. 1 air base in the nation for airmen, and the many reasons contributing to that honor;
The role of regional leaders in securing passage of House Bill 3939, which assured for the first time ever that prior schooling counts for the children of military families transitioning to Scott AFB;
The first ever Salute to Scott Air Force Base as the Leadership Council dedicated its entire annual awards dinner to the base, highlighting the individual missions housed there;
Launch of the first-of-its-kind networking event for veterans to help facilitate employment in Southwestern Illinois for as many separating military as possible;
Celebration of the first anniversary of the Scott Patriot Program, which had grown to include an impressive 650 Patriots demonstrating their “military friendly” commitment through discounts or other support; and
A summary of other ways the region continues to further its first-class system of support for the airmen and their families.
Representatives from the Abilene Trophy selection committee cited the definitive examples of support highlighted in this year’s application, and the comprehensiveness of the package in its entirety, as factors that led to the Leadership Council’s application capturing first place among the communities vying for the 2014 award.
The announcement was made April 15 by Gen. Darren McDew, commander, Air Mobility Command; and Gray Bridwell, chair of the Military Affairs Committee for the Abilene Chamber of Commerce, during an annual spring conference at Scott Air Force Base.
On hand for the announcement was Col. Kyle Kremer, 375th Air Mobility Wing commander, who had the pleasure of calling the Leadership Council to relay the news.
“Last year Air Force Times named Scott as the best base to be stationed in the Air Force due to the quality of life and community support here,” Kremer said. “This second Abilene Trophy win in three years further highlights the superior relationship between the base and our Southwest Illinois community. We are grateful for their heartfelt patriotism and support, and are very proud to call them our family and friends. Congratulations on this very well-deserved recognition.”
The official presentation of the Abilene Trophy will take place at a community-wide celebration in the coming weeks, and more details will be forthcoming as the plans are finalized. In the meantime, regional leaders are relishing the repeat victory as Scott Air Force Base becomes one of a select group of bases to have won the Abilene Trophy more than once.
“It’s impossible to truly understand the depth of the sacrifices made by the airmen of the Air Mobility Command Unit at Scott Air Force Base without walking in their combat boots,” Gerry Schuetzenhofer, chairman of the Leadership Council’s Military Affairs Committee, said. “Nor can we fully comprehend the extent to which this type of service impacts the personal lives of their family members. What a community can do, however, is what the businesses and individuals of the bi-state St. Louis region are doing — continually seeking ways to honor these individuals through demonstrating our respect, recognizing their contributions and taking action to enhance their quality of life while they are living here. We are thankful for the Abilene Committee’s consideration of our year of ‘firsts’ and the role they play in helping the heroes at Scott Air Force Base, and their families, to thrive.”
For more information about the Leadership Council, visit www.leadershipcouncilswil.com.