“Jeff Hill was an airman, he was a cadet, an officer in the Air Force, a pilot, a hunting buddy, a fishing buddy, a hard worker, a pilot; he was a father and a husband,” Lieutenant Patrick Weeks said.
The plane crash killed Captain Hill and his three crewmates just seconds after liftoff. Pilot Major Michael Freyholtz had performed many aerial feats, exhibiting the C-17’s impressive abilities at the Thunderbirds air shows.
On July 28th 2010 however, Freyholtz went beyond the United States Air Force’s safety guidelines. First, Freyholtz took off at 40 degrees while flying at too slow of airspeed and then leveled the airplane at 850 feet. After a couple of steep banks, the plane slowed and quickly stalled. The plane crashed in a matter of seconds.
After Colonel Doug Smith first heard of the crash, he knew Hill was a man that would be remembered in an honorable way. Each speaker at the ceremony spoke of Hill as a guiding light for them, even if they were his superiors.
“Jeff would say to ‘have your goal’. He would also say to take advantage of the opportunity presented today. When the sun comes up and is willing to give you another day, what are you going to do?” Weeks said.
To commemorate Hill’s life, the Cadet Lounge of UAA’s main campus was renamed in his honor at a ceremony at the UAA Aviation technology center on Friday the 15th of April.
“To do something like this will leave a permanent thumbprint to remember him through,” Rocky Capozzi, director of the Aviation Technology division of UAA, said.
In addition, a scholarship fund in Hill’s name has raised over $3,000, with the goal of awarding the money to cadets from Air Force ROTC detainment 001, UAA’s detainment. Smith said the goal is to pass on Hill’s legacy and for cadets to understand the footsteps in which they’re following.
Also speaking at the event were Dr. William Spindle, Vice Chancellor of UAA, Matthew Sargeant, cadet wing commander, and Rachel Hill, Jeff Hill’s wife. The large room was filled with solemnity and respect, as members of the armed services and their families commemorated Hill’s life.