By Tracy Compton, Renton Reporter Staff Writer
With the sight of the Chinook helicopter circling and landing at Renton Municipal Airport, the message was pretty clear to the Boeing Co. officials on-hand: we salute you.
That’s the message Jordan Hill, a 737 line worker, wanted to convey to his managers and co-workers on Friday evening, May 2. Hill, who is also in the National Guard, nominated Boeing and his manager there to receive the Above and Beyond Award and the Patriot Award. The intent of both awards is to honor civilian companies and people for working with service men and woman to coordinate their work responsibilities and their service to their country.
The awards are part of the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, a division of the Department of Defense that was established in 1972. Hill made quite the entrance to the awards presentation, flying in with his co-workers and fellow service men on the giant, tandem rotor chopper.
Jim Davis, vice president of Boeing 737 Manufacturing Operations, called the experience pretty emotional as he accepted the Above and Beyond Award on behalf of the company.
“The saying is that freedom is not free and the sacrifice that our service people give and their families is incredible,” said Davis. “So, just to be part of it, to have a Boeing product, a Chinook helicopter fly in here, with Jordan and his crew is amazing.”
It’s a reminder of why the company has such programs in place to make it easier for those who serve in the military, Davis said.
Hill is a crew chief for the CH47 Chinook helicopter based out of Ft. Lewis. Four years ago, just after he got a job with Boeing, he was called up and deployed to Afghanistan. He was on active duty for a year and five months, while Boeing held his job and paid him deferential pay to supplement what he was getting in the military. When he returned, his job was waiting for him, as well as benefits like counseling and a Boeing representative who acts as a liaison to the military for deployment circumstances.
“They are a huge support,” said Hill. “I work with a couple of guys, who are prior military and so they really understand and support what I’m doing.”
Even his non-military co-workers understand his schedule that keeps him flying and away from work one to three times a week, Hill said. The Patriot Award was presented to Henry Lains, Hill’s manager when he was deployed. Tom Carlson, a senior 787 manager, received a certificate of appreciation along with Debbra Acker, Hill’s current 737 line manager. Hill gifted a flag his service members dedicated in Afghanistan to his entire group of co-workers. Bob DeWald, of the ESGR, gave the formal presentation of awards.
Hill’s Capt. Jonatthan Uran had never been a part of such a ceremony for the community before, but called it an honor.
“Giving back to the community and our local employers, who support the military is really an honor for myself,” Uran said. “(We) really want to make sure the community knows how much their support to our citizen soldiers (means). They’re giving us their workers every weekend, during the summer for state emergencies, for federal missions. We wouldn’t be able to do what we do.”