Local commander impacts wing, community

Col. Robert Shofner, 526th ICBM Systems Wing commander talks to students at Northridge High School about the science of ICMB missiles.

Col. Robert Shofner, 526th ICBM Systems Wing commander talks to students at Northridge High School about the science of ICMB missiles.

HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah -- Hill Air Force Base is number 10 for Col. Robert Shofner, 526th ICBM Systems Wing commander, but that is just his career. Over his entire life he has been at 25 different bases.

"I have been in the Air Force for 47 years -- every day of my life," he said. "18 years as a dependent, four years in ROTC and 25 years on my own"

A self described military brat with a fighter pilot father, throughout his life Colonel Shofner has never repeated a base -- until now.

"Wright-Patterson (Air Force Base) will be the first repeat ever in my life," he said. "It was my first assignment in 1982."

As of mid-April, Colonel Shofner will report to Ohio to become the Air Force Materiel Command Strategic Plans and Programs deputy director.

Although he may be used to moving across the country every few years, it does not make leaving Hill AFB any easier.

"I've got the best job in the Air Force right now," he said. "So it is with a great deal of sadness that I leave this. I love that we have a base that is a real mix of a lot of different missions, with a high civilian concentration. It's just such a fascinating place to work. And with its gorgeous views and wonderful outdoor activities, to me it's also just a pretty place to work."

During his time here, Colonel Shofner has accomplished many things to be proud of.

"I had the good fortune to be here as we became a wing," he said.

In March 2005, the Ogden Air Logistics Center reorganized its directorates into four new wings, and he took command of the new ICBM Wing shortly after, in May.

"The teamwork we have is really strong," he said. "That is something that has grown since we have became a wing. That identity, the pride wing members feel for what we do and the relationship with each other -- There are thousand things I'm proud of that this wing has done. In terms of our mission, the performance of ICBMs today could not be any better."

In addition to all he has done on the base, Colonel Shofner has also made an impact on the local community. He has visited five local schools to do presentations about missiles and how they work.

"We have an opportunity to reach out and hopefully we get a couple kids that think what we do is cool and make the association with what their teacher is teaching about the law of physics and how someone is really using it right here at Hill," he said.

Colonel Shofner is very passionate about getting students excited about math and science, but this passion got him in a little bit of trouble. In a local newspaper that wrote a story about his school visits, he was quoted as saying, "we are losing the war." Coming from an Air Force colonel that doesn't sound so good, however he was referring to the education war.

"Look at the statistics," Colonel Shofner said. "We right now as the United States are falling behind other countries on standardized tests, specifically in science and math. I'm not here to recruit them into the Air Force -- I just want to get them jazzed about science and math."

Because of these presentations, the ICBM wing is getting calls from other schools requesting them, and Colonel Shofner hopes that they continue even after he is gone.

"If we can get them pumped up a little about science and math maybe we will do better on the standardized tests and win the education war."

Although he says that he is not looking forward to saying farewell, Colonel Shofner has many hopes for his next assignment.

"My hope is that I will have the opportunity to do a lot of the same sorts of things that I am doing here," he said. "That I will be challenged and continue love waking up and going to work because I see it as value and I am doing good and important things."

Although he is leaving Hill AFB, Colonel Shofner will still be involved with the base. In his next position he will deal with Lean initiatives and long range planning for the entire AFMC command. He will also be taking a little bit of Hill AFB with him.

"The concept of Team Hill is something that I haven't seen at many bases that I go to," Colonel Shofner said. "That would be the one thing I have seen here that I would really like to see pushed at other bases. Being a wing commander is without a doubt the hardest thing I have had to do. I've learned so much that will help me in my following jobs."

Colonel Shofner will officially hand over the reigns to his deputy Jodi Turner April 3, during a change of command ceremony. When asked what he would like to say to Hill AFB before he goes, his words are simple.

"Thanks," he said "They have been very supportive of my wing and my people."