To the editor:

Over the past four months, we have been privileged to observe a heartwarming display of community support for the U.S. military. From the first deployment of Hill Air Force Base members in late August until the present, the people of Utah responded with pride, generosity and support.This outpouring of community spirit has probably done more for the morale and effectiveness of our military members than any of us can guess. Both those deployed and those who have remained behind have heard your message. In words and in actions, Utah has said to each of these brave hearts, "Godspeed and know that we are behind you in spirit."

From the beginning, merchants have offered personal items, sports equipment and more, while individual citizens have flooded our phone lines and the mails with messages of support and good will. Most recently, merchants and citizens contributed enough candy, treats, personal items and postage to stuff and mail some 1,600 Christmas stockings, which were also donated. In addition, there have been donations of Christmas trees.

These special efforts, added to the tremendous support already demonstrated, will aid immensely in bringing the "feeling of Christmas" to the hearts of our men and women from Hill Air Force Base.

For all of this we can only say thank you. Utahns have shown, and continue to show, that they deserve that highest title of honor - patriot. On behalf of the wing commander, Colonel Mike Navarro, the members of the 388th Tactical Fighter Wing and all of the personnel deployed from Hill Air Force Base in support of Desert Shield, I extend our collective appreciation for such outstanding efforts.

Peter H. Fox, colonel, USAF

vice commander

388th Tactical Fighter Wing