OGDEN — Technically speaking, Vickie McCall was never in the military.
But she’s served the armed forces about as much as one person could, short of actually putting on the uniform.
McCall was recently honored by the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution, earning the organization’s Community Service Award.
Lois Hatchell, a member of the Ogden-based Golden Spike DAR chapter, said the worldwide nonprofit, nonpartisan organization works to help veterans, promote education and boost patriotism and understanding of the Constitution. Members of the group must be descendants of participants in the Revolutionary War — a woman can’t gain membership to the group without evidence of a direct ancestor who fought or otherwise participated in the war.
Hatchell said the Community Service Award is given to one person who best exemplifies the tenets of the DAR, particularly in regards to veterans and patriotism.
“Vickie has done so much for the military here in our community and beyond,” Hatchell said. “She’s a great woman who’s dedicated a big part of her life to serving and advocating for (the U.S. armed forces).”
McCall, a real estate professional and life-long Utah resident has been active in military issues for some 40 years.
She founded and chaired the Hill/DDO ’95 Committee — now known as the Utah Defense Alliance — and successfully led Hill Air Force Base and the old Defense Depot Ogden through Base Realignment and Closure rounds in 1995. She’s been an honorary commander of the 388th Fighter Wing at Hill, served several gubernatorial appointments and was appointed by former Secretary of Defense William Cohen to chair the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services. She’s currently serving as a member of the U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff’s Civic Leader Group and the USAF’s Air Combat Command’s Civic Leader Group.
In 2011, she received the Air Force Distinguished Public Service Award — the highest honor the secretary of the Air Force can give to a private citizen — for championing Air Force issues and supporting airmen and their families. In the civic leader role, McCall essentially serves as an unpaid adviser and advocate for the Air Force, providing ideas and feedback to the secretary of the Air Force, chief of staff and other Air Force senior leaders about how missions can best be accomplished and about public attitudes toward the Air Force and the branch’s activities.
Through those aforementioned positions, McCall has traveled all over the world and visited most U.S. military bases. She’s been to the demilitarized zone in North Korea, the Middle East, Kosovo and all over Europe.
“I’ve spent a week in a submarine, landed on aircraft carriers, been in tanks, been in missile silos,” McCall said, matter-of-factly.
She said her involvement with the military began organically and has snowballed over time.
“Forty-plus years ago, when I started my career in real estate, I looked at Hill and thought, ‘Gosh, those people move in and out a lot. I wonder how I could help?’” McCall said. “But my father was Navy and a World War II vet, so that sense of patriotism was always kind of part of my DNA.”
McCall’s advocacy during the 1995 BRAC round stands out.
BRAC is a process in which the federal government aims to increase Department of Defense efficiency by closing military installations that are deemed unnecessary. More than 350 installations have been closed in five BRAC rounds that came in 1989, 1991, 1993, 1995 and 2005. During the 1995 BRAC round, Hill seemed to be in serious jeopardy of closing, but with the help of the group now known as UDA, the base stayed open, while others, which had no real inclination of a closure, were shut down.
Today, Hill has several ongoing, long-term programs that put it on solid ground in the face of a theoretical BRAC.
In addition to operating the Air Force’s first F-35 combat outfit, Hill is the Department of Defense’s main maintenance hub for the F-35 and a host of other military aircraft. Hill also serves as the DoD’s headquarters for the multibillion dollar Ground Based Strategic Deterrent program.
“Hill is extremely well-positioned,” McCall said. “But the unknown has and always will be defense spending. A drastic cut to defense spending could possibly have some consequences.”
McCall has served on several other boards and committees not related to the military and isn’t new to being honored for her service. She recently received an honorary Doctorate of Humanities degree from Weber State University and was recognized as an Ogden-Weber Chamber of Commerce Wall of Fame recipient. She’s also received the Lifetime Achievement award from the Northern Wasatch Association of Realtors.
As for the latest DAR award and her other military-related honors, McCall deflects praise to the folks she serves.
“It’s an honor,” she said. “But it’s really just a tribute to the men and women who wear the uniform.”