Feature Story

Above and Beyond: Boeing honored for support of citizen-soldier employees

It’s not unusual to see a limousine roll up at an awards ceremony. But when a Boeing-built Chinook helicopter swooped into the Renton (Wash.) recently, it stole the show.

On board were Spc. Jordan Hill, 1st Battalion, of the 168th General Support Aviation Battalion, Washington National Guard, and the Chinook crew he serves with at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. In civilian life, Hill is also a mechanic on the 737 Final Assembly line at the Commercial Airplanes factory in Renton, Wash.

Hill wanted to personally present two Department of Defense-approved honors to his former manager and to The Boeing Company for the support they’ve shown him as a member of the Army National Guard – and other guard and reserve members. 

"It wasn't good enough for me to just give them an email or a handshake," said Spc. Hill. “I wanted to make it a more personalized thank you. It’s what they deserve for how much they've actually done for me."

A few years back, Hill had been offered a job at Boeing on the same day he was deployed to Afghanistan for a year-long tour of duty. The Boeing employment office told him not to worry, his offer and the job would be waiting for him while he fulfilled his requirements in the military. 

Yet Hill's deployment lasted longer when he received extension papers from the Army for an additional four months. When he completed his deployment and returned home, however, his job offer at Boeing, as promised, was still waiting for him.

At the ceremony, Hill, along with members of the Employers Support of the Guard and Reserve, or ESGR,  presented Dan Lains, 737 Final Assembly manager, with the Patriot Award. It recognizes managers who support U.S. guard or reserve members through things like flexible work schedules, time off prior to and after deployment, caring for families and granting leaves of absences.

The Boeing Company received a higher honor from the ESGR, the Above and Beyond Award. It recognizes employers who go beyond the legal requirements of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act, known as USERRA, by providing National Guard and Reserve employees additional, non-mandated benefits such as pay to offset lost wages, extended health benefits, and other similar benefits. 

“These men and women have a lot to worry about, just by virtue of the deployment,” said Jim Davis, vice president of 737 Manufacturing Operations. “I’m thankful Boeing’s policies can alleviate some of that worry. It’s just a good people practice.”

Last year, three Boeing managers received Patriot Awards. This is only the second time the company has received the Above and Beyond Award since the ESRG state committees were formed in 1972.