Utah bombing range may be named for former Rep. Rob Bishop
Chris Stewart says it appropriate since Bishop was a defender of the military.
(Trent Nelson | Tribune file photo) The Air Force F-35A Lightning II Demonstration and 388th Fighter Wing, based at Hill Air Force Base, performs a formation flyover as seen in South Jordan on April 30, 2020. The Utah Test and Training Range where such aircraft from Hill often train may soon be renamed for former Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah.
Most former Utah members of Congress just have a routine highway, office building or courthouse named after them. But just-retired Rep. Rob Bishop may soon have the unique honor of seeing a bombing range carry his name.
Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, introduced legislation Monday that would rename the Utah Test and Training Range in Utah’s West Desert as the “Bishop Utah Test and Training Range.”
“Throughout his time in Congress, Mr. Bishop was a strong and consistent advocate for Hill Air Force Base, Utah Test and Training Range, and our veterans,” Stewart said, who himself is a former Air Force bomber pilot.
(Rick Bowmer | AP file photo) Republican U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop speaks on the Senate floor at the Utah State Capitol on Feb. 12, 2018.
“No one stood stronger in defense of our men and women in uniform. I can’t think of a better way to honor the work and legacy of my good friend than renaming this indispensable military asset after him,” Stewart said.
Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, last month — while Bishop was still in office — announced plans to name the range for him during a speech praising Bishop’s service. Romney’s office said Monday that he will soon introduce in the Senate a sister bill to Stewart’s for the renaming.
Bishop, who served nine terms in Congress, was a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee, and an ardent defender of Hill Air Force Base during fights over base closures, picking up the baton from his predecessor, the late Rep. Jim Hansen.
The bombing and training range is a unique feature that helped Hill survive closure fights. For example, it is the only location capable of supporting overland testing of cruise missiles. It is used in training for air-to-air-combat, air-to-ground practice bombing and gunnery training.
Last year before the last Congress adjourned, it named the new federal courthouse in Salt Lake City for former Sen. Orrin Hatch
(who served from 1977 to 2019). The old federal courthouse in the city is named in honor of the Democrat whom Hatch defeated, former Sen. Frank E. Moss (who served from 1959 to 1977).
The federal office building in Salt Lake City is named for former Republican Sen. Wallace Bennett (who served from 1951 to 1974).
Among other honors for former Utah members is a stretch of U.S. 89 in Davis County for Hansen (who served from 1981 to 2003), and State Route 39 for former Democratic Rep. Gunn McKay (who served from 1971 to 1981). That highway goes up Ogden Canyon to McKay’s hometown of Huntsville.
Still, the coolest renaming in honor of a Utahn may be the federal facility named after one-time astronaut and GOP Sen. Jake Garn (who served from 1974 to 1993): the Jake Garn Mission Simulator and Training Facility, NASA’s prime training facility for astronauts in the shuttle and Space Station programs in Houston.