Saturday, December 04, 2010

Bomb squadrons rotate at Andersen AFB

by Airman 1st Class Anthony Jennings, 36th Wing Public Affairs

ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam (AFNS) -- More than 200 Airmen and two B-52H Stratofortress aircraft arrived here recently to replace the 23rd Expeditionary Bomb Squadron.

The Airman are assigned to the 69th Bomb Squadron from Minot Air Force Base, N.D., and are supporting U.S. Pacific Command's continuous bomber presence.

"Our number one priority is to support theater objectives and maintain peace and stability in the region," said Lt. Col. Michael Cardoza, the 69th EBS commander. "After that, we are looking forward to honing our combat skills in a variety of conventional mission sets.

"We have spent the last year primarily focused on perfecting our nuclear mission. Now we are able to shift our focus somewhat and are very motivated to support the Andersen AFB CBP mission," he said. "This deployment will give us a lot of outstanding training opportunities throughout the Pacific area of responsibility."

The swap out is historic for several reasons.

The 69th and 23rd EBS are units from the 5th Bomb Wing at Minot AFB, and the swap out marks the first time the wing will have two units on back-to-back deployments in support of the CBP in Guam, officials said. The 69th EBS, which was recently reactivated at Minot AFB Sept. 4, 2009, will be on its first deployment back here since the Vietnam War.

"It is a great milestone in a year full of milestones for the newest B-52 squadron," Colonel Cardoza said. "Deploying to Andersen and supporting the CPB mission allows us to show our allies and enemies that (69th EBS members) are open for business and ready to execute the mission worldwide."

The 23rd EBS is scheduled to depart Andersen AFB later this month after its nearly six month deployment here.

"Being able to replace our fellow Minot (AFB) squadron has been a huge advantage," Colonel Cardoza said. "The 23rd EBS continuously fed us lessons learned throughout their deployment and built a very strong foundation for us to work from. It also allowed us to swap personnel without having to move large amounts of equipment and airplanes."

During their deployment here, the 23rd EBS members had the opportunity to get unique training they couldn't get anywhere else, officials said.

Logging more than 1,400 hours of flight time, dropping more than 700 bombs and performing 200 sorties, both aircrew members and maintainers had to be on their toes to meet their flight schedule.

"This deployment has been so dynamic," said 1st Lt. Corrine Hester, a 69th EBS dual-seat navigator. "From working with multinational and joint forces, to sinking a boat in the middle of the ocean, this has been the best training we could get for what we do. It's been a great time and we will be back, but for now, it's time to go home and give our brothers and sisters a chance to take advantage of what a deployment here has to offer."