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ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam- A B-52 Stratofrotress from the 69th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron, Minot Air Force Base, N.D., prepares for engine start-up March 14. The crew chiefs and pilots complete their checklists before engines are cleared for start-up.(U.S. Air Force photo/ Senior Airman Carlin Leslie)
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Bomber squadron begins swap out, prepares to head home

Posted 4/3/2011   Updated 4/3/2011 Email story   Print story


by Airman 1st Class Whitney Tucker
36th Wing Public Affairs

4/3/2011 - ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam -  -- Approximately 250 Airmen and six B-52 Stratofortress aircraft are preparing to pack up and head home after an action-packed, five-month deployment here.

Airmen from the 69th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron, Minot Air Force Base, N.D., began arriving in November 2010 in support of Andersen's continuous bomber presence; the unit will return to their home station in early April, passing the torch to members of the 96th Bomb Squadron from Barksdale AFB, L.A.

Andersen has hosted the CBP since 2003, when Pacific Air Forces began to routinely deploy B-1, B-2 and B-52 bomber aircraft to Guam on a rotational basis, demonstrating U.S. commitment to the region by providing a capable and prudent deterrent force.

A force to be reckoned with, the B-52 is a long-range, subsonic, jet-powered strategic bomber and has been in active service with the U.S. Air Force since 1955; the aircraft provide Team Andersen with a wealth of war-time capabilities and pinpoint accuracy.

"Along with an outstanding group of maintainers, operators and support personnel, we brought the most versatile bomber in the world to Andersen in support of the CBP mission," said Lt. Col. Michael Cardoza, 69th EBS commander. "Our team was ready to execute a wide variety of missions on a moment's notice, 24/7."

Capt. Paul Stucki, 69 EBS weapon and tactics flight commander, echoed his remarks.

"The unique skills and contributions the B-52 brings to the Andersen mission are many, but the biggest contribution would have to be in our global attack and precision engagement capability with stand-off weapons," he said. "The B-52 is capable of carrying large amounts of weapons and a lot of fuel. We can strike anywhere, anytime, with any weapon, and do it all with precision."

During their tour here, the 69 EBS had the opportunity to participate in unique training exercises and gain valuable experience in a joint environment.

"The 69th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron as a whole has participated in exercises in Hawaii, South Korea, Japan, Australia and here at Guam during exercise Cope North," Captain Stucki said. "We have integrated with Navy SEALS, coalition partners in Japan, Air Force Joint Terminal Attack Controllers from Camp Red Cloud, South Korea, and Hawaii, Range Control Operators in Australia and five separate KC-135 tanker units here at Guam. We have dropped over 700 weapons; we have flown over 1000 hours and have taken on over 1.9 million pounds of fuel during aerial refueling operations."

Though the operations tempo has been non-stop, 69 EBS Airmen will walk away with invaluable knowledge, and a new-found understanding of the bomber mission.

"The training and integration we received through exercises such as Cope North and Keen Sword are difficult to come by back home," Captain Stucki said. "Our conventional warfare skills have been honed and our nuclear readiness has been maintained. We are a young squadron with many of our aviators coming straight from the Flying Training Unit at Barksdale. This has been a great opportunity for them to experience the B-52 mission in its fullness during their first tour."

A milestone for the far-from-home squadron, Colonel Cardoza feels that the last several months have been time well spent.

"This was the first deployment for many of our aviators and maintainers," he said. "This was also the 69th Bomb Squadron's first-ever deployment. Seeing this new squadron grow in experience and ability, and watching it build its own identity and culture during this deployment was one of the best experiences of my Air Force career."

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