Honoring the Fallen: Preserving the B-52 crash memorial in Guam

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  • By Courtesy Story

On July 21, 2008 the B-52 Stratofortress, named "Louisiana Fire" and with the mission call sign of "RAIDR 21", crashed into the Pacific Ocean northwest of Apra Harbor, Guam, after taking off from Andersen Air Force Base. The purpose of the flight was to participate in a flyover for the Liberation Day parade in Hagåtña. Unfortunately, the aircraft crashed before the flyover could take place.

The bomber was assigned to Barksdale Air Force Base and was on temporary duty at Andersen. The crew of RAIDR 21 consisted of Maj. Christopher M. Cooper, Maj. Brent D. Williams, Capt. Michael K. Dodson, 1st Lt. Joshua D. Shepherd, 1st Lt. Robert D. Gerren, and Col. George Martin.

In July 2009, a memorial monument was unveiled at Adelup Point on Guam to honor the crew. Today, the memory of those who have passed is kept alive by the current 96th Bomb Squadron Commander and Bomber Task Force Commander, Lt. Col. Vanessa Wilcox. During their visit to Guam, her team gathered to clean up the surrounding area and repaint the memorial to keep the heritage alive. The team took pride in their work and understood the importance of honoring those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. Wilcox and her team worked tirelessly to ensure that the memory of those who have passed will never be forgotten.

“We as a bomber community are very proud of our heritage and recognize those who have come before.” Said Lt. Col. Vanessa Wilcox, commander of the 96th Bomb Squadron, Barksdale Air Force Base. “We stand on the shoulder of giants, like the crew of RAIDR21, who have sacrificed so much and give us a legacy to live up to. Having been here and a part of the unit as a young Lieutenant when we lost RAIDR21, this hits home for me and I am honored to continue to bring my squadron out here and teach them about our past.”

The memorial serves as a reminder of the sacrifices made by the brave men and women who serve in the military to defend our freedom. It is not just a monument; it is a symbol of our nation's heritage and the commitment to protecting our way of life. The 96th Bomb Squadron is grateful to the surrounding community for their support and care of the memorial. It is a testament to the respect and honor that the community holds for those who have served our nation.

“This memorial means so much to the 96th BS as the leadership once worked with these individuals,” said Senior Airman Brooke Johnson, Commands Support Staff, who coordinated this cleanup. “We are honored to be able to put together this cleanup and pay our respects to them.”