Bombers arrive at Andersen
By Senior Airman T.D. Cooper, 36th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
/ Published February 23, 2004
ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam (AFPN) -- The first three B-52 Stratofortress bombers from Minot Air Force Base, N.D., arrived here Feb. 22 under an overcast sky. A total of six bombers from the 5th Bomb Wing will call Andersen home for an undetermined amount of time at the request of U.S. Pacific Command officials.
The bombers are the first rotation to deploy here as part of the command's ongoing force posture adjustment.
"While here, we'll support Pacific Command in enhancing the security of the region, demonstrating U.S. commitment to the Western Pacific, and continuing to fight the global war on terrorism," said Lt. Col. Harry Bender, 5th BW advanced echelon team.
The B-52 advance team arrived about a week before the first set of planes to ensure Andersen was prepared to receive its new guests, and Andersen was.
"We have received outstanding support, and the hospitality has been exceptional -- a very warm reception from all,” Colonel Bender said. “One thing for sure is the great potential Andersen has to offer.”
"We're happy to be hosting our new teammates," said Col. P.K. White, 36th Air Base Wing commander. "The support units here have worked very hard to provide our guests with the best we have."
Colonel Bender said this deployment is a great opportunity for the 5th BW to fly in this region's theater.
"It's a completely different flying environment, with many opportunities to integrate with joint and coalition forces,” he said. “We plan on participating in multiple exercises throughout the entire PACOM area of responsibility."
Being deployed to Andersen may be a new experience for these bomber crewmembers, but hosting B-52s is a part of the base's history.
“Andersen has always been, at its heart and soul, a bomber base, even when there were no bombers present," Colonel White said.
"The last B-52 crews to die in combat ate their last meal at the base,” he said. “So, it really means a lot to have B-52s here again. With these B-52s coming to Andersen, it's like welcoming them back home again.”
Not only was Andersen ready for the 5th BW, but the wing was ready for Andersen.
The crew from North Dakota was ready to leave Minot's freeze. And even the damp weather upon their arrival did not put a damper on the crewmembers' joy to be on the island.
"I'm excited to be in a place with my sleeves rolled up in the middle of February," said Tech. Sgt. Matthew Bleigh, 5th BW aircrew life support. Sergeant Bleigh was the first one in his shop to volunteer for the Guam assignment. This is his first trip to Guam, and he said so far he loves it.
"The temperature was 10 degrees with a wind chill of minus 60 when I left North Dakota," Sergeant Bleigh said. "Now I'm here in 85-degree weather. It's beautiful." (Courtesy of Pacific Air Forces News Service)