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First to bomb back on Guam

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt. Patrick Howell
  • 96th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron
Once again, the Devil's Own 96th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron has deployed to Andersen Air Force Base, Guam in support of Pacific Command's Continuous Bomber Presence.

The CBP, initiated in 2003, is an ongoing effort between Pacific Command, Pacific Air Forces and now Air Force Global Strike Command to maintain a long-range strike capability in the Pacific theatre to deter aggressors while assuring regional allies. Air Force bombers on Guam are a ready and visible sign of the United States' enduring commitment to the security and well-being of the entire Pacific region.

Arriving in early April, the 96 EBS relieved the 69th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron, who completed their very first deployment in support of the CBP. Barely had the Red Devils hit the ground before the squadron launched into an intensive series of training sorties with allied nations. Crews flew nonstop from Andersen to multiple areas throughout the Pacific, training on ranges in eastern Asian and Hawaii, honing their ability to cope with 18 plus-hour sorties. Long endurance training flights such as these not only hone the crew's ability to put bombs on target and on time across vast distances, but also teach them how to cope with what can be a fatiguing experience. Flight doctors instruct flyers on proper nutrition, sleep cycles and other methods to keep rested and alert when the time comes to employ the aircraft and its weapons.

Capt. Maxwell Dipietro, 96 EBS weapons officer, stressed what these higher headquarters directed flights represent.

"Flights such as these demonstrate what a broad reach the B-52 brings to the fight," he said. "We can easily cover targets anywhere in the Pacific."

Not all training involves flying long distances. The area immediately surrounding Guam presents a unique environment that is difficult to replicate during stateside training flights. Fewer airspace restrictions, closer training ranges and miles of open ocean that surround the island combine to give B-52 Airmen opportunities to hone their combat skills to a razor's edge. Flying in the low altitude environment and an increased opportunity to employ live munitions on training ranges close to the island are just a couple of the unique experiences the deployment provides.

Besides the many excellent opportunities the deployment provides militarily, it also affords the Red Devils the chance to support the Andersen Air Force Base family and surrounding communities. The 96 EBS was the largest unit in attendance at the Andersen Dining Out, alongside 7th Air Force Commander Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Remington and the Lieutenant Governor of Guam, the Hon. Ray Tenorio. While Dining Outs are normally attended in formal dress, Red Devils went dressed in their flight suits and airman battle uniforms, as a visible reminder to the rest of Team Andersen of the wing's primary warfighting responsibility. The squadron has also undertaken a 9+6 Beach Cleanup project, looking to clean nine coastal village beaches and six military beaches on the island. The project began by cleaning Tarague and Scout Beaches on Andersen, Gab Gab beach on Naval Base Guam, and will continue for the duration of the deployment.

Already, the first month has proven to be a success and many more exercises wait in the wings. The squadron is scheduled to participate in Exercise Northern Edge in Alaska, and Operation Talisman Sabre, flying alongside the Royal Australian Air Force. With many weeks still left in our deployment, we, the Red Devils of the 96th EBS, hope to set a new standard of excellence in projecting American airpower and ensuring peace and stability in the Pacific.