Feature Search

Historic swap out secures CBP

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Anthony Jennings
  • 36th Wing Public Affairs
More than 200 Airmen and two B-52H Stratofortress aircraft with the 69th Bomb Squadron, Minot Air Force Base, N.D., arrived here recently to replace the 23rd Expeditionary Bomb Squadron in support of 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, 69 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 CBP mission. 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 69 and 23 EBS are units of 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. The 69 EBS, which was recently reactivated at Minot Sept. 4, 2009, will be on its first deployment back to Andersen since the Vietnam War.

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

The 23 EBS is scheduled to depart Andersen later this month after it's nearly six month deployment here. The 69 EBS's rotation will last about the same length of time.

"Being able to replace our fellow Minot squadron has been a huge advantage," said Colonel Cardoza. "The 23 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 tour here, the 23 EBS has had the opportunity to get unique training they couldn't get anywhere else. Logging more than 1,400 hours of flight time, dropping more than 700 bombs, and performing 200 sorties, both aircrew and maintainers had to be on their toes to meet their flight schedule.

Though the operations tempo has been high, the reward was getting training they wouldn't be able to get back at their home station.

"This deployment has been so dynamic," said 1st Lt. Corrine Hester, 69 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."