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Climate and Deterioration claims the ARC LIGHT Memorial's B-52D Stratofortress

  • Published
  • By Jeffrey Meyer
  • 36th Wing Historian
Andersen Air Force Base's B-52 static display aircraft in the Arc Light Memorial park, at the center of the installation, has long been a symbol of the tremendous contribution Andersen AFB bomber missions had during the Vietnam Conflict. Sadly the aircraft must be removed from Arc Light Park due to decades of weather-related deterioration and corrosion.

There have been two different B-52D aircraft over the years occupying the Arc Light Memorial. The first aircraft was dedicated on February 12, 1974, in honor of the first anniversary of the initial release of U.S. Prisoners of War captured and held in Vietnam. This original memorial aircraft was tail number 55-0100. "Old 100," as it was called, flew more than 5,000 combat hours over Southeast Asia and remained at the commemoration site on Andersen for nine years. In 1983, however, weather deterioration and rust led to the original "Old 100" being replaced by a second B-52D aircraft.

June 9, 1983 marked the rededication ceremony for the current Arc Light Memorial aircraft, which has stood for more than 30 years thanks to the efforts of Airmen who provided corrosion control and detailed washes in addition to several sheet metal restoration projects.

The current removal project, which will last approximately two months, begins with the dismantling of the vertical tail section. The B-52 static aircraft will remain at the site as the project continues throughout March and April. The monument plaque, dedicated to the 75 Airmen who perished during the Vietnam War on missions that launched from Andersen and several other sites in the Pacific, will remain at the site in Arc Light Park after the aircraft is completely removed.

The redesigned monument will have a full-sized silhouette of the B-52D on the ground with the current B-52D tail mounted on a raised platform. In addition a B-52H tail honoring the Continuous Bomber Presence will be brought in and mounted on a separate raised platform. While the aircraft will no longer stand as one piece in Arc Light Park, the new memorial design will continue to honor the men and women who gallantly contributed to bomber mission here on Andersen AFB. In addition sections of the aircraft will remain on display at Andersen's Heritage Hall, located inside the AMC Passenger Terminal.

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