Operation Linebacker II: Team Andersen pays tribute to fallen heroes
By Airman 1st Class Emily A. Bradley, 36th Wing Public Affairs
/ Published December 13, 2013
ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam --
Andersen Airmen attended the annual Operation Linebacker II remembrance ceremony at the Arc Light Memorial Park here Dec. 13 to honor Airmen who gave their lives in support of the Vietnam War.
Operation Linebacker II, also referred to as the "11-Day War," took place from Dec. 18 - Dec. 29, 1972. After an offer of a treaty between the United States and North Vietnam failed, U.S. President Richard Nixon ordered the bombing of North Vietnam. The goal was to bring the North Vietnamese government to negotiate with the U.S.
Though the operation was effective, the conflict cost many lives. During Operation Linebacker II, the dangerous bombing missions caused 33 U-Tapao Royal Thai Navy Airfield and Andersen-based B-52 Stratofortress crewmembers to be killed or left missing in action.
Surface-to-air missiles were launched in defense by the North Vietnamese, and 15 B-52s were lost to damage or crashes over North Vietnam, Thailand and Laos.
"Truly, their profession was peace and their instrument was war," said Col. Reid Langdon, 36th Operations Group commander. "Our profession is still the keeping of the peace, but our instrument is preparedness."
Andersen was the staging area for the largest accumulation of airpower in history during the operation. There was a large increase of Airmen and 153 B-52 aircraft took up nearly five miles of ramp space.
"B-52s lined the runway, and created a canopy over Arc Light (Blvd.) leading down to the commissary," said Retired Lt. Col. Charles "Chuck" McManus, guest speaker and B-52 navigator during Operation Linebacker II. "It was an incredible sight to see, there were so many people waiting to see them take off."
McManus emphasized the importance of sacrifice during the ceremony by speaking about two Airmen who acted heroically during the campaign.
Every December since Operation Linebacker II started 41 years ago; Andersen has honored the fallen warriors and will continue honoring their lives as a sentiment to their sacrifice.
"We gather here today to reflect on ... the accomplishments of those who participated in and gave the ultimate sacrifice during Operation Linebacker II," Langdon said during the ceremony. "May we all continue to rise to this challenge and to continue the legacy of extraordinary accomplishments and personal sacrifice for our great nation."