JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii --
In conjunction with a routine mission, two U.S. Air Force B-52H Stratofortress aircraft performed a flyover Aug. 18 in Canberra, Australia, during a ceremony commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Battle of Long Tan and Vietnam Remembrance Day.
At the request of the Australian government, two Pacific Air Forces B-52s supported the event commemorating the U.S. and Australia's strong alliance during the Vietnam War that continues to this day. Following the flyover, both aircraft conducted a scheduled training mission in Exercise Pitch Black, a multilateral exercise hosted by Australia from Jul. 29 through Aug.19.
“The working partnership we have between the two nations is clearly a deep and enduring one,” said Royal Australian Air Force Group Capt. Kirrily Dearing, liaison to Pacific Air Forces. “It continues to be strengthened each year through further development of existing exercises and engagements and a number of other opportunities that emerge the more we work together.”
For members of the 69th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron, the event concluded the final chapter of their time in the USPACOM region.
“After six months on Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, and 80 Pacific power projection sorties flown by the 69th EBS, I can think of no better way to end an excellent deployment than by honoring our Australian veteran [partners],” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Chauncy Rockwell, 69th EBS B-52 aircraft commander on the first aircraft.
This sentiment was echoed by other members who participated in the flyover.
“It’s humbling to be a small part of honoring the heroes who fought and died in Vietnam,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Andrew Melander, 69th EBS B-52 aircraft commander on the second aircraft. “We are inspired by the bravery of all who supported the cause of freedom during that conflict, and we hope to live up to the standard they set as we fight alongside Australia and our other amazing allies in the future.”
Throughout the year, the U.S. and Australia participate in a number of bilateral exercises including Pitch Black in Australia, Cope North in Guam, and the Rim of the Pacific, a 26-nation exercise, in Hawaii. These exercises enhance readiness and strengthen regional partnerships which allow all the participants to effectively respond to regional challenges.
“Australia is a key ally and partner of the United States and has worked with the U.S. in the USPACOM region for humanitarian and disaster relief, as well as many bilateral exercises, and also across the world in various contingency operations,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Patrick Applegate, the PACAF Bomber Operations deputy chief. “Bomber integration provides a unique training opportunity for both nations and further enhances our cooperative efforts. This flyover represents just a small aspect of that cooperative effort.”
The B-52’s and crew returned to the 69th Bomb Squadron at Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota. They were replaced in Andersen AFB by B-1B Lancers and more than 300 Airmen with the 28th Bomb Wing from Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota, as the new support platform for USPACOM’s CBP mission.
This is the first time since April 2006 B-1B Lancers have supported CBP missions in the region, as the B-52s have maintained that presence for the last decade. The U.S. military has maintained a deployed strategic bomber presence in the Pacific since March 2004, which has contributed significantly to regional security and stability.