MINOT AIR FORCE BASE Family members and friends warmly welcomed home members of the 5th Bomb Wing this past week who spent the past five months deployed to Guam.
More than 200 airmen and six B-52 bombers from the Minot base were at Andersen Air Force Base in Guam as part of a regular bomber rotation.
Bomber units are rotated regularly to maintain a continual bomber presence in the Pacific.
B-52 pilot Capt. Nathan Mott, left, and co-pilot 1st. Lt. Mathew Spinelli, both of Minot Air Force Base, fly over the Farallon de Medinilla Target Range during exercise Tropical Fury Jan. 29, shown in this Air Force photo.
Capt. Patrick Applegate, an airman with the 23rd Bomb Squadron at Minot Air Force Base, removes ground safety pins on a MAU-12 Jan. 29 at Andersen AFB, Guam, before a B-52 bomber live-drop mission for exercise Tropic Fury over the Farallon de Medinilla Target Range, shown in this Air Force photo. The B-52 dropped live M-117 ordnance during the exercise.
While deployed, the Minot airmen flew more than 1,050 hours and dropped more than 440,000 pounds of ordnance during training exercises with Marine Corps and Navy assets and with Australian and Japanese forces, according to 36th Wing Public Affairs at Andersen AFB. They also participated in Red Flag-Alaska, a large force exercise involving units from throughout the U.S.
The unit had an almost unheard of launch success rate, Andersen Public Affairs officials reported.
"Our success rate up to this point is 98 percent, which is almost beyond belief," said Lt. Col. Gordon Geissler, commander of the deployed contingent the 23rd Expeditionary Bomb Squadron.
Geissler is director of operations for the 23rd Bomb Squadron at the Minot base.
Only four missions out of 171 were canceled because of operational or maintenance reasons during the five months the Minot AFB airmen were in Guam, Geissler said several days before the Minot group left for home.
"The exercises we have participated in have given us the chance to integrate the B-52 with our allies, like Australia and Japan, who do not have a large bomber capability, and show them what we bring to the table," Geissler said.
He said the deployment also gave squadron members the experience of working with the U.S. Navy and Marines, an experience they really couldn't get back home.
While in Guam the Minot AFB airmen did volunteer work in the local communities including local schools and Habitat for Humanity.
The Minot AFB airmen and B-52s were replaced in Guam by airmen and B-2 bombers from Whiteman AFB, Mo.
Currently, the 23rd Bomb Squadron is the only operational B-52 squadron at Minot AFB. However, the base will be getting a second B-52 squadron to meet the needs of combat commanders and the requirements of national strategy. The new squadron will be the 69th Bomb Squadron.
Pending a favorable environmental impact analysis, the new B-52 squadron will stand up at Minot AFB by late this year/early 2010 timeframe, Air Force officials said.