MINOT AIR FORCE BASE The Air Force's newest B-52 squadron, the 69th Bomb Squadron at Minot Air Force Base, is going on its first deployment.
The squadron is going to Guam to replace its sister squadron, the base's 23rd Bomb Squadron, Lt. Col. Michael Cardoza, commander of the 69th, told local media Nov. 12 at the base.
The 23rd Bomb Squadron members were scheduled to return to the Minot base Saturday.
Eloise Ogden/MDN --
1st Lt. Ryan Loucks, a member of the 69th Bomb Squadron at Minot Air Force Base, signs for his medical records in the deployment line Nov. 12 in the Deployment Processing Facility on base. Loucks was among about 30 members of the 69th who went through the line before leaving for Guam.
"Our mission is going to be providing a deterring presence. We've been doing it for a few years basically providing a presence out there to deter any potential enemies in the Pacific Theater," he said.
About 300 people from Minot AFB will be going to Guam, Cardoza said.
On Nov. 12, advance team members went through the deployment line at the Deployment Processing Facility at the Minot base, to make sure they had everything in order before leaving.
"We're taking about 30 people out as an advance team to get things set up for the main bulk of the force (who) will come out next week," Cordoza said on Nov. 12.
Besides being the squadron's first deployment since the unit was reactivated at Minot AFB in September 2009, this is the first time the 69th Bomb Squadron has been deployed to Guam since the Vietnam War.
"This is yet another milestone for the squadron. We just got through a pretty significant inspection passed that fine and then we're doing the first deployment," Cardoza said.
Cardoza said Guam is a strategically important location which is centrally located in the Pacific Region.
"We'll pretty much spend time in all parts of the region doing various exercises working with our allies. So it is a very important location," he said.
They'll be flying with services from other countries, including Japan.
"Basically all our allies in the region we'll be working with just us to improve our ability to work together with them," Cardoza said.
He said the deployment is a great opportunity for training.
"The region is quiet in a large part because we are there and accomplishing our mission means it stays quiet out there and we won't have to fight. We're ready to fight if we need to, but the purpose of the mission is basically to deter our enemies and assure our allies that we can do the mission if called upon," he said.
"The advantage of this deployment is it's on an Air Force base (Andersen AFB)," Cordoza said.
Although they'll be very busy flying and conducting exercises, Cordoza said when they aren't flying the squadron members can, for example, continue their educational programs there.
The deployment will last about five months.