MINOT AIR FORCE BASE - After being away for six months, members of the 69th Bomb Squadron, one of two B-52 squadrons at Minot Air Force Base, are returning home. Those returning includes members of the 5th Maintenance Group.
"It's been a year since we've had all of our squadrons here," said Col. Todd Copeland, commander of the 5th Operations Group at the Minot base.
Copeland spoke to members of the Minot area Chamber of Commerce's Military Affairs Committee during its meeting at the Minot base Thursday.
1st Lt. Jacobus Jens, right, 69th Bomb Squadron aircrew member, reunites with his family at Minot Air Force Base Friday, after returning from a six-month deployment to Andersen AFB in Guam, shown in this photo by Senior Airman Jesse Lopez. Members of Minot AFB spent six months in Guam as part of the ongoing U.S. Pacific Command’s Continuous Bomber Presence.
He said the 23rd Bomb Squadron, the other squadron at Minot AFB, was deployed last October and then was replaced by the 69th Bomb Squadron in April.
"Minot has done its year over there," he said. He said the 96th from Barksdale AFB, La., the only other base with B-52s, is replacing the 69th in Guam.
"It was a good year for the deployment out there," Copeland said.
Among the work the 69th squadron did while at Andersen AFB, were more than 90 higher headquartered-directed missions in support of deterrence in that region of the world.
The Minot AFB bomb squadrons go to Guam to support U.S. Pacific Command's Continuous Bomber Presence there.
Since 2004, Andersen AFB has played host to the Continuous Bomber Presence after Pacific Air Force began routinely deploying B-1 Lancer, B-2 Spirit and B-52 Stratofortress bombers to Guam on a rotational basis, according to Air Force information. The rotation of bomber aircraft is designed to enhance regional security and demonstrate the United States' commitment to stability in the Asia-Pacific region.
Copeland said while in Guam, the Minot B-52s and crewmembers also flew missions in support of multinational exercises, including Pitch Black, an exercise in Australia.
Asked by Bruce Carlson, chairman of the Military Affairs Committee, to tell the group about Guam, Copeland said it's hot and humid. "Actually, you can tell the difference in the humidity in Guam and Hawaii. Hawaii is not humid after you've been on Guam for a few months.
"Typically the winter months are nice December, January it's only in the upper 80s and you get a good breeze. In about March they have some birds there that are very protective of their nests and they'll chase you," he said.
He said the base has its own military beach and it's one of the better beaches on the island, but it's lined with coral so people are encouraged not to go beyond the reef.
Guam has a large military presence, Copeland said.
Besides Andersen AFB, he said the Marine Corps is moving people to Guam. There's also a large Navy base there.
"It's a fantastic experience for our guys when they fly out of Guam," Copeland added.