Thursday, November 19, 2009

96th Bomb Squadron

Photo courtesy of my dearest wife.

The plane behind us is the 96th Bomb Squadron (96 BS). It is part of the 2nd Bomb Wing at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana. It operates B-52 Stratofortress aircraft providing strategic bombing capability.

The 96th Bomb Squadron “Red Devils” started their proud heritage as the first American aero squadron to drop bombs in combat on June 12, 1918. The squadron continued its list of firsts through Gen. Billy Mitchell’s naval bombing trials in 1920 and 1921 and the Army Air Corps’ long-range goodwill flights to South America. The 96th deployed with the 2d Bombardment Group to fly combat missions from the Mediterranean Theater in support of the 12th and 15th Air Forces in World War II. The 96th defended the United States during the Cold War, flying B-29s, B-50s and B-47s until 1963, when it was deactivated.

In the winter of 2002 the 96th deployed to support Operation Enduring Freedom, flying more than 360 combat sorties with an outstanding 98 percent mission effectiveness rate. During Operation Anaconda, the nation’s longest ground operation since the Vietnam conflict, the squadron led the way in employing more than 2,100 weapons against entrenched terrorists. The 96th deployed again in the winter of 2003 and simultaneously supported Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. During Operation Iraqi Freedom the 96th led the largest CALCM strike in history shooting more than 140 missiles, while also integrating the Joint Direct Attack Munitions with CALCM on the same strike aircraft for the first time. The 96th’s pivotal role in Operation Iraqi Freedom provided shock and awe on night one by helping eliminate Baghdad’s fortifications and decimate Iraq’s most critical and highly defended targets. This destruction, along with close air support of coalition ground forces, ensured regime change and breathed democracy into the lives of the Iraqi people. Today the 96th Bomb Squadron continues its mission to “provide world-class B-52 aircraft and combat ready warriors to project devastating and sustainable airpower anytime, anywhere.”

Posted by: GREG