Friday, September 26, 2008

B-52s to leave for Guam deployment

MINOT AIR FORCE BASE About 300 airmen from Minot Air Force Base and several B-52s will begin leaving next week for a five-month deployment to Andersen Air Force Base in Guam.

This deployment is in addition to about 300 airmen from the 5th Bomb Wing and about 60 airmen, including one civilian from the 91st Missile Wing at the base currently deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait and Kyrgyzstan, said Maj. Elizabeth Ortiz, chief of Public Affairs at Minot AFB.

The deployment to Guam will provide U.S. Pacific Command with a continuous bomber presence in the Asia-Pacific area, Ortiz said. She said the deployment to Guam is a regular deployment for the Minot AFB airmen.

"This is an opportunity for us to get out and stretch our muscles, exercising the other half of the mission we have: deterrence from a bomber perspective," said Col. Joel Westa, commander of the 5th Bomb Wing at Minot AFB. "We are going to do some great things out there.

Westa will visit the deployed airmen in December in Guam and plans to help serve them a holiday meal. He was stationed at Andersen AFB as the vice commander of the 36th Wing before coming to Minot AFB to become commander of the 5th Bomb Wing.

The last time the 5th Bomb Wing deployed to Guam was in August 2006, Ortiz said. She said the wing accomplished all of its missions and helped launch 201 perfect sorties during that five-month deployment.

The Minot AFB airmen leaving for Guam will continue into the first of October.

Although many people from the base will be deployed over the next months, Ortiz said the dedication of the many airmen who are at the base will continue the mission here.

The bomb wing members are scheduled to return from Guam in mid-February 2009, Ortiz said.

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