Two Ellsworth squadrons recognized as the ‘best’

  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt. Daniel Rosenfield
  • 28th Bomb Wing Public Affairs

Two squadrons at Ellsworth Air Force Base won awards naming them the best squadrons of their kind for U.S. Air Force Global Strike Command in 2018.

Maj. Charles L. Loring Jr. Award

The 28th Operations Support Squadron was selected for the Maj. Charles L. Loring Jr. Award. This award is given to the best support squadron in AFGSC. The 28th OSS consists of seven flights with Airmen from 16 Air Force specialty codes within aircraft support functions such as airfield operations, intelligence and weather.

In 2018, the 28th OSS organized one of the largest iterations of Combat Raider, a biannual, multi-aircraft exercise. Coordination among the squadron allowed bombers from five AFGSC bases to participate in an expanded training airspace with unique training capabilities. The squadron is also home to the AFGSC Airman of the Year and award-winning Airmen at the Air Force level.

Squadron leadership is adamant that this award was due to the innovation demonstrated by Airmen at all levels.

For example, an Airman in the squadron collaborated with leadership to improve an additional duty process, saving time and manpower hours.

“We are constantly improving the processes, not only in the squadron … but in the Air Force,” said Senior Master Sgt. Andrea Scheving, the 28th OSS superintendent.

Brig. Gen. Kenneth N. Walker Award

The 34th Bomb Squadron was selected for the Brig. Gen. Kenneth N. Walker Award, which is awarded annually to the best bomber squadron in the command. The award was named in honor of the former commander of the 5th Bomber Command, who served during World War II. Walker repeatedly accompanied his units on bombing missions deep into the Japanese-held territory.

The 34th BS carried on Walker’s legacy by executing missions full of firsts. During the most recent deployment to the U.S. Central Command region in 2018, the squadron participated in the first combat use of the Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile. The weapon demonstrated to partners and potential adversaries around the world that the United States can reach targets from hundreds of miles away.

This past year, the 34th Bomb Squadron also partook in Trident Juncture, the largest NATO exercise in almost 40 years. Aircrew flew a mission from South Dakota to Norway and back – an 18-hour flight.

The award recognized more than the pilots and weapon systems officers of the 34th BS. It was also an acknowledgement to those who conduct intelligence, provide pre- and post-mission analysis, and oversee flight records.

“Getting B-1s airborne is not an individual effort.” said Lt. Col. Timothy Griffith, the 34th BS commander. “From the youngest lieutenants who show up with zero flight hours to the oldest folks in the squadron, everyone plays a role to get bombs on target”

Looking Forward

The year was not without its challenges for both squadrons. A B-1 stand-down, personal obstacles and tough deployments forced the members of the 34th BS and the 28th OSS to focus on their priorities.

“Even on our downtime, you focus on what you know,” said Griffith. “We spend a lot of time on academics and studying – studying the enemy, studying your capabilities, getting proficient on the basic skills so, when you’re given the opportunity to fly, you’re using that time as effectively and efficiently as possible.”

With accolades galore for both squadrons, the work is far from over.

“Every day we come in and have to ask ourselves how do [I] move the ball forward in my specific function just a little more,” said Lt. Col. Jonathan Slinkard, the 28th OSS commander. “What am I doing today that is going to make our squadron better, our group better, our wing better and, ultimately, our Air Force better?”