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Gallantry in action - the Samuel O. Turner legacy

The Samuel O. Turner Heritage Sculpture was dedicated at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., April 20, 2021.

The Samuel O. Turner Heritage Sculpture was dedicated at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., April 20, 2021. The sculpture is in memory of Master Sgt. Samuel O. Turner, a B-52 fire control operator and Silver Star medal recipient. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Quentin K. Marx)

Samuel A. Turner and Col. David Doss, the 28th Bomb Wing commander, unveil the Samuel O. Turner Heritage Sculpture at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., April 20, 2021.

Samuel A. Turner and Col. David Doss, the 28th Bomb Wing commander, unveil the Samuel O. Turner Heritage Sculpture at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., April 20, 2021. The Airman leadership school at Ellsworth was dedicated to Master Sgt. Samuel O. Turner, a former B-52 fire control operator, in honor of his heroism during missions in Hanoi, North Vietnam, Dec. 18, 1972. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Quentin K. Marx)

ELLSWORTH AIR FORCE BASE, S.D. -- The Airman leadership school on Ellsworth Air Force Base was re-dedicated to Master Sgt. Samuel O. Turner on April 20.

The original ALS location near the flight line was initially dedicated to Turner on Dec. 18, 1996. After 35 years, the building has moved to a more centralized base location. The new facility is located within walking distance of the dining facility, gym, commissary, library and base exchange.

“We moved ALS not only to provide a more centralized location for the students,” said Col. David Doss, the 28th Bomb Wing commander. “[It’s] also to provide a more conducive learning environment in a building the staff and students could be proud of, and that facilitates more modern instruction techniques.”  

According to Air Force Manual 36-2806, any time a “named” facility moves locations, the next of kin is to be notified.

“With the help of the 28th Bomb Wing historian, John “Crusher” Moyes, we located and brought Samuel Alan Turner and [his] wife, Michelle, to the ceremony,” said Senior Master Sgt. Caleb Schauder, the ALS commandant.

Before being contacted by ALS, Turner’s son was unaware his father had been memorialized at Ellsworth in 1996.

“The ceremony created an opportunity for our wing to honor a U.S. Air Force Vietnam hero in the presence of his son,” said Schauder.

Turner Sr., a B-52 Stratofortress fire control operator, received a Silver Star medal for his heroic actions in Hanoi, North Vietnam.

“The Silver Star is the third-highest military combat decoration that can be awarded to a member of the U.S. Armed Forces,” said Schauder. “It is awarded for gallantry in action while engaged in action against an enemy of the U.S.”

On Dec. 18, 1972, Turner Sr.’s B-52 was attacked by multiple enemy aircraft in Vietnam. During the attacks, he skillfully operated his gunnery radar equipment to destroy an enemy target and defend his aircraft and crew.

“By his gallantry and devotion to duty, Master Sgt. Turner has reflected great credit upon himself and the U.S. Air Force,” said Schauder.

Turner Sr.’s legacy lives on in the new ALS facility, where hundreds of future front-line supervisors will hear his story for years to come.

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