We Put Bombs on Target

  • Published
  • By Col. Jeffrey Taliaferro
  • 28th Bomb Wing commander
It's a special honor and privilege to be taking command of the mighty 28th Bomb Wing. My wife, Ellie, and I are both very excited about rejoining Team Ellsworth and taking on the responsibility of preparing and deploying our Airmen for combat. This is, of course, no simple task, but we look forward to the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead.

Today's 28th Bomb Wing has a proud combat heritage dating all the way back to World War II. Its Airmen bombed the Japanese out of the Aleutian islands in the North Pacific, while the Airmen of the 34th and 37th Bomb Squadrons flew the Doolittle raid in the South - America's first strike against mainland Japan. Today's 28th Bomb Wing continues this proud tradition of combat heroism, bombing America's enemies in Afghanistan, driving convoys and contracts in Iraq, disposing of bombs, leading reconstruction teams, guarding our forces and the list of contributions goes on and on. The 28th Bomb Wing is about combat.

No one knows the challenges of today better than the Airmen of the 28th Bomb Wing. Just as B-25s weren't designed to fly off of aircraft carriers in Jimmy Doolittle's day, our Airmen are constantly forced to innovate as well--to solve problems in new and creative ways, often times with the same or even less resources. Thankfully, the Airmen of this wing have proven they are more than up to the task, keeping a B-1 over enemy territory two out of every three days of the year, quadrupling sortie generation rates overseas, and setting unprecedented FOD prevention records here at home. Thanks in part to this incredible work, it would be easy to forget that there are those in the world that would gladly do America harm. However, the Airmen of the 28th Bomb Wing have chosen not to forget, but to serve, and sacrifice. There is no team more deserving of it's ties to our proud heritage.

But most important to accomplishing today's challenging missions is the caring of community. More than simple teamwork, the family of the Air Force provides a camaraderie, an esprit de corps, that makes accomplishing our objectives more than just achievable--it instills a pride that makes success our only option. It is the support of each other that is truly our most powerful resource. Further, the 28th Bomb Wing shares this special relationship well beyond our gates with the tremendous people of the Black Hills--hard working Americans who have supported the Airmen and mission of this wing from long before we took the first B-1s into combat in 1998. Our Airmen couldn't deploy forward without the steadfast support provided by this incredible community.

I'd be remiss if I didn't thank Col. Scott Vander Hamm and his wife, Joanna, for all they've done--all the blood, sweat and tears they've poured into the 28 BW to accomplish the mission, and take care of the Airmen on the line. Thanks to their tireless efforts and selfless contributions, this wing is a proud and healthy organization today. As Ellie and I rejoin Team Ellsworth we will continue to focus on preparing and deploying to combat, and caring for our Airmen that are the heart of the mission. We consider these sacred responsibilities and subsequently take them very seriously.

My great uncle was a B-17 navigator in WWII. He wasn't a high ranking officer, or some award winning air racer, just an American serving his country. And like too many B-17 crews, more than 10,000 in fact, he was shot down and taken prisoner of war in Germany. He never bragged about his sacrifice, but when as a teenager I asked him about it you could easily see the twinkle in his eye -- the pride that only comes from having served your country. Even 40 years later it meant a lot to him and was a big part of who he was--and even as a teenager it meant a lot to me too. You've likely seen the same thing, when folks later in life shared their service with you at the family reunion, or church, or just at the checkout line at the store.

It would be easy for the Airmen of this wing to focus on the daunting struggles already endured or the tremendous challenges that still lie ahead--this is a tough time for our nation and our Air Force. But the men and women of the 28th Bomb Wing take a different view. A view years into the future, when, looking back on this time we will reflect with solemn pride on all that we've accomplished to protect this country, our families, and our freedom. And in that reflection realize that when it would have been easy to bend or break under the pressures of today, that instead it was our finest hour.

We're fortunate to share our service at this important time, to be with other warriors in this time of need. There is no place on Earth, and more importantly no group of Airmen I would rather be standing with here today, than those of the 28th Bomb Wing; because the 28th Bomb Wing is about combat.