We’re almost there

  • Published
  • By Col. Vander Hamm
  • 28th Bomb Wing
It's almost time. As I write this, we have exactly 31 days before the ACC Inspector General Team visits Ellsworth. We're almost to the point where we can put that final lethal arrow into a quiver of readiness that we can showcase to the IG. We've been steadfast in our efforts to hone the edge to ensure we come away from the next IG visit with nothing short of victory. Rest assured, I am approaching this inspection in the same manner I would approach any military objective handed to me by the combatant commander and you should too. I am asking each of you to continue the tenacity you've demonstrated to get us to this point. After all, flexibility and tenacity have always been character qualities of our Airmen and culture. Let me share some history with you. 

Sixty-four years ago on this very day, Operation Brewer began. This campaign was actually a series of land, naval and air battles to free the Admiralty Islands from the Japanese. Their military objective set forth by the combatant commander, Gen. Douglas MacArthur, was to secure these islands thus completing the isolation of a major Japanese base at Rabaul. 

The attack began with airpower. Three B-25 Mitchells flew over the battle-space to recon the area before the actual attack began. When the shooting started, it was once again airpower that led the attack. This time three B-24 Liberators and nine B-25s, in conjunction with an intense naval bombardment, led the way to securing the beachhead and eventually the critical airstrip on the island. As the ground forces landed and began securing the key terrain in the area, they found themselves under heavy concentrated fire from the dug-in Japanese defenders. At one point, the Allied forces requested an air strike to ease the pressure from enemy forces. Once again, it was Airmen that answered the call and B-25s responded. The Airmen were attacked by Japanese fighters but were eventually pushed back by American P-47 Thunderbolts. Meanwhile two B-17 Flying Fortresses, which were innovatively used to drop critically needed supplies to friendly forces, engaged the Japanese fighters and shot one down. Eventually, through a combination of superior Airmanship and efforts by our brave ground forces, this island chain was secured. Our refusal to lose, innovation that has always been a pillar of the Airman Culture, and tenacity helped achieve the "win". 

Exactly 64-years after the campaign to wrench these islands from the enemy began; we begin our final push, our final campaign to "win" in the upcoming ORI. As we go into the next preparatory exercise, keep in mind it will be tailored to meet what the IG will expect from us. Our tools to attain this victory are simple. First, we have what I call "stripes on the line" or seasoned maintainers assisting sortie production while mentoring and developing younger Airmen who will eventually replace step up to replace us. Second, supervision and technical expertise is located where we need it throughout the wing and in each organization. Finally, we've streamlined and modified processes throughout the mobility machine. However, the most important component in this campaign is you ... our Airmen. Airmen that have willingly, without mental reservation or purpose of evasion, joined the worlds great Air Force to above all provide sovereign options to the combatant commanders when and where their Nation needs them. I know we can do it; and you know we can do it. 

We're almost there. We will attain our objective of victory in the ORI. Thank you very much for what you do for our wing, our Air Force and our Nation.