Bomber units fly flags for the Fourth

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Bahja J. Jones
  • 379th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
What's more patriotic than an American flag on the Fourth of July?

Since 2008, units within the 379th Expeditionary Maintenance Group and the 379th Expeditionary Operations Group here have supported year-round flag flying programs to raise money for different organizations and each year Independence Day is one of the most popular days to have flags flown.

"It's America's birthday," said Master Sgt. Jason Szymanski, the 34th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron NCO in charge of aviation resource maintenance deployed from Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D. "National pride and the military go hand-in-hand in celebrating our nation's independence."

All service members here are able to have a flag flown on a B-1B Lancer bomber mission in the area of responsibility and are presented a certificate noting the day the flag was flown, the aircraft tail number and the name of the person the flag flown is for.

"It's a memorial to our mission here," said Tech. Sgt. James Heinzel, a 34th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Unit B-1B weapons expediter also deployed from Ellsworth AFB. "People have flags flown for many reasons including retirements, memorials for people who have passed away and for keepsakes."

Though donations aren't solicited by either squadron, they are appreciated as the funds support their causes. This year, the 34th EAMU is donating proceeds to the Wounded Warrior Fund and the 34th EBS to the Doolittle Raider Scholarship Fund.

This rotation, the 34th EAMU has flown more than 1,800 flags and raised more than $4,700, the 34th EBS more than $5,800.

"Giving back to our community is important," Heinzel said. "It's a win-win situation; service members are given a memento of the 379th mission and money is raised for a good cause."