Reflecting on record-breaking deployment
By Airman 1st Class Denise Nevins, 28th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
/ Published February 05, 2016
ELLSWORTH AIR FORCE BASE, S.D. --
It was in the early morning hours of Jan. 24 that family members, loved ones, and fellow Airmen gathered as one on the flightline to greet approximately 350 Airmen returning home from a six-month deployment.
Now, two weeks after that joyful celebration, wing and squadron leadership took a moment to reflect on the success accomplished as 28th Bomb Wing Airmen continually broke records through their time in Southwest Asia.
"We employed weapons on almost every mission for nearly six months straight," said Lt. Col. Joseph, 37th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron commander. "I knew we would be busy, but I wasn't expecting to employ more than 5,000 weapons on the enemy. It was rewarding to see the tangible results on the ground."
Ellsworth Airmen provided operational support to the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing during their deployment, supplying theater commands with critical long-range strike capability, persistent presence, large diverse weapons payload, and organic sensors. Their sorties supported efforts in Afghanistan for Operation Freedom's Sentinel and in Iraq and Syria for Operation Inherent Resolve.
This deployment had a high operations tempo, as Airmen set records for the most munitions employed by a B-1 bomber squadron during a six-month rotation in the past 10 years, surpassing numbers set by their sister squadron, the 34th BS Thunderbirds.
Although this time downrange was a first for many, all were prepared to accomplish the mission.
"Almost half of my squadron was on their first deployment," Joseph said. "We made a concerted effort to outline, educate, and train everyone in the squadron about the expectations and the challenges the working environment would bring. But due to the extensive training they received at home prior to deployment, they were well prepared to fight and win anytime, anywhere."
Joseph noted the 37th EBS lived by a quote from around 400 B.C.: "He is best who is trained in the severest school," -- Thucydides, the Athenian historian, political philosopher and general during the period of the Peloponnesian War.
"It was a privilege for me to lead this amazing team of dedicated warriors and professionals," Joseph said. "Throughout the deployment, we focused on providing dedicated and lethal combat air power day-in and day-out. The fact we enjoyed a record-breaking deployment was simply a satisfying by-product."
The B-1 bomber has been involved in the fight since October 2001 and has been the workhorse of the Air Force for the past decade and a half. Since the start of Operation Inherent Resolve, coalition forces have damaged or destroyed over 20,300 targets.
During the course of this last deployment, aviators, maintainers and support personnel were able to generate more than 490 B-1 bomber sorties in support of that effort.
"One third of this entire evil gang is gone, courtesy of the 28th Bomb Wing," said Col. Gentry Boswell, 28th BW commander.