By Capt. Matthew Fryer, 9th Bomb Squadron
/ Published August 27, 2019
DYESS AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- More than 70 veteran Airmen and their families from the 340th Bomb Group visited the 9th Bomb Squadron and 28th Bomb Squadron during a reunion tour at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, May 10, 2019.
The tour gave the 340th bomber pioneers a chance to revisit their pasts and meet the next generation of professionals. Similarly, current bomber Airmen were able to gain perspective and insight from those who came before.
The 340th BG has historic roots reaching back to World War II, when they flew B-25 Mitchells in the European theater. These particular veterans, who visited Dyess, were members of the 340th during the FB-111 Aardvark era, as the initial cadre at Carswell AFB, Texas. They were charged with developing tactics, procedures, and crew coordination mandates for combat crews.
The FB-111 was revolutionary as the first all-weather, supersonic, swept-wing bomber with a side-by-side cockpit configuration for one pilot and one navigator. FB-111 aviators pioneered the tactic of strategic low-altitude ingress and egress. These men developed training procedures and safety considerations for low-altitude, supersonic ingress of nuclear payloads, a capability unrivaled by any other military power during the Cold War era. Many of the tactics, techniques, and procedures developed by the FB-111 aviators, in particular with regards to the terrain-following radar, are still employed by the B-1B Lancer today.
The successes of the 340th BG were not without challenges. The FB-111 cadre battled aircraft structural integrity issues, lost crewmembers during ejections and fatal accidents, and suffered aircraft malfunctions both in training and while deployed during the Vietnam War.
Despite their long list of career accomplishments, on this visit, these true patriots of their time wanted one thing: to visit the 9th and 28th Bomb Squadrons. In addition, they were able to tour a B-1B Lancer and the 7th Operations Support Squadron simulators.
While at the 9th BS, they received a briefing on the squadrons recent successful deployment to the Central Command area of responsibility where the 9th BS employed 2,210 weapons against terrorist targets in two different theaters.
The conversations between the bomber pioneers of the past and the current bomber Airmen brought the realization that a calling to service, and a resiliency to push through challenges created the blueprint for the successes of the bomber enterprise, from the past through to today.
One tour participant, Lt Col (Ret) Charlie Hooker, a former FB-111 Aardvark, B-58 Hustler and B-1A Lancer pilot, was amazed by the different capabilities the B-1 had attained since he flew it. He added that he couldn’t be more proud of being part of such an important project and seeing how far it has come today.
As requirements change, one thing Airmen can count on is the need to constantly adapt and overcome. As they do that, Airmen honor the achievements of their former brothers and sisters in arms, who used similar determination and sacrifice to meet the needs of the nation.
The new demands and an ever-changing environment have left many asking, “How can I prepare for the next fight?” Rest assured, the 9th Bomb Squadron is answering that question daily by training for the next high-end, near-peer adversary fight, focusing on long-range strike, global power projection, and dynamic force employment.
When Dyess Airmen aren’t deployed, preparing to employ the most lethal precision guided munitions on the planet, they are training. For them, there is no other choice, no other option. The nation demands it of them and expects nothing less.
The 7th Bomb Wing has a history of shining in difficult times by offering inspiration during times of frustration, relying heavily on service, community, and heritage.
As the bomb squadron Airmen serve, they will continue to honor their heritage and remember the deliberate sacrifices made through large-scale, air-to-ground warfare; toasting the men and women whose paths they follow, “IN THEIR HONOR.”
ALWAYS REMEMBER. NEVER FORGET!