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News > Feature - 23rd Bomb Squadron celebrates 90 years
23rd Bomb Squadron celebrates 90 years

Posted 6/22/2007   Updated 6/25/2007 Email story   Print story

    


by Senior Airman Danny Monahan
Minot Air Force Base Public Affairs


6/22/2007 - MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. -- In 1917 the world was in chaos. T. E. Lawrence was leading Arab soldiers against the Ottoman Empire during the Arab Revolt, the Bolshevik party was trying to seize power in Russia and a small aero squadron was supporting World War I air combat operations.

Nearly a century has passed since 1917. T.E. Lawrence's efforts were captured in the Academy-Award winning film "Lawrence of Arabia" in 1962, the former Soviet Union has been practicing democracy for almost 20 years and yet that squadron is still flying in the Air Force today.

The 23rd Bomb Squadron celebrated its 90th anniversary during a ceremony on the flight line here June 22.

Originally designated the18th Aero Squadron June 16, 1917, just six days later it was renamed the 23rd Aero Squadron.

"Very few aviation units in the world can claim to have been in existence for 90 years," said Lt. Col. Gerald Hounchell, 23rd Bomb Squadron. "It is important to celebrate the proud heritage of a squadron that has fought and won America's war and conflicts since 1917."

Since its inception, the 23rd BS has participated in almost every major conflict the U.S has been involved in.

"We have successfully answered the call for 'bombs on target, on time' for 90 years," said Colonel Hounchell. "Whether it was WWI, World War II, the Cold War, Allied Force, Operation Enduring Freedom or Operation Iraqi Freedom, the 'Bomber Barons' (the 23rd BS' nickname) have always brought the fire power necessary to get the job done."
Flying more then a dozen planes throughout its history, beginning with the Airco DH-4 biplane, the 23rd BS has flown the B-52 since 1959.

"The B-52s of the 23rd BS have been instrumental to the Air Force mission," said 1st Lt. Brandon Knutz, 23rd BS historian. "Not only does the 23rd have a very distinguished heritage, but so does the jet. The Air Force plans to keep the jet in service until 2040, when it would presumably be replaced by its successor. If the Air Force keeps with current tradition, I see no reason why the 23rd won't be around for a long time to come."

In keeping with tradition is the patch each crew member of the 23rd BS wears is embroider with bombs being dropped on a volcano depicting a lava-bombing mission Dec. 27, 1935. It was during the squadron's stay in Hawaii when the Mauna Loa volcano on the island of Hawaii erupted, threatening the city of Hilo. Six Keystone B-6 bombers of the 23rd BS used precision bombing tactics to drop twenty bombs in the path of the volcano's lava flow to save the city of Hilo by diverting the lava away from the city.

"This is all pretty cool," said Lieutenant Knutz. "Very few squadrons can claim they have been around this long. We are the heirs to the literally thousands of crew dogs that came before us."

Staying around for 90 years does not happen over night. It takes hard work and even harder dedication, according to Colonel Hounchell.

"None of the exceptional accomplishments would be possible without the hard work of all the Airmen of team Minot," said Colonel Hounchell. "I anticipate the 23rd BS will continue to be the combat Air Force's premier bomber squadron for many years to come due to the phenomenal maintenance support, highly trained and motivated crews, and the continued relevance of the B-52."



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