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    The Spirit of Whiteman Air Force Base



    Story by Airman 1st Class Kristin Cerri 

    509th Bomb Wing

    On a brisk January morning, after the first few cups of coffee were brewed and the productivity was reaching its peak, a group of Airmen were all called together.

    “We can’t tell you specifics, but we are all going to need you to be flexible over the next 24 hours,” said a lead technical sergeant.

    Later in the afternoon, four Airmen were instructed to document the taxi and takeoffs of two B-2 Spirits that night. The Airmen were unaware of why they were documenting this specific happening, but were prepared to record this event all the same. Two B-2s left Whiteman Air Force Base (AFB), Missouri that night, and in less than 33 hours, those same B-2s made it back home.

    The Airmen documenting those takeoffs didn’t know that those B-2s were headed to fly their first combat mission in six years. They didn’t know the precision striking capabilities of the B-2 and their pilots would eliminate of 78 members of Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). They didn’t know those B-2s were sending the message, “[We are] able to hold any target on the face of the earth at risk,” spoken by the current 509th Bomb Wing commander, Brig. Gen. John Nichols.

    After months of reflection, Whiteman AFB was able to present the accomplishments and lessons learned from Operation Odyssey Lightning at the Air Force Association: Air, Space, and Cyber Conference in National Harbor, Maryland, September 19, 2017. A panel of Airmen, to include Nichols, spoke to the efficiency of not only the B-2, but all the Airmen who played a role in executing the orders.

    According to the panel, in order for mission success, every Airman involved in the planning had to be precise and focused due to the unprecedented aspect of this raid. This was the first dynamic priority mission for this aircraft.

    “This mission is the first time the B-2 executed a sortie that was nearly, entirely dynamic in nature,” said B-2 pilot, Maj. Christopher Conant. “What I mean by that is, we had an idea roughly where targets were, but we had no fidelity what the final answer was going to be, and we took off knowing that.”

    “We had all worked some long hours,” said Master Sgt. Travis Gatchell, the 13th Aircraft Maintenance Unit aircraft section chief. “They were doing amazing work and not asking questions,” added Gatchell as he reflected on the work ethic and determination of the Airmen on his team.

    From those four Airmen who were told that January morning to be ready, to the Security Forces Airmen standing by protecting assets, to the munitions Airmen who built over 400 bombs, to the maintenance Airmen who readied five aircraft for this mission … all Airmen executed their pieces of this charge to ensure success.

    Once the panel had finished closing statements, the Air Force Global Strike commander Gen. Robin Rand praised Team Whiteman.

    He said that even though the pilots were the quarterbacks of this mission, it wouldn’t have been a touchdown without the rest of the team. As Rand spoke, a sense of pride filled the room.

    What was realized is that bombers will come and go and the mission may change, but the hearts and spirits of the Airmen are immortalized. While the B-2 is a lethal and revolutionary aircraft. The spirit of Whiteman AFB isn’t the B-2 Stealth Bomber, the spirit of Whiteman AFB is the Airmen.



    Date Taken: 09.29.2017
    Date Posted: 09.29.2017 14:43
    Story ID: 250093
    Location: US

    Web Views: 155
    Downloads: 0