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Our proud heritage

By Chief Master Sgt. Stephen A. LeBrun 2nd Operations Group superintendent

A few weeks ago, one of our younger Airmen stopped by the office to pick up our guidon so he could represent the 2nd Operations Group during the ceremonial portion of the Air Force Ball. Since the First Sergeant wasn't in, I got it and handed it to him. He looked at it then asked if all of the "ribbons" were supposed to be on there. Well, as you might imagine, after peeling myself off the ceiling, this 28-year chief proceeded to muster up all the restraint I could, and with my voice somewhat quivering, proceeded to explain that all of those ribbons were actually campaign streamers and that every one of them is very important and represents a significant event in our history. It then occurred to me that if this very sharp Airman didn't understand the significance of the campaign streamers, there were certainly many others out there who also don't understand their significance.

Standing there holding our guidon and looking through our campaign streamers got me thinking about our Air Force history in general and how it is that I'm so proud of it and have become so interested in it over the years. It then dawned on me that most Airmen, like me, don't join the Air Force entirely as an act of patriotism. They join for a whole bunch of other reasons too. Over time, some stay and make the Air Force a career, finding themselves proud to serve their nation. I know this sounds a bit hokey, but over the course of years, they become a part of the Air Force and the Air Force becomes a part of their identity.

After my history lesson about the campaign streamers, I did some research and discovered some interesting facts about the 2nd Bomb Wing in general and 2nd OG in particular. It's a proud history dating all the way back to World War I. In 1918 during one of the first U.S. solo offensives of the trench warfare, we successfully executed aerial attacks on troop concentrations in St. Mihiel, France and managed to push the German lines back. Then, during World War II in North Africa, we bombed marshaling yards, airfields, bridges and ships. We then moved to Italy where we bombed targets throughout Europe. At one point, in the span of two days, we received the Distinguished Unit Citation for successfully completing our bombing mission in spite of being outnumbered by enemy fighters. Then on the very next day, under similar circumstances, we earned the citation again!

On Jan. 16, 1991, the 2nd BW launched seven B-52H Stratofortress bombers from Barksdale against enemy targets in Iraq, and in a nonstop, roundtrip flight launched conventional Air Launched Cruise Missiles for the first time in combat. In 1994, the 11th Bomb Squadron began providing combat crew training for all B-52 crews, a mission we still accomplish today. In 1996 during Operation Desert Strike the 96th Bomb Squadron earned the Mackay Trophy for the most meritorious flight of the entire year, when we attacked military targets in Iraq. Then again in 1998, when Iraq refused to allow United Nations inspectors to accomplish their job, we were called upon again to bomb military targets.

Shortly after the terrorist attacks of 9/11, while supporting Operation Enduring Freedom, our 20th BS deployed to Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean where we flew combat missions against Taliban targets in Afghanistan. Then again in 2003 during the famous "shock and awe" campaign, we flew combat missions against Iraqi command and control targets.

So I bet you're asking yourself, why is this important to me? Well that's an easy question to answer. This history is our history- every one of us, officer, enlisted or civilian, regardless of our job. We are all a part of the successful heritage of this great organization and should be very proud of it; it's who we are. We have defended our nation and national interests from our very beginnings in WWI and continue to do so today with our aircraft and Airmen who are deployed across the globe. So, take some time to look at our history, learn about some of our accomplishments in places like St. Mihiel, Lorraine, Meuse-Argonne, Tunisia, Sicily, Naples-Foggia, Anzo, Rome-Arno, Normandy, Northern and Southern France, North Apennines, Rhineland, Central Europe, Po Valley, Grenada, Kosovo, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan. You'll be amazed ... I was.