By Senior Airman Benjamin Wiseman
36th Wing Public Affairs
12/15/2012 – ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam (AFNS) — The annual Linebacker II Remembrance Ceremony was held at the Arc Light Memorial Park here Dec. 14 to honor the heroes that made the ultimate sacrifice in support of Operation Linebacker II.
Operation Linebacker II, also referred to as the “11-Day War,” was conducted from Dec. 18, 1972 to Dec. 29, 1972. After peace talks between the U.S. and North Vietnam failed, U.S. President Richard Nixon ordered the bombing of North Vietnam to bring the North Vietnamese government back to the negotiating table.
“During Operation Linebacker II, more than 700 sorties were flown and 15,000 tons of ordnances were dropped on targets in North Vietnam,” said Col. Randy Kaufman, 36th Operations Group commander. “For 11 days, Andersen became a very busy base.”
Throughout the operation, Andersen was the staging area for the B-52 Stratofortress bombers. With an increase of Airmen and B-52s taking up nearly five miles of ramp space, Andersen was the site of the largest rapid buildup of airpower in history.
“Andersen grew to a population of more than 10,000 active duty members, and the number of B-52s increased from 34 to 155 by the time Operation Linebacker II kicked off,” said Colonel Kaufman. “The population increased so much that Airmen started sleeping in the gym and ‘tent cities’ were constructed just to house the Airmen.”
Even though the operation was considered a great success, like most conflicts or wars, there were casualties. During Operation Linebacker II, 33 B-52 crewmembers were killed or missing in action as a result of the massive bombing on North Vietnam. Many deaths were credited to SA-2 surface-to-air missiles launched by the North Vietnamese.
“Operation Linebacker II was a success, but it was not without loss,” said Colonel Kaufman. “33 men and 15 aircrafts were lost during the operation,” said Colonel Kaufman. “The names of those men are etched in bronze on this memorial.”
It has been 40 years since Operation Linebacker II started, and Andersen continues to honor its fallen warriors every December.
“We come together to honor their gallantry and sacrifices to our nation,” said Colonel Kaufman during the ceremony. “Your attendance today ensures that their sacrifices will never be forgotten.”
During operation Linebacker II a total of 741 B-52 sorties had been dispatched to bomb North Vietnam and 729 had actually completed their missions. 15,237 tons of ordnance were dropped on 18 industrial and 14 military targets (including eight SAM sites) while fighter-bombers added another 5,000 tons of bombs to the tally. 212 additional B-52 missions were flown within South Vietnam in support of ground operations during the same time period.
Ten B-52s had been shot down over the North and five others had been damaged and crashed in Laos or Thailand. 33 B-52 crew members were killed or missing in action, another 33 became prisoners of war, and 26 more were rescued. North Vietnamese air defense forces claimed that 34 B-52s and four F-111s had been shot down during the campaign.
769 additional sorties were flown by the Air Force and 505 by the Navy and Marine Corps in support of the bombers. 12 of these aircraft were lost on the missions (two F-111s, three F-4s, two A-7s, two A-6s, an EB-66, an HH-53 rescue helicopter, and an RA-5C reconnaissance aircraft).
During these operations, ten American aviators were killed, eight captured, and 11 rescued. Overall US Air Force losses included fifteen B-52s, two F-4s, two F-111s, one EB-66 and one HH-53 search and rescue helicopter. Navy losses included two A-7s, two A-6s, one RA-5, and one F-4.
Seventeen of these losses were attributed to SA-2 missiles, three to daytime MiG attacks, three to antiaircraft artillery, and four to unknown causes. A total of eight MiGs were shot down during the operation, including two by B-52 tail gunners.
Damage to North Vietnam’s infrastructure was severe. The Air Force estimated 500 rail interdictions had taken place, 372 pieces of rolling stock and three million gallons of petroleum products were destroyed, and 80 percent of North Vietnam’s electrical power production capability had been eliminated. Logistical inputs into North Vietnam were assessed by U.S. intelligence at 160,000 tons per month when the operation began.
By January 1973, those imports had dropped to 30,000 tons per month. The North Vietnamese government criticized the operation stating that the U.S. had “carpet-bombed hospitals, schools, and residential areas, committing barbarous crimes against our people”, citing the bombing of Bach Mai Hospital and Kham Thien street on 26 December which they claimed had resulted in 278 dead and 290 wounded, and over 2,000 homes destroyed. In total, Hanoi claimed that 1,624 civilians had been killed by the bombing.
S&S – By Cristina Silva
… The X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System went through a series of mechanical and engineering tests designed to evaluate its compatibility with the Navy’s aircraft carriers during a two-week stint aboard the nuclear powered USS Harry S. Truman.
“I’m a believer that this is only the beginning,” Don Blottenberger, program manager for the Navy’s unmanned aircraft program, said in a statement. “There is a lot ahead for our program and a lot of hard work behind us. I look at Truman as the beginning of future unmanned integration with the fleet.”
Similar aircraft could eventually be used to deliver cargo to ships at sea, carry out airstrikes and conduct surveillance, according to Navy officials.
… During the testing exercise aboard the Truman, sailors towed the X-47B across the flight deck using carrier-based tractors and tested how its digital engine controls reacted to electromagnetic fields, according to the Navy. Sailors also taxied the drone on the flight deck using a joystick attached to a remote control.
“The system has performed outstandingly,” Blottenberger said, according to the statement. “We’ve learned a lot about the environment that we’re in and how compatible the aircraft is with a carrier’s flight deck, hangar bays and communication systems.”
Digital messages, instead of verbal instructions, from shipboard controllers are used to control the aircraft.
“We followed the aircraft director’s signals to move the aircraft left or right, over the arresting wire, to and from the catapults and to various spotting positions,” said Gerrit Everson, one of the operators who controlled the X-47B aboard the Truman, in a statement. “These tests proved that we can taxi the X-47B with the precision that an aircraft carrier’s flight deck requires.”
HUGHSON (CBS13) – The feel-good story of a former U.S. Marine standing guard outside a local elementary school doesn’t feel so good the day after.
It turns out Craig Pusley isn’t in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, he didn’t serve overseas as he told CBS13 on Wednesday and he was discharged after less than a year with the second-lowest ranking in the Marines, private first class (E-2).
Pusley, who stood guard in uniform but unarmed outside Hughson Elementary School on Wednesday, was stationed at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego from July 2007 until April 2008, according to the Marines’ public affairs office. He was never deployed.
Pusley said Wednesday he was a sergeant in the Reserve after being on active duty in Afghanistan.
Pusley was back in front of the school on Thursday but in a coat and tie. He said Wednesday he was prompted to take action after the tragic school shooting last week in Newtown, Conn.
“I would take a bullet for any one of these kids whether I know them or not,” he told CBS 13 Wednesday. “If a gunman comes into this school, I’m not gonna kill him. I’m gonna drag him out of here. I’m gonna let the law take care of him.”
LA Times – By Steven Zeitchik
The Osama bin Laden manhunt film “Zero Dark Thirty” came under fire Wednesday from a bipartisan group of senators who complained to Sony Pictures that the drama is “grossly inaccurate and misleading” because it suggests that torture helped extract key information from a terrorism suspect.
In a letter to studio chief Michael Lynton, Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) wrote that the movie, directed by Kathryn Bigelow, improperly establishes a connection between “enhanced interrogations” and key intelligence.
“We write to express our deep disappointment with the movie ‘Zero Dark Thirty.’ We believe the film is grossly inaccurate and misleading in its suggestion that torture resulted in information that led to the location of [Osama] bin Laden,” wrote the senators, all of whom are members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, which Feinstein heads.
Though they stopped short of specifying what action they’d like from Sony, the senators suggested that they were hoping for a disclaimer of some sort. “Please consider correcting the impression that the CIA‘s use of coercive interrogation techniques led to the operation against [Osama] bin Laden,” they wrote. A spokesman for one of the senators confirmed that they were hoping the studio would respond but that the lawmakers were leaving it to the studio to determine what action to take.
The senators’ letter comes on the heels of other complaints in Washington that the filmmakers may have had improper access to government sources or information while researching the movie…
AL.com – By Leada Gore
A specially equipped Black Hawk was recently used to demonstrate the helicopter’s ability to operate on its own.
In the first such test of its type, the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Research’s Development and Engineering Center, based at Redstone Arsenal, flew the Black Hawk over Diablo Mountain Range in San Jose, Calif. Pilots were aboard the aircraft for the tests, but all flight maneuvers were conducted autonomously: obstacle field navigation, safe landing area determination, terrain sensing, statistical processing, risk assessment, threat avoidance, trajectory generation and autonomous flight control were performed in real‐time.
“This was the first time terrain-aware autonomy has been achieved on a Black Hawk,” said Lt. Col. Carl Ott, chief of the Flight Projects Office at AMRDEC’s Aeroflightdynamics Directorate and one of the tests pilots.
The 2-hour tests was conducted on the Rotorcraft Aircrew Systems Concept Airborne Laboratory, or RASCAL, a JUH-60A Black Hawk equipped with the H.N. Burns 3D-LZ laser detection and ranging system for terrain sensing.
“The RASCAL aircraft was the ideal platform upon which to demonstrate this technology, as it provides a unique, fully programmable fly-by-wire flight control system and advanced sensor interfaces for rapid prototyping of new concepts, while maintaining the standard UH-60 hydromechanical flight control system as a safety backup,” said Jay Fletcher, RASCAL project manager.
The aircraft flew at an altitude between 200-400 feet about ground level. As part of the field navigation tests, the aircraft’s system was able to autonomously identify a safe landing spot within a forest clearing and then hover 60 feet over the identified landing spot. It achieved this goal within 1 foot of accuracy.
“A risk-minimizing algorithm was used to compute and command a safe trajectory continuously throughout 23 miles of rugged terrain in a single flight, at an average speed of 40 knots,” said Matthew Whalley, the Autonomous Rotorcraft Project lead. “No prior knowledge of the terrain was used.”
Joining Ott on the test were Army experimental test pilots Lt. Col. Mike Olmstead, RASCAL System Operator Dennis Zollo and Dr. Marc Takahashi.
December 19th, 2012 by Allison Ausband
I want to give you an update on our efforts to address a negative experience a Marine had on a recent Delta flight and our efforts in response to this incident.
We have made several attempts to talk with this customer directly. We have yet to be able to reach him, but I have left my personal cell phone number with people who have agreed to pass it along to our customer. If given the opportunity, I’d like to personally apologize and attempt to make up for this experience.
When we learned of this event we immediately began a thorough review of what happened and how it happened. We found that in our haste to accommodate his request for an earlier flight than originally booked – one that was already being boarded when he arrived at the gate – we clearly missed opportunities to better serve him.
At Delta, we feel a deep obligation to support our nation’s servicemen and servicewomen who fly with us daily, and we will continue to do what we can to make this right.
We’re sorry for this service hero’s experience. And we are using this unfortunate and unacceptable incident as an opportunity to revisit and reinforce the standards that our more than 80,000 employees worldwide embody.
Thank you again for your concern,
Allison Ausband, vice president – Customer Care
December 14th, 2012 by Allison Ausband
Many of you have expressed concern about a Washington Post blog account about a Marine who had a negative experience on a recent Delta flight. We too are unsettled by this incident.
We attempted to reach the customer as soon as we became aware of the situation, but so far have been unsuccessful in speaking with him directly.
An internal review is already underway to understand what occurred and take appropriate action. What is clear is that we did not care for this customer the way we should have. This incident doesn’t reflect the care with which Delta people serve our customers every day, and it doesn’t reflect the high regard we hold for those who do and have served our country.
We have the utmost respect and admiration for our active duty military and veterans who make tremendous sacrifices to protect and sustain the freedoms we enjoy every day; and our Delta team is typically very good at showing their respect through various means of recognition.
Unfortunately, we failed in this situation. We strive to exceed expectations with every customer, and particularly regret when we fail a member of the military or person with a disability. We are taking this isolated situation very seriously and doing what we can to make it right with the customer.
Our efforts to do better for our customers are constant, but incidents like this one always make us pause to revisit service standards. We are doing that now; and will make this as right as we can for this customer, which will help to prevent situations like this in the future.
Thanks for voicing your concerns,
Allison Ausband, vice president – Customer Care
LB COMMENT: APOLOGY NOT ACCEPTED – GET BACK TO US WHEN DELTA TAKES DISCIPLINARY ACTION AGAINST THE CREW. UNTIL THEN, MY DELTA SKYMILES MEMBERSHIP IS CANX AND I WILL NOT FLY DELTA…