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Tough as Lightning

A 69th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron B-52 Stratofortress prepares to taxi down the flightline on Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, Oct. 22, 2019. B-52s, along with B-2 Spirits and B-1B Lancers are flown to maintain the Continuous Bomber Presence Mission housed on Andersen. The B-52 is a long-range, heavy bomber capable of flying at subsonic speeds at altitudes up to 50,000 feet with an un-refueled combat range of 8,800 miles. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Michael S. Murphy)

A 69th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron B-52 Stratofortress prepares to taxi down the flightline on Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, Oct. 22, 2019. B-52s, along with B-2 Spirits and B-1B Lancers are flown to maintain the Continuous Bomber Presence Mission housed on Andersen. The B-52 is a long-range, heavy bomber capable of flying at subsonic speeds at altitudes up to 50,000 feet with an un-refueled combat range of 8,800 miles. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Michael S. Murphy)

Capt. Rachel Long (left), 69th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron radar navigation officer, and Capt. Jon Guile, 69th EBS B-52 Stratofortress aircraft commander, check their helmets on an Oxygen Mask Test Unit on Andersen Air Force, Guam, Oct. 22, 2019. The 69th EBS aircrew members support the Indo-Pacific region by fulfilling the Continuous Bomber Presence mission housed on Andersen. The CBP provides rapid global strike capabilities, assurance to our allies in deterrence to possible adversaries, and maintains security and stability in the Indo-Pacific region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Michael S. Murphy)

Capt. Rachel Long (left), 69th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron radar navigation officer, and Capt. Jon Guile, 69th EBS B-52 Stratofortress aircraft commander, check their helmets on an Oxygen Mask Test Unit on Andersen Air Force, Guam, Oct. 22, 2019. The 69th EBS aircrew members support the Indo-Pacific region by fulfilling the Continuous Bomber Presence mission housed on Andersen. The CBP provides rapid global strike capabilities, assurance to our allies in deterrence to possible adversaries, and maintains security and stability in the Indo-Pacific region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Michael S. Murphy)

1st Lt. Sam Strickland, 69th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron electronic warfare officer, prepares to don an air save vest on Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, Oct. 22, 2019. Strickland, along with other 69th EBS aircrew Airmen, are deployed to Andersen to complete the Continuous Bomber Presence mission. The CBP builds trust with our allies by strengthening and maintaining peace in the Indo-Pacific, while advocating our ability to protect our allies interest as well as our own. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Michael S. Murphy)

1st Lt. Sam Strickland, 69th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron electronic warfare officer, prepares to don an air save vest on Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, Oct. 22, 2019. Strickland, along with other 69th EBS aircrew Airmen, are deployed to Andersen to complete the Continuous Bomber Presence mission. The CBP builds trust with our allies by strengthening and maintaining peace in the Indo-Pacific, while advocating our ability to protect our allies interest as well as our own. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Michael S. Murphy)

1st Lt. Sam Strickland, 69th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron electronic warfare officer, operates an Oxygen Mask Test Unit while testing his mask, pre-flight, on Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, Oct. 22, 2019. Strickland, along with other 69th EBS aircrew members, support the Continuous Bomber Presence, a mission that routinely forward deploys aircraft in support of global strike capability and regional security to our allies. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Michael S. Murphy)

1st Lt. Sam Strickland, 69th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron electronic warfare officer, operates an Oxygen Mask Test Unit while testing his mask, pre-flight, on Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, Oct. 22, 2019. Strickland, along with other 69th EBS aircrew members, support the Continuous Bomber Presence, a mission that routinely forward deploys aircraft in support of global strike capability and regional security to our allies. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Michael S. Murphy)

Capt. Rachel Long, 69th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron radar navigation officer, performs a pre-flight check in a B-52 Stratofortress’ bomb bay on Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, Oct. 22, 2019. The 69th EBS flies B-52s in support of the Continuous Bomber Presence, a mission that routinely forward deploys aircraft in support of global strike capability and regional security to our allies. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Michael S. Murphy)

Capt. Rachel Long, 69th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron radar navigation officer, performs a pre-flight check in a B-52 Stratofortress’ bomb bay on Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, Oct. 22, 2019. The 69th EBS flies B-52s in support of the Continuous Bomber Presence, a mission that routinely forward deploys aircraft in support of global strike capability and regional security to our allies. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Michael S. Murphy)

A 69th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron B-52 Stratofortress departs the flightline on Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, Oct. 22, 2019. B-52s have held a vital role in supporting the Continuous Bomber Presence mission in the Indo-Pacific region, which has been in operation since March 2004. Service members supporting the CBP sustains a flying mission that provides a capability of readiness and commitment to deterrence, provides assurances to our allies, and strengthens regional security and stability in the Indo-Pacific region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Michael S. Murphy)

A 69th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron B-52 Stratofortress departs the flightline on Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, Oct. 22, 2019. B-52s have held a vital role in supporting the Continuous Bomber Presence mission in the Indo-Pacific region, which has been in operation since March 2004. Service members supporting the CBP sustains a flying mission that provides a capability of readiness and commitment to deterrence, provides assurances to our allies, and strengthens regional security and stability in the Indo-Pacific region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Michael S. Murphy)

ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam --

Capt. Jacob Stawski, now 69th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron electronic warfare officer, said he would never forget his first flight.

His mind was brewing over what to expect. He was flying over Dallas on his way back to Louisiana, adjusting channels of volume to regulate at his station aboard the B-52 Stratofortress, to amend the deafening roar of the aircraft’s eight engines.

“I sit backwards from the pilot and copilot,” Stawski said. “All of a sudden I see this huge flash, and it’s super loud,” Stawski said. “I hear a BOOM and my feet rattled. The pilot comes over the radio saying we’ve been struck by lightning.”

Stawski said the aircraft was still good to fly and the aircrew continued their course and landed. They found that the B-52 had caught fire upon landing, and that a six-foot hole was in the tail of the aircraft. Emergency personnel responded and extinguished the threat of fire.The B-52 was ultimately repaired and returned to flight.

Thankfully, Stawski was in one of the oldest and most reliable aircraft in the U.S. Air Force fleet.

The B-52’s on Andersen Air Force Base come from Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, and are fulfilling a six month deployment on Andersen to complete the Continuous Bomber Presence Mission.

“The biggest thing is providing assurance to our allies through our presence within the INDOPACOM area of responsibility,” He said. “If you take a look at CBP, that’s the root of what we are doing. We are providing assurance that we are here. We are looking out.”

Andersen has maintained a rotational strategic bomber presence on base since March 2004. These aircraft, and the men and women who fly and support them, provide a significant capability that enables our readiness and commitment to deterrence, provides assurances to our allies, and strengthens regional security and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.

“The 69th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron ‘Knighthawks’ fulfill our role in the CBP by using nuclear-capable B-52s to demonstrate our ability to project lethal global strike at the time and place of our choosing,” said Lt. Col. Dennis Zabka, 69th EBS commander. “We continue to strengthen alliances and long-standing military–to-military partnerships while illustrating U.S. commitment to stability and security in the Indo-Pacific region.”

B-52’s are one of three platforms that rotate into Andersen, along with the B-1 Lancer and the B-2 Spirit.

The B-52 is a long-range bomber able to execute strategic attack, close-air support, air interdiction, offensive counter-air and maritime operations, and can occasionally be struck by lightning and continue its mission.

“It’s a great aircraft,” said Stawski. “The B-52 is a very reliable platform. It’s a beast.”