Celebrating the 75th Anniversary of Strategic Air Command (71-75)

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SAC 75 #70

The technology and innovation of SAC transcended to the civilian sector but sometimes SAC took a hands-on approach. On 13 February 1986 a heart was being readies for removal then transplant. The challenge, once a heart is removed doctors only have 4-hours for transplant. The problem was the donor was in Oklahoma City and the recipient was in Hartford, Connecticut, there were no civilian aircraft could accomplish that flight. The 393rd Bomb Squadron, 509th Bomb Wing responded with two FB-111s and a KC-135 to make the 1,415-mile flight, averaging 700-mph, in order for doctors to complete the transplant in 3-hrs 59-mins from the time the heart was removed. Five weeks later the FB-111 crew, representing all SAC members involved, held a press conference with the recipient who had received well.


SAC 75 #71

Following the April 2, 1986 TWA 727 airliner bombing and the nightclub bombing in West Germany three days later was too much for President Reagan. Libyan leader Colonel Muammar al-Qadhafi was know to support and even sanction acts of international terrorism. Operation EL DORADO CANYON, meant to be a pre-emptive strike against future attacks against American resources. The operation called for USAF TAC F-111s to strike terrorist camps in Libya with support from SAC KC-135 and KC-10 tankers. Due to SAC EWO commitments and politics prohibited SAC from sending B-52s or FB-111s.


SAC 75 #72

SAC’s corresponding deterrence to the Soviet Union’s mobile missile launchers was the Peacekeeper Missile Rail Garrison. The plans called for a 25 specially equipped trains to roll along 150,000 miles of track. Each train would consist of two security cars, two missile launch cars, a missile launch control car, and a maintenance car. The trains would be spread out to 11 SAC bases when not on alert. All launch controls were synced with airborne command post ALCS and could be launched remotely. President Bush terminated the Peacekeeper Rail program on September 27, 1991 following a hardliner coup against Premiere Boris Yeltsin and their ability to centralize the government greatly diminished.

SAC 75 #73

Following many months of positioning by coalition forces and the January 15, 1991 deadline for Iraq’s withdrawal from Kuwait passing. seven B-52Gs, launch from Barksdale AFB, La. to become the first aircraft to take off on a Desert Storm combat mission. BUFFs of 596th Bomb Squadron, 2nd Bomb Wing, carry super secret, never-before-used AGM-86C Conventional Air Launched Cruise Missiles. The next day, January 17, coalition air forces launch Desert Storm at about 3 a.m. local time (7 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on Jan. 16). SAC B-52Gs from Barksdale AFB arrive over Saudi Arabia, launch 35 CALCMs against high-value Iraqi targets, return to Barksdale, completing 14,000-mile, 35-hour nonstop mission. SAC support Operation Desert Storm with 28 B-52s and dozens of KC-135s and KC-10s. Coalition aircraft flew 110,000 sorties over Iraq and Kuwait; including reconnaissance, command/control, combat, search & rescue, and refueling. One B-52 did go down in the Indian Ocean as it was returning to Diego Garcia, three crew members were rescued and three were lost. This would be SACs last combat operation.

SAC 75 #75

With its humble beginnings March 21, 1946 at Bolling Field, MD, Strategic Air Command (SAC) would grow to become the most powerful military force on the planet. Given the mission to deter all nuclear threat during a very long hard Cold War, SAC did just that. Following the success of the Gulf War and the collapse of the Soviet Union SAC had surpassed its mission. On June 1, 1992 Strategic Air Command was ordered to stand down and was decommissioned. “The horror of WWIII never happened, you kept the peace.” GEN Colin Power, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff (ret) remarked during the ceremony. For more than 46 years SAC warriors were challenged and the stood. As Air Force Chief of Staff Merrill McPeak stated “Since 1946 SAC has had to get it right every hour of everyday.” To all those who had the honor and duty to serve as part of Strategic Air Command, you stood the watch, you won the Cold War, thank you.