A Year in Review
Dyess reflects on 2018 accomplishments
By Senior Airman Emily Copeland
As 2018 comes to a close, Dyess Air Force Base’s 7th Bomb Wing and 317th Airlift Wing reflect on accomplishments and events of the past year, including deployments, homecomings, training exercises and humanitarian efforts across the globe.
Deployment & Readiness Exercises
January kicked off the year with the 317th Airlift Wing deploying to Ramstein Air Base, Germany, and Djibouti, Africa, in support of Operation New Normal, Jan. 8. The members provided combat-delivery capabilities through tactical airlift and airdrop operations, humanitarian efforts and aeromedical evacuations for the U.S. and coalition forces in the U.S. Africa Command and U.S. Air Forces in Europe.
With the 317th’s constant deployment cycle, exercises are a critical process in staying proficient and skilled at home and abroad. From Jan. 22 to Feb. 3, the airlift wing participated in Operational Readiness Exercise 18-01, which was designed to validate the airlift wing’s ability to generate C-130J Super Hercules aircraft, deploy combat support personnel and cargo, and prepare, respond and recover combat situations in a deployed environment.
While the 317th Airlift Wing was conducting and participating in exercises, the 7th Bomb Wing completed its 2018 Annual Dyess Strike Challenge, Mar. 22, which was comprised of a bomb-building and weapons load competition between the 7th and 28th Aircraft Maintenance Units. This competition is held yearly and displays the effectiveness of the subject-matter experts in their respective career fields as well as the units’ role in the mission.
One important piece to the 7th Bomb Wing mission is feeding the fight, which would not be fed without Dyess defenders. In April, nine two-defender teams assigned to the 7th Security Forces Squadron competed in the annual Top Defender competition to showcase their physical fitness, mental toughness, career knowledge and situational awareness in a variety of skill-testing events. These events pushed the defenders to perform their best to be able to compete for the Air Force Global Strike Command security forces team later in the year.
Events, Emergencies & Safety
The month of May proved to be the busiest month for both wings, with the B-1B Lancer emergency landing in Midland, the Dyess Air and Space Expo, and a 317th Airlift Wing deployment and homecoming.
On the first day of May, during a routine training flight, a Dyess B-1B Lancer indicated fire warnings on three of four engines on the aircraft. After taking appropriate flight procedures, the aircraft commander heeded technical orders and commanded a controlled manual ejection.
After the first aircrew member attempted to eject, the seat failed to deploy. The aircraft commander halted the ejection sequence and decided to attempt a two-way emergency landing, making it the first-ever successful landing of a B-1 experiencing these malfunctions.
For their heroism, the crew members were each presented the Distinguished Flying Cross in a ceremony, July 13.
The 2018 Dyess Big Country Air and Space Expo on May 12-13 opened the base to the public to educate them on the capabilities of the U.S. military. The expo included acts such as Tora! Tora! Tora!, the Twin Tigers Aerobatic Team, the Air Combat Command F-16 Viper Demonstration Team, and static and aerial displays of the B-1B Lancer, C-130J Super Hercules and other aircraft from all over the Air Force.
With the aircraft incidents across the U.S. Department of Defense, the Air Force mandated an Operational Safety Review Day May 18 as a proactive effort to assess the safety of operations. During the review, wing commanders and operational leaders discussed flying and maintenance operations, evaluated room for improvements and addressed potential gaps that could lead to future accidents.
Col. Brandon Parker, 7th Bomb Wing commander, said Dyess has taken great strides to improve its record of safety.
“The safety day served as an opportunity to take a step back and ensure Dyess takes the correct measures to maintain our record of safety,” Parker said.
With safety and security being a top priority of the Air Force and Dyess, the B-1s deployed to the United Kingdom in support of NATO cross-servicing exercises June 1. The deployment brought together members of the 7th Bomb Wing and 345th Bomb Squadron to provide combined security engagements with allies and partners, demonstrating the U.S. capability to command, control and conduct bomber missions across the globe.
“Everything we do is going to be seen, and going to have a large strategic impact,” said Lt. Col. Jesse Hamilton, 345th Bomb Squadron commander. “We are going to work with our partners and prove we can get the job done at a moment’s notice.”
The B-1s also participated in Exercise Baltic Operations, an annual joint, multinational, maritime-focused exercise designed to improve training value for participants in air, on land, or at sea.
Awards & New Leadership
After the return of the 7th Bomb Wing and 345th Bomb Squadron, Air Force Global Strike Command announced the recipients of the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award on June 18, as the 7th Bomb Wing for exceptional meritorious service for the period of Jan. 1, 2016 through Dec. 31, 2017.
“This award is a direct reflection of the level of dedication and excellence that takes place on Dyess Air Force Base every day and demonstrates the impact each airman can have on our overall successes,” said Parker.
Shortly after the award was revealed, the 317th Airlift Wing celebrated its date of wing re-designation, July 6. Throughout July 6, 2017 to July 6, 2018, the wing had actively supported the U.S. and partner nations in every theater of military operations, as well as through humanitarian efforts during natural disasters.
A month after the re-designation, the 317th Airlift Wing gained a new commander, Col. Jeffrey Menasco, who was excited for the opportunity to lead the airlift wing.
Menasco said he looked forward to executing the mission of the 317th Airlift Wing as well as taking care of the Airmen and families that looked up to him for support.
Though the months of August and September seemed quiet, Airmen were gearing up for a large deployment to U.S. Central Command, supporting bomber assurance and deterrence, allowing members to deploy for the first time and experience the mission abroad.
Following up to the B-1 emergency landing in Midland in May, the B-1 took flight on Oct. 26, to Tinker Air Force Base, Okla. where it will undergo depot maintenance and Block 16 upgrades.
The year has come to an end, but there will always be more training, deployments and homecomings. Dyess Air Force Base has had a year full of ups and downs, but the mission, people and values remain constant. The 7th Bomb Wing and 317th Airlift Wing look forward to a successful 2019.