Ellsworth airmen deploying to AsiaThe base in South Dakota also will be sending several B-1 bombers, equipment and supplies from the 28th Bomb Wing, 34th Squadron, to provide ground troop air support, reconnaissance and fly weapons missions.
By: Dirk Lammers, The Associated Press
ELLSWORTH AIR FORCE BASE — Some 350 airmen walked off buses and headed into the Ellsworth Air Force Base deployment center Saturday as they prepared to board planes headed to southwest Asia.
The base in South Dakota also will be sending several B-1 bombers, equipment and supplies from the 28th Bomb Wing, 34th Squadron, to provide ground troop air support, reconnaissance and fly weapons missions.
It’s the first deployment for Senior Airman Nery Bolano, who’s been away from her home in Orlando, Fla., for about two years preparing for the mission. She said she’s very excited and a little nervous.
“I’m just ready to rock and roll,” said Bolano, 26. “Our mission is to put bombs on targets, and that’s what I’m ready to do.”
Lt. Col. Joseph Sheffield said it’s difficult for members of the squadron to leave their families, but the airmen have been training and preparing for the mission and are ready.
Ellsworth Air Force Base near Rapid City in South Dakota’s Black Hills is one of two U.S. air bases that have B-1 bombers. Since 2007, the 28th Bomb Wing has had an average of 560 airmen deployed at any one time.
Three squadrons typically rotate six month deployments. The 34th Squadron will meet up with members of the base’s 37th Squadron once they reach their destination.
“We’ll be taking their place, and they’ll be returning in the next couple of weeks,”
Sheffield said his first deployment was in 2002 after 9/11 and he says the overall mission has evolved over time into maintaining stability.
“From then to now, we’re definitely trying to focus on maintaining stability,” he said.
Bolano, an aviation resource manager who helps keep track of flight logs and other records for the wing’s pilots, said she hopes to make the Air Force a career lasting a couple of decades.