Saturday, April 13, 2013

20th AF turns 69

by Airman 1st Class Jason Wiese
90th Missile Wing Public Affairs

4/12/2013 - F. E. WARREN AIR FORCE BASE, Wyo. -- Since 1944, the 20th Air Force has been one of the Air Force's most storied units.

The 20th AF was established to bring strategic bombardment against our enemy of the time, Japan.

Originally part of the Army Air Corps before the U.S. Air Force was created, the 20th began as the first non-sequentially numbered air force, that is, Army Air Corps leadership designated NAFs from one to 14, but when it came time to create a NAF for bombers like the Enola Gay they skipped straight to 20, said Capt. Daniel Newcomer, 20th Air Force director of intelligence.

"That, in and of itself, is significant," he said. "It let everyone know these guys were going to be different."

The unit's B-29 Superfortresses bombed Japanese Islands during World War II. Twentieth Air Force bombers, the Enola Gay and Bock's Car, brought an early end to the war after they dropped the first atomic bombs on Japan.

"After 18 years in the Air Force, this is one of the most storied units I've been in, and it has been an amazing experience," Newcomer explained. "I've enjoyed learning about all the hard work that goes into the mission. No one outside of the missile community really understands all the effort it takes to perform the strategic deterrence mission."

Maj. Gen. Michael Carey, the current 20th AF commander, said he is proud to be a part of 20th AF history.

"It's an honor," he said. "It characterizes all of the inspiring elements of command. To command the only fully generated nuclear force in the U.S. and the professional Airmen who conduct that mission every day and have done so for 42 years is amazing.

"When you look at the photos of the commanders who came before you and you see names like 'Hap' Arnold and Curt LeMay, you're in a good family line. You know you carry the same burdens they had and the accountability to Americans and their allies."

On this anniversary, it is a time to reflect on the history of the NAF and learn from it.

"You study and learn from the past," Carey said. "You bring in elements of the current environment to make sure you'll always be able to execute in the future, whether its missile field security, maintaining alerts or addressing crises like floods or fire. You can always learn from the past to improve your future situation."

Though it has come far from its original bombardment mission, the 20th AF is still an integral part of the U.S. nuclear deterrence force.

"Today, we're still uniquely trained, uniquely equipped Airmen," Carey said. " The only difference is we have ICBMs instead of B-29s."

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