Military News

Monday, March 02, 2015

B-52 flyover to honor 50th Vietnam War anniversary

by Capt. Kathleen Ice
Minot Air Force Base Public Affairs

2/27/2015 - MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D.  --
A B-52H Stratofortress from Minot Air Force Baseis scheduled to fly over a ceremony commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War at 10:30 a.m. Eastern Standard Time, March 2, 2015 at the Air Force Memorial in Washington D.C.

The ceremony is to honor prisoners of war and missing in action veterans and their families during a wreath-laying ceremony at the Air Force Memorial site.

March 2, 2015 marks the 50th anniversary of, then, 1st Lt. Hayden J. Lockhart's aircraft being shot down over Vietnam and his becoming the first Air Force POW. The day also marks the beginning of the Operation Rolling Thunder bombing campaign.

The Minot B-52 will fly a U.S. flag on the mission and bring it back to be raised on the base's flag pole.

"It's certainly an honor to be able to do this, just the connection with our past heritage and to know B-52 combat veterans will be at the ceremony and still see the B-52 flying and projecting air power," said 69th Bomb Squadron pilot Capt. Will Swift, who is scheduled to fly on the mission.

The Stratofortress was impressive to see during the Vietnam War, said Terry Hanscam, a Navy petty officer who served on the USS Goldsborough guided missile destroyer and tracked the bombers on radar.

"When the bombs went off, that sure got your attention," Hanscam said.

"The B-52s came in real early one morning, they started bombing about 4, 5 o'clock in the morning, they bombed for a couple of hours -- flattened the beach with jungle behind it.  It didn't leave much but stumps standing when they were done," Hanscam said.

Then came the U.S. Marine amphibious invasion.

"We watched them put about 5,000 Marines ashore in 45 minutes," Hanscam said. "It was something to see."
Approximately 200 B-52s were deployed overseas at the peak effort of the Vietnam War, delivering more than 5 billion pounds of bombs.

Hanscam's daughter, Maj. Nickole Lensgraf, is a 705th Munitions Squadron missile maintenance officer at Minot AFB. She said it's important to honor her dad and all of those who served in Vietnam.

"They deserve to have their accomplishments and their participation recognized, because it was a harsh conflict," Lensgraf said. "Taking the time to recognize their service and contributions aside from the political and ideological questions is important; because regardless of those things, they did what they were asked to do."

The wreath-laying ceremony will be the first Headquarters Air Force event in support of the 50th Vietnam War Commemorative Partner Program. This multi-year campaign aims to thank and honor the veterans of the Vietnam War for their sacrifice and service and pay tribute to the contributions of their families.

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