End of an Era

Andersen AFB, Guam—A B-52 bomber deployed here from Barksdale AFB, La., as part of the Air Force’s continuous bomber presence mission will drop the base’s last M117 general-purpose bomb in June, said officials during a recent visit. Lt. Col. Scott Maytan, commander of the 20th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron, told Air Force Magazine there were some “31,000 M117s in the bomb depot” during the first CBP rotation in 2004. Since then, each bomber rotation has dropped an average of 700 of the bombs. “That signals a lot of good training over a decade for a lot of good weapons,” said Lt. Col. Sean Walker, deputy commander of the 36th Operations Group. “It’s 40 to 50 years in the making, this last drop,” he added. The M117 is a 750-pound general purpose bomb that the United States used extensively during the Korean War, Vietnam War, and against Iraq in 1991. “It is uncertain as to when M117s were first present at [Andersen], although through word of mouth, it’s been said that many were dropped during Operation Linebacker II missions over North Vietnam,” said 36th Wing spokeswoman 1st Lt. Jessica Clark. The bombs became the weapon of choice on CBP sorties because they provided valuable training to bomber crews and their use prevented officials from having to spend a “significant amount of money to ship the munitions” to the continental US for demilitarization, she said.