AL UDEID AIR BASE, Qatar (AFNS) -- (This feature is part of the "Through Airmen's Eyes" series. These stories focus on individual Airmen, highlighting their Air Force story.)
A B-52 Stratofortress thundered down the runway April 14 at Al Udeid Air Base, pulled by eight Pratt and Whitney TF33-P-3/103 turbofan engines, each propelling the Air Force’s largest bomber forward at 650 mph. As the B-52 reached the end of the runway, it rose and slowly disappeared into the clouds, affording one crew chief standing on the runway a new professional milestone.
Master Sgt. Jeremy Michael Hord, the 379th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron aircraft section chief, scored an Air Force hat trick that day by finally launching every active bomber in the Air Force’s inventory into combat.
Hord’s first bomber combat sortie launch came after the events of 9/11 when he and his team travelled to an island in the Indian Ocean, Diego Garcia, in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, where they launched B-1B Lancers into combat over Afghanistan.
Then in 2003, Hord again found himself at Diego Garcia launching bombers into combat. This time though, he launched the B-2 Spirit in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Now, Hord launches B-52s here in support of Operation Inherent Resolve. With his accomplishments, Hord has fully experienced firsthand the post 9/11 Air Force within the bomber maintenance community.
“I’ve known individuals who have worked on all three bombers, but I’ve never known anybody else who has launched all three into combat,” Hord said. “I never thought I’d get to launch one bomber when I initially came in, and to get the opportunity to move from B-1 to B-2 and now B-52 – it’s amazing and surreal.”
Hord compares the bombers he has worked with during his 13-year career to American classic cars. First, he considered the B-1, which carries the largest payload of both guided and unguided weapons in the Air Force inventory. It is designed to rapidly deliver massive quantities of precision and non-precision weapons against any adversary, anytime and anywhere in the world.
“The B-1 is a sleek and beautiful aircraft,” he said. “It carries the most munitions and it flies the fastest. Its lines are nice, smooth and flowing; it’s the Corvette of the bomber world.”
Next Hord spoke of the shadowy, wedge-shaped B-2, which is a multi-role bomber capable of delivering both conventional and nuclear munitions. It brings massive firepower to bear, in a short time, anywhere on the globe through previously impenetrable defenses.
“The B-2 would almost be like driving the McLaren F1,” Hord said. “It’s an expensive and beautiful, elegant piece of machinery that can do things that no other aircraft can do. It can go places and drop munitions no other aircraft can.”
The B-52 is like a muscle car from the 1950s according to Hord. The 1950s aircraft is a long-range, heavy bomber that can perform a variety of missions. It is capable of flying at high subsonic speeds and can carry nuclear or precision guided conventional ordnance with worldwide precision navigation capability.
“The B-52 is like a 1957 Chevy -- it’s old and classic, but beautiful in its own way. It’s the workhorse of the bomber community,” he said.
When B-52s arrived at Al Udeid Air Base April 9 in support of theater requirements and OIR, approximately 60 B-52 crew chiefs followed to support continued strike operations throughout the theater. B-52 crew chiefs inspect and maintain the aircraft and aerospace support equipment. They diagnose and solve problems on the aircraft, preparing them for combat.
“Being a part of an operation and situation where we’re taking the fight to people who want to do America and America’s allies harm is an amazing feeling,” Hord added. “Knowing that when the aircraft comes back with no munition on board – it goes out fully loaded and comes back empty – there’s no other feeling in the world like knowing that you made that happen.”
With half an hour transit to and from work, maintainers work 13- to 14-hour shifts every day of the week. They take B-52s from completely non-mission capable to fully mission capable.
“We’re miracle workers. We’ll get out to the flightline, work our magic and put things back together with whatever we have to do to put it (into combat),” he said. “We’re the first ones to see them land after they’ve successfully gone and taken the fight to the enemy, and we’re the last ones to see (them) depart, ready to fight the fight.”
For Hord, spending all day and night getting the aircraft ready is the most rewarding experience of his life. He is proud of what he and his wingmen do for the country.
“There’s nothing I’d rather be doing than be serving my country and doing the things that we do to make sure that our way of life is preserved,” he said. “There’s no place I’d rather be.”