Team work, past and present

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Alan B. Sanders
  • 393d Bomb Squadron Commander
Long hours and demands on our positions can cause us to lose sight of the important role we play in our nation's national security objectives. We know the mission and responsibilities of our units. But, do you truly realize the dramatic effects that your day-to-day duties provide for the national security of our country? Do you think about the important role you could be playing in our country's history?

Each of us directly supports our country's national security regardless of our positions. Together we play a vital role in our ability to carry out our mission at a moment's notice. Knowing and believing this has had a dramatic effect on me, and the position I hold as 393rd Bomb Squadron commander.

Last month I had the privilege of attending the 509th Composite Group reunion at Rapid City, S.D. Although there were only six surviving members present, several family members and friends attended on behalf of their departed friends and loved ones that had once worn the 509th Composite Group patch. The 509th Composite Group consisted of eight units and 1,770 men. On Aug. 6, 1945, the actions of these men directly led to the end of World War II with the dropping of the atomic bomb, "Little Boy," on the city of Hiroshima and the detonation of "Fat Man" a few days later over Nagasaki.

As the stories were told among the attendees, I realized the value of team work and the importance that each individual contributes with their service in the armed forces.

Each of us swore we would support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic . This was evident and portrayed by the diligence of those six surviving members in their legendary stories.

The word that comes to mind when I reflect on the essential role each member of the 509th Composite Group provided is synergy. Synergy is defined as two or more things functioning together to produce a result not independently obtained.

Conducting the heroic missions of dropping the atomic bombs on Japan took synergy. No position was medial in task or importance; from George H. Cohen, Flight Engineer of Crew B-8, to James M. Dugger of the 1st Ordnance Squadron to the intelligence office clerk of the 393d BS each member of the 509th Composite Group recognized the critical contribution that each member made to those two missions.

A failure of any single position would have had a devastating effect on the overall outcome.

Dropping the atomic bomb showed the world that the U.S. not only acquired nuclear capabilities, but possessed the will to use those weapons. We sustain this message today not by the dropping of nuclear bombs but by maintaining the ability to do so.

The 509th partnered with the 131st Bomb Wing retains this nuclear competence through continuous training and exercising. The gist of our nuclear capability is manifested in generations such as Global Thunder and Constant Vigilance. However, we train to this mission each and every day through such actions as the management and execution of PRP, the maintenance of our nation's nuclear weapons and the generation and flying of the B-2 Spirit weapons system. It takes each and every individual of every organization within the 509th and 131st Bomb Wing to create our nuclear team.

Without each Airmen and civilian maintaining their respective proficiencies, we would fail as a team.
We can Google and read history books all day about the importance the Air Force played over the past 60 years, talking to the actual members of the 509th Composite Group that participated in such a significant event engrained in my memory is the magnitude that each of us play in our organization.

Our ability to deter our enemies with our nuclear capabilities may not be reflected in history books and in the same capacity as those events in August 1945. However, our ability to maintain the capability to do so will ready us for the history books should deterrence fail.