The seven crewmembers of a B-52 that crashed at Anderson Air Force Base, Guam, during a takeoff on May 19 were applauded by their commander for their actions in the crisis.
"We are thankful that the air crew are safe," Brig. Gen. Douglas Cox, 36th Wing commander, told Pacific Daily News. "Because of their quick thinking and good judgment in this emergency situation, the air crew not only saved their lives, but averted a more catastrophic incident."
A B-52 takes off successfully. Photo: US Air Force Senior Airman Brittany Y. Bateman
The plane was taking off on a routine training mission and was carrying only inert munitions, which limited the potential danger to nearby civilians or to emergency responders. Still, it had a full load of fuel and both Air Force and local firefighters had to quickly cordon off the area and battle the flames.
The mission was part of the Department of Defense's continuous bomber presence in the Pacific. Guam is a small island but has played an outsized role in U.S. Pacific strategy because of its placement near both important sea lanes as well as areas of the Pacific that are claimed by multiple countries, including China.
The Air Force is now working to investigate the crash while also limiting the environmental effects of the spilled fuel and oil from the wreck.
B-2 Spirits have also had mechanical issues while flying out of Guam. Photo: US Air Force Staff Sgt. Bennie J. Davis III
This is the second B-52 crash at the base in eight years. A 2008 incident tragically claimed the lives of six crewmembers. In addition to the B-52 incidents, a B-2 Spirit was damaged in Guam due to sensor failures and a B-1 was damaged when it struck emergency vehicles during an emergency landing in 2008. In 2010, another B-2 was damaged when a fire broke out in an engine compartment.