Against a backdrop of pounding classic rock music and videos of hard-working Air Force bomber and missile crews doing their best to protect the nation, Air Force Global Strike Command named its best-of-the-best in the 2nd annual Global Strike Challenge in its final night Wednesday.
But for all the whooping and hollering of the competing crews from Global Strike’s six far-flung wings, the most poignant moment in Barksdale’s Hoban Hall came when Charley Bourland, 4, held in the arms of a burly score-poster, placed the winning scores on the board for the new Bourland Trophy.
It’s named for his father, Air Force helicopter pilot Ken Bourland, killed in the Jan. 10, 2010, earthquake in Haiti.
For all the noise of the rattling ax handles, blasting horns, blank-firing rifles and pistols and other regalia carried by many of the competitors, there was almost a profound silence when the smiling child posted the numbers.
Those showed the 54th Helicopter Squadron from Minot Air Force Base had taken the prize. You could see tears on the face of Peggy Bourland, his mom, as she stood with the winning crew and the base mascot for photos.
It was a trip the Minot “Rough Riders,” as the 91st Missile Wing calls itself, made often to the stage in Hoban, although the local 2nd Bomb Wing didn’t do badly, either. It took several top awards, including the Spirit Bell, awarded to the team that best represents Global Strike Challenge teamwork and esprit de corps; the Linebacker Trophy for the Best B-52 Squadron; the LeMay Trophy for the Best Bomb Squadron; Best Bomber Conventional Load Team; Best Bomber Munitions Maintenance Team; and the Ellis Giant Sword for Best Bomber Maintenance Group.
“Team Barksdale did an absolutely fantastic job, and we are extremely proud of their performance and professionalism,” said Col. Tim Fay, 2nd Bomb Wing commander, who also made several trips onstage to be with his people.
The postings culminated a busy day in the life of Global Strike Command. They closed the 2nd annual Air Force Global Strike Command Technology and Innovation Symposium, which wrapped up Wednesday with a talk by the command’s head, Lt. Gen. Jim Kowalski.
He spoke at length on challenges facing the Air Force’s nuclear wings, both bomber and missile, and the demands of changing attitudes and aging weapons systems.
“While we continue to build that culture that embraces the special trust and responsibility of the nuclear weapons, we can’t forget that we have significant conventional responsibilities that are also critical to our nation,” he said, speaking on subjects that would have been unimaginable coming out of the mouth of a U.S. general officer in public a decade ago.
“How do we sustain and enhance this current force, meet the responsibilities today to the U.S. Strategic Command, yet still have the funds available to modernize for the future?” he asked moments later. “The only way to accomplish that is through innovation.”
That was the theme of the symposium, and Kowalski’s talk summed up what had been shared in the two-day event.
Global Strike Command sponsored the symposium along with the Cyber Innovation Center, whose executive director, Craig Spohn, thanked all who made it possible just before a fire alarm emptied the building. There weren’t that many people to evacuate since most of the uniformed military had left for Barksdale for the final score-postings.
Here are awards presented in Hoban Hall Wednesday night, the last night of the competition and the only one open to media:
Fairchild Trophy for Best Bomb Wing: 28th Bomb Wing, Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D.
Blanchard Trophy for Best ICBM Wing: 90th Missile Wing, F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyo.
Spirit Bell: 2nd Bomb Wing, Barksdale Air Force Base.
Best Security Forces Tactics: 91st Security Forces Group, Minot Air Force Base, N.D.
Best Security Forces Mental and Physical Challenge: 91st Security Forces Group, Minot Air Force Base, N.D.
Charlie Fire Team for Best Security Forces Group: 91st Security Forces Group, Minot.
Linebacker Trophy for Best B-52 Squadron: 96th Bomb Squadron, Barksdale Air Force Base.
LeMay Trophy for Best Bomb Squadron: 93rd Bomb Squadron, Barksdale .
Best Bomber Conventional Load Team: 2nd Bomb Wing, Barksdale.
Best Bomber Munitions Maintenance Team: 2nd Bomb Wing, Barksdale.
Best Crew Chief Team-Nuclear: 509th Bomb Wing, Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo.
Ellis Giant Sword: 2nd Bomb Wing, Barksdale.
Linhard Trophy for Best ICBM Ops Crew: 319th Missile Squadron, F.E. Warren.
Bourland Trophy for Best Helicopter Squadron: 54th Helicopter Squadron, Minot.
Best Helicopter Tactical Crew: 54th Helicopter Squadron, Minot.
Blackburn Trophy for Best ICBM Missile Maintenance Team: 90th Missile Wing, F.E. Warren.
Best Missile Maintenance Team: 90th Missile Wing, F.E. Warren.
Best ICBM Electronic Lab Team: 90th Missile Wing, F.E. Warren.
Awards presented Tuesday:
Best Security Forces M4 Shooter: Senior Airman James Doan, 509th Security Forces Squadron, Whiteman.
Best Security Forces M9 Shooter: Senior Airman Richard Ste. Croix, 91st Security Forces Group, Minot.
Best Security Forces M203 Shooter: Senior Airman Steven Whaley, 91st Security Forces Group, Minot.
Best Security Forces M240 Crew: Senior Airman Richard Ste. Croix and Senior Airman Andrew Lintelman, 91st Security Forces Group, Minot.
Best Security Forces Firing Team: 91st Security Forces Group, Minot.
Mitchell Trophy for Best Bombing: 96th Bomb Squadron, Barksdale.
Eaker Trophy for Best B-1B Squadron: 7th Operations Support Squadron, Dyess Air Force Base, Texas.
Tibbets Trophy for Best B-2 Squadron: 13th Bomb Squadron, Whiteman.
Bartsch Trophy for Best Electronic Countermeasures: 96th Bomb Squadron, Barksdale.
Best Bomber Nuke Load Team: 2nd Bomb Wing, Barksdale.
Best Bomber Crew Chief Team: 28th Bomb Wing, Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D.
Klotz Trophy for Best ICMB Operations: 341st Missile Wing, Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont.
Neary Trophy for Best EWO Crew: 319th Missile Squadron, F.E. Warren.
McMahon Trophy for Best Weapons System: 490th Missile Squadron, Malmstrom.
Best Helicopter Search and Rescue Crew: 40th Helicopter Squadron, Malmstrom.
Best Helicopter TRF Response Crew: 54th Helicopter Squadron, Minot.
Best ICBM Mechanical and Pneudraulics Team: 90th Missile Wing, F.E. Warren.
Best ICBM Power, Refrigeration, Electrical, Laboratory Team: 90th Missile Wing, F.E. Warren.