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Col. Jerry Plourde, commander of the 36th Expeditionary Operation Group out of Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., began a four-month deployment with his unit at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, this week.

Col. Jerry Plourde, commander of the 36th Expeditionary Operation Group out of Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., began a four-month deployment with his unit at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, this week. (Frank Whitman / S&S)

Airmen from the 28th Bomb Wing at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., arrived in Guam during the past week for a four-month deployment at Andersen Air Force Base.

About 200 members of the 36th Expeditionary Operation Group replaced members of their sister squadron, the 36th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron, also from Ellsworth, who have been at Andersen since August 2005. The new arrivals assumed control of the six B-1B aircraft currently on Guam as part of the continuous bomber rotation that began in February 2004. The B-1Bs were flown to Andersen by members of the 36th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron in August.

In addition to contributing to the Pacific region’s security, the aircrews will gain valuable experience, officials said.

The deployment “gives us a tremendous training opportunity, especially for our young aviators who have never flown in the Pacific region,” said Col. Jerry Plourde, 36th Expeditionary Operation Group commander. “We’ll get to fly in exercises all over the Pacific — over land and over water with the Navy.” Personnel will have the opportunity to become familiar with regulations and procedures in the Pacific Command and “just flying over open water — we don’t get a chance to do that very often in South Dakota.”

The Pacific deployment likely will include the opportunity for joint training with the Japanese Air Self-Defense Force and use of the live bombing range at Farallon de Mendinilla in the Northern Marianas.

“We’ll be involved with as many coalition and Air Force joint training opportunities as we possibly can,” Plourde said. “Since we’re here for four months it’d be a crime not to.”

Guam’s golf courses likely will present another opportunity unavailable in South Dakota during the winter months.

“I am looking forward to that,” Plourde said of playing golf, adding that his handicap is classified.


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