Air Force Bases Hustle to Take Nuclear Bombers Off Alert With AM-US-Nuclear, Bjt
Undated (AP) _ Eleven Air Force bases hustled Saturday to take long-range nuclear bombers off full-time alert in line with President Bush’s nuclear initiative.
″It’s a very historic event,″ said Maj. Dave Turner, a spokesman at Barksdale Air Force Base in Bossier City, La.
″We’ve been pulling 24-hour alert since 1957,″ Turner said.
At Fairchild Air Force Base near Spokane, Wash., crews were instructed to take nuclear weapons off B-52 bombers on ground alert, said base spokeswoman Robin Grantham.
The base usually keeps five or six B-52s on ground alert, which means they are loaded with nuclear weapons and ready to fly.
Crews assigned to planes on alert will no longer be cloistered for a week at a time, ready to fly on short notice.
″It’s a definite morale boost for them,″ Turner said. ″They’re all on their way out of here. They’re on their way home.″
Two Texas bases, Carswell Air Force Base in Fort Worth and Dyess Air Force Base in Abilene, also began to stand down.
Maj. Mary Kilgore, chief of public affairs for the 96th wing at Dyess, said it was the first time since 1986 that the base’s 31 B-1B bombers haven’t been on alert.
″We’ve been removing things - classified items - off the planes on the alert pad and taking those things to storage,″ she said. ″The tankers, which were on the alert pads with the bombers, have been taken back to the flight line.″
By Saturday afternoon, Griffiss Air Force Base in Rome, N.Y., was practically deserted. Air crews returned home and the base’s contingent of B- 52s and KC-135s were ″uncocked,″ said Col. Michael F. Loughran, 416th Wing commander.
The other Air Force bases where long-range bombers were removed from full- time alert are Wurtsmith and K.I. Sawyer in Michigan; Minot and Grand Forks in North Dakota; Ellsworth in South Dakota; and McConnell in Kansas.