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Rededication of the 97th Linebacker II Memorial

Rededication of the 97th Linebacker II Memorial

"The Arkansas Aeroplex was buzzing on Tuesday afternoon — literally. After a two-hour delay, a B-52 flew over the old Eaker Air Force Base as part of a ceremony dedicated to the airmen who once served here. Local officials, former airmen and family members participated in dedicating the newly restored flag plaza on Memorial Drive, which includes flags from every state in the union and honors not only the many airmen who served in Blytheville, but also veterans and men and women currently serving in the Armed Rorces. With several hundred in attendance, the newly restored Linebacker II memorial was rededicated and ground was broken for a memorial to the Desert Storm Hulk 46. Chaplain Brigadier General Steve Schaick, General James R. McCarthy (Ret.) and Rev. Colonel Robert Certain (Ret.) were among the special speakers and Bill Hershey played Taps. Linebacker II, the largest ever bombing campaign by American B-52s, occurred during Christmas holidays in December 1972, when the United States dropped at least 20,000 tons of explosives onto North Vietnam, mostly over Hanoi (the capitol of North Vietnam at the time). It is generally accepted that the campaign, known as Linebacker II, was what brought the North Vietnamese back to the peace table and thereby hastened the end of the Vietnam War. The nine airmen on the monument were members of the 97th Bombardment Wing from Blytheville Air Force Base who did not return after their B-52s were shot down during the Christmas Bombings. Three were killed when Hulk 46 crashed: Radar Navigator Capt. Jeffry Jon Olson, Electronic Warfare Officer 1 Lt. Eric Heeden of Wenatchee and Navigator 1 Lt. Jorge I. Arteaga." ~Blytheville Courier News

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