BOSSIER PARISH, La. (KSLA) - The 96th Bomb Squadron at Barksdale Air Force Base has been awarded the Omaha Trophy. It is the first bomb squadron to be selected for this prestigious honor, which recognizes outstanding support to the USSTRATCOM mission of strategic deterrence.
The Omaha Trophy has been awarded every year since 1971 to U.S. military units and is presented in five official categories: Global Operations, Intercontinental Ballistic Missile, Strategic Aircraft Operations, Strategic Bomber Operations and Submarine Ballistic Missile. The 96th Squadron was awarded the Omaha Trophy in the Strategic Bomber Operations category.
The Omaha Trophy was created and sponsored by the United States Strategic Command (STRATCOM) and Strategic Command Consultation Committee, located in Omaha, Neb. The trophy is presented annually to the command’s best wing as a token of recognition and appreciation.
Chris Duff, commander of the 96th Bomb Squadron, said it’s a huge honor for the squadron. “I really don’t have words at the moment being completely honest” Duff said.
“The squadron over the last year has really performed just phenomenally. They have been all over the world and back again. We’ve had multiple deployments, we weathered Hurricane Laura like the rest of the local community, we weathered the snowmageddon and had to evacuate the fleet a few times. 2020 was quite a year and all that in a COVID environment. I’m just extremely proud of the team and all they have accomplished.”
The 96th was able to quickly evacuate the B-52s from base in 2020 as Hurricane Laura made it’s way to Louisiana; the aircraft were taken to Minot Air Force Base. The snowstorm in February caused the base to go into “mission critical” status. There have also been changes around base to continue operating amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Duff said it’s a testament to the hard work the airmen of the 96th put in every day.
“I’m truly blessed to have this job,” Duff said. “I love going to work every day to work with these men and women. The 96th are incredible patriots. The sacrifices they make on a daily basis and watching them make those sacrifices. It’s humbling and I am excited to be able to sit alongside them.”
Looking toward the next year, Duff said the squadron isn’t slowing down.
“We just got back from deployment to the Pacific. We’ve already executed a lot of live weapons drops, and we are only in March. We’ve still got nine months to go and we will continue to do what we do for the nation. We are happy to do it and it’s an honor to do it.”