In January 1991, during “Desert Storm,” a group of American B52 Stratofortress bombers flew to Iraq, bombed their targets, and returned safely home after 35 non-stop hours airborne. In September 1996, the same type of bomber destroyed Baghdad’s power stations as part of “Desert Strike”.
The enormous eight-engine bomber was again used in Yugoslavia in 1999, and played a major bombing and support role in Afghanistan in 2001. In November 2015, to deny recognition of China’s claim to some islands, B52s were flown through the region ignoring China’s demand to vacate the airspace. During 2016, B52s based in Qatar flew many devastating bombing missions against Isis.
The United States simply does not possess a more capable long-range strategic bomber than the amazing 160 foot-long, 4 story high, Boeing-built Stratofortress. Yet the truly amazing part of the B52 story is that the airplane first saw service in the United States Airforce in 1955. For over sixty years, this airplane has been the backbone of America’s airborne power.
It is hard to imagine that the three Boeing engineers chiefly responsible for designing the B52 could have dreamed that their creation would play so important a role in American history for so long. Without the B52 in their arsenal, several famous American leaders might well have failed to achieve their military and political objectives. Though not nameless, those Boeing engineers are not nearly as well known as the political and military leaders who deployed the lethal airplane.
Most of us perform our daily work in relative obscurity. We tackle our tasks, confront challenges, strive for success and face failures without ever knowing what vital long term consequences might result from what we did last month. It’s a lot like raising children. It doesn’t bring the fame that might come to the women heading General Motors or Yahoo but without the children being raised as productive and law-abiding citizens today, there wouldn’t be large corporations tomorrow.