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"676" Stratofortress static display stands proud

A B-52 Stratofortress static display, tail “676,” sits dominantly at the Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash., Heritage Park Dec. 18, 2013. The same day in 1972, during Linebacker II operations over North Vietnam, “676” became the first B-52 to shoot down an enemy MiG aircraft. The tail gunner, Staff Sgt. Samuel O. Turner, fired his 50-caliber machine guns at a MiG-21 as it moved in to attack the B-52. Turner reported a “gigantic explosion to the rear of the aircraft” and was credited with being the first tail gunner to log a confirmed kill during combat in a B-52. (U.S. Air Force photo by Scott King/Released)

A B-52 Stratofortress static display, tail “676,” sits dominantly at the Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash., Heritage Park Dec. 18, 2013. The same day in 1972, during Linebacker II operations over North Vietnam, “676” became the first B-52 to shoot down an enemy MiG aircraft. The tail gunner, Staff Sgt. Samuel O. Turner, fired his 50-caliber machine guns at a MiG-21 as it moved in to attack the B-52. Turner reported a “gigantic explosion to the rear of the aircraft” and was credited with being the first tail gunner to log a confirmed kill during combat in a B-52. (U.S. Air Force photo by Scott King/Released)

On Dec. 18, 1972 near Hanoi, North Vietnam, Staff Sgt. Samuel O. Turner, a B-52 fire control operator (gunner), shot down a Mig-21.  For his action, the 30-year-old Atlanta, Ga., native was awarded the Silver Star. The B-52 he was in is tail “676” now a static display at Fairchild Air Force Base’s Heritage Park in Washington state. (U.S. Air Force courtesy photo/Released)

On Dec. 18, 1972 near Hanoi, North Vietnam, Staff Sgt. Samuel O. Turner, a B-52 fire control operator (gunner), shot down a Mig-21. For his action, the 30-year-old Atlanta, Ga., native was awarded the Silver Star. The B-52 he was in is tail “676” now a static display at Fairchild Air Force Base’s Heritage Park in Washington state. (U.S. Air Force courtesy photo/Released)

FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- There's a story behind everything, and it holds true to the B-52 Stratofortress static display in the Heritage Park near the entrance of the base.

The B-52, serial number 56-0676, is a D model and has a long and impressive history. It was delivered to the Air Force in August 1957, and its first assignment was at Fairchild. During its service career, "676" transferred to numerous Strategic Air Command bases and even returned to Fairchild in the late 1960's.

The 92nd Air Refueling Wing historian, Dan Simmons, knows the importance and history of this aircraft.

"We are very fortunate to have such a historic aircraft in our Heritage Park," Simmons said. "Since it was stationed here in the 92nd Bombardment Wing several times during its active duty career [including its first assignment], this is its home - Fairchild is where it belongs."

However, "676" was not assigned here during its most memorable flight. On Dec. 18, 1972, during Linebacker II operations over North Vietnam, "676" became the first B-52 to shoot down an enemy MiG aircraft. The tail gunner, Staff Sgt. Samuel O. Turner, fired his 50 caliber machine guns at a MiG-21 as it moved in to attack the B-52. Turner reported a "gigantic explosion to the rear of the aircraft" and was credited with being the first tail gunner to log a confirmed kill during combat in a B-52.

"I often say that '676' was the first B-52 to shoot down a MiG, but then I have to correct myself," Simmons said. "The aircraft didn't actually shoot down the MiG; a U.S. Air Force noncommissioned officer shot down the MiG. Although we often focus on aircraft because they're big, fast and powerful, we have to remember that it was the Airmen who flew, maintained and supported those aircraft who have defined our outstanding airpower legacy. That being said, I am still proud to have '676' at Fairchild, because it carried so many Airmen into battle and returned them home safely - it was a great warrior."

The red star on the side of "676" identifies it as a MiG killer. There have been only two B-52 MiG kills in history, the other one occurring on Dec. 24, 1972, also during the Linebacker II campaign. The second B-52 MiG killer is on display at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo.

On Oct. 12, 1983, "676" departed its last active duty base, Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, to fly here to its final resting place. This was the Air Force's last B-52 D model flight. B-52 D serial number 56-0676 served our nation well.

This article was originally published May 22, 2012, and is part of an ongoing series about Fairchild's 75th Anniversary.