Veteran Warren Ward Honored at Ashdown High School's Annual Alumni Banquet
Warren Ward, a graduate of Ashdown High School in the Class of 1980, was honored at the 2023 Alumni Banquet on Saturday, October 28 at the Ashdown High School Cafeteria. He was recognized for his remarkable achievements as a retired United States Air Force (USAF) Colonel and his significant contributions as a B-52 pilot during Operation Desert Storm.
In January 1991, Warren Ward was part of a historic combat mission involving seven B-52 bombers from Barksdale Air Force Base. Their objective was to deliver cruise missiles into Iraq to initiate the Gulf War. Ward piloted the No. 3 aircraft and received a memorable sendoff from General Buck Schuler, who compared the mission's significance to the Doolittle raid in 1942.
The operation, code-named "Secret Squirrel," was a resounding success, with 85% of their targets destroyed. The B-52s, including Ward's aircraft, returned to Barksdale after a 33 to 35-hour mission without touching down on foreign soil. The pilots watched the events unfold on television like the rest of the country.
Ward's dedication to his service and aircraft was evident throughout his career. He had 147 combat hours flying the B-52 and survived a dangerous training mission in 1995, where he successfully landed the aircraft after losing two engines. He had to burn fuel for almost seven hours before he could attempt a safe landing.
His connection to the B-52 bomber goes beyond his role as a pilot. His father, Steve Ward, was a mechanical engineer at Boeing and played a part in designing the B-52 models that continue to fly to this day. Warren's respect for the aircraft and his family's involvement in its history were evident as he honored his father during a visit to the Northwest Louisiana War Veterans Home.
The Secret Squirrel mission remained classified for an entire year, and the pilots had to keep it a secret even from their spouses. Warren Ward's wife even mentioned the strain it put on their marriage during that time. Eventually, the mission was revealed, and the pilots, including Ward, reunited for a 25th-anniversary celebration in 2016.
Warren Ward's service and achievements as a B-52 pilot are a source of pride, both for him and his family. The B-52 bomber holds a special place in his heart due to his family's involvement and his trust in its solid design.
He has been married to his wife Amanda for 36 years, and is currently employed by Louisiana Tech University, where he serves as the Chief of Staff and Director of Operations for the Louisiana Tech Research Institute.
It's evident that Warren Ward's career as a USAF pilot and his contributions to the Gulf War have left a lasting impact, and his alma mater was proud to honor him as the 2023 Alumni Banquet Honoree.