Former wing commander led first overseas deployment of B-2 bomber

  • Published
  • By Phill Stuart
  • 71st Flying Training Wing Public Affairs

VANCE AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- In difficult times such as these, taking a look back at the outstanding Air Force leaders who earned their wings at Vance Air Force Base can provide not only a sense of stability, but also hope. One such leader is Maj. Gen. Douglas L. Raaberg.

Raaberg graduated with honors from the United States Air Force Academy, Colorado, in 1978. He received his pilot training at Vance Air Force Base before upgrade training to fly the KC-135A at Castle Air Force Base, California.

After completing his training, he flew with the 916th Air Refueling Squadron, Travis Air Force Base, California, from October 1979 until July 1983. Following that assignment, Raaberg became an instructor and evaluator pilot with the 528th Bomb Squadron, Pittsburgh Air Force Base, New York.

Raaberg had assignments at Offutt, Maxwell and Dyess Air Force bases before attending Air Command Staff College at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama. After graduating he returned to Dyess Air Force Base Texas, as a B-1B aircraft commander, instructor pilot, operations officer and finally commander with the 9th Bomb Squadron.

While at Dyess, Raaberg and his B-1B crew won the 1995 McKay Trophy demonstrating the worldwide combat capability of the Air Force and set the world record for the fastest non-stop flight around the world with refueling in a B-1, a record he still holds today.

After attending the National War College, Fort Lesley J. McNair, Washington, D.C., Raaberg served as a political-military planner for the Middle East/Africa Division with the Directorate of Strategic Plans and Policy at the Pentagon.

After returning to Dyess AFB to command the 7th Operations Group, Raaberg headed north of the Red River, back to Vance AFB, this time as commander of the 71st Flying Training Wing from 2000 until 2002.

Next Raaberg assumed command of the 509th Bomb Wing, Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri. As commander of the Air Force’s only B-2 stealth bomber wing during Operation Iraqi Freedom, he was responsible for executing the first overseas deployment of the B-2.

Raaberg moved to MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, to serve as Deputy Director of Operations, U.S. Central Command, then on to Langley Air Force Base, Virginia, where he served as Director of Air and Space Operations, Headquarters Air Combat Command.

On Jan. 1, 2010, Raaberg retired from the Air Force as the Deputy Combined Force Air Component Commander, U.S. Central Command; Deputy Commander, Air Force Forces; and Vice Commander, 9th Air Expeditionary Task Force, Air Combat Command, Southwest Asia.

Raaberg retired with 4,700 flying hours and flew 35 combat missions. His decorations include the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit with two oak leaf clusters, and the Bronze Star.

In 2019, Raaberg was named the Air Force Association’s executive vice president.