Air Force Bases

Travis Air Force Base, California

Location: Located in the east part of Fairfield, CA, about 40 miles northeast of San Francisco, CA.

Origin of current name: Named in honor of Brig Gen Robert Falligant Travis (1904-1950). General Travis commanded the 8th Air Force's 41st Combat Wing during World War II, personally leading 35 combat missions. He was commander of the 9th Heavy Bombardment Wing in Strategic Air Command's 15th Air Force when he died on 5 Aug 1950 in the crash of a B-29 at the field that bears his name.

Date current name was assigned to base: October 20, 1950

Previous Names: Fairfield-Suisun Army Air Base, 8 Feb 1943; Fairfield-Suisun Army Air Field, 11 Sep 1947; Fairfield-Suisun Air Force Base, 13 Jan 1948.

Date Established: May 17, 1943

Date Occupied: June 1, 1943

Construction Began: July 2, 1942

Base Units: 23d Ferrying Gp (West Coast Wg), 1 Jun 1943; Station #10, West Coast Sector, Pacific Wg, 18 Oct 1943; 1504th AAF Base Unit, 1 Aug 1944 (rdsgd HQ Eastern Pacific Wg, Pacific Div, ATC, 1504th AAF Base Unit, 1 May 1947; HQ Eastern Pacific Wg, Pacific Div, ATC, 1504th AF Base Unit, 26 Sep 1947); 530th Air Base Gp, 1 Jun 1948 (rdsgd 1501st Air Base Gp, 1 Oct 1948); 9th Air Base Gp, 1 May 1949; 5th Air Base Gp, 1 Mar 1953; 1501st Air Base Gp, 1 Apr 1959; 60th Air Base Gp, 8 Jan 1966-.

Changes in Capability: Operations changed from processing and ferrying of tactical aircraft to airlifting troops and cargo after Nov 1944; major construction program included replacement of temporary with permanent structures and underground fuel pipeline to Suisun Wharf and expansion of hangars, runways, and parking apron 1945-1946; hospital and other facilities were added mid-1945 to spring 1947 and enabled base to serve as the West Coast's aerial embarkation and debarkation point for the Pacific Theater; 150-bed hospital completed May 1949, expanded to 200 beds during Korean conflict; primary base mission changed to long-range reconnaissance and strategic bombing when SAC assumed jurisdiction May 1949; 980-unit Wherry housing project completed May 1952; aircraft single-point hydrant refueling system completed 30 Oct 1952; MATS freight terminal, administration buildings, BOQs, airman quarters, and dining halls completed mid-1953; runway extended Nov 1953; billeting and messing facilities expanded for ADC tenant units 1956-1957; MATS buildup included construction of C-124 facilities 1957-1958; 22d Air Force arrived from Kelly AFB, TX, 25 Jun 1958; base's primary mission reverted to global airlift activities when MATS resumed jurisdiction Jul 1958; facilities readied to receive B-52s Feb 1959; Wherry housing rehabilitation project completed May 1962; Fairfield AFS, Fairfield, CA, hitherto an AFLC site, absorbed 1 Jul 1962; 600-unit Capehart housing project completed fall 1962; fueling system maintenance dock, C-5 maintenance dock, and C-5 hangar completed Nov 1969; airfreight terminal complex completed Jun 1972; C-5 maintenance shop completed Dec 1973; hydrant fueling system augmented Nov 1977; hazardous material processing facility commissioned Jun 1978; major rehabilitation project of airman dormitories completed spring 1979; corrosion control facility completed 16 Apr 1980.

Changes in Status: Annexed by City of Fairfield, CA, 30 Mar 1966.


The establishment of an Army airfield near Fairfield and Suisun City was first recommended in December 1941, shortly after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Representatives from Fourth Air Force and the Army Corps of Engineers investigated the area and approved the idea in early 1942.

On April 22, 1942, the Office of the Chief of Engineers, Washington DC, authorized spending $998,000 for construction of two runways and a few temporary buildings on 945 acres. The project received a top wartime priority, and construction began in the summer of 1942. On May 17, 1943, the Air Transport Command officially activated Fairfield-Suisun Army Air Base, named after the two cities that the base was located between.

Travis Air Force Base is named in honor of Brigadier General Robert F. Travis who was killed when his B-29 crashed on the installation August 5, 1950. At the time of his death, General Travis was the commander of the 5th Strategic Reconnaissance, and 9th Bombardment Wings.

General Travis’ popularity and the shock of his death led base officials and the local community to sponsor renaming the base in his honor. The proposal was favored in Washington DC, and on October 20, 1950 the base was re-named Travis Air Force Base.

Although today Travis is home of the largest airlift organization in the Air Force, it began as an isolated airstrip with a few tar paper shacks set in the middle of a wind-swept prairie during World War II. The field was named Fairfield-Suisun Army Air Base, after the two closest, mostly agricultural towns. The base was first planned shortly after the December 7, 1941 attack on Pear Harbor, the base served as home for medium bombers and fighters assigned to defend the West Coast. The first runway and temporary buildings were constructed by the Army Corps of Engineers in the summer of 1942. They were used initially by Army and Navy fighter planes for takeoff and landing practice. For a few months, the outline of an aircraft carrier's deck was painted on the runway to help newly-commissioned Navy pilots practice maneuvers. The strong local prevailing winds nearly duplicated those at sea.

Shortly after construction began, however, the base's potential as a major aerial port and supply transfer point for the Pacific theater led the Army Air Corps to assign it to the newly-designated Air Transport Command. The base officially opened on June 1, 1943, with a primary mission of preparing various military aircraft, mainly bombers and transports, for the Pacific war zone and ferrying them to that region. Consairway, a division of the Consolidated Vultee Aircraft Corporation, airlifted some of the cargo and personnel to the Pacific. The first host unit for the base was the 23rd Ferrying Group. At the end of WWII, the primary mission became the airlift of troops and supplies to occupied Japan and Korea, and the processing of war-weary returning GIs. On June 1, 1948, the Military Air Transport Service (MATS) assumed jurisdiction. In July, two of the base's air transport squadrons left for Europe to assist in the Berlin Airlift.

On May 1, 1949, the Strategic Air Command became the parent major command for the base, turning it into a major long-range reconnaissance and intercontinental bombing installation. For the next nine years, airlift operations became secondary while the base served as home for SAC bombers such as the B-29 “Super Fortress”, B-36 “Peacemaker”, and eventually, the B-52 “Strato Fortress”. During this period, new hangars appeared, runways were added and widened, and permanent barracks and family living quarters housing were built. The base grew to its present size which encompasses 6,258 acres.

The Military Air Transport Service (MATS) resumed command of Travis on July 1, 1958, after SAC's new dispersal policy led to the transfer of the 14th Air Division to Beale Air Force Base, California. The base became headquarters to the 1501st Air Transport Wing in 1955; for MATS’ Western Transport Air Force (later the 22nd Air Force) in 1958; and the 60th Military Airlift Wing in 1966 (later to be re-designated to the present 60th Air Mobility Wing). The 349th Military Airlift Wing (United State Air Force Reserve) moved to Travis from Hamilton Air Force Base, California, in 1969. Travis became part of the Air Mobility Command on June 1, 1992, when assets from Military Airlift Command and the Strategic Air Command were fused into a single team.

From 1969 to the present, the 60th and 349th Air Mobility Wings have worked closely to make Travis one of the best and most versatile bases in the United States Air Force. The base would provide continuous airlift support in the face of world-wide contingencies for another 25 years, when the base added air refueling to its mission in September 1994.

In the wake of the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks on the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., and New York City's World Trade Center, Travis Air Force Base has demonstrated its excellence and versatility in performing the missions they do best -- providing rapid global airlift and aerial refueling crucial to combating the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT).

Travis Air Force Base has been called upon to provide airlift of specialized personnel and equipment to assist in the rescue and recovery efforts in Washington DC and at ground zero in New York City. In all, Travis transported 240 passengers and 120 tons of equipment vital to the search, rescue, and recovery efforts. Additionally, Travis' 60th Aerial Port Squadron loaded and unloaded hundreds of passengers and tons of equipment from both military and civilian aircraft transiting through Travis on their way to the east coast to help in the disaster relief effort.

On October 7, 2001, the US military response to the terrorist attacks against Al Qaeda and the Taliban regime in Afghanistan commenced, dubbed Operation ENDURING FREEDOM (OEF). Travis was instrumental in rapidly deploying US forces into the theater. Travis KC-10s were there to refuel the first combat aircraft to strike the Taliban. Travis' aerial refuelers passed over 22 million gallons of fuel in support of thousands of combat sorties over the Afghan theater.

By mid-March 2002, the Taliban had been removed from power and the Al Qaeda network in Afghanistan had been destroyed. Travis continued their support of operations in the GWOT airlifting supplies and personnel into Afghanistan and with air refueling missions to Combat Air Patrols throughout the U.S. in support of Operation NOBLE EAGLE, the homeland security mission. In July 2002, Travis C-5 crews made history while forward deployed and assigned to the 782nd Expeditionary Airlift Squadron the crews participated in the first deployment of the C-5 Galaxy into a combat environment. The crew flew into Kandahar International Airport, Afghanistan where their mission was to extract a regiment of Canadian soldiers.

Travis has also played a role in humanitarian missions, delivering over 687 tons of food from depots in California, along with a shipment of approximately 12,000 blankets in advance of the Afghan winter. By the end of 2002, Travis C-5s flew approximately 32,880 flying hours and over 5,700 sorties; KC-10 crews flew approximately 34,439 hours and over 5,200 sorties.

On March 19, 2003 U.S. and British forces began a new phase of military operations against Iraq, dubbed Operation IRAQI FREEDOM (OIF). The operation was designed to disarm Iraq of its weapons of mass destruction and to remove the Iraqi Baathist regime from power. Travis has provided airlift and aerial refueling support, along with medical support as part of Air Expeditionary Forces 7 and 8. Travis KC-10 crews deployed to the 463rd Air Expeditionary Wing and provided in-flight refueling to coalition aircraft, while C-5 crews airlifted personnel, vital equipment and supplies into the Persian Gulf region and straight into Baghdad International Airport. On May 1, 2003, President Bush declared major combat operations over in Iraq.

Travis aircrews continued to support airlift and refueling combat support missions in Afghanistan and Iraq throughout the remainder of 2003. In the early morning of January 8, 2004, a C-5 from the 22nd Airlift Squadron transporting 52 Army passengers, including members of the 101st Airborne Division, and 131,606 pounds of cargo, made a tactical departure from Baghdad International. At 0620 Baghdad time, four minutes into the flight at 6,000 feet and three miles west of the runway, the crew felt the entire plane shudder violently and heard a loud explosion as enemy ground fire hit and exploded in the No. 4 engine. An in-flight emergency was immediately declared as the crew conducted an emergency shutdown of the engine to prevent further damage. The aircraft commander, Capt Zeiner, executed emergency landing procedures back into Baghdad International, and landed safely with no injuries to the crew or further damage to the plane. On March 5, 2004, General John W. Handy, Commander Air Mobility Command, in a commander's call held at the Travis base theater, presented the 22nd Airlift Squadron aircrew with air and commendation medals for their outstanding performance in safely landing their C-5 after taking hostile fire to their No. 4 engine.

From September 2001 to the summer 2004, Travis aircrews flew over 98,000 hours, hauled more than 392 million pounds of cargo, and moved over 114,000 passengers all over the world -- a 100 percent increase to 2001 statistics. Airlift operations into Afghanistan and Iraq are the third largest effort of its kind, ranking only behind the Berlin Airlift and Operations DESERT SHIELD and DESERT STORM. Travis C-5 aircrews have flown more than 35,000 hours and 6,200 sorties. Travis KC-10 aircrews have flown more than 26,000 hours and 2,500 sorties. Since September 11, 2001 through the summer of 2004, Travis aircrews have flown over 2,100 combat sorties in support of Operations ENDURING AND IRAQI FREEDOM.

The terrorist attacks also resulted in the 2002 Combat re-organization that streamlined units so that they became more versatile to the needs of the Air Force. With the addition of the 15th Expeditionary Mobility Task Force (EMTF) and 615th Contingency Response Wing (CRW) in 2005, Travis Air Force Base has truly become “America’s First Choice” for airlift, air refueling and humanitarian operations. This versatility was put to the test in January 2005, when the 15 EMTF and the 60 AMW were deployed to seven different locations in Indonesia, Thailand, and Sri Lanka to aid in Tsunami relief operations. Travis Air Force Base transported more than 2,000 passengers and moved more than 2,000 tons of cargo for the relief effort.

On August 29, 2005, the personnel of Travis AFB were called upon again to provide assistance after Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast states. C-5 aircraft from the 21st and 22nd Airlift Squadrons transported rescue vehicles, swift boats, and other relief equipment to the north and west of the coastal areas of New Orleans, Louisiana and Biloxi, Mississippi. During this period, the 60th Aerial Port Squadron originated and transited missions that totaled to 332 tons of equipment.

On September 22, 2005 personnel from Travis once again deployed in response to a national emergency, Hurricane Rita. The Travis team deployed with more than 310 short tons of equipment in response to the emergency. The versatility of Travis Air Force Base made it possible to successfully respond to more than three relief efforts with a very short lead time.

Travis has continued to demonstrate why it is "America’s First Choice" in 2006 and 2007. The base handled more than 87,000 passengers and over 100,000 tons of cargo. In 2007 more than 3,300 missions were flown by Travis transporting more than 30,000 passengers and moving more than 41,000 tons of cargo to their destination. Once, a major hub for transporting passengers and cargo in the Pacific, Travis has become an integral part of the total force. The base is now called upon to perform its mission anywhere in the world at a moments notice.