Andersen Air Force Base, Guam
Origin of current name: Named for Brig Gen James Roy Anderson (1904-1945). General Andersen graduated from the U.S. Military Academy in 1926, served at various Army installations, and obtained his wings at Kelly field, Texas in 1936. During 1943-1944 he served on the War Department General Staff. In January 1945, General Andersen was assigned to HQ AAF, Pacific Ocean Area. He died on February 26th 1945 in an aircraft accident near Kwajalein Island, en route to Hawaii.
Date current name was assigned to base: October 7, 1949
Previous Names: North field, December 1944; North Field AB Comd, May 9th 1946; North AAB, unk; North AFB, March 1st 1948; North Guam AFB, April 22nd 1948; North Field AFB, Guam, February 1949; North Guam AFB, March 1949.
Date Established: February 3, 1945
Date Occupied: February 3, 1945
Construction Began: December 1, 1944
Base Units: 314th Bomb Wing, January 17th 1945; North Field AB Comd, April 15th 1946; North AAB Comd, date unknown; North AFB Comd, March 1948; North Guam AFB, April 22nd 1948; 19th AB Group, August 17th 1948; 6319th AB Wing, June 1st 1953; 3960th AB Wing, April 1st 1955 (redesignated 3960th AB Group, July 1 1956; 3960th Combat Spt Group, July 1 1959; 3960th Stat Wing, November 1 1963; 3960th Combat support Group, August 1 1964; 3960th Strat Wing, April 1 1965); 43d Combat Support Group, July 1st 1970-.
Changes in Capability: At the end of World War II Andersen assumed responsibility for administering several active and semiactive bases in the Marianas; served as a training base for B-29 units from 1945 to 1950; served briefly from June 1950 to 1953 in administrative and logistic support capacity after deployment of 19th Bomb Group to Kadena AB; hosted SAC B-29, B-36, KC-97, B-47 and B-52 rotational units 1953-1964; 1050-unit Capehart housing project completed 1958-1960; overall construction project (to repair damage by Typhoon Karen in 1962) 1963-1964; readiness crew facility, civil engineers industrial and operations complexes, and freight terminal building completed and updated 1963-1964; base facilities, installations, and utilities augmented to acommodate SEA B-52 combat missions, beginning June 18th 1965; construction Project Sunbath, in two phases, included dormitories, clinics, and other facilities, 1965-1967; runway and taxiway augmentation project completed December 1968; Typhoon Pamela wrought enormous destruction on May 21st 1971; newly constructed control tower, tallest structure on Guam, completed October 1971; overall upgrading and construction program, making base "typhoon proof", completed October 1980.
In a tent on Pati Point in 1944, four men of the 854th Airfield Construction Battalion stood at a draftsman's table drawing lines on a blueprint that would become runways, taxiways and parking aprons for World War II B-29 operations. North Field's first runway became operational Feb. 3, 1945. The first combat mission from North Field took place Feb. 25.
After World War II, the Army Air Forces in the Pacific closed many airfields, leaving the 19th Bomb Group at North Field as the only bombardment unit of the Far East Air Forces.
In the fall of 1946, construction began for permanent structures. When the Air Force became a separate service in 1947, North Field became North Guam Air Force Base. The installation was renamed Andersen AFB on Oct. 7, 1949, in honor of Brig. Gen. James R. Andersen, who was presumed lost at sea in the crash of his B-24 Liberator, Feb. 26, 1945, on a flight from Kwajalein to Hawaii.
During the Korean War, Andersen served in an administrative and logistical capacity, operating ammunition dumps and providing maintenance to transient aircraft. Following the war, Andersen began supporting bomber and aerial refueling units on rotational deployments from the United States. During this time, Andersen was home to the B-36, B-47, B-50, B-52, B-29, KC-97 and KC-135.
Andersen's role in Vietnam is legendary, starting on June 18, 1965, when 27 B-52 bombers were launched from its runway. These flights began Operation Arc Light, bombing missions against Viet Cong base operations, troop concentrations and supply lines. In early 1972, 153 B-52s lined the airfield in a surge of Arc Light missions titled Bullet Shot. It took five miles of ramp space to park them and an expert to ensure their orderly movement since a blocked taxiway could prove a mission-crippling impasse.
Later that year Operation Linebacker II got underway when, on December 18, 1972, 87 B-52s were launched from Andersen in one hour and 43 minutes. Throughout the 11-day operation, Andersen-based B-52s flew 379 of the 729 sorties. Often called the "11-day war," Linebacker II led to the renewal of the Paris Peace Talks and, on January 28, 1973, the signing of a cease-fire agreement with the government of North Vietnam.
Two years after U.S. military involvement in the Vietnam War ended Andersen participated in Operation New Life, becoming home to thousands of Vietnamese refugees until officials could process them into the United States. In the end, 109,553 refugees departed Andersen for the United States aboard 518 aircraft.
The post-Vietnam period brought a return to routine operations at Andersen, with B-52s on the ramp throughout the 1980s and the base remaining a vital overseas platform for carrying out the USAF's mission of global deterrence.
In support of the Gulf War in 1991, Andersen aided in transporting and deploying 200 aircraft, 2,200 troops and 2,212 tons of cargo. In addition, Andersen munitions specialists shipped more than 75 million pounds of bombs to the Gulf.
During Operation Fiery Vigil in June 1991, more than 21,000 people and their pets evacuated from Clark Air Base in the Philippines, came through Andersen following the eruption of Mount Pinatubo.
The Air Force inactivated 633rd Air Base Wing Oct. 1, 1994, and activated the 36th Air Base Wing, in keeping with the Air Force chief of staff's policy of keeping the most highly decorated and longest serving Air Force units on active duty. The Air Force had inactivated the 36th Fighter Wing at Bitburg Air Base, Germany, Oct. 1, 1994.
In October 1994, the U.S. Navy Helicopter Combat Support Squadron Five relocated to Andersen from the now closed Naval Air Station, Guam.
Today, with its huge fuel and munitions storage facilities and dual runways, Andersen is an important forward-based logistics support center for contingency forces deploying throughout the southwest Pacific and Indian oceans. Andersen's ideal flying conditions, relatively unlimited airspace and nearby air-to-ground range make this an ideal training area for the U.S. military and militaries of nearby countries.