History of San Bernardino Air Material Area (SBAMA)

In addition to serving as home to the Ballistic Missile Organization, Norton AFB hosted the San Bernardino Air Materiel Area (SBAMA).

Under the command of Air Materiel Command and later Air Force Logistics Command, SBAMA, to quote an organizational history, "carried a heavy responsibility in the defense of the Free World."

The claim can be made with some justice, for in the late 195Os, the Air Force charged SBAMA with the responsibility of providing over-all logistical support to Atlas and Titan I ballistic missile bases. As the nation's primary ballistic missile logistic center, SBAMA had worldwide supply, maintenance, and procurement responsibilities not only for deployment sites within the United States, but also for Thor sites based in England.

Perhaps one of the greatest challenges this organization faced occurred in the mid- 1960s, when the Air Force Logistics Command established a central management office at SBAMA for the deactivation of America's first generation of missile bases. SBAMA oversaw four phases, which included (1) removal/transportation and storage of missiles, (2) preservation of complexes, (3) screening and reutilization, and (4) disposition of the installed equipment and properties.

In an effort to cut deactivation costs, the Air Force worked with the Defense Supply Agency (DSA) and General Services Administration (GSA) to screen the sites for reusable items. For example, some 270 diesel generators that had once supplied electrical power for the missile complexes were designated for use in Vietnam. To extract reusable items at no cost to the government, the Air Force used, for the first time, a service/ salvage contract. This arrangement called for the contractor to extract, at no cost to the government, those items designated for reuse. In turn, the contractor could salvage the remaining items and sell them.

Little compensation could be obtained for the millions of dollars spent for excavation and poured concrete. Other Federal agencies showed little interest in the sites, although some sites eventually were obtained by various state universities. GSA even ran an advertisement in The Wall Street JournaZ in April 1965 to stimulate interest within the private sector for site reutilization. Eventually, the sites were disposed of at a tiny fraction of the cost of construction.

With the deactivation of the first generation of missiles, SBAMA remained active in logistically supporting the Titan II until that system was removed from service in the 1980s. As the big ICBMs were retired, many of them came to San Bernardino for storage. With the closing of Norton AFB, many of these missiles were forwarded to Davis- Monthan AFB, Arizona.