The Air Force Reserve era: 1974-present
New England once home
to many bases

Otis AFB, Mass. -- Located on beautiful
Cape Cod, Otis was home to a wing of
EC-121 "Super Connies" and also housed
an air refueling squadron of KC-135s
assigned to the 499th Air Refueling Wing at
Westover. Otis closed in 1973, with a small
portion left to the Massachusetts Air
National Guard's 102nd Fighter Interceptor

Hanscom AFB -- Hanscom was not built to
near the size of larger bases like Westover
and Pease, but it did have a large Air Force
presence until the early 1960s, when the
flying mission gradually began to reduce.
F-86 fighters flew from the base, then
known as L.G. Hanscom Field, until 1959,
when the 465th Fighter Interceptor
Squadron moved to Griffiss AFB, N.Y. A
variety of test aircraft were also assigned
Hanscom. The Air Force Reserve flew
C-119, C-124, and C-123 transports out of
Hanscom until its relocation to Westover in
September 1973.

Dow AFB, Maine -- Dow was home to the
397th Bombardment Wing of the Strategic
Air Command. The 397th flew B-52Gs and
KC-135s from 1963 until July 1968, when it
was inactivated. The aircraft were
transferred to Barksdale AFB, La. Dow
closed in July 1968. Today it is home to
Bangor International Airport. The Maine Air
National Guard's 101st Air Refueling Wing
with its KC-135R tankers occupies a
portion of the former base.

Old Dow AFB Video from YouTube:

Loring AFB, Maine -- Loring was one of just
three Air Force bases in 1956 to receive the
brand-new B-52 Stratofortress. Loring
shares that honor with Westover and
Castle AFB, Calif., the latter which had the
B-52 "schoolhouse." Loring closed in 1994.

Pease AFB, N.H. -- Once housing two large
SAC bomb wings, Pease was also one of
only two SAC bases chosen to be
assigned the FB-111 swing-wing strategic
bomber. Only Pease's 509th Bomb Wing
(M) and the 380th BMW at Plattsburgh had
this mission. Pease also housed the
headquarters for SAC's 45th Air Division,
and the New Hampshire Air National
Guard. The 157th Air Refueling Wing of the
NH ANG remains at what is now called
Pease Air National Guard Base. Pease
AFB closed in 1991.

Griffiss AFB, N.Y. -- Griffiss was home to
SAC's 416th Bombardment Wing which
flew B-52s and KC-135s. The upstate New
York base also housed an F-106 Delta Dart
fighter-interceptor squadron. Griffiss closed
in 1991.

Plattsburgh AFB, N.Y. -- As mentioned
previously, the 380th Bomb Wing, which
included FB-111 bombers and KC-135
tankers, hosted the base until its 1993


Although the Air Force Reserve (AFRES) had been on the base since its first unit
was assigned in 1966, it wasn't until May 19, 1974 that the keys were turned over
to AFRES from SAC. Westover became an AFRES-owned base on that day - and
the first of its kind in the nation.
Despite a drastic curtailment in flying operations and general Air Force activity,
Westover retained its name as Westover AFB. Betty O'Connell, my good friend and
public affairs officer at the base during the 1970s, found herself explaining to
people that Westover was not
altogether closed, rather partially closed.  
Because the base had made front page news following the Department of
Defense announcement about its realignment, many people believed the doors
were shut. I scanned in the DoD press release that appeared April 17, 1973. It too
said that Westover was to be closed.
>> Click on these
thumbnails to see the
Pentagon news
release that would
direct the most
significant change to
Westover in its history
GRAY AND WHIITE GARGANTUAN - A C-5A Galaxy transits Westover, circa late '70s. TSgt Steve Hoadley, formerly with the 58th Aerial Port Squadron, kindly gave this print  shortly
before he retired from Westover. The aircraft is taxiing in from what appears to be the 23 end of the main runway. Note the Holyoke Mountains in the background. This shot also
shows the C-5's original gray and white paint scheme, which I still think looks really sharp. It is this paint scheme that I recall so fondly in the 1970s when I saw this airplane's debut
in my life as it lumbered over my house into Hanscom Field near Bedford, Mass. The black nose paint accentuates the sheer size of the aircraft.
Air Force Reserve emblems
Terry Horstead provided me these emblems
of the 901st Consolidated Aircraft
Maintenance Squadron and 905th CAMS.
The 439th Airlift Wing is the host unit at
Westover. It operates 16 C-5A/B aircraft. More
than 2,400 reservists are assigned to the
439th. It is one of the largest AF reserve units
in the country. Westover Air Reserve Base is
the largest AF reserve base, physically, in the
United States. The base covers more than
2,500 acres.
Condor Redoubt, August 1981
The shot shows engine startup of C-123K 54-0606 at the "Dogpatch" revetment. (photo by Tom Hildreth)
According to photographer Tom Hildreth, the old SAC alert facility ramp was used for many of the fighters that
deployed through Westover to Europe during Condor Redoubt. Tom shot this Republic F-105D 61-0146 of the AFRES
466TFS/419TFW from Hill AFB, Utah
Click on these
thumbnails to get a
closer look at the
mighty "Thuds" that
transited Westover
during Condor
Redoubt '81.
ELEPHANT WALK  >> A group of Westover C-123K Providers prepares to takeoff during Condor Redoubt , one of
the largest Air Force Reserve exercises ever held at Westover. Note the crewman sticking out of the hatch of the
lead Provider. Condor Redoubt was held in August 1981. "The telephoto shot below shows C-123s taxiing out for
takeoff," photographer Tom Hildreth told me in a recent e-mail. "They will be involved in a paratroop drop over
Westover's "bean bag" drop zone about an hour after the photo was taken. I believe that in the distance behind the
lead aircraft is the quarry at the notch, adjacent to Rt. 116. That was a rounded hilltop when I was a youngster." For
more of Tom's superb photos on this exercise, click on
Air Force Reserve.