Camp New Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Origin of current name: Named in honor of the first Dutch settlement in America, Nieuw Amsterdam, later renamed New York City. The designation Camp New Amsterdam applies only to the U.S.-occupied segment of the Royal Netherlands Air Force Base named after the nearby town which dates to 1911. Soesterberg RNAFB was named on 1 Jul 1913 and became the "cradle" of Dutch aviation.
Date current name was assigned to base: November 16, 1954
Date Established: November 16, 1954
Date Occupied: November 16, 1954
Base Units: 512th Ftr-Day Sq, 16 Nov 1954; 32d Ftr-Day Sq, 8 Sep 1955 (rdsgd 32d Tac Ftr Sq, 8 Jul 1958; 32d Ftr-Intcpr Sq, 8 Jul 1959; 32d Tac Ftr Sq, 1 Jul 1969)
Changes in Capability: Primary runway extended to 12,000 feet and new barriers installed to enable transition from F-86F to F-100C operations, Aug 1956; additional personnel arrived, facilities again upgraded, and 21 additional operational buildings (including alert hangar and dormitories) completed upon conversion to F-102A/B operations 1960-1961; extensive runway repairs (Mar-Jun 1963 and Sep-Nov 1966) necessitated temporary transfer of flying operations to nearby Deelen RNAF; phasing in of F-4Es resulted in more upgrading and construction of additional facilities 1969-1970; TAB VEE shelters completed fall 1972; new liquid oxygen plant completed mid-1973; 17 aircraft shelters and 4 ammunition igloos accepted Oct 1977; 190 family housing units occupied Jul 1977-May 1978; arrival of F-15A/Bs required further updating of operational facilities 1978-1980.
Changes in Status: Continuously active since 16 Nov 1954, when Dutch-U.S. agreement authorized stationing of a U.S. fighter squadron at Soesterberg RNAFB. Closed December 31 2008.
Base was Decommissioned on December 31, 2008
For almost 40 years, United States Air Force facilities at Soesterberg, named Camp New Amsterdam was a major front line USAFE airbase during the Cold War. The base is closed on 31 December 2008, due to budget cuts in the Dutch Army. The airbase ceased flying operations on 12 November 2008, when the command was transferred from the Dutch Air Force to Dutch Defense who will take care of the base until it will be given back to nature.
The first USAFE unit to operate from Soesterberg was the 512th Fighter-Day Squadron, which arrived with North American F-86F "Sabre" on 16 November 1954 from RAF Manston in the UK. By July 1955, the 512th reached full operational status. The squadron markings of the F-86s were with three green bands at the vertical tail.
In September 1955, the designation of the 512th was transferred to RAF Shepherds Grove, where it replaced the 78th FIS. Its aircraft, personnel and equipment however stayed in the Netherlands, and made up the newly activated 32nd Fighter Day Squadron, which was operated at Soesterberg as a detachment of the 36th Fighter Wing at Bitburg Air Base West Germany.
In 1956, the squadron transitioned to North American F-100 "Super Sabres". The 32d sent five instructors pilots to Sidi Slimane AB in Morocco to complete transition training for the F-100. At the same time, the squadron began ferrying the F-86s to Prestwick, Scotland, and Chateauroux-Deols Air Base in France for disposal. On 18 July 1958, USAFE redesignated the unit as the 32nd Tactical Fighter Squadron, as part of the 36th Tactical Fighter Wing.
In January 1959, the 525th Fighter Interceptor Squadron at Bitburg received the first Convair F-102 "Delta Dagger", designed to upgrade the air defence capabilities of Western Europe. As part of this upgrade, the 32d was redesignated as the 32nd Fighter Interceptor Squadron, and also received F-102s and acquired a 24-hour alert commitment flying alert interceptor mission from Soesterberg supporting NATO’s 2d Allied Tactical Air Force (2d ATAF). The 32d FIS was assigned to the USAFE 86th Air Division (Defense) at Ramstein Air Base West Germany on 1 July 1960. This transfer was made in order that all USAF fighter assets in Europe could be concentrated in one command.
As a result of the 1968 Soviet intervention in Czechoslovakia, the USAF announced that its F-102 squadrons would be re-equipped with the modern McDonnell Douglas F-4 "Phantom II". The 32nd squadron was first in line to undergo the conversion, and the F-102s were flown back to the United States and were placed in service with the Air National Guard.
On 1 July 1969, the USAF redesignated the unit as the 32nd Tactical Fighter Squadron (32nd TFS). On 6 August 1969, the first two, brand new, Phantoms arrived. Flying the F-4 Phantom meant some drastic changes for the squadron and the base. Personnel had to be increased, and the squadron's task was extended to include lending air support to ground troops. Also, USAFE wanted to upgrade the headquarters element of the 32d to group status, and establish itself as a separate organisation from the 36th TFW at Bitburg. However, the Dutch and American governments had agreed that the US Air Force would only station a "squadron" at Soesterberg, and this fact hindered the American attempt to upgrade the squadron's status.
In 1978, the F-4s were flown to Ramstein Air Base in Germany, where they were assigned to the 86th TFW. The 32d was upgraded to the McDonnel-Douglas F-15A "Eagle" as part of Project Ready Eagle which brought F-15s to Bitburg in 1977. However, after flying the F-15A and F-15B for just 18 months, the USAF exchanged these models for the new F-15C and F-15D Eagles.
In May 1980, the 32d flew five of its Eagles to Eglin Air Force Base Florida, to participate in the weapons systems evaluation program. While at Eglin, the unit swapped its aircraft for the newer models. These planes arrived at Soesterberg on 13 June, making the 32d the first unit in the USAFE to be equipped with the latest versions of the F-15. The 32nd completed the upgrade on 25 November 1980. At that time, the squadron possessed 18 F-15C's and two F-15D's fighter aircraft.
In 1989, the Dutch government allowed USAF to upgrade its headquarters unit at Soesterberg AB from squadron to group status. The 32d Tactical Fighter Group was activated at Soesterberg on 16 November 1989, with the 32 Tactical Fighter Squadron as a subordinate unit and much reduced in size.
With the end of the Cold War, a major force draw-down occurred in Europe, the USAF reduced its fighter force structure. These changes affected the 32nd, as part of the draw-down, the squadron's F-15 Eagles returned to the United States. The original intent of USAFE was to inactivate the 32d Fighter Group, and orders were so issued inactivating the group's subordinate units on 1 July 1994 and the group on 1 October.
On 19 April, the group furled its colors in formal ceremonies attended by members of the Royal Family, and the American ambassador. Later in the spring, however, HQ USAFE received permission from HQ USAF to use the 32d designation for the new 32d Air Operations Group. HQ USAFE created this unit on 1 July, and activated the 632d Air Base Squadron the same day to replace the 32d Fighter Group at Soesterberg to complete closure actions. The same order redesignated the group's 32d Fighter Squadron as the 32d Air Operations Squadron, with assignment to the 32d Air Operations Group. All actions were effective 1 July 1994.
In this way, USAFE was able to preserve the lineage of these two distinguished units. The American part of Soesterberg was returned to the Netherlands government on 27 September 1994. Only one F-15A remains in the Netherlands. She is displayed in the Dutch Air Force Museum, Soesterberg, Netherlands Airforce Museum. Soesterberg then became a Royal Netherlands Air Force transport helicopter base with 298 Squadron (CH-47 Chinook), and 300 Squadron (AS 532 U2 Cougar and SA 316) stationed at the base.
Flying officially ended on 12 November 2008. The last jet ever to take off was a Hellenic AF F-4E. The base formally closed 31 December 2008. The 298 and 300 Squadron have been moved to Gilze-Rijen Air Base. A part of the base remains in use as a glider field however. Also the former USAFE side will be in use by ground units, and will be called "Camp New Amsterdam". And finally the AF museum return to the base and will use most of the existing hangars.