Air Force Bases

Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland

Location: Located 8 miles east of Washington, DC.

Origin of current name: Named in honor of Lt Gen Frank Maxwell Andrews (1844-1943). General Andrews organized and commanded the General Headquarters, Air Force (1935-1939), and at the time of his death on May 3rd 1943 in the crash of a B-24 in Iceland, he was Commanding General, United States Forces, European Theater of Operations.

Date current name was assigned to base: June 24, 1948

Previous Names: Camp Springs Air Base, September 5th 1942; Camp Springs Army Air Field, April 8th 1943; Andrews Field February 7th 1945.

Date Established: May 2, 1943

Date Occupied: May 2, 1943

Construction Began: September 16, 1942

Changes in Capability: Four 5,500-foot runways constructed by 1943; field then served mainly as AAF Headquarters base with secondary missions for fighter and bomber training; developed as a B-25 training base during Korean conflict; HQ Air Research and Development Command (later, Air Force Systems Command) moved to Andrews from Baltimore, June 24th 1958; with the construction of new facilities beginning in 1959, Andrews AFB had become by early 1962 the primary USAF installation serving the Washington DC, area; facilities constructed to accommodate naval air unit that arrived from Anacostia, 1963; AFSC headquarters building finished November 1963; 300 family housing units, BOQ quarters and dormitories completed 1967-1969; 150-foot control tower, expansion of hospital to 100-bed capacity, completed late 1967; additional family housing units; BOQs, VOGs, and dormitories constructed during 1970s; cessation of T-33 operations and phase-out of T-29s sharply decreased flying activity, 1972-1973; Advanced Airborne Command Post Facility completed 1976; aeromedical staging facility accepted March 4th 1976; data processing plant completed fall 1976; CBPO building and DC ANG operations facility accepted spring 1977.

Changes in Status: Field designated a sub-base of Headquarters, Baltimore AAFld, late November 1942; on June 6th 1942 Camp Springs AAFld became control base of Army air bases at Baltimore, MD, Philadelphia, PA Dover, DE and Millville, NJ; assigned to the command jirisdiction of Bolling Field January 3rd 1946 and relieved from this assignment, November 20th 1946.


The history of Andrews Air Force Base dates back to the Civil War when the Union occupied a small country church as its headquarters for soldiers camped nearby. Today, that church is known as Chapel Two, and the base community still uses it for worship services.

In the early part of the 20th century, the present site of Andrews was often discussed for a potential civilian airfield. In August 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered the Secretary of War to acquire the land and to build a military airfield. Construction began later that year. On April 19, 1943, the first permanent unit, the 463rd Base Headquarters and Air Base Squadron, arrived from Westover Field, Mass., with 105 enlisted men and five officers.

Camp Springs Army Air Field became operational on May 2, 1943, when the first Republic P-47 Thunderbolt arrived; 75 other P-47s arrived during the first month. The field's early mission was to train fighter pilots for overseas combat duty.

Camp Springs became Andrews Field in 1945 to honor of one of the Air Force's founding fathers, Lt. Gen. Frank M. Andrews. He died in an airplane crash on May 3, 1943, ironically the day after the base that now bears his name opened. Shortly after the Air Force became a separate service in 1947, the base's name changed to Andrews Air Force Base.

In the years following World War II, Andrews served as headquarters for Continental Air Command, Strategic Air Command and the Military Air Transport Service. It was also headquarters to the Air Research and Development Command and its successor, the Air Force Systems Command, from 1950 to 1992.

The year 1947 marked the arrival of the first permanently assigned jet-powered aircraft, an F-80 Shooting Star, at Andrews. With the onset of the Korean War in June 1950, Andrews became involved in combat readiness training for B-25 medium bomber crews.

However, almost since its establishment, Andrews has been known for its special air mission--the transportation of senior government and military leaders. President Harry S. Truman was the first to fly a presidential flight out of Andrews on Nov. 24, 1946. In 1959, Detachment 1, 1254th Air Transport Group received its first jet aircraft, a VC-137. While the president's official aircraft, a C-121 (Columbine III), remained at Washington National Airport, the president often used the new VC-137 for longer trips. President John F. Kennedy's official aircraft, a C-118, permanently transferred from Washington National in March 1962, and Andrews officially became the "Home of Air Force One."

In 1963, the Naval Air Facility moved to Andrews and is currently headquartered on the east side of the base. Besides the NAF, Andrews today is also home to the Air Force Office of Special Investigation headquarters, the D.C. Air National Guard's 113th Wing, the Air Force Reserve's 459th Air Refueling Wing and several other tenant units.

A tragic time for the nation occurred Nov. 22, 1963, with the assassination of President Kennedy in Dallas. The president's body arrived at Andrews later that evening, accompanied by his widow Jacqueline B. Kennedy and newly sworn-in President Lyndon B. Johnson. Thousands of mourners jammed the air terminal, including one of the largest gatherings of news media representatives ever assembled at any time on Andrews AFB.

Andrews has also been the scene of many joyful returns and reunions. Among the many occasions, Andrews welcomed the first prisoners of war back from Vietnam in 1973, saw the return of the U.S. hostages from Iran in 1981, and welcomed former POW Pfc. Jessica Lynch home from Iraq in 2003.

The 89th Airlift Wing became the host unit for Andrews in 1991. Known as "The President's Wing," the 89th lives up to Andrews' rich history as the elite Air Mobility Command wing for transporting VIPs around the world. Not only does Andrews provide service for America's senior officials, but also kings, queens, presidents, prime ministers and military leaders from foreign nations fly onboard the 89th's aircraft and transit through the base on a routine basis.

Everyday, Andrews receives global attention. In June 2004, the world watched as the remains of former President Ronald Reagan arrived at Andrews for the state funeral services in Washington. A few days later, thousands of mourners paid their respects on Andrews' flightline as President Reagan's body departed for California.

Andrews has evolved from the muddy fields and wooden buildings of the 1940s to become one of the most modern air bases, and solidifying itself as "The Gateway to the Capital."