Selfridge Air National Guard Base, Michigan
It was 1910, with aviation still in its infancy, that Henry Joy set aside several hundred acres of marshland for what would eventually become Selfridge Air National Guard Base. Originally known as Joy Aviation Field, in 1917 it became Selfridge Field to honor the memory of Lieutenant Thomas Selfridge, the first military flyer and the first member of the Armed Forces to die in an aviation accident.
As World War I was coming to a close in Europe, and recognizing the value of aviation for military purposes, Selfridge Field became the first aerial gunnery school in 1918. In 1921 Mr. Joy formally sold the property to the U.S. government. Surviving the lean 1930’s, Selfridge Field expanded to 3700 acres in 1942, as America again became embroiled in global war.
With victory in 1945 and the U.S. Army Air Corp’s evolution into a separate service in 1947, Selfridge Field became Selfridge Air Force Base (AFB). As the years passed, Selfridge AFB became a critical link in the Cold War defense of the northern United States. In 1971, the base was formally transferred to the Michigan Air National Guard and this continues today. The decade of the 1970’s started with the arrival of the Michigan Air National Guard’s 127th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing, equipped with three dozen aging reconnaissance jets and several support aircraft. The 127th which had been stationed at the area’s commercial air terminus, Detroit Metropolitan Airport, instantly became the base’s largest flying unit, and has remained the host organization on base ever since.
The last 10 years have seen many changes here at Selfridge. Home to a diverse group of military units, Selfridge is a true joint military facility, with units from the Air National Guard, Air Force Reserve, United States Army, Navy, Coast Guard and Marine Corp.
Many units have converted missions, evolving to support the needs of national defense. The 927th Airlift Wing’s 63rd Airlift Squadron deployed to the Middle East in 1991, assisting in efforts to eject Iraqi forces from Kuwait. Since that time, the 927th has converted to the air-refueling mission, flying KC-135 tankers in support of contingencies across the world. The 191st Fighter Interceptor Group converted to the airlift mission and later consolidated with the 127th Fighter Wing to form the 127th Wing.
With the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the United States and subsequent War on Terrorism, the 127th Wing’s 107th Fighter Squadron, with F-16 fighters, provided combat air patrols over the Northern U.S., continuing Selfridge's proud air-defense heritage. The 927th Air Refueling Wing responded within one hour after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. The wing quickly became the “refueling unit of choice” for the North Central United States, supporting Homeland Defense as part of Operation Noble Eagle, and remains actively engaged in Operation Enduring Freedom (Global War on Terrorism). The 171st Airlift Squadron continues its proud heritage, today flying the venerable C-130, crossing the globe as worldwide airlift movers. The unsung heroes continue to be the countless support personnel who provide the aircraft maintenance, security, communications, civil engineering, medical care and finance support that assists the aviation efforts. A diverse group with a single mission of defending the United States.