Air Force Bases

Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico

On June 10, 1942, an event occurred that permanently changed the face of the Tularosa Basin -- Alamogordo Army Air Field was established at a site six miles west of Alamogordo, New Mexico. Initial plans called for the base to serve as the center for the British Overseas Training program; the British hoped to be able to train their aircrews over the open New Mexico skies. However, everything changed when the Japanese launched a surprise attack against the Hawaiian Islands on December 7, 1941. The British decided to no longer pursue its overseas training program, and the United States military saw the location as an opportunity to train its own growing military. Construction began at the airfield on February 6, 1942 and forces began to move in on May 14, 1942.

From 1942-1945, Alamogordo Army Air Field served as the training grounds for over 20 different groups, flying primarily B-17s, B-24s, and B-29s. Typically, these groups served at the airfield for about six months, training their personnel before heading to combat in either the Pacific or European Theater. The 450th Bombardment Group was one of the many to cut its teeth at Alamogordo. After training, the group went on to serve in nearly every major combat operation in Italy, France, Germany, Austria, Hungary, and the Balkans. During their combat service, the 450th garnered two distinguished unit citations and 11 campaign credits.

After World War II, the future of the base was uncertain. In fact, rumors spread concerning the closure of the site, fueled by the fact that most operations had ceased. However, in 1947, a new era began when Air Materiel Command announced the air field would be its primary site for the testing and development of pilot less aircraft, guided missiles, and other research programs. For the next 25 years the site, which became known as the Holloman Air Development Center, and later the Air Force Missile Development Center, launched many missiles including Tiny Tim (the first Army rocket), Rascal, V-2, XQ-2 Drone, Falcon, MACE, Matador, and Shrike.

On January 13, 1948 the Alamogordo installation was renamed Holloman Air Force Base, in honor of the late Col. George V. Holloman, a pioneer in guided missile research.

Holloman Air Force Base wrote its name into the annals of American history in the 1950s and 1960s. On December 10, 1954, Lt Col (Dr.) John P. Stapp received the nickname "The Fastest Man Alive" when he rode a rocket propelled test sled, Sonic Wind No. 1, to a speed of 632 miles per hour. Additionally, Captain Joseph W. Kittinger Jr. stepped out of an open balloon gondola at 102,800 feet on August 16, 1960, in an attempt to evaluate techniques of high altitude bailout. Capt Kittinger's jump lasted 13 minutes reaching a velocity of 614 miles per hour. That jump broke four world records: highest open gondola manned balloon flight, highest balloon flight of any kind, highest bailout, and longest free fall. A final noteworthy event occurred on November 29, 1961, when ENOS, a chimpanzee trained at Holloman's HAM facility (Holloman Aero-Medical laboratory), was the first U.S. specimen launched into orbit. ENOS was launched in a Mercury-Atlas capsule that completed two orbits around the earth and was safely recovered three hours, 21 minutes later.

On 12 July 1963, after serving at Chaumont Air Base, France as a conventional strike force in Europe, the 366th Tactical Fighter Wing moved to Holloman Air Force Base. The 366th arrived armed with the F-84 and converted to the F-4 in 1965. In support of combat operations in Vietnam, the wing moved to Phan Rang Air Base, South Vietnam in March 1966.

Another new era began in the Tularosa Basin on 1 July 1968, when the 49th Tactical Fighter Wing arrived at Holloman Air Force Base. The 49th's F-4 Phantom IIs introduced a new era of fighter aircraft training and operations, which continued for the next three decades and until today. In 1977 the 49th transitioned to the F-15 Eagle, the Air Force's top air-to-air weapon. In 1992, Holloman Air Force Base again garnered national attention when the Air Force's most technological fighter, the F-117A Nighthawk made its new home at Holloman.

Today, Holloman Air Force Base continues to serve at the forefront of military operations, with its F-117 "stealth" aircraft and serving as the training center for the German Air Force's Tactical Training Center.

On 1 May 1996, the German Air Force Tactical Training Center was established in concept with the 20th Fighter Squadron which provides aircrew training in the F-4F Phantom II. The TTC serves as the parent command for two German air crew training squadrons. The F-4 Training Squadron oversees all German F-4 student personal affairs, and provides German instructor pilots to cooperate in the contracted F-4 training program provided by the U.S. Air Force (20th Fighter Squadron). A second TTC unit, the Tornado Training Squadron, provides academic and tactical flying training, by German Air Force instructors, for German Tornado aircrews. The first contingent of Tornado aircraft arrived at Holloman in March 1996. More than 300 German Air Force members are permanently assigned at Holloman to the TTC -- the only unit of its kind in the United States. The German Air Force Flying Training Center activated March 31 with German Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Portz and U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Michael Ryan present.

History of the BOMARC at Holloman can be found here.