Air Force Bases

Griffiss Air Force Base, New York

Location: Located at NorthEast boundary of Rome, NY, about 15 miles NorthWest of Utica, NT.

Origin of current name: Named in honor of Lt Col Townsend E. Griffiss (1900-1942). Colonel Griffiss died during World War II on a flight to England from the Soviet Union. While returning from an evaluation of ferrying routes for lend lease aircraft on February 15th 1942, RAF pilots mistook him for an enemy and shot his aircraft down southwest of Plymouth.

Date current name was assigned to base: January 29, 1948

Previous Names: Rome Air Depot, February 5th 1942; Air Depot, Rome Army Air Base, October 13th 1942; Rome Army Air Field, November 4th 1942; Rome Air Depot Control Area, December 20th 1942; Rome Air Depot Control Area Command, February 1st 1943; Rome Air Service Command, May 17th 1943; Rome Air Depot, September 4th 1944; Rome Air Technical Service Command, November 14th 1944; Rome Air Materiel Area, July 11th 1946; Rome Army Air Field, July 14th 1946; Rome Air Force Base, January 23rd 1948.

Date Established: February 1, 1942

Date Occupied: March 24, 1942

Construction Began: August 2, 1941

Changes in Capability: Facilities for Rome Air Depot (later, Rome Control Depot; Rome Air Service Command; Rome Air Technical Service Command; Rome Air Materiel Area) completed in February 1942; flying operation on the depot airfield began February 18th 1942; throughout World War II the depot probided aircraft engine maintenance and repair, and trained air depot groups in engine repair; activities sharply curtailed in fall 1945; electronic research activities began 1949; Watson Laboratory complex transferred from Red Bank, NJ, (piecemeal) 1950-1951; Rome Air Development Center established June 12th 1951; runway and other concrete surfaces extended and upgraded September 1952; new intelligence and reconnaissance laboratory building occupied May 27th 1954; 2 1/4 mile runway opened July 23rd 1958; facilities completed for KC-135s (arrived April 17th 1959) and B-52s (arrived January 12th 1960); Rome Air Development Center established AFLC Communications-Electronics Field Office to monitor missile tests August 1962; Rome Air Materiel Area phased out, functions transferred to other Air Materiel Areas and to AFLC 1965; composite medical facility completed June 12th 1974; electronic research facility completed early 1976; weapons system security alert area completed March 1979; control tower completed June 1980; ALCM support facility and NORAD Regional Operational Control Center completed November 1981.

Base was Decommissioned on September 30, 1995


Griffiss Air Force Base (Griffiss) is a 3,900 acre former Air Combat Command (ACC) installation approximately two miles northeast of the City of Rome, Oneida County, New York. The base was opened on February 1, 1942 as the Rome Air Depot. During World War II, the Rome Air Depot served as a staging area for aircraft bound for the European theater of operations, and several research functions were begun at the base during this time. Following World War II the depot mission ceased, however the research functions continued and were expanded. During the 1950s, the Strategic Air Command (SAC) became the host command and stationed long range bombers and refueling aircraft at Griffiss. Many tenant units have been located at Griffiss since the 1950s. Until September 30, 1995, the host unit at the base was the 416th Bombardment Wing, responsible for providing long range combat air power on a global scale. Current tenant units include the 485th Engineering Installation Group (responsible for providing communications systems installation worldwide), the Northeast Air Defense Sector (responsible for continental air defense in the northeastern United States), and the Rome Laboratory (an Air Force research and development organization). Until September 1994, the 509th Air Refueling Squadron was located at Griffiss and its tankers were tasked with air refueling operations worldwide.

As part of the 1990 Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Act, Griffiss was selected for realignment during the third round of the BRAC process in July 1993. The realignment of Griffiss became public law when the President and the Congress approved the third round of base closures and realignments in 1993. This process was completed September 30, 1995. The 416th Bombardment Wing was deactivated and Griffiss ceased functioning as an Air Force base. Several of the tenant organizations continue to function as "stand alone" entities, with the majority of the base property turned over to the Air Force Base Conversion Agency. This agency will assist local developmental authorities in turning over this base property to private organizations and businesses.

Rome Army Air Field, June 1945
Rome Army Air Field, June 1945