Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington
Origin of current name: Named in honor of Gen Muir Stephen Fairchild (1894-1950). General Fairchild received his wings and commission in 1918, and served as a pilot during World War I. He held various air staff positions during World War II. General Fairchild received his forth star in 1948; he died on March 17th 1950 while serving as Vice Chief of Staff, UASF.
Date current name was assigned to base: November 1, 1950
Previous Names: Galena Field (popular designation), renamed Spokane Air Depot, March 1st 1942; Spokane Army Airfield, July 9th 1942; Spokane Air Force Base, January 13th 1948.
Date Established: March 1, 1942
Date Occupied: October 26, 1942
Construction Began: January 1, 1942
Changes in Capability: From activation (1942) until end of World War II base served as supply and maintenance depot for Pacific Northwest and Alaska, overhauling 13,000 aircraft engines; base and depot units consolidated into a single base unit December 9th 1944; facilities augmented to accommodate B-29s July 15th 1947; concrete areas extended and strengthened for B-36s early 1952; control tower, operations building, troop billets, and concrete areas constructed September-October 1952; 100-bed hospital opened June 25th 1956; 1,000-unit Wherry housing initially occupied November 1st 1957; facilities augmented to accommodate KC-135s February-August 1958; major concrete area extension and rehabilitation project completed fall 1958; Capehart housing project accepted June 21st 1960; nine ICBM Atlas missile sites, ringing the base area-1960 (assigned) to 1965-1970 (excessed and disposed); major modifications and new contruction to accommodate an ANG KC-135 unit (141st Air Refueling Wing) completed July 1st 1971; provided support for the USAF Cold Weather Survival School (3636 CCTW) training program, as well as the 48 aerospace Rescue and Recovery Sq and HQ 47 Air Div (SAC), 1971-1982.
Since 1942, Fairchild Air Force Base has been a key part of our nation's defense strategy from WW II repair depot, to Strategic Air Command bomber wing during the Cold War, to Air Mobility Command air refueling wing during Operation IRAQI FREEDOM. Today, Fairchild's aircraft and personnel make up the backbone of the Air Force's tanker fleet on the west coast.
Fairchild's location, 12 miles west of Spokane, resulted from a competition with the cities of Seattle and Everett in western Washington. The War Department chose Spokane for several reasons: better weather conditions, the location 300 miles from the coast, and the Cascades Mountain range providing a natural barrier against possible Japanese attack.
As an added incentive to the War Department, many Spokane businesses and public-minded citizens donated money to purchase land for the base. At a cost of more than $125,000, these people bought 1,400 acres and presented the title to the War Department in January 1942. That year, the government designated $14 million to purchase more land and begin construction of a new Spokane Army Air Depot.
From 1942 until 1946, the base served as a repair depot for damaged aircraft returning from the Pacific Theater. In the summer of 1946, the base was transferred to the Strategic Air Command and assigned to the 15th Air Force. Beginning in the summer of 1947, the 92d and 98th Bomb Groups arrived. Both of the units flew the most advanced bomber of the day, the B-29 Superfortress. In January 1948, the base received the second of its three official names: Spokane Air Force Base.
With the outbreak of hostilities in Korea, both groups deployed to Japan and Guam. After only a few months, General MacArthur released the 92d to return to the states while the 98th remained in the Far East. The 98th was then reassigned to Nebraska. Upon its return to Fairchild, the 92d was re-designated the 92d Bombardment Wing (Heavy). In November 1950, the base took its current name in memory of Air Force Vice Chief of Staff, General Muir S. Fairchild, a native of Bellingham, Washington. The general entered service as a sergeant with the Washington National Guard in June 1916 and died while on duty in the Pentagon in March 1950. The formal dedication ceremony was held July 20, 1951, to coincide with the arrival of the wing's first B-36 Peacemaker.
In 1956 the wing began a conversion that brought the B-52 Stratofortress to Fairchild, followed by the KC-135 Stratotanker in 1958. In 1961 the 92d became the first "aerospace" wing in the nation with the acquisition of the Atlas intercontinental ballistic missile. With the new role and the addition of missiles, the 92d Bomb Wing was re-designated the 92d Strategic Aerospace Wing. However, the designation remained longer than the missiles, as the Atlas missiles were removed in 1965.
On March 15, 1966, the 3636th Combat Crew Training Group was established at Fairchild. In 1971, it became a wing and assumed control over all Air Force survival schools.
Today, the 336th Training Group continues this mission for Air Education and Training Command.
As military operations in Vietnam escalated in the mid-60s, the demand for air refueling increased. Fairchild tanker crews became actively involved in Operation YOUNG TIGER, refueling combat aircraft in Southeast Asia. The wing's B-52s were not far behind, deploying to Andersen AFB, Guam for Operation ARC LIGHT and the bombing campaign against enemy strongholds in Vietnam.
In late 1974, the Air Force announced plans to convert the 141st Fighter Interceptor Group of the Washington Air National Guard at Geiger Field to the 141st Air Refueling Wing (ARW) and move it to Fairchild. Work began soon thereafter and by 1976 eight KC-135E aircraft transferred to the new 141st ARW. Today, the 141st ARW continues its air mobility mission, flying the KC-135R model.
Following Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in August 1990, a total of 560 base personnel deployed to DESERT SHIELD and DESERT STORM from August 1990 to March 1991. The 43rd and 92d Air Refueling Squadrons flew a combined total of 4,004 hours, 721 sorties, and off-loaded a total of 22.5 million pounds of fuel to coalition aircraft.
On September 1, 1991, under Air Force reorganization the 92d Bombardment Wing (Heavy) was re-designated the 92d Wing, emphasizing a dual bombing and refueling role. I n June 1992 the wing became part of the Air Combat Command (ACC) and was re-designated the 92d Bomb Wing. As Strategic Air Command finished 46 years of service to the nation, Fairchild bomber and tanker crews took top honors at Proud Shield '92. This was SAC's final Bombing/Navigation Competition. The wing won the Fairchild Trophy for best bomber/tanker team as well as the Saunders Trophy for the tanker unit attaining the most points on all competition missions.
December 7, 1993 marked the beginning of a significant change in the mission of Fairchild when a wing B-52 transferred to another base, the first step in Fairchild's transition to an air refueling wing. The departure of B-52s continued throughout the spring of 1994, with the last bomber leaving May 25, 1994. With that flight, the bomber mission of the 92d ended after 52 years of faithful duty.
On July 1, 1994, the 92d Bomb Wing was re-designated the 92d Air Refueling Wing (ARW), and Fairchild AFB was transferred from ACC to Air Mobility Command (AMC) in a ceremony marking the creation of the largest air refueling wing in the Air Force. Dubbed as the new "tanker hub of the Northwest," the wing was capable of maintaining an air bridge across the nation and the world in support of US and allied forces.
Since 1994, the 92d ARW has been involved in virtually every contingency mission around the world. Whether it has been combat operations or humanitarian relief missions, Fairchild tankers have been force extenders, enabling U.S. and Allied aircraft to successfully complete their missions. In addition, 92 ARW KC-135s have routinely supported special airlift missions in response to world events or international treaty compliance requirements.
In 1995 Fairchild flew to Travis AFB, California in support of its first Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) mission, transporting Russian inspectors to sites in the Western U.S. The wing has flown START missions in the U.S. every year since. And in May 2000, the wing became the first active duty KC-135 unit to transport U.S. inspectors on a START mission into Ulan Ude, Russia.
Throughout much of the decade of the 90s, the wing was actively involved in missions to suppress the aggression of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. Wing personnel answered the call for operations such as DESERT STRIKE and PHOENIX SCORPION and routinely deployed in support of Operation Southern Watch (OSW) and Operation Northern Watch (ONW). OSW and ONW required a constant presence of tankers and associated support personnel to help enforce the UN-sanctioned no-fly zones in Iraq. Southwest Asia, however, was not the only trouble spot, as the wing also had to deploy aircraft and personnel in 1999 to support Operation ALLIED FORCE, the mission to stop Serb aggression in Kosovo.
2001 will be remembered most for 9/11 and America's response to the Global War on Terrorism. Following the terrorist attacks on our nation, the wing began providing around-the-clock air refueling of Combat Air Patrol fighter aircraft and initiated 24-hour ground alert operations in support of Operation NOBLE EAGLE, the defense of our homeland. Preparations also began for what would become a series of extended Operation ENDURING FREEDOM (OEF) deployments for aircrews and maintainers as well as combat support and medical personnel. These deployments continue today for OEF as well as Operation IRAQI FREEDOM.
The 92d Air Refueling Wing, the associate units at Fairchild, and the Spokane community have forged an impressive relationship over the years. This team, "Team Fairchild," has earned a well-deserved reputation for excellence. Team Fairchild will continue to meet future challenges in its usual fashion, and in so doing will preserve the legacy of excellence that began over 60 years ago.
FAIRCHILD AFB CHRONOLOGY
28 Jan 42 During WW II, the 92d Bombardment Group (BG) was constituted.
1 Mar 42 The 92d BG was activated at Barksdale Field, Louisiana.
1 Mar 42 The Spokane Army Air Depot, located 12 miles west of Spokane, Washington, activated as a maintenance and repair depot for damaged aircraft returning from combat operations.
29 Aug 42 The 92d BG, flying the B-17, moved to Bovingdon Airdrome, England.
6 Sep 42 The 92d BG flew its first combat mission over Nazi-occupied France.
4 Jan 43 Once relieved of combat status, the 92d BG reactivated at Alconbury Field, England.
15 Jun 45 After deactivation at Alconbury, England, the 92d BG reactivated at Istres Air Field, France.
28 Feb 46 With over 300 combat missions to its credit, the 92d BG inactivated at Istres Air Field.
15 Jul 46 The 92d BG, Heavy was re-designated as the 92d BG, Very Heavy, and assigned to Strategic Air Command (SAC).
4 Aug 46 The 92d BG reactivated at Fort Worth Army Field, Texas, and was assigned to the Fifteenth Air Force. The 92d BG became equipped with the B-29 Superfortress.
Oct 46 After only a brief stay at Fort Worth, the 92d BG moved to Smoky Hill Air Field, Kansas.
15 Jul 47 The 92d BG moved to Spokane, Washington.
17 Nov 47 The 92d Bombardment Wing (BW), Very Heavy, was established.
4 Jul 50 The 92d BG dispatched several B-29s to participate in the Korean Conflict.
28 Feb 51 Due to the reorganization of all SAC units, the 92d BG, Heavy, became the 92d BW, Heavy.
20 Jul 51 Spokane Air Force Base was officially renamed Fairchild Air Force Base in honor of General Muir S. Fairchild. Legally, the name took effect eight months earlier on Nov 24, 1950.
29 Jul 51 The 92d BW became equipped with the new B-36 Peacemaker.
1 Oct 56 The 92d BW entered into a conversion period from B-36s to B-52s. This conversion was completed on Sep 22, 1957.
13 Sep 57 Flying the KB-29 aircraft, the 92nd Air Refueling Squadron (ARS) activated at Fairchild AFB.
21 Feb 58 The KC-135 Stratotankers began to replace the KB-29s. This conversion concluded on Sep 11, 1958.
17 Mar 61 The first Atlas-E complex assigned to the 92d BW activated in Davenport, Washington.
28 Sep 61 Nine Atlas Missile-E complexes became operational.
15 Feb 62 The 92d BW, Heavy, re-designated as the 92d Strategic Aerospace Wing (SAW).
2 Nov 62 The first AGM-28B Hound Dog Missile arrived at Fairchild AFB.
25 Sep 64 The 92d SAW became involved in the Vietnam Conflict by refueling fighters over Southeast Asia.
5 Apr 65 In accordance with the operational phase out of the Series E Atlas ICBM, all nine 92d SAW Atlas-E Missile complexes inactivated.
16 Oct 70 The 92d SAW received its first B-52G.
7 Dec 70 The first package of ADM-20C Quail missiles arrived at Fairchild AFB.
1 Jul 72 The 92d SAW was re-designated the 92d Bombardment Wing (BMW).
21 Dec 72 Following a nighttime raid on Hanoi, North Vietnam, a 92d BMW B-52 crew was shot down. This incident resulted in the death of five crew members. Two crew members became Prisoners of War and returned to Fairchild AFB 99 days after their capture.
1 May 77 Strategic Air Command transferred responsibility for the 141st Air Refueling Group (Reserve) from the 28th BMW to the 92d BMW.
18 May 80 Mount St. Helens erupted during Fairchild's Open House celebration, leaving the wing paralyzed for one month.
9 Sep 83 The 92d BMW received its first Air Launched Cruise Missile-modified B 52G.
10 Sep 85 The first model B 52 aircraft arrived at Fairchild AFB.
23 Jan 87 The 92d BMW was reassigned from the 47th Air Division to the 57th Air Division at Minot AFB, North Dakota.
15 Jun 88 The 92d BMW was reassigned to 15th Air Force, Travis AFB, California.
15 Aug 90 The 92d BMW received its first official tasking to support Operation DESERT SHIELD in response to Iraq's invasion of Kuwait
27 Aug 90 Fairchild held an official roll-in ceremony for the first of its Model KC 135s (tail # 59-1463), nicknamed the "Lilac Princess."
28 Sep 91 As continuous SAC ground alert operations came to an end, Fairchild alert forces began leaving the alert facility and alert aircraft were downloaded and taken off alert.
1 Jun 92 Due to a massive Air Force reorganization, SAC dissolved and the 92d Wing became a part of the newly formed Air Combat Command (ACC). The 92d Wing was then re-designated as the 92d Bomb Wing.
1 Jul 94 The 92d BMW transferred from ACC to Air Mobility Command (AMC) and the wing was re-designated as the 92d Air Refueling Wing (ARW).
19 Feb 99 Personnel and aircraft from the 92d ARW deployed in support of Operation ALLIED FORCE, the operation to stop the Serb offensive in Kosovo.
11 Sep 01 In response to terrorist attacks on our nation, the 92d ARW began Combat Air Patrol support operations and placed aircraft and aircrews on ground alert. Deployments began shortly afterwards to support the Global War on Terrorism.
19 Mar 03 Combat operations began against Iraq. Hundreds of 92d ARW personnel were deployed worldwide to support Operation IRAQI FREEDOM.
1 Oct 03 The 92d ARW was assigned to Eighteenth Air Force, Scott AFB, Illinois.
Established as 92d Bombardment Wing, Very Heavy, on 17 November 1947. Redesignated as 92d Bombardment Wing,Medium, on 12 July 1948;
92d Bombardment Wing, Heavy, on16 June 1951;
92d Strategic Aerospace Wing on 15 February 1962;
92d Bombardment Wing, Heavy, on 31 March 1972;
92d Wing on 1 September 1991; 92d Bomb Wing on 1June 1992;
92d Air Refueling Wing on 1 July 1994. Reassigned from Fifteenth Air Force to Eighteenth Air Force on 1 October 2003.
Barksdale Field, Louisiana, March 1942
MacDill Field, Florida, March 1942
Sarasota-Bradenton Field, Florida, May 1942
Westover Field, Massachusetts, June 1942
Dow Field, Maine, June 1942
Bovingdon, England, August 1942
Alconbury, England, January 1943
Istres, France, June 1945
Forth Worth Army Air Field, Texas, August 1946
Smoky Hill Army Air Field, Kansas, October 1946
Spokane Army Air Field (later renamed Spokane Air ForceBase and Fairchild Air Force Base), Washington, July 1947
World War II: Antisubmarine, American Theater;
Air Offensive, Europe; Normandy; Northern France;
Rhineland; Ardennes-Alsace; Central Europe
Korean War: UN Defensive; UN Offensive
Distinguished Unit Citation: Germany, 11 Jan 1944;
Merseberg, Germany, 11 September 1944
Air Force Outstanding Unit Awards: 22 August - 11 September 1953;
3 March - 6 October 1959; 1 January
1961 - 31 March 1962; 1 July 1967 - 30 June 1968; 1 July
1969 - 30 June 1970; 1 July 1976 - 30 June 1977; 1 July
1991 - 30 June 1993; 1 January 1998 - 30 June 1999;
1 June 2001 - 31 May 2003
92d AIR REFUELING WING COMMANDERS
Col Scott M. Hanson July 2005
Col Anthony M. Mauer August 2003
Col Randal D. Fullhart October 2001
Col Erwin F. Lessel, III February 2000
Col Timothy C. Jones November 1998
Brig Gen Paul W. Essex November 1996
Brig Gen Arthur J. Lichte August 1995
Brig Gen Gary A. Voellger July 1994
92d AIR REFUELING WING COMMAND CHIEFS
CMSgt Mark R. Luzader September 2005
CMSgt Terry L. Speer June 2003
CMSgt James M. Guidry June 2001
CMSgt Johnny B. Wilford February 1999
CMSgt Nickey A. Clark July 1997
CMSgt Joseph D. Markin July 1996
CMSgt Jose R. Vasquez July 1994
History of the Atlas Missile at Fairchild can be found here.