Air Force Bases

Larson Air Force Base, Washington

Situated near an old camp where Chief Moses once trafficked in buffalo hides and horses, Larson AFB has come a long way to its "new look" as a missile and supersonic bomber base. Only five miles from the city of Moses lake, Washington, Larson's original name was Moses Lake Army Air Base. First activated on 24 November 1942 as a temporary World War II training center, Larson's first mission was to train pilots for P-38's and later to train combat crews for the B-17 Flying fortress.

In 1945 --at the end of the war -- Moses Lake Air Force Base activity was curtailed to a standby status. During the following three year period the base was used as a testing site for two of Boeing's aircraft, the B-47 Stratojet and the B-50. It was from this base, in February 1949, that the B-47 began its record-breaking cross country speed run to Andrews AFB, Maryland, completing the flight in three hours and forty five minutes.

Reopened as a permanent installation in November 1948, under the Air Defense Command, F-82's, F-94 Star Fires, and finally F-86 Sabrejets patrolled the Pacific Northwest with the primary mission of protecting the vital Hanford atomic works Grand Coulee Dam, and other strategic points against possible enemy attack.

In May 1950, Moses Lake AFB was redesignated Larson Air Force Base in honor of Major Donald A. Larson, a WW II ace from Yakima,Washington who was killed in action over Germany in 1944.

On April 1,1952, Larson was placed under tactical air command, and the 62d Troop Carrier Wing (Heavy) was reassigned from McChord AFB,Washington, to Larson to assume command of the base and its tenant organizations.

Several times in its eight years as a headquarters of the 62d's troop and cargo carrying C-124 Globemasters, Larson was prominent in nationwide-and world wide -news, in such missions as a construction of the Distant Early Warning Line and White Alice communications network in the Arctic, mercy flights to flood-ravaged East Pakistan, and, more recently, in missions to Formosa, North Africa, Saudi Arabia, South America, and in the "Down Range" project from Florida to Ascension Island.

Sharing Larson's operation facilities with the Globemasters from 1955 until 1959 was another famous aircraft, Boeing's B-52 Stratofortress. The first B-52 arrived at the AMC Flight Test Center in February 1955. The Sratofortress program was discontinued in 1959.

Larson became a Continental Division, MATS, base on 1 July 1957. In June of the following year, under the reorganization of MATS' subcommands, this base became a member of the newly-created Western Transport Air Force (WESTAF).

On July 1 1959, a nucleus force of the Strategic Air Command was assigned to this base to coordinate matters between MATS and SAC, preparatory to the latter's assumption of base command after the close of the calendar year. On 1 January 1960, MATS' 62d Troop carrier Wing relinquished command of Larson to SAC's 4170th Strategic Wing.

With a ground-breaking ceremony in December 1959, three missile-launching facilities for the Titan intercontinental ballistic missile program at Larson were begun. Thus, the general appearance and the entire mission of the base were undergoing radical changes at the dawn of the first day 1960. Within the space of a little more than a year, this base has acquired an operational SAGE system, and two powerful striking forces: A SAC wing and a Titan missile organization.

The Secretary of Defense announced on 19 November 1965 that Larson was to be closed by June 1966. After initial shock, local civilian committees were formed to attempt to determine the possible private or governmental usage of Larson AFB facilities. Through the combined efforts of the United States Air Force and governmental agencies several uses have been considered. However, other than very tentative plans, nothing is firm at the present time. Plans to close the base have continued. A base closure plan has been approved and a base closure projects office established to act as liaison between Larson AFB, higher headquarters and civilian groups.

History of the Titan I Missile at Larson can be found here.