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Andrews AFB, Maryland

Units

  • 89th Airlift Wing
  • 459th Airlift Wing
  • Air National Guard Readiness Center
  • 113th Wing DC Air National Guard
  • Naval Air Facility Washington
  • Marine Aircraft Group 49 Det A.
  • Coast Guard Air Station Washington

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Andrews Air Force Base is the home of the 89 Airlift Wing (AMC) and Air Force One. It frequently plays host to the President and Vice President of the United States, congressional delegations, foreign heads of state and many other dignitaries and distinguished visitors. More than 60 other separate units and special missions are located there. Andrews AFB is adjacent to Camp Springs, in Prince George County, Maryland, and is 10 miles Southeast of Washington, DC. The 4,320-acre base hosts more than 20,000 active duty military people, civilian employees and family members.

Established first as Camp Springs Army Air Field, Andrews' history began 25 Aug 1941. The base became operational 2 May 1943. The name of the base was changed to Andrews Field 31 Mar 1945, in honor of LtGen Frank M. Andrews, commander of European operations for all Army Air Forces.

In July, 1961 Andrews became the home of the official presidential aircraft, known as "Air Force One" when the president is on board. In 1963, the Naval Air Facility (NAF), originally established at Anacostia in 1919, moved to Andrews. The NAF handles Naval VIP flight operations and is home for a Marine Corps detachment that flies the FA-18 Hornet. Coast Guard Air Station Washington DC occupies space at Andrews AFB. Andrews AFB has evolved to become one of the most modern bases in the Air Force.

The military history of Andrews AFB began in the 1850's during the Civil War when Union troops occupied a small country church near Camp Springs, Md., as sleeping quarters. At present, the same church is used on the base and is known as Chapel Two.

Established first as Camp Springs Army Air Field, Andrews' history began Aug. 25, 1941, the day President Franklin D. Roosevelt wrote a letter to the secretary of war directing the use of the land on which the base now stands. Located 10 miles southeast of Washington, D.C., in Prince George's County, Md., the base was under construction during the remainder of 1942 and became operational May 2, 1943, with the arrival of the first Republic P-47 Thunderbolt.

With the establishment of the Air Force as a separate military service on Sept. 18, 1947, the name was modified to its present form, Andrews AFB. Serving largely as a headquarters base in a curtailed operational capacity during the post-World War II years, Andrews has been the home of the Continental Air Command, Strategic Air Command and the Military Air Transport Service. Headquarters Command held command reins at Andrews from 1947 through 1952 and again after 1957. Headquarters Military Air Transport Service controlled the base during the interim period.

The year 1947 marked the arrival of the first permanently assigned jet powered aircraft, the F-80 Shooting Star, at Andrews. The long-lived and versatile training version of the F-80, the T-33, still played an important role in proficiency flying programs at Andrews more than 30 years later.

With the onset of the Korean War in June 1950, Andrews rapidly became involved in combat readiness training for B-25 medium bomber crews. Combat readiness training and proficiency flying for military pilots assigned non-flying duties in the Washington area have remained two key elements in the local mission since the establishment of the base.

Andrews' air defense role was strengthened in the 1950s with the latest in fighter-interceptor hardware appearing on the flightline. F-94 Starfires, F-102 Delta Daggers and finally, F-106 Delta Darts formed the backbone of the three fighter interceptor squadrons which operated from the base until 1963.

In the late 1950s Andrews began an annual open house and air show on base. This event later evolved into the Department of Defense Joint Services Open House, an annual event that now brings more than 700,000 visitors to the base every year. The open house is held every year over Armed Forces Day weekend.

In the years since 1959, Andrews' flight operations and importance have increased greatly. In 1961, the last of the Military Air Transport Service's flying units at Washington National Airport transferred to Andrews. This was followed a year later by the transfer to Andrews of all fixed-wing flying activities from Bolling Air Force Base. Andrews has become firmly established as the main port of entry for foreign military and government officials en route to Washington and the United States. In July, 1961, Andrews became the home of the official presidential aircraft, known as "Air Force One" when the president is on board. Before 1961, the presidential airplane had been kept at Washington National Airport and Bolling AFB.

tragic time for Andrews AFB occurred Nov. 22, 1963, when the 35th president of the United States was assassinated in Dallas. The body of John F. Kennedy arrived at Andrews at 6:08 p.m. the same evening, accompanied by his widow Jacqueline B. Kennedy, newly sworn in President Lyndon B. Johnson and his wife Ladybird. The air terminal was jammed with thousands of people, including the largest gathering of news media representatives ever assembled at any time on Andrews AFB. Since that time, Andrews has seen the arrival of other fallen leaders, but no other death has caused such national attention.

In February 1973, Andrews was the scene of joyful reunions as U.S. prisoners of war began returning to the United States from Vietnam.

In a major reorganization, Headquarters Command, U.S. Air Force, was disbanded July 1, 1976, restructured under the Military Airlift Command as the 76th Airlift Division and transferred its headquarters from Bolling AFB to Andrews. The 76th remained the parent unit of the Andrews host command, redesignated as the 1st Air Base Wing.

In October 1977, the 76th Airlift Division became the 76th Military Airlift Wing. The 1st Air Base Wing was redesignated the 76th Air Base Group, and the 89th Military Airlift Wing became the 89th Military Airlift Group. The 76th MAW remained the parent unit at Andrews.

In October 1979, Pope John Paul II was greeted by thousands of well wishers at Andrews when he arrived for a visit to Washington, D.C., at the end of his historic tour of the United States.

That same year, Andrews saw such historic events as the arrival and departure of the vice premier of the People's Republic of China, Deng Xiao Ping; a visit by the prime minister of England, Margaret Thatcher; and trips by the prime minister of Israel, Menachem Begin, and the late president of the Republic of Egypt, Anwar Sadat.

On Dec. 15, 1980, the 76th Airlift Division was reestablished, the 76th Air Base Group became the 1776th Air Base Wing and the 89th Military Airlift Group became the 89th Military Airlift Wing.

In 1981, the people of Andrews witnessed the inauguration of Ronald Reagan and the return of the U.S. hostages from Iran.

On Oct. 1, 1985, the 76th Airlift Division was inactivated as the result of activation of the Headquarters Air Force District of Washington at Bolling AFB. The 1776th Air Base Wing was designated the "host wing" for Andrews AFB and assumed base support responsibilities.

In 1985, the Andrews flightline again captured the nation's attention with the return of TWA Flight 847 hostages from Beirut, and the arrival of such dignitaries as the Soviet foreign minister, Britain's Prince Charles and Diana, Princess of Wales. By the close of 1987, all eyes were centered on Andrews when General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev of the Soviet Union arrived for a summit visit with President Ronald Reagan.

Andrews hosted the farewell to President Reagan at the end of his tenure and a welcome to President Bush prior to his inauguration. It hosted the Congressional Budget Summit in 1990 and Air Force Stealth Week in 1991. It was also a key arrival and departure point for troops, diplomats and refugees throughout Desert Shield/Storm and even hosted a live television special honoring the men and women of the armed services. The base also provided ample support for the National Victory Day parades in Washington, D.C., and New York in honor of the troops.

During Operation DESERT STORM, Andrews handled 16,540 patients in makeshift hospital facilities located in the base tennis center.

On July 12, 1991, the 89th Military Airlift Wing was redesignated as the 89th Airlift Wing and assumed duties as the host wing at Andrews AFB. Support functions previously performed by the 1776th Air Base Wing now fall under the 89th and the 1776th was inactivated. With the consolidation of the two wings, the newly formed 89th Airlift Wing is one of the largest wings in Air Mobility Command with a work force approaching 9,000 people.

Since the 89th became the host wing, the base has seen arrivals and departures of Russian President Boris Yeltsin, British Prime Minister John Major, Israeli delegations and many others. Thousands gathered at the Andrews flightline to bid farewell to President Bush at the end of his tenure and welcome President Clinton in 1992. And in 1993, the base witnessed deployments to and return of troops from Somalia and several humanitarian relief efforts.

In April of 1994, the 89th was in the spotlight as a crew flew aircraft 27000 to pick up former President Nixon's body and transport it to California for his funeral. Aircraft 27000 was the aircraft that Nixon flew on as Air Force One during his tenure.

Sept. 17, 1994, the world watched on as the 89th flew a delegation of former President Carter, Senator Sam Nunn and former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Colin Powell to Haiti for talks with military Haitian leader Lieutenant General Raoul Cedras in a last attempt to restore Jean Bertrand Aristide to power.

December 1994, the 1st Airlift Squadron brought freed North Korean hostage, Army helicopter pilot, Chief Warrant Officer Bobby Hall home. July 11, 1995, Capt. Scott F. O'Grady first stepped foot on American soil at Andrews after his F-16 was shot down over Bosnia. In March 1996, the 1st Helicopter Squadron earned the Maintenance Effectiveness Award for flying more than 175,000 safe flying hours. June 17, 1996, C-137 number 58-6970 , the first jet aircraft used by Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy, was retired from the Air Force and flown to the Museum of Flight in Seattle for display.

The flightline and its aircraft are only one facet of life at Andrews. In February 1997, Andrews served as the backdrop for a memorial service when the remains of Ambassador Pamela Harriman were returned to the United States.

And more recently, in May of 1998, C-137 tail number 26000, left the wing for retirement at the Air Force Museum at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio. That aircraft carried President Kennedy to Dallas on the day he was shot and returned his body to Andrews later that evening. President Johnson took his oath of office on board the airplane, which also carried President Nixon to China on his famous "journey for peace."

On Aug. 13, 1998 Andrews hosted a memorial service for the return of 10 Americans killed in the bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Kenya. President Clinton, Secretary of State, Madeline Albright and Secreatary of Defense, William Cohen eulogized the victims. During 1998, two new aircraft entered the 89th Airlift Wing inventory. Four C-32A aircraft and two C-37As came into active service as a replacement for the aging C-37s.