Grenier Air Force Base
|Grenier Air Force Base|
|Part of Continental Air Command (ConAC)|
|Manchester-Boston Regional Airport, New Hampshire|
Manchester Airport, circa 1998
Location of Grenier Air Force Base, New Hampshire
|Type||Air Force Base|
|Garrison||732d Troop Carrier Squadron (1957-1966)|
|IATA: MHT – ICAO: KMHT – FAA LID: MHT|
|Elevation AMSL||266 ft / 81 m|
Grenier Air Force Base is a former United States Air Force base located three miles (5 km) south of the central business district of Manchester, New Hampshire, on the county line of Hillsborough and Rockingham counties. After its closure in 1966, it was reopened as Manchester-Boston Regional Airport.
The Manchester airport was founded in June 1927, when the city's Board of Mayor and Aldermen put $15,000 towards the project. By October, a board of aviation had been founded and ground was broken at an 84-acre (340,000 m2) site near Pine Island Pond. It took only a month for two 1,800-foot (550 m) runways to be constructed. After the formation of Northeast Airways at the site in 1933, the first passenger terminal was built.
World War II
New Boston Air Force Station[clarification needed] was established in 1940 at Manchester Airport in the build-up of the United States Army Air Corps prior to World War II. Grenier AAF's initial mission after the Pearl Harbor Attack was to support the squadrons of the First Air Force I Bomber Command and later Army Air Forces Antisubmarine Command with a mission to patrol the Atlantic coast, locate and attack German U-boats. During the war, bombers and fighters practiced over the area now known as New Boston Air Force Station 12 miles (19 km) west in the town of New Boston.
On February 22, 1942, the base was dedicated as Grenier Army Airfield to honor 2nd Lt Jean Donat Grenier, born in Manchester on November 24, 1909, and killed on February 16, 1934, in the crash of Curtiss A-12 Shrike 33-244 in bad weather at Oakley, Utah, while flying an advance air mail route between Salt Lake City and Cheyenne, Wyoming.
In addition to the antisubmarine mission (which was transferred to the Navy in August 1943), Grenier became a First Air Force group training station, which provided group organizational training prior to the units' deployment to overseas combat theaters. Training P-47 Thunderbolt units, the following groups trained at Grenier:
- 52d Fighter Group, June 1942
- 359th Fighter Group, April–July 1943
- 356th Fighter Group, July–August 1943
- 58th Fighter Group, September–October 1943
With the reassignment of the 58th Fighter Group, the 1377th Army Air Forces Base Unit became the primary host unit at Grenier. Its mission changed from group training to replacement pilot training. P-39 Aircobras and P-40 Warhawks were used for this RTU mission, with the graduates being deployed overseas to combat groups after graduating.
In addition to the replacement training mission, on 1 January 1944 Grenier became the headquarters of the North Atlantic Division of Air Transport Command (ATC). Its primary mission was the ferrying of aircraft from the United States to Great Britain. Using airfields at Presque Isle, and Dow, Maine, ATC ferried thousands of combat and non-combat aircraft through airfields in Newfoundland and Labrador though Greenland and Iceland to Scotland. Long-range transports could also fly directly across the Atlantic to England or via the Azores Islands. The Air Weather Service established a detachment at Grenier which provided long-range weather reconnaissance over the North Atlantic convoy shipping lanes.
At the end of the war, jurisdiction of Grenier was transferred from First Air Force to ATC on 18 August 1945. Its new operational mission was to operate scheduled aircraft service between Grenier and bases of the ATC North Atlantic Division; primarily C-54 Skymasters and C-47 Skytrains.
On 1 July 1946 Grenier was phased down as part of the general demobilization of the armed forces. The 110th Army Air Force Base Unit became the host organization. It was placed on standby status on 30 October 1946.
Strategic Air Command
In April 1947, The 112th AAF Base Unit was activated at Grenier, with the 66th Combat Fighter Wing (Provisional) activated under Fifteenth Air Force, Strategic Air Command. The wing was the first SAC unit assigned to New England.
Under the 66th FW was the 82d Fighter Group, equipped with P-51 Mustangs (D/H Models), with a mission for training pilots in Very Long Range All Weather Fighters (P-61 Black Widows, later F-82 Twin Mustangs). The unit comprised the 95th, 96th and 97th Fighter Squadron. Most officers that were assigned were rated pilots that had recently returned to military life. Many had World War II combat experience. Many officers and enlisted men arrived at Grenier from the 62d Fighter Squadron, a unit that had just returned from a winter test in Alaska. In November 1948 2Lt. Brent Scowcroft joined the 95th Fighter Squadron
With the establishment of the United States Air Force in September 1947, the airfield was redesignated as Grenier Air Force Base on 13 January 1948. Due to budget reductions, the 82d FG was relieved of its responsibilities to the 15th Air Force on 22 August 1949 and was assigned to the First Air Force until 2 October 1949, at which time it was inactivated, and Grenier AFB was again placed in a standby status.
Air Defense Command
Air Defense Command assumed jurisdiction of the base in January 1951 and activated the 4657th Training Group as the host unit, assigning the base to the 32d Air Division, Eastern Air Defense Force (EADF). In May, ADC transferred the Federalized Maine Air National Guard 101st Fighter-Interceptor Wing to Grenier from Dow AFB, Maine. The 101st Air Base Group took over base hosting responsibilities. The 133d Fighter-Interceptor Squadron operated F-47D Thunderbolts from the airfield.
The 101st FIG remained at the base only a brief time, being moved to Larson AFB, Washington, and transferred to the Western Air Defense Force (WADF) on 2 August 1951. With the 101st's departure, the 4681st Air Base Squadron (4707th Defense Wing) took over base hosting responsibilities. The 48th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron replaced the 133d FIS, which remained until 14 January 1953 when it moved to Langley AFB, Virginia.
In the fall of 1951, ADC begin using Grenier as an administrative training station for organizing new federalized Air National Guard Aircraft Control and Warning (Radar) squadrons and preparing them for operational duty. These units were then sent to Northeast Air Command (NEAC) in Canada, or to new Pinetree Line stations. New ADC active-duty units were also formed at the base:
- 614th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron, activated 1 July 1952 – 24 December 1953 (not fully organized and inactivated)
- 700th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron, activated 1 December 1953; reassigned to Willow Run AFS, Michigan on 1 April 1954
- 912th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron, activated 10 March 1952; reassigned to Ramore AS, Ontario on 21 December 1952
- 913th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron, activated 10 March 1952; reassigned to Pagwa AS, Ontario on 20 December 1952
- 914th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron, activated 10 March 1952; reassigned to Armstrong AS, Ontario on 21 December 1952
- 915th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron, activated 10 March 1952; reassigned to Sioux Lookout AS, Ontario on 5 December 1952
- 916th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron, activated 12 February 1952; reassigned to Beausejour AS, Manitoba on 1 December 1952
- 921st Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron, activated 26 May 1953; reassigned to NEAC, Saint Anthony AS, Newfoundland, 1 October 1953.
- 922d Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron, activated 26 May 1953; reassigned to NEAC, Cartwright AS, Labrador, 1 October 1953.
- 923d Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron, activated 13 June 1953; reassigned to NEAC, Hopedale AS, Labrador, 1 October 1953.
- 924th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron, activated 13 June 1953; reassigned to NEAC, Saglek AS, Labrador, 1 October 1953.
- 926th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron, activated 13 June 1953; reassigned to NEAC, Frobisher Bay AB, Northwest Territories. 1 October 1953.
Military Air Transport Service
Military Air Transport Service (MATS) assumed jurisdiction of Grenier AFB in July 1953, and the 1610th Air Transport Group (ATG) was activated at the base. The mission of the 1610th ATG was support of U.S. military operations under Northeast Air Command in the Arctic region. Destinations such as Argentia in Newfoundland, Sondrestrom and Thule in Greenland, Goose Bay in Labrador, and Keflavík in Iceland were logistically supported by the C-54 Skymaster transports of the wing.
Just a few years earlier, Air Defense Command activated many Aircraft Control and Warning (ACW) squadrons at Grenier AFB. Personnel from these radar and communication units in the far north. These radar outposts were needed to provide warning of airborne Soviet nuclear attack. Grenier AFB had a long-standing connection to U.S. Air Force Arctic operations going back to World War II, when the Air Transport Command's North Atlantic Wing directed the ferrying of thousands of bombers and fighters across the Atlantic Ocean through many of these same northern bases. However, the 1610th ATG was in existence for only a short time, due to funding shortages and the phaseout of the C-54 in the MATS inventory. The mission of the wing was turned over to the Continental Air Command (ConAC) Air Force Reserve 81st Troop Carrier Squadron (TCS) at Grenier AFB on 22 August 1955.
Continental Air Command
The 81st Troop Carrier Squadron was activated at Grenier AFB. This unit operated Curtiss C-46 Commando transports and was assigned to the 436th Troop Carrier Wing at Naval Air Station New York (Floyd Bennet Field), Brooklyn, New York. Grenier AFB was assigned to First Air Force, Continental Air Command on 1 November 1955.
The 2235th Air Reserve Flying Center was activated at Grenier to oversee control of the airbase and its tenant units. In preparation for a busy 1956 Air Force Reserve summer encampment period at Grenier AFB, 24 barracks were renovated and furnished. In 1957, Grenier AFB was selected as a major training facility in the equipping of Air Force reserve organizations with more modern aircraft, principally the Fairchild C-119 Flying Boxcar. A transition school for this type aircraft was established at Grenier, and many reserve units from the northeast would rotate their personnel and equipment through this school during the latter half of the year. On 28 February 1957, the first of 18 Fairchild C-119 Flying Boxcar medium transports arrived to equip the 81st TCS.
On 25 March 1958, a reorganization of reserve forces resulted in resources of 1st Air Force, CONAC, which included Grenier AFB, to be assigned to 14th Air Force at Robins AFB, Georgia. On 1 October, the 2235th Air Base Squadron took command of Grenier AFB. This coincided with the introduction of the Air Reserve Technician (ART) program throughout AFR. The ART program enabled a staff of civil service employees to operate AFR units during the week who would become training cadre for reservists during monthly Unit Training Assemblies (UTA). The 2235th ARFC was inactivated in March 1959. With this, the C-119 aircraft on base were officially turned over to the 732d Troop Carrier Squadron, although the 732nd TCS still was supported by 2235th Air Base Group. On 15 July 1960, the 732nd TCS reassigned directly to CONAC due to inactivation of 14th Air Force. Later, on 26 December, the 2235th ABG was inactivated. The 732d TCS took over as manager of all Grenier Field units, including those supported off-base.
In 1962, Tactical Air Command took over from Military Air Transport Service control of the 732d Troop Carrier Squadron. On 11 February 1963 in a command-wide reorganization, the 902nd Troop Carrier Group (TCG) was activated at Grenier AFB. The 732nd TCS became a subordinate unit to that group, and most of the other units at Grenier that supported the 732nd TCS were assigned to the 902nd TCG.
15 Jan 1966-Det 6, 2200 Air Base Wing (ABW) activated by CONAC to perform caretaker functions at Grenier AFB. The airfield control tower was to be operated by AFCS until 1 Jul 1966. Department of Defense proposed to move 6594th Instrument Squadron to vacated NH ANG buildings. On 25 Jan 1966, Special Order G-128 was issued by CONAC, officially inactivating the 902nd TCG as of that date.
On 30 January 1966, the Air Force removed its remaining forces and closed Grenier AFB.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Grenier Air Force Base.|
- Hildreth, Tom. MANCHESTER, NH AIRPORT (MHT) Grenier Army Airfield in World War Two
- The 82nd Fighter Group at Grenier AFB
- 90d Troop Carrier Group
- Maurer, Maurer. Air Force Combat Units Of World War II. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office 1961 (republished 1983, Office of Air Force History, ISBN 0-912799-02-1).
- Ravenstein, Charles A. Air Force Combat Wings Lineage and Honors Histories 1947–1977. Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama: Office of Air Force History 1984. ISBN 0-912799-12-9.
- Shaw, Frederick J. (2004), Locating Air Force Base Sites History’s Legacy, Air Force History and Museums Program, United States Air Force, Washington DC, 2004.
- A Handbook of Aerospace Defense Organization 1946 - 1980, by Lloyd H. Cornett and Mildred W. Johnson, Office of History, Aerospace Defense Center, Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado
- Winkler, David F. (1997), Searching the skies: the legacy of the United States Cold War defense radar program. Prepared for United States Air Force Headquarters Air Combat Command.