Andersen Air Force Base
|Andersen Air Force Base|
|Yigo in Guam|
|Type||US Air Force Base|
|Owner||Department of Defense|
|Operator||US Air Force|
|Built||1944(as North Field)|
|In use||1944 – present|
|Brigadier General Jeremy T. Sloane|
|Garrison||36th Wing (Host)|
|Identifiers||IATA: UAM, ICAO: PGUA, FAA LID: UAM, WMO: 912180|
|Elevation||188.3 metres (618 ft) AMSL|
|Source: FAA, official site|
Andersen Air Force Base (Andersen AFB, AAFB) (IATA: UAM, ICAO: PGUA, FAA LID: UAM) is a United States Air Force base located primarily within the village of Yigo in the United States territory of Guam. The host unit at Andersen AFB is the 36th Wing (36 WG), assigned to the Pacific Air Forces Eleventh Air Force. As a non-flying wing, the 36 WG's mission is to provide support to deployed air and space forces of USAF, foreign air forces to Andersen, and tenant units assigned to the base. Andersen AFB was placed under the installation management authority of Joint Region Marianas on 1 October 2009, along with Naval Base Guam. The two bases are about 30 miles (48 km) apart at opposite ends of the island. Established in 1944 after the Liberation of Guam as North Field, it is named for Brigadier General James Roy Andersen (1904–1945).
The most important U.S. air base west of Hawaii, Andersen is one of the four Air Force Bomber Forward Operating Locations and the only base in the Western Pacific that can permanently service U.S. heavy strategic bombers, including B-1B, B-2, and B-52 bombers. Andersen is one of two critical bases in the Asia-Pacific region, the other being Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean. Due to Guam's almost unrestricted airspace and the close proximity of the Farallon de Medinilla Island, a naval bombing range 184 miles (296 km) north, the base is in an ideal training location.
Andersen Air Force Base was established on 3 December 1944 and is named for Brigadier General James Roy Andersen (1904–1945). General Andersen graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1926, served at various army installations, and obtained his wings at Kelly Field, Texas, in 1936. During 1943–1944 he served on the War Department General Staff. In January 1945, General Andersen was assigned to HQ AAF, Pacific Ocean Area. He died on 26 February 1945 in the crash of a B-24 Liberator aircraft between Kwajalein and Johnston Island while en route to Hawaii.
World War II
Andersen Air Force Base's origin begins on 7 December 1941 when Guam was attacked by the armed forces of Imperial Japan in the Battle of Guam (1941) three hours after the Attack on Pearl Harbor. The United States Navy surrendered Guam to the Japanese on 10 December. At the height of the war, approximately 19,000 Japanese soldiers and sailors were deployed to the island. Guam was liberated by the United States Marine Corps' 3rd Amphibious Corps on 21 July 1944, in the Battle of Guam (1944), after a 13-day pre-invasion bombardment.
The Japanese managed to contain the Marines on two beachheads, but their counter-attack failed. The Marines renewed their assault, and reached the northern tip of the island on 10 August 1944. Japanese guerrilla activities continued until the end of the war, and some were holdouts for many years afterwards.
Guam was considered ideal to establish air bases to launch B-29 Superfortress operations against the Japanese Home Islands. The Marianas Islands are about 1,500 miles (2,400 km) from Tokyo, a range which the B-29s could just about manage. Most important of all, it could be put on a direct supply line from the United States by ship. "North Field," as Andersen AFB was first named, was the first air base built in Guam after its liberation. Its construction began in November 1944 and was supported by the United States Navy Seabees. North Field and its co-located Northwest Field was a massive installation, with four main runways, taxiways, revetments for over 200 B-29s, and a large containment area for base operations and personnel.
The first host unit at North Field was the 314th Bombardment Wing, XXI Bomber Command, Twentieth Air Force. The 314th arrived in Guam on 16 January 1945 from Peterson Field, Colorado. The 314th controlled four operational B-29 bomb groups, the 19th, (Square M), 29th (Square O), 39th (Square P), and 330th (Square K).
B-29 Superfortress missions from North Field were attacks against strategic targets in Japan, operating in daylight and at a high altitude to bomb factories, refineries, and other objectives. In March 1945, the XXI Bomber Command changed tactics and started carrying out low-level night incendiary raids on area targets. During the Allied assault on Okinawa, groups of the 314th Bomb Wing attacked airfields from which the Japanese were sending out suicide planes against the invasion force.
Flying out of Guam, S/Sgt Henry E Erwin of the 29th Bombardment Group was awarded the Medal of Honor for action that saved his B-29 during a mission over Koriyama, Japan, on 12 April 1945. When a phosphorus smoke bomb exploded in the launching chute and shot back into the plane, Sgt Erwin picked up the burning bomb, carried it to a window, and threw it out.
After the war, B-29s from North Field dropped food and supplies to Allied prisoners and participated in several show-of-force missions over Japan. The 29th, 39th and 330th Bombardment Groups returned to the United States and inactivated in December 1945. The 19th remained in Guam to become the station's host unit after the 314th Bombardment Wing moved to Johnson Air Base, Japan for occupation duty.
The 19th Bombardment Wing (BW) was formed at North AFB in 1948 from the resources of the former North Guam Air Force Base Command (Provisional). The 19th BW operated Andersen AFB and continued utilizing B-29s. In May 1949, the headquarters of the Twentieth Air Force moved from Guam to Kadena Air Base, Okinawa. Its former staff was assigned to the 19th BW.
At Andersen, the wing assumed responsibility for supervising two active bases and one semi-active base, an assortment of communication, weather, radar, rescue and other facilities and units, including the Marianas Air Material Area, a wing size unit. Many of the units and facilities were closed or inactivated within a few months.
In October 1949, the 19th Wing was transferred to the 20th Air Force's command. The remaining units in the Marianas and Bonin Islands were shifted to other organizations. From 17 October 1949 until 28 June 1950, the wing continued B-29 training, operation of Andersen Air Force Base, and rescue and reconnaissance missions.
Three days after North Korea invaded South Korea in 1950, the 19th Bomb Group deployed B-29s to Andersen to begin bombing targets throughout South Korea. A few days later, the group was detached from the 19th BW and deployed to Kadena Air Base, Okinawa. The rest of the wing remained at Andersen, providing maintenance for transient aircraft and operating ammunition dumps until 1953.
In 1951, the Strategic Air Command (SAC) selected several overseas bases to support rotational unit deployments of its bombers from stateside bases, starting with B-29 units and later including B-36 Peacemaker, B-47 Stratojet, B-50 Superfortress bombers and KB-29 refueling tankers.
However, FEAF Bomber Command's 19th Bomb Wing and SAC's 98th and 307th Bomb Wings) were inactivated in 1954. Its three B-29 wings returned to the contiguous United States and were replaced with B-47s.
The 3rd Air Division was activated on 18 June in its place. Its objective was to control all SAC units in the Far East. The division operated as a tenant unit from June 1954 until April 1955 and received host-base support services from the 6319th until that unit was inactivated on 1 April 1955. The 6319th was replaced with the SAC-aligned 3960th Air Base Wing.
SAC continued its 90-day unit rotational training program and began to take control of the base from the FEAF. After the 1 April 1955 base transfer and activation of the 3960th Air Base Wing, B-47s replaced the B-36s in the rotations. The 43rd Bomb Wing from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, operated from July to October 1957, which eventually became Andersen's host unit. The 3960th Air Base Wing was redesignated on 1 July 1956 as the 3960th Air Base Group.
The 41st Fighter-Interceptor Squadron of the Pacific Air Forces, along with its F-86s, was stationed at Andersen from August 1956 until it was inactivated in March 1960. After that, the air defense mission was provided by deployments of Fifth and Thirteenth Air Force units flying the F-102 aircraft.
Andersen's rotational duties concluded when the B-47 was phased out and replaced by the B-52 Stratofortress. The first B-52, the "City of El Paso," arrived from the 95th Bomb Wing at Biggs Air Force Base, Texas in March 1964. It was followed by KC-135 Stratotankers.
In support of Operation Arc Light, SAC activated the 4133rd Bombardment Wing (Provisional) on 1 February 1966. The 3960th Strategic Wing, which was originally activated in 1955 as the 3960th Air Base Wing, continued as the base's host wing until it was inactivated and replaced by the 43rd Strategic Wing on 1 April 1970. The 43rd assumed the mission of the 4133rd on 1 July 1970 and continued in this capacity until the 57th Air Division (Provisional) and 72nd Strategic Wing (Provisional) were activated in June 1972 in support of Operation Bullet Shot (military operation name for temporary duty assignment of US-based technicians — "the herd shot 'round the world."). The 303rd Consolidated Aircraft Maintenance Wing (Provisional) was activated in July of the same year. All of the provisional units remained at Andersen until bombing missions ceased on 15 November 1973.
Operation Linebacker II continued the mission of Operation Arc Light, and was most notable for its 11-day bombing campaign between 18 and 29 December 1972, in which more than 150 B-52s flew 729 sorties in 11 days. The B-52s at Andersen, combined with other bombers stationed at U-Tapao Field in Thailand, constituted about 50 percent of SAC's total bomber force and 75 percent of all combat crews. Two bases contained the equivalent of 13 stateside bomber wings.
A ceasefire came into effect in Vietnam on 27 January 1973. However, the B-52s continued to fly missions over Cambodia and Laos until those were halted on 15 August 1973. With the end of these runs, more than 100 B-52s, both D and G Models, were deployed elsewhere in the world by October 1973. The Eighth Air Force moved to Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, and the 3rd Air Division was reactivated on 1 January 1975.
When the North Vietnamese forces overran South Vietnam later in 1975, the base provided emergency relief and shelter for thousands of Vietnamese evacuees as a part of Operation New Life. After the Fall of Saigon, Andersen received almost 40,000 refugees and processed another 109,000 for transportation to the United States.
The base returned to routine operations by the late 1970s, but continued to serve as one of SAC's strategic locations. Crews and aircraft were regularly sent to sites between Australia, Alaska and South Korea and supported sea surveillance operations support for the U.S. Navy.
Andersen was also home to the 54th Weather Reconnaissance Squadron "Typhoon Chasers" during the 1960s through the 1980s. Air crews flying WC-130s tracked and penetrated typhoons, providing advanced warnings to military and civilian populations throughout the western Pacific. During the Vietnam War, the 54th also provided cloud seeding capability along the Ho Chi Minh Trail and synoptic reconnaissance, deploying from Udorn RTAFB when not in Guam. The 54th WRS was inactivated in September 1987.
The base saw a major change in 1989, when control transferred from SAC to Pacific Air Forces. The 633rd Air Base Wing activated on 1 October 1989, which led to the inactivations of the 43rd Bombardment Wing on 26 March 1990 and the 60th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy) on 30 April 1990.
With the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in June 1991, Andersen was instrumental in caring for American evacuees and their pets as a part of Operation Fiery Vigil. In December, Andersen became home to the Thirteenth Air Force, which had evacuated from Clark Air Base in the Philippines after the eruption.
Post Cold War
The host unit was changed on 1 October 1994, when the 633rd Air Base Wing was inactivated. The 36th Air Base Wing took over host operations and was redesignated as the 36th Wing on 12 April 2006. In October 1994, the U.S. Navy's Helicopter Combat Support Squadron Five (HC-5) relocated to Andersen from the now-closed Naval Air Station Agana, Guam. HC-5 was later redesignated as Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron Twenty-Five (HSC-25) following its transition from the CH-46 to the MH-60S.
In 2007, the 50-year-old South Runway's condition had deteriorated to a point at which complete removal and replacement of the runway was necessary to maintain safety. The 50.6 million-dollar runway replacement was a Design-Build project from the Air Force Civil Engineer Support Agency to the Tutor-Perini Corporation and its local subsidiary, Black Construction Company. The project's scope included demolition and reconstruction of the existing 11,185 feet by 200 feet South Runway, repairs and tie-ins to existing taxiway intersections, removal and replacement of degraded airfield lighting, and arresting gear realignment and reconstruction.
On 23 February 2008, a USAF B-2 Spirit stealth bomber, one of the most expensive military aircraft in the world, crashed on the base. Both pilots ejected safely before the plane, valued at 1.4 billion U.S. dollars, crashed moments after take-off due to a mechanical failure. This was the first time a B-2 had crashed.
On 21 July 2008, a B-52 crashed into the sea while on a training mission that was to fly over a parade in Guam commemorating the U.S. liberation of the island from Japanese occupation in 1944.
B-2s and B-52 aircraft from the 13th Bomb Squadron and 393d Bomb Squadron have taken turns in order to provide a continuous bomber presence at the base. One four-month deployment involving four B-2s began in March 2009.
In March 2009, the base announced that it would investigate allegations made by a whistleblower of environmental violations within the protected area of the base. The allegations included poaching, illegal trapping of coconut crabs and resale of trophy deer, paving beaches, and stripping vegetation used for nesting by endangered hawksbill turtles and green sea turtles. Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) said, "The Air Force program for protecting Guam's natural resources has utterly broken down." The Department of Defense Inspector General (DOD IG) determined that the Air Force responses to the PEER allegations adequately addressed the issues raised. Consequently, DoD IG determined further investigation was not warranted.
The strategic importance of Andersen AFB was brought to the forefront on Tuesday, 12 February 2013 when the base was circled by two Russian Tupolev Tu-95 Bear-H bombers hours prior to President Obama's State of the Union Address. Their flight was monitored by US F-15 fighter jets. The Russian bombers later left the area in a northbound direction.
As tensions escalated between the U.S. and the North Korean regime, the latter threatened to strike the island. A total of 816,393 munitions assets valued at over $95 million were delivered to Andersen Air Force Base between 21 August and 30 September 2017.
In early 2019, the main operational and flying units on the base included the 36th Wing (PACAF), elements of the 624th Regional Support Group, the 734th Air Mobility Support Squadron (Air Mobility Command), Detachment 1, 69th Reconnaissance Group, flying the Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawk, and the Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron Two-Five (HSC-25), U.S. Navy, flying the Sikorsky MH-60S.
In April 2020, sixteen years of continuous bomber presence (CBP) at Andersen ended when the USAF announced it was no longer permanently basing strategic bombers outside the continental United States. Since 2004, B-1B Lancer, B-2A Spirit and B-52G Stratofortress aircraft deployed to Guam on a rotational basis. Despite the move, bombers are expected to continue to deploy on an ad hoc basis.
As part of the establishment of Marine Corps Base Camp Blaz, additional facilities are being constructed on Andersen to house Marines to be stationed there. In addition, the North Ramp on Andersen is being converted for Marine Corps air operations and the abandoned housing facility Andersen South (south of the base proper) is being converted to an urban training compound.
Previous names, commands, and assignments
- Established as North Field, December 1944 (station became operational on 3 February 1945)
- North Field AB Command, 9 May 1946
- North Army Air Base, 20 December 1947
- North Air Force Base, 1 March 1948
- North Guam Air Force Base, 22 April 1948
- North Field Air Force Base, 1 February 1949
- North Guam Air Force Base, 1 March 1949
- Andersen Air Force Base, 7 October 1949–present
- Became part of Joint Region Marianas, 1 October 2010–present
Major commands assigned
- Twentieth Air Force, 3 February 1945
- Far East Air Force, 15 May 1949
- Strategic Air Command, 1 April 1955
- Pacific Air Forces, 1 October 1989
Major units assigned
Units marked GSU are Geographically Separate Units, which although based at Andersen, are subordinate to a parent unit based at another location.
United States Air Force
Pacific Air Forces (PACAF)
Air Combat Command (ACC)
Air Mobility Command (AMC)
Air Force Reserve Command (AFRC)
Air National Guard (ANG)
United States Space Force
Space Operations Command (SpOC)
Higher educational opportunities are available for those in the military, Department of Defense employees, and family members at Andersen through contracted academic institutions such as The Asian Division of University of Maryland University College (UMUC) and The Pacific Far East Division of Central Texas College.
Andersen Middle School
Andersen Middle School caters to a population of 6th to 8th graders from American military families. The school is within the Department of Defense Education Activity school system and the subsystem DDESS Guam. It has a 5-year accreditation obtained from the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. In September 1997, DoDEA opened its own schools for children of military personnel.
Andersen Middle School's sports include volleyball, cross country, softball, soccer, and basketball.
Andersen Middle School was founded in 1997 and was scattered across Andersen Air Force Base. Classes for the original school were held in former Air Force dormitories. Many rooms had walls knocked out in order to accommodate class sizes. The original library for the elementary school was shared with the base library for its first year. As of 2012, it is now permanently located in an air conditioned building.
Andersen Middle School adopted the block scheduling system. The required core classes are physical education, mathematics, science, social studies, reading, and language arts. The elective classes include Spanish, band, study skills, video production, culture and drama. The school offers both a special education program and opportunities to take high school courses, such as algebra and geometry.
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.... Participated in Operation Bulletshot (known affectionately as the herd shot 'round the world). We were given a 48-hour notification to launch the first aircraft from Dyess, bombers going to Guam and tankers to Okinawa.... We left on 89-day TDY orders and came back to Dyess for 30 days, then cycled back over, repeatedly till the end of the war. It was done that way for budgetary issues....
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- Pickrell, Ryan (19 October 2017). "U.S. Sends Hundreds of Thousands of Bombs To Guam as North Korea Threat Looms". The National Interest. Archived from the original on 26 November 2017. Retrieved 7 May 2018.
- "Units". www.624rsg.afrc.af.mil. Retrieved 12 May 2019.
- "734th Air Mobility Squadron".
- "69th Reconnaissance Group, Detachment 1". Andersen Air Force Base. Retrieved 12 May 2019.
- Everstine, Brian W. (17 April 2020). "Air Force Ends Continuous Bomber Presence in Guam". Air Force Magazine. Air Force Association. Retrieved 20 April 2020.
- Robson, Seth (12 March 2020). "New base expected to host thousands of Marines begins to take shape on Guam". Stars and Stripes. Retrieved 31 January 2022.
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- This article incorporates public domain material from the Air Force Historical Research Agency website http://www.afhra.af.mil/.
- This article incorporates public domain material from the United States Government document: "Andersen Air Force Base".
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Andersen Air Force Base.|
- Official website
- Andersen Air Force Base History Factsheet
- Andersen Air Force Base at GlobalSecurity.org
- "Arc Light Memorial" and "Combat Skyspot Memorial"
- Historic American Buildings Survey documentation:
- HABS No. GU-2, "Andersen Air Force Base, Building 21000, North Field, Andersen Air Force Base, Yigo, Guam, GU", 30 photos, 28 data pages, 5 photo caption pages
- HABS No. GU-4, "Andersen Air Force Base, Air Craft [sic] Control and Warning Radar Tower, Mount Santa Rosa, Yigo, Guam, GU", 16 photos, 4 data pages, 1 photo caption page
- Historic American Engineering Record documentation:
- HAER No. GU-5, "Andersen Air Force Base, Northwest Field, Ritidian Point, Northwestern End of Island Guam, Yigo, Guam, GU", 12 photos, 44 data pages, 3 photo caption pages
- HAER No. GU-5-A, "Andersen Air Force Base, Northwest Field, Guam Tracking Station, Ritidian Point Quadrangle, Yigo, Guam, GU", 6 photos, 13 data pages, 1 photo caption page
- HAER No. GU-9, "Andersen Air Force Base, North Field, Pati Point, Yigo, Guam, GU", 24 photos, 42 data pages, 3 photo caption pages
- Resources for this airport:
- School Official Website