Homestead Air Reserve Base - History - Strategic Air Command

Strategic Air Command

In the early 1950s, as the Korean War was winding down, defense officials once again looked toward Homestead with an eye at making the site a key player in continental defense. In mid-1954, an advance party arrived at the old airfield to begin cleaning it up, and on 8 February 1955 the 4226th Air Base Squadron was activated.

On 1 November 1955, the now-Homestead AFB was upgraded to a group level facility with the activation of the 379th Air Base Group which managed a major construction and rehabilitation program through 1957. 51 buildings on the base were rehabilitated by February 1955, and the base was readied for two Strategic Air Command (SAC) Boeing B-47 Stratojet jet bomber wings.

The 379th Bomb Wing was activated at Homestead on 1 November 1955. It consisted of the following squadrons:

  • 524th Bomb Squadron
  • 525th Bomb Squadron
  • 526th Bomb Squadron
  • 527th Bomb Squadron (1 November 1958 – 9 January 1961)

The 379th BMW inherited the honors, history and colors of the World War II Eighth Air Force 379th Bomb Group upon activation.

During the first five months, the 379th BMW concentrated on the manning and equipping of the unit and formulated a training schedule on 20 April 1956. The squadrons received their B-47s in April 1956 and commenced training for air refueling and strategic bombardment operations.

Beginning in mid 1957, the wing deployed aircraft, crews, and support personnel to North African bases under the REFLEX ACTION program. This requirement continued throughout the rest of the wing's assignment at Homestead AFB.

The 379th Combat Support Group, including six squadrons bearing the same numerical designation, was organized for the wing 1 April 1960, and during that same year, the 920th Air Refueling Squadron was transferred from Carswell AFB, Texas flying the KC-135A Stratotanker.

Within a year, the 19th Bomb Wing was transferred to Homestead on 1 June 1956 from Pinecastle AFB, Florida. It consisted of the following squadrons:

  • 28th Bomb Squadron (B-47, 1956–1962) (B-52H February 1962 - 1968)
  • 30th Bomb Squadron (1956 - 1 January 1962, assigned to 4133rd Strategic Wing, Grand Forks AFB, North Dakota)
  • 93rd Bomb Squadron (1956 - 1 August 1961, assigned to 4239th Strategic Wing, Kincheloe AFB, Michigan)
  • 525th Bomb Squadron (9 January 1961 – 15 March 1961, assigned to 4136th Strageic Wing, Minot AFB, North Dakota)
  • 526th Bomb Squadron (9 January 1961 – 1 June 1961, assigned to 4139th Strategic Wing, K. I. Sawyer AFB, Michigan)
  • 659th Bomb Squadron (1 November 1958 – 1 July 1961)
  • 19th Air Refueling Squadron (KC-97) (1 June 1956 – 1 April 1960)
  • 303rd Air Refueling Squadron (KC-135) (1 November 1959 – 1 April 1961)
  • 407th Air Refueling Squadron (KC-135) (1 April 1962 – 2 July 1968)

With the activation of the 19th BW, the 823d Air Division was activated to command the two bomb wings at Homestead. The units were initially under Second Air Force until 1 January 1959, when the 823rd was placed under Eighth Air Force.

In 1957 both the 347th and 19th wings deployed to the Refelx Base at Sidi Slimane AB, French Morocco, in January, then to Ben Guerir Air Base, Morocco, from April though July. By 1960, Homestead housed more than 6,000 permanently assigned members, twice the size of its busiest World War II days, and a fleet of Boeing B-47 Stratojet bombers. The 19th BW maintained a portion of its tactical resources on continual overseas alert until April 1961.

The 379th BW transferred its B-47s beginning in October 1960 and moved without personnel or equipment to Wurtsmith AFB, Michigan in January 1961. With the departure of the 379th, the 19th Bomb Wing became the host unit at Homestead.

The 28th Bomb Squadron converted to the new Boeing B-52H Stratofortress aircraft in 1961, with the remaining squadrons of the 19th being transferred to various SAC Strategic Wings. This left the 19th with one squadron of B-52s. It was, in effect, a strategic wing, but was not redesignated as such.

The 19th wing won the Fairchild Trophy in the SAC bombing and navigation competition of 1966. The B-52s of the 28th BS participated in the "Chrome Dome" Mission wherein some flew Airborne Alert 24/7.

The 28th Bomb Squadron deactivated when 19th Bomb Wing was moved without personnel or equipment to Robins AFB, Georgia when Homestead AFB was transferred to Tactical Air Command (TAC) on 25 July 1968. The 823d Air Division was transferred to McCoy Air Force Base, Florida on 2 July 1968.

Read more about this topic:  Homestead Air Reserve Base, History

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