Military History of Puerto Rico - World Wars - World War II - The Pearl Harbor of The Atlantic

The Pearl Harbor of The Atlantic

In 1940, when Germany attacked Great Britain, the United States feared that if Germany controlled Great Britain, Mexico and the U.S. would be next. In the same year, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt ordered the construction of a naval base in the Atlantic similar to Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. The site was meant to provide anchorage, docking, repair facilities, fuel, and supplies for 60% of the Atlantic Fleet. The naval base, which was named U.S. Naval Station Roosevelt Roads became the largest naval installation in the world in landmass and was meant to be the Pearl Harbor of the Atlantic. However, with the defeat of Germany in 1945, the United States concentrated all of their efforts to the war in the Pacific. In May 2003, after six decades of existence, the base was officially shut down by the U.S. Navy.

In 1939, a survey was conducted of possible air base sites. It was determined that Punta Borinquen was the best site for a major air base. Later that year, Major Karl S. Axtater assumed command of what was to become "Borinquen Army Air Field" (Later renamed Ramey Air Force Base). The first squadron based at Borinquen Field was the 27th Bombardment Squadron, consisting of nine B-18A Bolo medium bombers. In 1940, the air echelon of the 25th Bombardment Group (14 B-18A aircraft and two A-17 aircraft) arrived at the base from Langley Field.

During World War II, the following squadrons were assigned to the airfield:

  • 27th Engineer Battalion (Combat), 9 Oct 1939 (formed at Fort Dupont, Delaware) - 20 Oct 1939 (arrives in Puerto Rico)
  • Headquarters, 13th Composite Wing, 1 Nov 1940-6 Jan 1941; 1 May-25 Oct 1941
  • Headquarters, 25th Bombardment Group, 1 Nov 1940-1 Nov 1942; 5 Oct 1943-24 Mar 1944
417th Bombardment Squadron, 21 Nov 1939-13 Apr 1942 (B-18 Bolo)
10th Bombardment Squadron, 1 Nov 1940-1 Nov 1942 (B-18 Bolo)
12th Bombardment Squadron, 1 Nov 1940-8 Nov 1941 (B-18 Bolo)
35th Bombardment Squadron, 31 Oct-11 Nov 1941 (B-18 Bolo)
  • 44th Bombardment Squadron (40th Bombardment Group) 1 Apr 1941-16 Jun 1942 (B-18 Bolo)
  • 20th Troop Carrier Squadron (Panama Air Depot) Jun 1942-Jul 1943 (C-47 Skytrain)
  • 4th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron (72d Reconnaissance Group) 27 Oct 1943-21 May 1945; 5 Oct 1945-20 Aug 1946
  • 123d AAA Battalion - Fort Brooke
  • 501st Military Police Battalion (Combat) - Fort Brooke
  • Detached Enlisted Mens List - Fort Brooke
  • 542d Military Police Battalion - Fort Brooke
  • Battery D of the 123d Antiaircraft Artillery Gun Battalion - CataƱo
  • Battery B of the 253d Coast Artillery Regiment- Goat Island (Isla de Cabras)
  • Battery B of the 123d AAA Battalion - Fort Brooke
  • Battery C of the 253d Coast Artillery - Fort Brooke
  • Battery C of the 123d AAA Battalion - far end of the harbor on the Rio Piedras
  • 123d AAA Battalion Headquarters - Fort Buchanan
  • Battery A of the 123d AAA Battalion - Fort Buchanan
  • Antilles Air Command, 1 Mar-25 Aug 1946
As: Antilles Air Division, 12 Jan 1948-22 Jan 1949
  • 24th Composite Wing, 25 Aug 1946-28 Jun 1948
  • Navy Patrol Plane Squadron VP-31 - Borinquen Field

Read more about this topic:  Military History Of Puerto Rico, World Wars, World War II

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